Giving your hair a break from hot tools regularly is the best way to dodge damage. But for some, the thought of letting their hair air-dry is unfathomable—especially in the throes of summer humidity.
To help you make it work, we talked to a few hair experts to learn how to set hair up for a perfect air dry, no matter its texture. Picking the right products to suit your hair’s needs is key— whether your mop lies flat and limp when it dries on its own, or poofs up and frizzes like crazy. Anyone can achieve gorgeous air-dried hair, says Oribe Hair Care Educator Adam Livermore. “But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few steps and a little work involved (the work just won’t involve a blow dryer).
Here, Livermore and another hair pro, L’Oréal Paris Consulting Hair Expert Mara Roszak, outline how to get gorgeous air-dried hair.
Step one starts in the shower: “Choose the right shampoo and conditioner in order to create the right finished texture,” says Livermore. Since most people’s hair has a tendency to frizz when air-drying, he recommends a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, such as Oribe Shampoo and Conditioner for Moisture & Control, for extra smoothing. If you have finer hair that tends to dry flat, use a lightweight shampoo and conditioner that also hydrates—we like Dove Oxygen Moisture for Fine, Flat Hair.
After showering, brush and towel dry your hair. Squeeze water out, don’t rub. This will keep the cuticle smooth, preventing water from evaprotating out and helping you battle frizz. (For best results, try a super-absorbent microfiber towel.) “Don’t apply products to sopping wet hair. Hair should be damp, not wet,” says Roszak.
Now, choose your styling products according to your hair’s specific needs. “For thicker hair, apply a frizz-taming product like L’Oreal Paris OleoTherapy Oil Essence Oil to ends and work your way up,” Roszak recommends. For fine hair, apply a root-boost spray that helps create volume, like L’Oreal Paris Boost It High Lift Creation Spray. To achieve a more undone texture or accentuate natural wave (if you’ve got it), try L’Oreal Paris Txt It Tousle Waves Spray or Oribe Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse.
Then use a comb or your fingers to arrange hair into the desired style for drying so it dries in the shape you want. Thin hair tends to dry limp—you can avoid this by twisting wet hair up into a bun after you’ve applied a styling cream with a bit of a hold like Oribe Crème for Style, Livermore says. Let it down when it’s almost dry, and voila: “You’ll be left with soft, voluminous waves.”A few more styling tips from Roszak: “Comb hair back tight off the face, or parted to a side bun. Using heavy-duty bobby pins to secure is better than an elastic so as not to crease the hair.” A loose side braid is another great option. “Not only does it look cute, but it gives the hair texture when you take it out,” Roszak adds. Let hair dry most of the way in the bun or braid, and when it’s still a tinge damp, let it down and allow to naturally air dry the rest of the way.
If a nighttime shower is more your speed, Livermore explains how to give new life to your pillow-pressed tresses. When you get up in the morning, spray a dry texturizing spray like Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray throughout your hair, and twist and piece hair apart for a little separation. “This will make the style look more intentional,” he notes, instead of just flat out disheveled.
Using styling products strategically will help you create a natural, effortless look that’s free of heat damage and embraces—and enhances—the natural texture of your hair. “Over time it can make a difference on the health of your hair as well as cut down your styling time,” notes Roszak. Sounds like a win-win to us!