What is the Best Material for Hair Towels?

When drying your hair after a shower or wash, using the right hair towel is crucial for keeping your strands healthy and minimizing damage.

What is the Best Material for Hair Towels

Not all towels are created equal when it comes to hair health – the material your hair towel is made from can make a big difference.

Certain materials like cotton and terrycloth can cause friction, frizz and breakage if used on wet hair. More gentle, absorbent fabrics like microfiber and bamboo are better options.

Terrycloth Towels

Terrycloth is the most common towel material. It’s made by looping cotton threads to create a woven fabric with piles of loops or nap on both sides.


  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Very absorbent due to dense pile
  • Durable and long-lasting


  • Too rough and causes friction on delicate wet hair
  • Can disrupt curl patterns and cause frizz
  • Promotes split ends and breakage

While terrycloth works great as a body towel, it’s too harsh and abrasive for wet hair. The loops can snag onto strands and cause damage. Most experts recommend avoiding regular terry towels for hair drying.

Cotton Towels

Cotton is a popular choice for bath and hand towels. Cotton towels are made from cotton fibers woven into a smooth, flat fabric without any loops or piles.


  • Softer and less abrasive than terrycloth
  • More affordable than microfiber
  • Available in wide range of colors/prints


  • Not as absorbent as terrycloth or microfiber
  • Can still be too rough for fragile wet hair
  • Promotes frizz and splits ends when rubbed

While better than terrycloth, regular cotton towels are still not ideal for delicate wet hair. When rubbed vigorously to dry hair, the flat woven fabric can damage cuticles and cause frizz. However, gently patting hair with a cotton T-shirt is less harmful than using a bath towel.

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber hair towels are made from extremely fine synthetic fibers that are tightly woven into a lightweight, quick-drying fabric.


  • Ultra gentle and smooth texture
  • Super absorbent material
  • Fastest drying time
  • Reduces frizz and damage


  • More expensive than cotton
  • Needs special laundry care

With a smooth, polished finish, microfiber causes less friction against hair strands, preventing breakage of wet hair. The proprietary microfibers rapidly wick moisture without roughing up delicate cuticles or stripping natural oils. This makes microfiber the top choice towel material for hair drying.

Key Takeaway: Microfiber hair towels made of ultra-fine synthetic fibers are the overall best towel material for wet hair. The super absorbent, non-abrasive fabric dries hair smoothly without damage or frizz.

Bamboo Fiber Towels

Bamboo towels are made from natural bamboo pulp fibers, an eco-friendly and sustainable material.


  • Naturally antibacterial
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Highly absorbent
  • Dries hair faster than cotton


  • Not as soft as microfiber
  • More expensive than regular towels
  • Needs delicate laundering

While not as smooth as microfiber, bamboo fiber is still gentler on wet hair than cotton terrycloth. The highly porous material also absorbs water well and dries hair faster with less friction. Overall, bamboo is a good middle-ground option between regular cotton and pricier microfiber.

Silk Towels

Some high-end hair towels are wrapped in a layer of antimicrobial silk over microfiber fabric.


  • Ultra smooth silk minimizes friction
  • Retains moisture well
  • Helps reduce split ends


  • Very expensive
  • Needs delicate laundering
  • Less absorbent

The slippery texture of silk glides over wet hair with no tugging or pulling, preserving the hair cuticle. Silk contains amino acids that can help strengthen hair. However, silk hair wraps don’t absorb water well and need to be paired with a microfiber inner layer. This makes them a pricier option.

Hemp Fiber Towels

Hemp fiber hair towels are made from the fibers of the fast-growing hemp plant.


  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable
  • Naturally antibacterial


  • Coarse, rough texture
  • Lower absorbency
  • Not commonly available

While hemp fiber is very sustainable, towels made from these fibers tend to be thicker and rougher than bamboo or cotton. This makes hemp towels too harsh for delicate wet hair overall. Very few hemp hair towels are manufactured.

Jersey Cotton Towels

Jersey refers to cotton fabric made with single knit construction for stretch and softness. Jersey cotton towels are smooth t-shirt material.


  • Extremely soft texture
  • Gentle for sensitive scalps


  • Thin material doesn’t absorb much water
  • Needs to be paired with microfiber layer

T-shirt towels made of ultra-soft jersey cotton are gentle on hair and can reduce friction and frizz compared to terrycloth. However, the thin knit fabric doesn’t absorb moisture well. These towels work best when layered over microfiber for absorption.

Acrylic Fiber Towels

Some budget hair towels contain acrylic fibers blended with cotton or microfiber to reduce cost.


  • Inexpensive


  • Acrylic fiber causes static
  • Traps heat against hair
  • Can be scratchy or rough

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber often added to fabrics like fleece. But when used in hair towels, the plastic-based fibers can generate static electricity and heat that damage hair. Acrylic also feels dry and scratchy compared to smooth microfiber. It’s best to avoid acrylic-blend towels.

How to Choose the Best Hair Towel Material

When selecting a hair towel, the material is the most important factor. Consider these criteria:

  • Absorbency – The towel should rapidly soak up water without saturated fibers. Microfiber, bamboo and silk/microfiber blends work best.
  • Gentleness – Choose ultra-smooth, non-abrasive fabrics like microfiber or silk that won’t tug on wet hair.
  • Fast-drying – Microfiber towels offer the quickest dry time, while tightly woven bamboo dries faster than regular cotton.
  • Special care – Some materials like silk or bamboo may need delicate washing.
  • Eco-friendly – Bamboo and hemp towels are more sustainable options.

No matter your budget or needs, there is a hair towel material that will be gentle, absorbent and perfect for your hair type. Avoid terrycloth and seek out microfiber or bamboo fiber for healthy, damage-free drying.

Additional Considerations for Hair Towels

Beyond fabric, here are some other factors to keep in mind:


If you have long or thick hair, choose an oversized towel or wrap that will accommodate all your hair without falling off. For short styles, compact towels work well.


Look for towels with button straps, twist ties or elastic bands to securely contain your hair while drying. These features prevent slippage.

Special Features

Some towels have satin edging, protective caps or extra-long tails to bundle up hair. Consider options with features to meet your specific hair needs.


Hair towels come in a rainbow of colors and fun prints to brighten your bath routine.


Prices range widely from $5 basic cotton towels to $50 for luxury bamboo and microfiber wraps. Set a budget before you shop.

Caring for Your Hair Towel

  • Shake out wet towels immediately after use and allow to fully air dry between uses to prevent mildew buildup in damp fibers.
  • Wash periodically in cold water to remove residue. Skip fabric softeners and bleach.
  • Line dry or tumble dry on low heat. High heat can damage microfiber and bamboo fabric.
  • For silk/microfiber wraps, follow delicate washing instructions.

Taking proper care of your hair towel will help it last longer and maintain its soft, absorbent qualities over time.

Drying Hair with a Microfiber Towel

Using a microfiber hair towel properly is key to reaping all the benefits. Here are some tips:

  • Start with freshly washed, conditioned hair. Apply any leave-in treatments before drying.
  • Gently squeeze out excess moisture with your hands first.
  • Wrap your hair loosely in the towel, leaving the ends exposed. Avoid rubbing.
  • Let hair sit wrapped for 5-10 minutes. For thicker hair, wrap a second towel on top.
  • Unwrap hair, then air or blow dry gently using heat protectant sprays if needed.

Proper technique keeps wet hair safe from damage while the microfiber extracts moisture. Less heat is required to finish drying, allowing for healthier styling overall.

Key Takeaway: Wrap damp hair loosely in a microfiber towel without rubbing, allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, then gently air or blow dry remaining moisture using heat protection if needed.

Common Hair Towel Materials Comparison

MaterialAbsorbencyGentlenessDrying TimeCostEco-Friendly
MicrofiberExcellentExcellentVery fastModerateNo
BambooVery goodModerateFastModerateYes

This table summarizes how common hair towel materials compare on key attributes. Microfiber leads across categories as the overall best performing fabric, while eco-friendly bamboo also scores well for a natural fiber option. Standard terry and cotton towels lag behind.


Are microfiber towels better for hair?

Yes, microfiber is widely considered the best towel material for healthy hair drying. The ultra-fine synthetic fibers create a smooth, non-abrasive texture that rapidly absorbs water without damaging delicate wet hair or causing friction that leads to frizz and breakage.

What material should you not use on your hair?

Avoid using regular terrycloth or cotton bath towels to dry your hair, as the woven loops or rough surface can snag onto hair strands, resulting in breakage, split ends and frizz. Also steer clear of towels containing abrasive acrylic or polyester fibers which can irritate the scalp.

Is bamboo or cotton better for hair?

Both bamboo and cotton are natural fiber materials that can work for hair, but bamboo is superior in absorbency, drying speed and durability over regular cotton towels. Bamboo fibers have naturally antibacterial properties as well. The smooth, tightly woven texture also causes less friction to hair strands compared to cotton terrycloth.

Does microfiber damage hair?

Correctly made microfiber hair towels will not damage hair. The extremely fine synthetic fibers produce an ultra-smooth texture that won’t pull on hair cuticles during drying. Avoid microfiber containing any coarse or stiff fibers that could rough up hair strands. Proper construction is key.

Can you use a t-shirt to dry your hair?

Although not very absorbent, using an old 100% cotton t-shirt to gently pat dry hair can minimize damage compared to rubbing with a cotton terrycloth towel. The soft jersey knit doesn’t pull on hair, reducing frizz and breakage versus regular toweling. Make sure not to scrub too roughly. Layering a t-shirt over a microfiber towel gives the benefits of both.


When it comes to selecting the best hair towel for a healthy drying process, microfiber reigns supreme as the top fabric choice. The proprietary microfibers used in quality hair towels absorb tons of moisture without roughing up delicate wet strands like cotton terrycloth towels do.

Smooth, absorbent microfiber causes less friction, decreases drying time, and minimizes hair damage compared to regular bath towels. This translates to noticeably less frizz, fewer split ends, and visibly healthier, more vibrant hair overall with continued use.

While bamboo and other natural fiber towels can also work, none offer the same friction-free gentleness on hair as featherlight microfiber. Investing in a good microfiber hair wrap designed specifically for haircare will transform your drying routine for the better.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.