How long should it take to flat-iron a full head of long hair?
October 5, 2010 5:39 AM   Subscribe

How long should it take to blow dry and flat-iron a full head of long hair? Any tips to speed up the process?
posted by trevyn to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It really depends on the thickness of your hair. For a long time, I had long hair, down to the middle of my back, and because my hair is very thick it would take the majority of my hair appointment duration, I'm guessing about 40 minutes.

My only idea for a tip is to ask your hairstylist to teach you the next time you go in. And develop a lot of patience.
posted by emkelley at 5:42 AM on October 5, 2010

I have tons of long hair. I would plan to take an hour for it. I don't have any tips for accelerating the process, but I do get better results with air dry hair. I usually wash my hair the night before and let it dry, so the next morning, I only have to iron it.
This way I

-do less damage on my hair,
-take less time in the morning, and
-(I think) it lasts longer.
posted by Tarumba at 5:51 AM on October 5, 2010

It takes me between 30 and 40 min to blowdry my hair. I have fine hair, but quite a bit of it, and it's about to the middle of my back. That's after I hang out for 20 min with a towel around my shoulders to get the drippyness out. I don't do it often, way too much work!
posted by WowLookStars at 5:54 AM on October 5, 2010

Sorry, I forgot to add that I don't straighten my hair (I curl it!), so my numbers are for the drying only.
posted by WowLookStars at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2010

I have long, thick, coarse hair that takes 20-25 minutes to blow dry. I used to let my hair partially air dry before blow drying it, to cut down on the time, but then my hair dryer broke and I never bought a new one. Like Tarumba, I now let it fully air dry and then just iron it. Ironing only takes about 10 minutes, whereas the whole blow drying and then ironing regimen used to take at least 30.
posted by spinto at 6:03 AM on October 5, 2010

It takes me about 15 minutes to thoroughly dry my hair and 10-15 minutes to flat iron it (depending on how humid the weather is). I get the feeling that using silicone serum first helps it dry a little bit faster, but I've never timed it.

One way to speed up drying and flat ironing is to be sure you're using a dryer and an iron that get hot enough. A dryer that blows slower but hotter air will give you smoother results than a dryer that blows fast, cooler air.

I used to spend a lot more time trying to get my hair smooth and straight with a crappy flat iron. Now that I've upgraded to a better quality iron (that heats to over 350°F), I spend less time straightening because I only have to go over each bit of hair once. You don't necessarily have to drop cash on a CHI iron (unless you're doing some heavy-duty straightening), but maybe try one in the $40-$50 range from a place like Sally Beauty Supply.
posted by neushoorn at 6:20 AM on October 5, 2010

I have curly, just past shoulder length hair, and a think head of it. After a good squeeze to get out extra moisture and about 30 minutes airdrying it takes me about 40 minutes to dry it (blow it out straight, so more time than with a diffuser for curly) and another 15 for the flatiron. This is one of the reasons I would also only wash it every 3 days or so during the winter. Other times I tend to just lt it air dry curly overnight or slick it back when wet.
Note: There's no chance of my hair staying straight unless I blow dry it and flat iron. If it gets the chance to go curly first it will stay that way.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:20 AM on October 5, 2010

Longish, fine, slightly wavy hair here... takes me about 15 minutes to thoroughly blow dry and I can flatiron it straight in less than 5. When my hair is long it only waves at the ends so I don't have to deal with trying to tame my hair from the scalp down.

The only tip I know to help the process along: my hairstylist told me to hold the blowdryer above my head and blow the air down the hair shaft while pulling it straight with a brush. This creates less volume in the hair and gives you a little bit of a head start in the straightening process.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:20 AM on October 5, 2010

Long, thick, coarse hair, I'm also of the wash-it-night-before variety.

But, when I'm at my inlaws, I blow it dry. Because for some reason, the blowdryer they have is HOT - like the one used at the stylist. I have tried to replicate this at home, and cannot, no matter how much I spend on a dryer. We've decided it has to do with the fact that our wiring is new and probably up to code and theirs is not. So: get a really good, hot blow dryer to cut down on time.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:23 AM on October 5, 2010

I have thick, course, very curly hair that is at the middle of my back. To dry and really straighten it takes at least two hours. To just straighten it a day or two after washing (which is less damaging) takes at least one hour.

My best tip to cut down on the drying/straightening time: learn to like it curly or wavy. This is not snark. The heat of drying and straightening is not good for your hair, you probably have better things to do with your time, and curly/wavy hair is interesting and beautiful on its own. Plus, no worries about the humidity level outside!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2010

My head (long hair; fine but there is a LOT of it) takes about 40 minutes to flat-iron when fully dry. Blowouts take even longer.
posted by chelseagirl at 6:30 AM on October 5, 2010

I was introduced to microfiber hair towels maybe 8 years ago, when I had really really long hair. They're terrific. My routine goes as such: shower, comb out hair and squeeze water out, wrap it up in hair towel. Go do something else for 10-20 minutes (like makeup & coffee). Then blow drying takes under 10 minutes.

Also, I'm a believer in silly expensive hair dryers. Go to Sally beauty supply, (not target or cvs) and get a $70+ hair dryer. I do think they make a huge difference. See if you can get away with using a round brush, and the blow-out nozzle that'll come with the hair dryer.
posted by fontophilic at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2010

I have wavy long hair (mid-back to waist length most of the time), and it generally takes me 15-20 minutes to dry and flat iron my hair. I squeeze out the water, then wrap it in a microfiber towel while I do whatever else I need to do (makeup, etc.), then I apply product, comb through, then blow dry it loose (not brushing, just tousling) until it is 90% dry (this is the step that really saves time, I feel, since it takes MUCH longer if I try to style it from the get-go), then section it and blow dry the rest of the way, styling with a round brush, then when it's completely dry, apply a heat spray and flat iron it. I bought a good hairdryer and an excellent flat iron, I agree with fontophilic that your equipment makes a big difference.
posted by biscotti at 7:27 AM on October 5, 2010

I had very long hair most of my life and it's never taken more than 10 minutes to dry. It's fine, but thick. Wrapping it in a towel for 5 to 10 minutes beforehand is key.

Part of this has to do with where you live, too. I'm always amazed at how quickly it dries when I visit my family in Colorado, where the humidity is rarely above single digits.
posted by something something at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2010

i don't know if i can explain this. i picked it up from women in India drying their long tresses. I find alot of excess water comes out with this method and it only takes a few mins:
twist your towl from corner to corner (as if you were going to towel smack someone).
bend over, tuck your chin and let your hair hang. use the towel to 'whip' your hair. in slow-motion this would be holding the twisted towel end to end. the middle of the towel should be on your forehead then drag the towel out so that the towel slides under your hanging hair. if you do it really fast, the water snaps out. you can do this on the underside and outside of your hanging hair. caution:water will splash everwhere.
posted by UltraD at 9:32 AM on October 5, 2010

In case you're not already doing this..."pre-dry" your hair. Before you do anything with a brush, just blow out your hair section by section till it's 90% dry, or even more. I start with the top few inches of all the hair, lifting up the hair on top and blowing the hair that's hanging down. After doing the hair that's close to the head, I do the rest of the hair till it's very slightly damp. Only then do I begin working with both dryer and brush.

When I first went from wavy to straight, it did take me a frustratingly long time. But with practice, my time got better. Also, I gradually learned how to get it quite straight even before using the iron.
posted by wryly at 11:47 AM on October 5, 2010

A microfiber towel will make a huge difference. I am also a proponent of air drying the night before, flat ironing in the AM.
posted by mintchip at 1:24 PM on October 5, 2010

Trevyn, you don't mention if you have curly and/or frizzy hair.

On the off-chance that you don't: for me (thick, mostly straight shoulder-blade-length hair) a blowdry at the haidressers takes probably twenty, twenty five minutes. They don't need to straighten it, because they are wizards with the hairdryer!

Blowdrying it myself takes probably ten minutes (I squeeze out excess hair-water in the shower, and then wrap it in a turban when I get out of the shower for a few mins, to wick out any remaining water) but it looks a mess, and I always straighten it, but this probably only takes another five minutes. The trick for me is a really powerful hairdryer, a pair of GHDs, a weekly conditioning treatment and regular haircuts to get rid of any split ends. I don't really believe that blowdrying or straightening = hair death. I also don't believe it is physically possible to blowdry your own hair to a salon standard. YMMV.
posted by citands at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2010

things that could help speed up the process:

microfiber/wicking blotting towel, per mintchip

better dryer. higher wattage, ceramic/ionic heating element. consider investing in a pro-stylist model (i love my 'chi' dryer!!!).

water displacing products: paul mitchell super-skinny serum was my go-to, but there are whole shampoo/conditioner lines, usually labelled 'smoothing' or 'straightening.'
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:45 PM on October 5, 2010

I timed it this morning, it took me 15 minutes (from plugging the flat iron in) to flat iron. I do air dry over night, because for some reason I never mastered the art of blow drying.

I also ignore the instruction manual and turn the heat up as high as it will go. I think what makes the biggest difference, though, is how I section it. Obviously brush it first...

Split it half to each side (down my part), on one side I split it "top hair" and "bottom hair" and clip the top hair up. I do the bottom hair on one side first, in big sections, starting at the back and working my way forward (grab a section, run the brush through it, run the flat iron down it once, keeping tension by gripping it in front of the iron, maybe hit the ends again if it needs it). Then I do the top hair in slightly smaller sections on the same side. (I do about 4-5 sections on the bottom and about 6 for top hair, per side.) Repeat for the other side.

My hair is wavy/frizzy, thick, and somewhere between mid to lower back. I get it wet (and usually flat iron) twice a week, my scalp gets gross before I feel like my hair has un-straightened.
posted by anaelith at 9:33 AM on October 7, 2010

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