Airdrying vs. Rollersetting: Which is the healthiest option?

Hair rollers
I used to be of the thought that if limiting direct heat use is good, then eliminating heat altogether must be great!  I washed frequently, airdried and styled my hair with braid and twistouts thinking that my hair was going to be so healthy and that the length was just going to take off!

I have since discovered some flaws in my theory.  One is my styling – when I airdry I manipulate my hair a lot more.  Even though braid and twistouts are considered low manipulation styles, I realize that I manipulate my hair A LOT while wearing these styles.  I finger comb to remove shed hair, moisturize and seal (I find that I require more moisture while wearing these styles), and often have to re-braid or re-twist to maintain the style for the week.

When I airdry and wear a bun or updo, I brush my edges and nape to make the style neat.  The other flaw is the way in which I airdry.  I normally leave my hair hanging straight down with a scarf around my edges until it is at least 75% dry.  This means that my ends are unprotected and brushing against my clothing and furniture for a couple of hours.  Plus to get the best results possible, I frequently smooth the hair by running my fingers down the length as it dries.  So all in all, like I said, airdrying requires a lot of manipulation for me.

Now, let me contrast my airdrying experiences with rollersetting.  When I set my hair on small rollers or flexirods and am wearing my hair curly, to maintain, I pin the hair up on the top of my head at night and cover with a bonnet (this is often referred to as pineappling) then finger fluff in the morning to style.  There is no combing or manipulation involved.  When I rollerset on larger rollers and wrap it to create a straight look, I comb it into a circle at night and down in the morning for styling.

Moisturizing and sealing is a breeze because my hair is straight and smooth.  Very low maintenance and little manipulation is involved.  However as far as the actual process of setting goes, there is a lot of manipulation because the hair must be detangled first and then each section is combed with a fine toothed comb to completely smooth the hair before setting on the roller or rod for the best results.  Sometimes I feel I lose a lot of hair during this process especially when I am beyond four weeks post.  Indirect heat helps smooth my hair cuticle and my hair usually feels silky with a good set.

To combat the cons of both airdrying and rollersetting here are a few tips:

  • Pineapple at night when wearing a braid/twist out to maintain rather than re-braid to cut back on manipulation.
  • Use a protein deep conditioner or treatment before rollersetting to cut back on hair loss while using a fine tooth comb to smooth hair.
  • Dry hair in a braid/twist out under a hooded dryer to help smooth the cuticle while wearing those styles.

Overall, I think rollersetting is slightly healthier for my hair but I like the option of airdrying when I just do not have the time or energy to do a set.  Not that I think that airdrying is unhealthy by any means, but I’ve just re-examined what my hair responds best to and I do think that indirect heat has many advantages.  What are your thoughts?

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