WHAT’S THE MOST DAMAGING habit you have when it comes to caring for your hair? We would’ve guessed it’s those tightly wound buns we wrap our hair in before last-minute yoga classes — or those few times a month we use a hairdryer while our hair is still damp. However, one of our most trusted haircare pros here in L.A., Christine Thompson, co-founder and color director for Spoke & Weal, recently told us that the worst thing we can do for our hair is to get it wet. Period.
While we were tempted to take Christine’s word for it and run full board into a shower-free lifestyle (anyone else showering less while working from home?), the truth is a bit more complicated.
Hair is weaker and more vulnerable when it’s wet. When hair swells it can’t take as much tension so it’s quicker to break. Christine describes the cuticle as “the protective armor of the hair. You want to keep it closed as much as possible. If the cuticle is open when you are brushing it or rough drying with a towel it can create breakage.”
According to Christine, the science behind wet hair damage starts with understanding the pH scale: “It’s a myth that cold water closes the cuticle of the hair. It’s actually the pH of the hair that determines if the cuticle opens and closes. The pH of hair, when dry, ranges from around 4.5 – 5.5, just like our skin. Distilled water has a pH of around 7 and non-purified water can have a pH of up to 9. To give you some perspective, permanent hair color starts around 8.
“When the pH reaches anything above 6, hair swells, causing the cuticle to open. Water contaminants can then lodge themselves on or inside the cuticle which causes build-up and keeps the cuticle from closing — that causes hair to be rough.”
All of this was news to us, so we were thrilled when, after our salon chair conversation with Christine, she slipped us one of her go-to towels — an industry-only version of Aquis’ quick-drying turban. We took it home and have never showered without it since. The thin, highly-absorbent towel dries our hair in a flash which, as we now know, is not only healthier for our hair, but extremely convenient for our lifestyle of quick mid-week workouts. (If you’re wondering, no, this is not sponsored!)
Christine taught us that our hair should be wet for as short of a period of time as possible. In fact, Christine even urges us to shampoo hair at the very end of the showering process. “Wrap hair in a super absorbing towel like the Aquis towel which will soak up a lot of water and is not aggressive on the hair and will keep hair smooth. Put in a leave-in conditioner like k18 and you can either air dry hair or blowdry. I always suggest Dyson dryers because they don’t cause catastrophic damage on the hair (either the Air Wrap or a Supersonic). I love the Air Wrap because it curls and dries at the same time so you are not putting hair through as much.”
We second Christine’s love for all the above, although the Dyson is a bit of an investment. Aquis Towel or Hair Turban, however, is much less expensive and will help you take better of care of your hair no matter your circumstance or whereabouts. We’ve traveled with it, worn it around the house, and can fully testify that it makes our post-shower mornings easier, while keeping our hair healthier — just the kind of simple beauty hack we’re always looking for.