After every shower—or at least, every time you wash your hair—comes the question of whether you should blow-dry or air-dry hair. Blow-drying may seem preferable if an ultra-sleek style is what you’re after, but repeatedly using heat tools can take a toll on the appearance and health of your strands. No matter how much we love super-smooth styles, potential damage is a solid reason to take a break from heat styling. So, we’re officially recruiting you to the heat-free styling club!
Instead of blow-drying your hair after every shower, embrace your natural texture and rock totally gorgeous, air-dried tresses. Trust us, setting your blow drier aside doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your beauty look. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of how to air dry hair, tips to perfect your air-drying technique, and our best air dry hair products to take your heat-free styling skills to the next level.
IS IT BETTER TO LET YOUR HAIR AIR DRY?
As we mentioned above, consistently using heat tools on your mane can negatively affect your strands. And of course, that’s the last thing you want. By opting to air dry hair, you can allow your hair to dry naturally and reduce damage, making for a better-looking (and feeling) mane in the long run. Sure, it may be a bit painful to give your beloved tools a break, but the results are worth it.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR HAIR TO AIR DRY?
As you can see, air-drying hair is a great technique to keep your strands in shape, but you’re probably wondering how long it actually takes. The truth is, it really depends on your hair type and the length of your hair. Typically, it can take up to three hours for hair to completely dry, but if you’re working with thicker textures, it can take even longer. However, the key to speeding up the process is to ensure that you remove excess water from your strands.
OUR BEST AIR DRY HAIR PRODUCTS
Before we walk you through how to air dry hair, here’s an overview of our best hair products for air-drying your hair.
L’Oréal Paris EverSleek Frizz Finish Oil-In-Serum: This luxurious hair serum provides humidity and frizz control plus weightless shine for a smooth, silky finish. Apply a pump or two to damp strands to help tame frizz and smooth each strand.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle CURVE IT Elastic Curl Mousse: Who says you can’t bring curls to life by air drying your mane? This lightweight curl mousse offers high-definition with a lasting hold so you can have soft and bouncy curls that last.
L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty: Another supposed pitfall of air-drying hair is the dreaded loss of volume—but it doesn’t have to be that way! Use this putty to create instant texture and pump up the volume.
HOW TO AIR DRY HAIR
You might be chuckling at the thought that air-drying your hair actually requires a technique—but believe it or not, it does! Ready to learn the right way to air dry hair? Follow our step-by-step tutorial to do just that.
1. RID YOUR HAIR OF EXCESS WATER
Before you hop out of the shower, embrace your inner puppy, and shake out any excess water from your strands. Like we noted above, this will help speed up the air-drying process.
2. USE A STRAND-SMOOTHER
If your biggest concern is how to air dry your hair without frizzing it, we get it. Sometimes, letting your hair air dry can lead to unwanted frizz. To help manage that, simply work a bit of a frizz-fighting serum or cream through your damp strands. As a result, your strands will sport a neat and polished appearance.
3. PAT, DON’T RUB, YOUR HAIR
We get it: Just patting your hair dry doesn’t always seem as satisfying (or efficient) as a good rub. Trust us, though; it’s the way to go! Patting your hair is a whole lot gentler than rubbing it aggressively. It’s also a good idea to use something softer than your average towel to dry your hair. We recommend grabbing an old T-shirt to wrap your hair up with.
4. CAREFULLY DETANGLE
When your hair is almost fully dry, unwrap it and use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle your hair, starting at your ends and working your way up to your roots. These combs are the ultimate ally for wet hair because the extra space between the teeth allows hair to pass through easily without added friction.
5. STYLE ACCORDINGLY
With only a small amount of time sitting between you and the air-dried locks of your dreams, it’s time to determine how you want to style your hair. Which leads us to…
THE BEST AIR DRY HAIRSTYLES
Now that you’ve brushed up on your air-drying basics, let's talk air-dried hairstyles! Embrace and enhance your natural texture with any of the following heat-free hairstyles.
1. CREATE BEACH WAVES
Satisfy your inner mermaid and rock seriously beachy waves all year long with this simple trick: When your hair is still damp, apply an egg-sized amount of curl mousse before braiding your tresses. The number of braids you create will determine how defined your waves are; weave one or two for looser waves and four to five for tighter ones. Once your hair feels about 95 percent dry, undo your braids and enjoy your summery look.
2. PUMP UP THE VOLUME
Looking for a lived-in hairstyle? In that case, a voluminous, textured mane is for you! All you have to do is add a little bit of pomade or paste to dry hair to create instant texture and thickness. Start with a dime-sized amount of product, rub it between your palms, and then work it through your hair. Add more product as desired to create the perfect amount of carefree, undone texture.
3. GO FOR A ROMANTIC VIBE
What better way to look seriously feminine and totally chic than to frame your face with romantic curls? To get the look, all you have to do is massage a dime-sized amount of curl mousse, scrunch, tuck your strands behind your ear and let air dry. To give your face-framing strands those Hollywood-esque exaggerated bends, grab a couple of bobby pins and secure them in place over the hair that’s tucked behind your ears. Once your hair is dry, remove the bobby pins, shake out your hair, and rock your red carpet-ready tresses.
4. TIGHT CURLS
That’s right—it is totally possible to get curly (or at least curlier) strands, sans any hot tools. To do so, apply a healthy amount of hair mousse onto damp strands. Next, scrunch up your ends to your head, and repeat throughout your hair until all of your strands are naturally coiled.
5. KEEP IT LOOSE
Sport your natural hairstyle, just a bit more refined. To do so, apply a light-hold hair cream throughout damp strands. Distribute the product evenly all the way from your roots through the ends of your hair, combing through with your fingers, then simply let your mane dry all on its own.
6. BANTU KNOTS
Working with a natural mane? Consider Bantu knots your go-to for air-dried hair! A technique and curly hairstyle balled up into one, this method is all about giving your mane defined, full, and frizz-free curls that go the distance. Best of all, it’s super easy to pull together. Simply create a one-inch part in your damp hair. Start twisting your strands from the root to the ends, and your hair will begin to twist into itself. Twist the section tightly into a mini bun and secure with a hair tie. Repeat until you have a head full of Bantu knots.
Cover your head with a silk scarf or bonnet and leave your Bantu knots in place overnight. In the a.m., gently undo each Bantu knot and finger-comb your strands for a gorgeous set of curls. Add a touch of shine spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Precious Oil Satin Hairspray, and you’re ready to take on our day.