Now we come to the step where most people do the most harm to their hair. It's astonishing how brutal some people are when they towel-dry their hair. A friend of mine used to complain to me that he couldn't understand why his hair kept coming out in his hairbrush. One day while waiting for him to get ready to go to a movie, I watched him drying his hair after a shower (his hair is shoulder length) and he laid the towel over his head and proceeded to act as though he were trying to buff his scalp. He rubbed the towel over his head (and his hair) so roughly that when he removed the towel he looked as though he'd been through a wind tunnel.
He then proceeded to grab up his hairbrush and rake it through the knotted mass he'd just created. I winced as I could actually hear the strands of hair "popping" as they broke off. Amazingly, this is not an uncommon problem. I've noted similar abuses among several of my clients, who are all apparently unaware of the damage they are causing and don't know how to properly dry hair.
When the hair is wet, it is most vulnerable to stretching and breakage. To properly dry the hair, you should first squeeze out the excess water as described above (running the hands over the head and neck, and pinching the hair between two fingers to force out the water from the ends of long hair). Next take your towel and lay it over the head and blot the water from the hair by pressing the towel to the scalp and squeezing the hair length between the folds of the towel. You can massage the towel on the scalp area, but use only the fingertips and very small movements (less than ½ an inch [or 1.5cm]). Ideally, you should turban your hair up into the towel and leave it there for 10 to 15 minutes. While your hair is turbaned, you can dry the rest of your body and do other things, like getting dressed.
This does mean that you'll need to use more than one towel, but the benefit is that your hair will be much easier to style, especially if you have very long hair, which can become knotted and matted when wet if not treated gently. Once the hair has had time for the towel to absorb the water, take down the turban and use a wide-tooth comb, working from the ends of the hair upward to comb out the damp hair until it is smooth. It's always recommended that you use a wide-tooth comb to detangle damp hair. It provides even, low tension to separate tangled strands. Some people have been known to use "pronged" brushes, but unless the prongs of the brush are sufficiently spaced, you end up with the hair being directed in multiple directions at once and it can result in breakage. A comb with wide-set teeth is a much safer choice.
At this point, your hair is ready for styling, and we can cover the common mistakes of the varied styling processes at another time.