Hair towels are a relatively new addition to the hair-care and beauty market, and they’re quickly replacing the heavy, bulky bath towels many people wrap around their heads after a shower or bath.
Made from ultra-absorbent materials, a quick-dry hair towel is perfect for all hair types — curly hair, delicate hair, straight hair — or for anyone who wants to protect their hair from damage.
Hair towels are simple, affordable beauty tools that can make a big difference in your beauty routine — and your hair health.
However, choosing the right one can seem a little overwhelming — after all, there are so many options.
To make it easier for you to choose the perfect towel for your hair needs, let’s look at the science behind the hair-boosting benefits of hair towels.
How the Right Hair Towel Can Benefit Your Hair — and Lifestyle
Hair towels can make a big impact on the health of your hair and on your daily beauty regimen.
Before we jump into how these incredible beauty tools manage this, let’s look at the hair towel’s basic design.
A hair towel is a soft, supple cloth (much smaller than a bath towel) that you can wrap around your hair and twist.
The best designs allow you to anchor the twist to the back of the towel at the nape of your neck. Including this clever innovation helps to keep the towel secure on your head at all times, so you can perform other tasks while your hair is drying.
So, what benefits can a hair towel bring to your beauty routine?
1. A Hair Towel Prevents Hygral Fatigue That Can Damage Hair
Perhaps the most important thing a hair towel can do for the health of your hair is to prevent hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue is a widespread problem, and it’s at the root of most lackluster, frizzy hair.
While you may not have heard the term before, if you’ve been towel-drying your hair with a regular bath towel, your hair may be experiencing hygral fatigue right now.
The signs of hygral fatigue include hair that’s lost its elasticity — meaning it doesn’t stretch much when wet. Another way to test elasticity is to pull on your hair. If it doesn’t bounce back into its usual form easily after a quick tug, you may be experiencing hygral fatigue.
Hygral fatigue can also manifest as weak, broken hair, excessive hair shedding, or hair that feels gummy when it’s wet.
What exactly is this exotic-sounding hair problem?
Hygral fatigue happens when excessive moisture exits and enters your hair cuticle. Just like fibers, your hair’s cuticle swells when it gets wet and contracts when it dries. However, unlike clothing fibers, your hair isn’t meant to change form constantly.
The daily expansion and contraction weaken hair over time, causing breakage and damage. Also, if your hair is highly porous, it’s even more prone to hygral fatigue. Since the cuticles of highly porous hair are more open naturally, moisture can enter more easily.
How will you know if you have high porosity hair? Here are two easy ways to test:
- Float Test: Drop a few strands of hair you’ve collected from your brush into a bowl or sink basin of water. Low-porosity hair will float while high-porosity hair sinks.
- Slip Test: Slide your fingers up the shaft of a strand of your hair, moving toward the scalp. If you feel roughness, then the cuticle is lifted, and the porosity of the hair is high. Low-porosity hair will feel smooth.
Many people with curly or color-treated hair have high-porosity hair types, although it varies by individual.
Regardless of porosity, what can you do to prevent hygral fatigue? After all, you have to get your hair wet to clean it.
While hygral fatigue can be caused by over-conditioning, re-wetting your hair during styling, and lack of protein, the main cause of this beauty problem is letting your hair stay water-logged too long. At this point, a good hair towel is your best option.
Since hair towels are created from highly-absorbent, incredibly moisture-wicking material, they draw moisture from your hair quickly, limiting the amount of time your hair stays sopping wet. Minimizing moisture helps stop hygral fatigue in its tracks.
Plus, using a hair towel allows you to cut down on the amount of exposure your hair has to heat-styling tools like blow-dryers, further protecting delicate strands from damage.
A properly-designed hair towel will dry hair evenly and gently, removing the bulk of moisture quickly for maximum protection from hygral fatigue.
2. A Secure Hair Towel Adds Freedom, Time, and Comfort to Your Routine
The seemingly simple addition of a way to secure your hair towel on your head means you can check your email, put on your makeup, or even fix your bed or do other chores — all while your hair is drying.
Your hair will be protected and drying while you go about your day. Freeing up extra time can help you minimize your morning or evening routine and allow you a few precious minutes for getting ready or winding down for a stress-free start — or end — to your day.
Since hair towels are made from lightweight, moisture-wicking materials, they won’t put a strain on your head and neck the way conventional towels can.
Balancing a bulky, heavy towel on your head can cause poor posture, which in turn can cause head and neck pain. Over time, head and neck issues can become chronic, adding to daily discomfort.
Hair Towel Materials — Which is Better?
There are many hair towel designs on the market that use varying materials for the body of the towel, but the most commonly used fabrics are 100% cotton and microfiber, due to their water wicking abilities.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of each:
100% Cotton Material
One-hundred percent cotton sets a high standard for moisture-wicking. Cotton is capable of absorbing up to 27 times its own weight in water, which is why it is often used for performance apparel and sock material.
Without getting too technical, the reason cotton’s so good at absorbing water is that water molecules are literally attracted to their cotton counterparts. Also, cotton is made up of tiny fibers that exhibit capillary action — that is, they suck excess water up just like straws.
It’s also an environmentally-friendly fabric due to its renewability and because it is easily biodegradable. Cotton is the perfect fiber for bath-time products because it gets stronger when wet for better resistance to wear and tear in moist environments.
Terry cloth is a specific type of cotton that is woven or knitted with long fabric loops for superior moisture absorption. It also has a soft and luxurious feel, which is why it’s the featured fabric for many bathrobes, slippers, and other spa accouterments.
While terry cloth can be made with other materials in addition to cotton, 100% cotton is the most common fiber used in most terry products.
The other hair towel fabric that generates significant buzz is microfiber.
Microfiber is a synthetically-produced material made mostly from polyester and nylon, although it can include other fibers such as polypropylenes and trogamide, depending on the final use of the fabric.
Microfiber gets its name from the fact the threads used in the creation of the material are less than ten micrometers in width, making them smaller than a strand of silk.
These fibers exhibit water-binding activities similar to cotton, making microfiber exceptional for use in quick-dry toweling, performance gear, and other moisture-wicking products.
Microfiber can take on different jobs — from absorbing liquids to cleaning dirt and germs, depending on the materials used to create the fibers and on the fibers themselves. Split fibers are the right microfiber material for absorption while whole fibers are more useful for a soft dusting or polishing cloth.
To test if your microfiber product contains split or whole fibers, simply push an edge into a puddle of water. If the water is wicked up, you have split fibers that are great for moisture-wicking.
If the cloth pushes the water ahead of it, your microfiber product is made of whole fibers and is more suited to dusting your end tables than wicking water from your hair.
Other “Proprietary” Materials
Some hair towel manufacturers claim they have a “proprietary” material that wicks moisture better than cotton or microfiber, but that’s a — no pun intended — fabrication.
Since microfiber can be created from a multitude of synthetic threads, a product that’s, for example, 80% polyester and 20% nylon is still just a microfiber product.
Of course, microfiber is great at wicking moisture, as we’ve shown, but any manufacturer who claims that this mix is somehow proprietary is being deceptive. It’s a great, big, red flag for smart consumers.
The Bottom Line? Use a Hair Towel for Strong, Healthy Hair
Now that you’re completely educated on the science of hair towels, you understand what goes into making the best hair towel products for hair damage avoidance.
Hair towels protect your hair from hygral damage, frizziness, and other style and hair-health mishaps, but they do so much more.
Swapping out your heavy bath towel for a good hair towel can help relieve your head and neck from stress and strain. Having a smartly-designed towel with a way to anchor the towel, turban-style, can give you the freedom to accomplish other tasks while your hair dries.
Now that you know the facts, you know investing in a high-quality hair towel is a great, inexpensive way to care for your hair and simplify your beauty routine at the same time. Whether you’re interested in a cotton hair towel or a microfiber one, we have both. Shop with us today to amp up your hair care.