Flash Drying 101: The Reason Why Some Ingredients Turn Your Wet Hair To Straw (& How To Fix It)

While drying your hair may be a pain, there's definitely such a thing as it happening too quickly. Have you ever experienced your strands drying everything, everywhere, all at once? This puzzling sensation is called flash drying, and it typically occurs when you use certain products or treatments on your locks during or after the shower. It may sound cool, but it's not, as flash drying can cause your hair to feel brittle and coarse to the touch. People with curly hair are more prone to flash drying, as more porous hair tends to absorb water that causes the strands to swell, especially under humid conditions.


If you're a victim of pesky flash drying, don't fret, as not all is lost. Here is everything you need to know about the culprit that is flash drying, what to do about it, and how to prevent it from happening to you next time.

Causes of flash drying

The main factors that cause flash drying are the ingredients that can be found in many hair care products. Humectants are a prime example, because while they can be great for moisturizing hair in the right settings, using them incorrectly can cause dehydration. If humectants are applied in low-humidity settings, they can actually absorb moisture from the hair instead of the air, resulting in flash drying.


Similarly, while aloe vera can be a wonderful ingredient for reducing scalp irritation (via Healthline), it also can cause the same moisture-withdrawal sensation. Other commonly-found culprits include film-forming polymers, such as PVP. When these ingredients are applied excessively and repeatedly, it can result in a buildup that leaves your hair feeling rigid, contributing to the feeling of flash drying.

Something else to avoid that causes flash drying is hard water. Hard water contains a higher concentration of metals, and when your hair absorbs this repeatedly, it makes it harder for your hair products to actually work, leading to an increased chance of flash drying.

How to prevent flash drying—and what to do about it when it happens

The bottom line is flash drying is just not healthy for your hair. It can lead to breakage and makes your hair more difficult to manage, so it's ideal to avoid it as much as possible. In order to prevent flash drying, try your best to avoid the ingredients in your hair care products mentioned above, and you can even invest in a water softener shower filter to tackle the issue at the root. The Mestiza Muse recommends using a good cleansing shampoo to eliminate product buildup, and to avoid heavy oils, butters, and waxes in your products.


If you do happen to experience flash drying, you can always re-wet your hair again and use a deep cleansing shampoo, followed by a deep conditioner, rinse thoroughly, and apply a leave-in conditioner.