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I’m very low maintenance with my hair, so there are very few products that make a significant difference in my routine. I was initially a bit skeptical about how much impact a towel could have, but surprisingly, I’ve seen massive improvements from using Aquis hair towels!
I’ve always felt that I should be better about drying my hair – I usually shower at night, wrap my hair in my bath towel for a few minutes, then let it air dry while telling myself that it’s OK because I’m reducing hair damage (it’s really because my arm gets tired from holding the hair dryer). Right before I go to sleep (my hair is usually still wet at this stage), I pineapple my hair with a coil hair tie. The issues are:
- The wet towel is heavy and has given me a crick in my neck on more than one occasion (the actual worst)
- While the towel is on, I can’t make any sudden movements or the towel will flop onto whatever I’m doing, often breaking off some hair with it
- Once my neck has had enough I take the towel off, but usually this isn’t long enough so my hair drips onto my back. This gets very cold in winter
- My hair is usually still quite wet when I go to sleep, so I often get a cold head, or I wake up with kinky hair
I’ve been using the Original Lisse Towel for the initial blot of my wet hair, and the Lisse Luxe Turban which wraps around your head and secures at the back with a loop and button. I’m disappointed I didn’t try them earlier! Switching to Aquis towels has solved all of these problems I listed, as well as some I didn’t know I had.
How Aquis Towels Work
Aquis towels are made of ultra absorbent, super fine polyester/nylon Aquitex fibres that are split to 1/100th the width of a single human hair. They’re woven in a way that wicks water away much faster through improved capillary action, and distributes it over the towel very efficiently. This means two things: the Aquis towel absorbs far faster than a regular towel, and can absorb a lot more water in total as well, for its weight. It also does it with less effort – the efficient wicking means you need to move the towel around less to soak up the same amount of water.
The graph below shows time (seconds) vs total water absorption (as a percentage of the towel’s weight) for a normal cotton towel vs some of Aquis’s microfibre materials. The slope at the beginning shows how quickly the materials absorb (Aquis is much faster than cotton, as seen from the steep slopes), while the height of the final plateau shows how much water they end up absorbing (3-4 times its own weight for the Aquis towels, vs 2 times for the normal towel).
So how much difference does a really absorbent towel make? Turns out it’s quite a lot! I’ve found myself getting really annoyed when I’ve forgotten to take the towel into the bathroom (which has led to a lot of towel-retrieving nudie runs).
Here’s what’s so great about these towels:
Less Hair Damage
Because Aquis towels dry your hair much faster, your hair isn’t be in its vulnerable wet state for as long. When your hair is wet, the cortex (inner spongy layer of your hair) can soak up 30% of its own weight in water and swell up. The cortex contains lots of keratin and is usually the part of your hair that gives it its strength, but adding water reduces keratin’s structural integrity by up to 1/3 (the technical version: water breaks the hydrogen bond reinforcements in its structure). This makes your hair much more prone to stretching past its breaking point. If you want to see this in action, get two similar strands of hair, soak one in water for a few minutes, then see how easy it is to snap each hair in half!
Wet hair also contributes to chipping of the protective outer hair cuticle. The scales of the cuticle usually lie flat and overlap like shingles, forming protective armour on the surface of each hair. When the hair swells, the cuticle scales stand up.
Any rough treatment at this point (rubbing with a towel, brushing, combing, even vigorous shampooing) will cause the cuticles to snag on each other and break off. Over time, your hair accumulates this damage which makes it duller and leads to split ends and breakage. The effectiveness of Aquis towels means you don’t have to rub your hair aggressively to dry it and risk chipping off the cuticle. Instead, gentle squeezing will be enough to dry your hair. I actually found that firm squeezing with an Aquis towel for a minute left my hair noticeably drier than when I rubbed vigorously with a normal cotton towel!
The design of the Aquis fibres also contributes to the reduced damage. Instead of the loops found in cotton towels and regular microfibre, Aquis material uses flatter fibres which glide over hair easily and don’t snag. You can see the lessened damage in the hair shaft closeups below (dried with Aquis on the left, dried with cotton on the right).
Faster drying also reduces blow drying and the accompanying heat damage afterwards if you’re into that. The drier your hair is before you start blasting it, the less likely you are to get “bubble hair”, when water inside the hair boils explosively with heat, causing massive damage as it busts its way out of your hair.
I haven’t noticed this myself, but a lot of reviews of Aquis also mention that dyed hair fades slower when using an Aquis towel, which isn’t surprising since it’s much gentler on hair. I have noticed less flyaways since using the towel though, especially at the ends of my hair.
The highly absorbent Aquis material dries hair much faster than regular cotton towels, and with very little effort – it cuts my active towel-drying time by half, then sitting with the turban on for half an hour does the rest. My ridiculously thick hair is just slightly damp a few hours later, which is unheard of!
The towels are also unbelievably light – again, due to their effectiveness, you don’t need as much material to soak up the same amount of water. The turban and towel are both very comfortable to wear, and even if you just have the towel, you can secure it by tucking the end into the back. I love being able to get right back to doing things after a shower, without having to worry about carting a heavy towel around.
Because Aquis towels are so thin and wick so effectively, I’ve also found that they dry very quickly and don’t build up any nasty damp smells, even when I’m terrible and forget to hang them up to dry.
The only very minor inconvenience with these towels is that they need a little extra TLC when laundering: you need to wash them before use, and they don’t play well with powder detergents or fabric softener. I found that they did fine in the regular wash in a delicates bag… which isn’t that much extra work, really (it’s not like you have to handwash them!) but something to keep in mind.
Would you recommend Aquis towels?
Quite obviously, yes! If your hair is long, takes a while to dry, or suffers from damage, I think an Aquis towel could make a big difference to your routine!
If your hair is short or dries in no time, then you’ve won the hair lotto and I doubt this will help you much.
The Original Hair Towel (around $21 USD) is my top pick. They also have a version for long hair available with an extra 5 inches for around $25, although I found that the normal version was large enough for my mid-back-length hair. Adding the turban really ups the convenience factor, but it’s the towel that does the heavy lifting (the turban + towel set is $50).
Where can you buy Aquis towels?
You can buy them through the Aquis website, with a money-back guarantee for US customers if you don’t like it after a 3 week trial (they also ship internationally but without the guarantee). They also have a store locator and online stockist list here, which includes FeelUnique, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, and Bed Bath and Beyond. There’s also Amazon.
VNE Robinson, A study of damaged hair (open access), J Soc Cosmet Chem 1976, 27, 155-161.
SE Kelly and VNE Robinson, The effect of grooming on the hair cuticle (open access), J Soc Cosmet Chem 1982, 33, 203-215.
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