Nothing in my life has simultaneously taught me love, patience, and pain quite like my one-and-a-half-year relationship with bright red hair. Before moving to New York, I had never strayed from my natural shade: a combination of black and sun-toasted brunette. But, when Cutler Salon‘s colorist extraordinaire, Ryan Pearl, asked me if I wanted to try switching it up, the first thing that popped into my head was, “I must have burgundy highlights.”
One session, and I was completely hooked on the way my whole face seemed to light up when it was surrounded by a colorful halo. From there, I went steadily redder and redder in the hands of Pearl and my favorite Bumble and bumble colorist, Diaz. What started as some subtly painted pieces gradually began taking over my entire head, intensifying with each session. For three weeks, I’d feel on top of the world—and then, the fading would begin.
If you’ve flirted with any kind of cranberry or scarlet shade before, you’ll be familiar with the anguish over its short-lived stay. Red dye molecules are especially large, so they disappear from your strands quickly. The intense hues I gravitated toward also had a tendency to bleed all over my belongings whenever my hair was damp. “Why are you doing this to me?!” I would wail as I inspected the swaths of red covering my towels. I didn’t want to consistently blow-dry, either; heat damage was the last thing I wanted on my hair, which had to be repeatedly bleached in order to achieve the vibrant red results.
Luckily for both my hair color and my emotional state, I discovered Aquis a few months into this ongoing catastrophe. The brand is known for their hair towels and turbans—I prefer the latter as they loop around your head and fasten shut, staying securely put as you go about your daily routine. As someone who typically gets her towels from the dorm section at Target, I raised an eyebrow at the $30 price tag, which led to me extensively grill founder Britta Cox about its properties.
Cox calls the fabric “Aquitex”—it’s a synthetic woven material with ultra-fine channels that quickly draw water in at the point of contact. Compared to textured cotton towels, the fibers are much smaller and finer, actively wicking water away without causing friction. It also lacks the tiny loops you see on both cotton and quick-drying microfiber towels; these are great for grabbing dust, but can also snag on your hair cuticles and cause frizz, particularly when they’re wet.
“I was going to the ski [trade] shows where I saw all the first wicking fabrics as they came to market,” explains Cox, who formerly worked with Italian skiwear brand, Colmar, and discovered an unexpected source of inspiration. “I found the company in Japan that invented the first wicking fabrics and worked with them to make a towel.” From a close-up standpoint, the use of moisture-absorbing channels in the place of loops encourages the hair cuticle to lay flat, which cuts down on frizz, breakage, and color loss.
I explain all of this in minute detail so you can have a better appreciation for how it works in practice. Aquis’ towels take my hair from dripping-wet to damp in 5 to 10 minutes, but I find that they also make it dry much smoother and shinier. There’s no rubbing necessary with these—something you should avoid doing anyway, as the friction leads to damage—just sandwich your hair and press gently or (in the case of the turban), wrap it up. If I want to coax out my natural waves, I lightly scrunch sections at the end of the process.
Weirdly, my favorite thing about these used to be cleaning them on laundry day. The directions for care are simple—just throw them in the washing machine with warm water and detergent, avoiding bleach or fabric softeners. (You can dry them on the gentle cycle or hang-dry.) Every time I did so, I would notice that there was barely any red to be seen on the towel, aside from a few, faint imprints. It’s true that I’ve since given up on red and reverted back to my original shade, but during the period that I committed to that beautiful, patience-trying color, these were my everything. And now that I’m caring for a relatively low-maintenance hue, I still refuse to use anything else. They’re just that good.
Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban, $30, ulta.com