To air-dry or not to air-dry? For most people, the decision comes down to how well you know your hair and the products you’re using. On the one hand, it’s good to give your strands a break from constant heat styling and potential damage — but if you don’t know how to control your strands to air-dry the right way, you’re likely to be left with a less-than-satisfying-looking head of hair.
Skip the second guessing and step away from that blowdryer: here are our favorite tips, styling tricks, and recommended hair products to turn you into an air-dried hair pro. Since different hair types require different care, we’ll be suggesting curated products and routines to fit your specific needs.
1. Use shampoo and conditioner formulated for your hair type
For Curly Hair
Curly hair needs very specific care — if you want your curls to look their best, you need to look for products that can provide adequate moisture, definition, and control. Find a curl shampoo and curl conditioner to boost the potential of your curls and waves — the Noto almond extract in these Davines curl products are rich in proteins and vitamins that help to elasticize and add volume to curly hair.
For Coily or Textured Hair
Like with wavy and curly hair, coily or textured hair needs adequate moisture to look its best. You can use the curl shampoo and conditioner mentioned above, but consider co-washing your hair with a curl cleansing cream to give your strands a break from frequent shampooing.
For Straight Hair
Curly and coily hair might need extra moisture, but that doesn’t mean all hair types won’t benefit from making sure your strands are properly hydrated. Try a moisturizing shampoo and moisturizing conditioner like MOMO. The Cartucciaru melon extract is extremely hydrating and packed with Vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.
For Colored Hair
If your hair is cosmetically colored, or if you just want to illuminate your natural shades, choose color-friendly hair products that won’t strip your strands of pigment or shine. The Salina caper extract in MINU color shampoo and color conditioner contains color-protecting polyphenols, giving you long-lasting brilliance and shine.
For Frizzy Hair
One of the most common concerns with air-dying your hair is the potential for it to dry into an out-of-control, frizzy mess. Lock in moisture and lock out frizz and flyaways with the right smoothing shampoo and smoothing conditioner. The Minuta olive extract in LOVE Smoothing is abundant in fatty acids and Vitamin E, which are extremely nourishing, softening, and moisturizing.
2. Brush in the shower
Ever tried brushing your hair in the shower to fight tangles? If you find yourself struggling to brush out knots after washing your hair, you can try brushing your hair in the shower with a wide-tooth comb after applying your conditioner. Not only will this help to detangle before you towel-dry, but it can also help you evenly distribute conditioner throughout your hair to keep it healthy and moisturized.
3. Rinse with cold water.
After washing and conditioning your hair, finish with a cold water rinse to lock in shine and fight frizz and flyaways. Cold water helps the cuticle of your hair lie flat, leaving you with shinier hair (and a stronger foundation for a successfully air-dried hair).
4. Start by towel-drying your hair
Even though you’re air-drying, you should still start by towel-drying to remove excess water. Use a microfiber towel to gently absorb water, without roughing up your hair like traditional cotton towels can do.
5. Apply products based on your hair type
Different hair types need different styling routines — make sure the styling and leave-in prep products you’re using are going to help you lock in your desired look when air-drying. A good sea salt spray can add beachy texture to wavy hair, a curl prep cream will lock in moisture and definition, and someone with fine or limp hair can use a moisturizing leave-in spray to keep strands detangled and happy.
6. How to air dry your hair, no matter your hair type
IF YOUR HAIR IS WAVY
- Wash and condition your hair with a frizz-fighting shampoo and conditioner.
- After towel-drying and detangling with a wide-tooth comb, apply a leave-in anti-frizz cream.
- If you have looser waves, gently scrunch up from the ends and let them air-dry. But if you have more defined waves, use the finger coiling technique to help set their shape and discourage frizz.
IF YOUR HAIR IS CURLY OR COILY
- Wash and condition your hair with a curl shampoo and conditioner. Curly hair can usually go unwashed for longer periods than non-curly hair — check out our post on how often you should wash your hair to learn more.
- After towel-drying and detangling (making sure not to remove too much water), apply a primer or curl cream to encourage definition and elasticity.
- Now you can choose the air-drying method you prefer: many people with curly hair are fans of plopping, but be sure to check out our post “Six Curly Hair Hacks for Naturally Curly Hair” to see some other options.
IF YOUR HAIR IS FINE
- Wash and condition your hair with a volume-boosting shampoo and conditioner.
- Spray a volumizing spray onto detangled and towel-dried hair.
- For additional body and texture, spray a sea salt spray and gently scrunch your hair from the ends to the roots.
IF YOUR HAIR IS COLORED
- Wash and condition your hair with a color-safe shampoo and conditioner.
- After detangling with a leave-in hair milk, apply a leave-in hair serum to towel-dried hair to help illuminate your color while keeping hair shiny and healthy.
- Continue to style your hair as desired, either by letting it fully air-dry after being brushed, or by finger coiling or gently scrunching for texture.
General Tips for Air Drying Hair
These hair care tips and styling tricks will help you disguise thinning hair and hair loss:
Try not to touch it
While you might be tempted to adjust your hair while it’s air-drying, your fingers have the potential to rough up the strands and cause frizz and flyaways. Once you have your set air-dry style, just trust the process and let it work!
We mentioned before that traditional cotton towels can be too rough on the cuticle of your hair, leading to potential frizz, damage, and breakage. So remember to use a microfiber towel when towel-drying your hair — this will not only be gentler to use on your hair, but also speed up the drying time.
Blowdry the root and let the rest air dry
If you avoid air-drying your hair because it tends to look lifeless and limp, this is a great tip for you — blowdry your hair at the root to boost volume, and then let the rest air-dry as usual. Your ends dry faster than your roots, so this is also a great way to speed up the drying process in general. Just remember to use a heat protectant any time you plan on blow-drying or heat styling your hair!
Common Questions About Air Drying Hair
Is letting your hair air dry bad?
We know that wet hair is at its most fragile state, so some people advise against air-drying because you’re keeping your hair in a vulnerable state for a longer period of time than if you just blow-dried it. But as long as you use the right protective products and avoid roughing up your hair when it’s drying, you shouldn’t see any damage.
What is the fastest way to air dry hair?
If you’re in a rush, you can still efficiently air-dry your hair. Start by gently squeezing out as much water after you shower, then take a microfiber towel and start by absorbing water from the roots (which we know take longer to dry then ends). Detangle with a wide-tooth comb, and wrap your hair in a microfiber towel for a few minutes to absorb even more water. Then follow your air-dry routine as usual — but consider avoiding heavier leave-ins and creams if you can, since these will potentially slow down the drying process.
Why is my hair crunchy when it air dries?
There are a few reasons why your hair could be “crunchy” after air-drying. Over-dryness and damage can happen from styling or chemical processing, leading to that crunchy feel, but in many cases this feeling happens when you just use too much product in your hair.
Finishing Your Style After Air-Drying Hair
While a quick blast with the blow-dryer might be the fastest way to set your style, air-drying is a great way to give your strands a break (while still looking their best!). Just make sure you use the right products for your hair type, invest in gentle styling aids like a wide-tooth comb and microfiber towel, and experiment to find the right finishing technique you like. No matter what products you choose, you can feel good about Davines — through our partnership with 1% for the Planet, 1% of every purchase on our website is donated to a charity for the betterment of our environment and communities.