Allowing your strands to air-dry may seem like a tactic best reserved for Victoria’s Secret models (we’re looking at you, Gisele!). But, with a little effort, air-drying can be a healthier approach to styling, using key post-shower products as opposed to sizzling hot tools.
No matter what your hair type, set yourself up for success by first using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to smooth strands. "A big issue with air-drying is frizziness. Adding in moisture helps prevent that,” says celebrity hairstylist Paul Norton. After showering, squeeze out water and use a paper towel to absorb any excess: “It doesn’t cause as much friction as a regular towel which can rough up the cuticle and make hair frizzy,” says Norton.
Read on to find out what sort of styling product and technique is best for your hair type:
If You Have Curly Hair
While ringlets are still damp, coat them with a moisturizing styling balm (Norton likes Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm, $14; amazon.com). If you prefer more hold, mix in a dab of styling gel. "Applying products to damp curls will prevent frizz from setting in as the hair dries and results in soft smooth curls," say Norton.
WATCH: How to Revive Dry Hair
If You Have Thick Hair
Try distributing a styling cream like Bumble and Bumble's Don't Blow It (H)airstyler, which contains conditioners and polymers to give hair bounce and hold ($30; sephora.com) from mid-shaft through ends. Then coil 2- to 3-in. sections of hair into mini buns (alternate the direction for more of a natural wave) and secure with a bobby pins. "The tension from the buns creates both smoothness and shape for beachy waves," says Norton. Unravel the buns when hair feels dry and rake fingers through to blend sections together.
If You Have Fine Hair
Spritz a leave-in conditioner throughout hair, working from the bottom up, and rake through with a wide toothed comb for an even application. "Even uber fine hair can get frizzy. Adding in a little moisture will create some control. Just make sure to avoid applying product to the roots; you want to retain natural volume at the crown," says Norton. We're currently into Shu Uemura's moisturizing Wonder Worker formula ($33; shuuemuraartofhair-usa.com), which contains lightweight but hydrating moringa oil. “It helps smooth the cuticle without being too heavy, and it allows hair to settle in nicely without frizz,” says L.A. hairstylist Moises Villa. Create your part and then cup and scrunch the bottoms for lift and to create slight bends. For tighter waves, go for the bun method (described above for thick hair) but make sure to create smaller 1-in. sections for more definition.