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How to dry hair according to curl type

So, you’ve got your wash day routine down to a T, but you’re still not getting the bomb curls you dream of. You know they’re in there somewhere, you’ve just got to coax them out. Knowing how to dry curly hair without using heat will literally change your curls (and your life). See it to believe it, babe.

Whether you have waves, kinks, coils or ringlets, you can have perfectly defined curls everyday with pretty low maintenance. You just have to find the method that grooves well with your curls. Here, we’re sharing our tried and tested techniques to dry curly hair the natural way.

For wavy curls

Curlier than the soft wave and looser than the spiralled curl, wavy curls tend to lose curl definition more easily than other textures. The trick is to coax their natural bend into a bouncier, more defined curl. This is where plopping comes in. Plopping is where you swap your regular rough towel for a microfibre towel or a cotton t-shirt to “accordion” your curls on top of your head. The towel soaks up the moisture from your wet hair, while setting your curls in place. Here’s how you do it:

  • After you’ve rinsed your conditioner out, scrunch some curl cream into your hair to encourage definition. Make sure your hair is still soaking wet for this step to help the cream absorb and distribute evenly.
  • Lay your microfibre towel or t-shirt out on your bed (or any flat surface). Flip your head forward so your hair is upside down and ‘plop’ your hair in the middle of the towel. Give your curls a few scrunches with your fingers.
  • Fold the top side of the towel over your hair so that it rests at the base of your neck, then grab the two sides and twist them so the towel is tight around your head. Knot the ends at the back of your head to keep the towel in place. 
  • Leave the towel on while you get ready, then unravel and shake out those bomb curls.


For spiral curls

Spiral curls are tighter than waves and wind themselves into springy ringlets. The spiralled shape forces the cuticles open, making this curl type vulnerable to dehydration. Are your curls full of bounce at the ends but dry flat around the roots? Sounds like they need a little lift to keep that spring in their spiral. Here’s how to give them a volume boost:

  • While your hair is still dripping wet, scrunch some curl gel into your hair to help your curls clump together in more defined spirals. Repeat the scrunching with a microfibre towel to squeeze out excess moisture. 
  • Arrange your parting, then lift a small section of your hair at the roots and slide clips in along the scalp. Make sure your hair is lifted up before you clamp the clips closed – this is what’s going to give you more volume.
  • Repeat this in sections around the crown of your head and leave the clips in for around 15 minutes. Carefully take them out when your hair is dry and release that babin’ bounce.


For tight curls

Bouncy and buoyant, tight curls are the rascal kids on the curly block. Their corkscrew coils are full of spring, stretch and super-size volume when hydrated, otherwise they’re liable to fits of frizz. They also tend to shrink to half their length after a wash, so you’ll want to stretch them into twists, braids or knots while they’re drying. Here’s an idea:

  • After you’ve rinsed out your conditioner, twist your hair up into four different sections and secure them with a clip.
  • Working through one section of hair at a time, apply a curl cream by gently combing it through your hair with your fingers. This will stretch the strands and encourage definition.
  • Top up with a gel to hold the curls in place and for extra definition, then repeat these steps for each section of hair.
  • Because tight curls need a lot of moisture, you’re best off blotting with a microfibre towel and then leaving your curls to air-dry back to their curly-wurly selves.


For kinky curls

The tightest of all curl types, the kinky curl is a zig-zagging strand that’s fierce and fiery. But with all those twists and turns, the scalp’s natural oils have a hard time travelling all the way down from the roots to the ends. To avoid major dehydration, you’ve got to keep the kinky curl moisturised, and keep that moisture on lock, too – so you could even skip drying altogether.

Apply curl cream and gel while your hair is still soaking wet, then follow up with your favourite oil to lock in that precious moisture. Instead of blotting or scrunching with a towel (and definitely no rubbing), place a towel on your back and let your curls air dry in all their kinky glory.

All curls are unique, and so is everyone’s wash day routine. We like to experiment with different techniques to see what brings out the best in our curls – but we know that no two days are ever the same with curly hair (that’s what makes it fun). 

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