Fact: naturally curly hair takes effort. Between the multiple curl patterns and porosities, it’s always been a journey of trial and error to sort out the perfect cocktail of products to keep my curls bouncy, moisturized, and defined. And since my curls have a mind of their own, this process is usually repeated every couple of months. Exhausting? Sure. But I love my coils and curls and wouldn’t change them. However, discovering easier ways to maintain my defined curls and minimize the time it takes to style them is always top of mind. My latest tool in doing so? A hooded hair dryer.
These dome-shaped dryers — also known as bonnet dryers — have been one of my greatest (and quickest) efforts into securing long-lasting curl definition. I’m talking about curl retention days past wash day kind of good.
Before utilizing my hooded dryer, I opted to air dry my curls. I would wash and condition and then style with a curl cream and leave-in conditioner. After spending upwards of 80 minutes styling my hair, I’d be frustrated two days later when my curls started to look dry and lost their crispness.
With a hooded hair dryer, the heat is controlled and doesn’t blow around my curls (which can disrupt the definition). Not to mention, hooded hair dryers also reduce the risk of frizz, which is something I typically see three days after styling. “The hooded dryer allows the defined curls to set very quickly — it’s a way to lock in the style,” says Michelle O’Connor, Global Artistic Director for Matrix. “It’s great for obtaining a very polished final look — something that is difficult with air drying.”
There are two types of hooded dryers: soft and hard. Soft hooded dryers are great for deep-conditioning, allowing the hair cuticles to open and lock in hydration. Whereas, hard hooded dryers are ideal for heat styling, giving your hair enough room to dry, sans frizz and flyaways. Since I rarely deep condition my hair, I selected a hard hooded dryer. Regardless of what you choose, once the dryer is switched on, hot air is evenly blown throughout the hair.
These compact tools help the hair absorb nutrients from conditioners and styling products, as the heat from the hooded dryer opens up the hair cuticles, allowing the products to penetrate deeper. That, in turn, leads to more hydrated curls.
My favorite part of this hair staple tool, however, is the minimal amount of time it now takes me to achieve bouncy, well-defined curls. It’s truly been a joy to have good curls for 4-6 days (my longest ever without a touch up!) after one, single 30 minutes process. It is crucial to note that you do need to commit to the full dry time, since if your hair is even slightly damp your curls risk the chance of falling flat.
Regardless, there are so many great styles (deep conditioning, hair treatments, roller sets, and finger curls) that can make use of a hooded dryer. Whenever I want more volume, I’ll put in metal styling clips where I want the volume and then set my hooded dryer to a lower setting (most dryers have three settings: low, medium, and high) and lift the dryer a bit higher from my head, to allow my curls to expand. Once my hair is all dry, I remove the clips, give the curls a bit of a shake, and continue with my day. Not to mention, my arms get a much needed rest from holding a blowdryer. I enjoy reading a book, answering emails, or watching a show when I sit under my hooded dryer.
If you’re looking for salon-shiny and hydrated curls, a hooded dryer would be your best investment. Below are a few of my favorite options, plus products that help create super defined curls. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to use a heat protectant!
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