Flash Drying Hair: Is It Bad, Causes, How to Fix It, and More

A lady with high porosity hair reading about film-forming polymers and severe flash drying in a curly hair community.

For many women, drying their hair is the slowest and most tedious part of the hairstyling process. But occasionally, you might find that your hair dries so quickly it’s genuinely shocking.

If you want to learn more about flash drying and how it affects your hair, just read on!

In this article, we’ll dissect what flash drying is and give you all the tools you need to fight it. We’ll also tell you how to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

What Is Flash Drying Hair?

Flash drying is an instant and immediate rushing of water from your hair, usually due to applying a product or treatment. Essentially, your hair dries unnaturally fast on its own. It’ll feel like all the moisture has been sucked out of your strands, even though they were damp just a few moments earlier.

Although some individuals love being able to dry their hair quickly, flash drying leaves your hair feeling dry, brittle, rough, or stiff. It can also lead to an increase in frizz and make your hair more difficult to manage.

A young black girl just experienced flash drying as her wet hair shaft went completely dry within minutes.

Is Flash Drying Bad for Your Hair?

Flash drying is bad for your hair because the process quickly removes moisture, leaving your hair strands dry, brittle, frizzy, and stiff. This process can make your hair more difficult to style and lead to increased breakage.

What Causes Flash Drying Hair?

When you experience flash drying, your hair suddenly loses all the water it is holding onto. There are a few things that can cause this to happen. We’ll break them down below. 

A cute young black girl researching how hair absorbs water and various wet hair conditions on her iPhone.

Hard Water Buildup

Water is a solvent, meaning it can dissolve and hold onto other compounds. When water absorbs minerals like calcium and magnesium, it is considered hard.

Conversely, water that doesn’t contain minerals is called soft water. When you wash your hair with hard water, some of the dissolved minerals adhere to your strands.

The minerals create a barrier that prevents your strands from absorbing water or nourishing hair care products. This can cause a number of different side effects, including fast drying. 

Product Buildup

Like hard water buildup, some of the ingredients used in hair products can coat your strands in a stubborn film that’s difficult to remove. Below, we’ll break down some of the most common causes of product buildup. 

African American female with dark brown hair stands styled with a leave-in conditioner to keep her hair hydrated.


Polymers are a class of substances that are commonly found in haircare, hair styling, and skincare products. This family of substances includes natural polymers, like cellulose and guar, and synthetic polymers, like silicone.

When used in moderation, polymers can have a beneficial effect on your hair.

They offer moisture resistance and help your hair fight off things like frizz, tangles, and humidity. Polymers also act as emulsifiers and can function as conditioning agents in your hair.

But unfortunately, using polymers too heavily or too often can cause buildup to occur. That gives the sensation of flash drying, as your hair can no longer absorb and retain moisture. 

A cute African American female with light brown skin reading about how to maintain good moisture resistance.


One of the leading causes of flash drying stems from humectants. Humectants are water-loving ingredients that attract and hold onto moisture. They create balance by equalizing moisture levels.

Humectants are used in hair products because of their ability to pull water out of super moist air and into your hair. But the opposite will happen if the humidity levels are too low and your hair contains more water than the air.

Water molecules will rush out of your strands and into the air in an effort to create balance. There are a variety of natural and synthetic humectants used in hair and skincare products. Some of the most common humectants found in haircare products include: 

  • glycerin
  • hyaluronic acid
  • propylene glycol
  • honey
  • sorbitol
A light-skinned girl in a great mood researching what makes her hair stiff and trying to understand the hair's surface.

Aloe Vera

Although aloe vera is best known as a moisturizer and soother, it can occasionally cause flash drying. Aloe vera is a natural humectant, and some of its compounds work together to draw moisture out of your strands.

Additionally, aloe vera is slightly astringent. This means that it can have a drying effect when used as a standalone moisturizer. 

How to Prevent Flash Drying

Now that you know what flash drying is and what causes it, you’re probably wondering what you can do to prevent it. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to do just that. Below, we’ll look at some of the best ways to put a stop to fast drying once and for all. 

A woman with a great smile wonders why her hair won't absorb water molecules normally in extreme humidity conditions.

Maintain a Healthy Protein-To-Moisture Balance

A healthy haircare routine strikes a balance between protein and moisture. While protein keeps your strands strong and smooth, water helps ensure they’re shiny, soft, and elastic.

So, in addition to hydrating your hair regularly, you need to make sure that your strands are given the proper amounts of protein. Keep in mind that protein is not a one size fits all solution. 

If your hair is low porosity or protein sensitive, maintaining a healthy protein-to-moisture balance includes avoiding excess protein. However, damaged and highly porous hair has more significant protein needs.

Pay attention to how your hair feels after using protein and adjust the amounts used based on the results. If your hair feels hard and brittle, try using protein a little less often. 

A female wearing a purple t-shirt writing a paper about essential amino acids and magnesium ions for beauty school.

Add a Clarifying Shampoo to Your Routine

Unlike regular shampoo, clarifying shampoos can cut through tough-to-remove products and hard water buildup. They help bring your hair down to a healthy pH, which makes it easier to fight off any future buildup.

Clarifying shampoos are incredibly harsh and drying, so make sure you’re counteracting them with a hydrating deep conditioner. You should also avoid using them too frequently. Most people only need a clarifying treatment once every one or two months. 

Pay Attention to Your Product Labels 

Flash drying is often related to the products and specific ingredients you use on your hair. So, if you’re struggling with flash drying, it’s time to reevaluate your product choices.

Avoid products that contain humectants or film-forming silicones. 

It would help if you also steered clear of oils, waxes, and butters that have a high molecular weight. They tend to cling to your strands and are difficult to remove with traditional cleansers.

Some of the ingredients to look out for include: 

  • Beeswax
  • Petroleum
  • Mineral oil 
  • Carnauba wax
A black girl with healthy hair styled with coconut oil and Prose - custom hair care formulations based on your needs.

Pay Attention to How Your Hair Feels

Flash drying is your hair’s way of telling you that the recently applied product is detrimental to your hair. In the case that you have flash drying after using a product, wash it off immediately with a deep cleaning shampoo.

Then, follow up with a different hydrating product. 

You should either discard the product that caused the flash drying or learn how to use it differently. For example, you can try spritzing your hair with water after applying it. That will create a healthier water balance and keep your strands hydrated. 

Install a Water Softener

If hard water is behind your flash drying, installing a shower filter should be your top priority. A water softener is a filtration device that removes dissolved minerals before they have a chance to settle on your strands.

They’re the only way to treat hard water buildup at the source and can dramatically improve the health of your hair and skin. Without the hard water buildup, your hair will be better able to retain water. 

Related Articles

Flash drying can leave your hair feeling dry, weak, and brittle: and no one wants that. The good news is that you’ll know exactly what to do if flash drying happens again.

Just follow the tips and tricks we’ve gone over in this article, and your hair will be back to normal in no time. With that, we wish you the best of luck in your hair care journey!

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