The 15 Best Air Dry Hair Products of 2023 for a Shiny, Frizz-Free Finish

From thin straight hair to thick curly strands, these are the best, expert-approved air dry hair products that work with all types and textures

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Best Air Dry Hair Products

InStyle / David Hattan

Choosing to embrace your natural air-dried hair can be a joy — not to mention easier and far healthier on strands than heat styling. “Air drying is a great method to reduce damage and dryness that can occur with heat styling,” says master stylist Sarah Lund. In fact, a heat-free method might even leave hair looking better than heat styling, says curl-specialized stylist Sabrina Ahmed, especially for certain textures, like curls: “It’s possible to make curls look great with air drying — if not better.”

But ask any hair stylist and they’re likely to tell you that having the right styling products is key to your air drying success. Air dry products are formulated to not need heat activation, unlike many other styling formulas, and are usually centered around maintaining the health of the hair. “Air dry cream can vary, but most of their benefits will include frizz control, moisture, humidity resistance, and repairing your strands,” says celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway.

Every head of hair has specific needs, whether that be shine-enhancing, frizz combating, or healing hydration, so it takes a bit of knowledge to find the one that’s best for you — but luckily, there’s a wealth of options to choose from.

Best Overall

JVN Complete Hydrating Air Dry Hair Cream

JVN Complete Hydrating Air Dry Hair Cream


What We Love: With up to 24 hours of proven frizz protection, this cream is ideal for nearly all hair types, especially those looking for a little extra moisture and shine.

What We Don’t Love: Thicker and coarser hair types may have to layer this product another cream to tamp down on frizz.

JVN — aka Jonathan Van Ness, the trailblazing personality and hairstylist — has created a line of innovative haircare products all containing his patented hemi-squalane. Though it’s difficult to pick an overall favorite from the line, the Complete Air Dry Cream continuously blows us away.

The cream imparts hair with a soft, touchable hold, allowing your natural texture to shine, sans frizz and flyaways. In a controlled study, users saw frizz reduced by 97 percent instantly, with continued control for up to 24 hours. While the formula is concentrated, you’ll find it’s buildable, making it a great option for a variety of hair types, from fine to thick, straight to curly.

The star ingredient is the brand’s proprietary hemi-sqalane, which helps to reduce frizz while imparting an envious shine, without any lingering side effects, like product buildup. Plus, it makes hair less prone to breakage. You’ll also find moringa seed oil for softness and shine as well as chia seed extract in the formula to naturally enhance texture, bounce, and flexibility.

If your hair needs a mega moisture boost, we recommend pairing this with a leave-in conditioning treatment because though it delivers light hydration, it may not be enough for those with thicker, coarser hair.

Price at time of publish: $26

Size: 5 oz | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best Budget

Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream

Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream


What We Love: This cream provides great hold and texture for almost all hair types.

What We Don’t Love: Fine hair may skew fluffy, rather than the intended done-undone vibe.

If you want to control frizz and add a touch of shine without spending a pretty penny, this lightweight formula provides flexible hold for virtually all hair types (and is under $10!). Designed to give hair a touch of texture while air drying, expect a slightly undone, natural look when using this rich cream. Plus, the inclusion of argan oil (sourced from Morocco) gives hair a bit of shine and shape.

Blessed to have curly hair? Ahmed, a curl expert with Garnier, recommends applying products, like this cream, on soaking wet curls. She also suggests layering products from the most moisturizing to the least. For example, leave in-treatments (especially ideal for dry, thick, or coarse strands) then a styling cream (like this anti-frizz formula), and finally a gel to help with definition, if using. Once curls are fully dry, she scrunches in an oil to seal in all the moisture.

Price at time of publish: $4

Size: 150 ml | Formula: Cream | Scented: No

Best Splurge

Oribe Featherbalm Weightless Styler

Oribe Featherbalm Weightless Styler


What We Love: Appropriate for even the finest of fine hair, this styler provides hold and shine without weighing strands down.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not universally effective; it works best for fine or thin hair, while thick or curly textures may not see much improvement.

Specially developed for finer hair textures, this weightless lotion gives effortless texture and hold, as well as a dose of shine. It’s a fabulous option for those who find every styling product weighs down their strands, this luxe iteration adds polish without grease.

The formula also has a blend of hydrating must-haves for hair that’s healthier over time. Acai oil adds shine and essential omega-3, 6, and 9; rice bran oil strengthens strands; passion fruit oil hydrates; and pea protein aims to improve softness and elasticity in dry, damaged hair. Hair that looks and feels better? Yes, please.

Price at time of publish: $42

Size: 100 ml | Formula: Lotion | Scented: Yes

Best Drugstore

Odele Air Dry Styler

Odele Air Dry Styler


What We Love: It’s white t-shirt of air dry stylers: Looks great on everyone, easy to use, and foolproof — as long as you use just a touch of product.

What We Don’t Love: Using too much product can leave hair weighed down and coated in residue.

Designed to work on multiple hair types and textures, from straight to wavy to curly, this one-and-done product is fit for the whole family. The lightweight cream only needs a dime-sized amount (or even less for finer hair) to address frizz and flyaways, as well as add shine, definition, and hold. Especially impressive, the formula feels neither sticky nor greasy, it just simply disappears into hair for a weightless finish — when applied correctly. Be careful not to apply too much, which can leave hair weighed down and coated in excessive residue.

And with all things Odele, the formula is lightly scented with the brand’s signature fragrance composed of cucumber, oak moss, and ylang-ylang — but don’t let that turn you off, the scent is light enough for sensitive noses.

Price at time of publish: $13

Size: 175 ml | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Thick Hair

Bumble and bumble Bb. Don’t Blow It Thick (H)air Styler

Bumble and bumble Bb. Don’t Blow It Thick (H)air Styler


What We Love: The smallest amount of product will leave hair shiny and frizz-free.

What We Don’t Love: Apply too much product and you’ll have weighed-down strands.

The name says it all: Formulated for medium to thick hair, this decadent cream helps to add refinement to straight, wavy, or curly air-dried hair. The delightfully rich cream conditions, de-frizzes, and adds control to the hair with just a nickel-sized amount of product.

If frizz and flyaways have prevented you from air drying your hair in the past, then this cream may be the solution you’ve been waiting for. The formula also includes ingredients that speed up drying time, allowing you to head outside with shiny, soft hair quicker.

As with many things in life, beware of too much of a good thing — using too much of the styler will weigh down strands.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: 150 ml | Formula: Rich cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Thin Hair

Vegamour GRO Hair Foam for Thinning Hair

Vegamour GRO Hair Foam


What We Love: Hair not only looks fuller and thicker, but the foam works to improve overall hair density over time.

What We Don’t Love: It’s wildly popular, which means it can be difficult to find.

Plant-based hair health brand Vegamour has only been around since 2017, but it’s quickly become one of the best-selling hair growth brands on the market. The brand’s popular GRO Hair Foam is a simplified way to boost thin hair and give the appearance of a lush, full style.

It’s designed to be massaged into the scalp of towel-dried hair, making it impossibly simple to integrate into any routine. Upon application, the formula gets to work soothing and revitalizing hair roots, as well as providing instant body and texture. And over time, the air dry foam increases hair density and reduces hair shedding and loss for thicker, fuller-looking hair. Clinical results have shown visible results within 90 days, with peak results around 120 days, so stick with it — consistency is key.

Price at time of publish: $58

Size: 1.1 oz | Formula: Foam | Scented: Yes

Best for Dry Hair

Ceremonia Guava Leave-In Conditioner

Ceremonia Guava Leave-In Conditioner


What We Love: Intensely hydrating, this cream works to repair hair over time.

What We Don’t Love: The hypnotic guava scent can be a bit too strong for sensitive noses.

Founded by Swedish Latina entrepreneur Babba C. Rivera, Ceremonia is a clean haircare brand rooted in Latinx heritage with a modern twist. Focusing on hair wellness and sustainability, the formulas use natural ingredients that are ethically sourced from Latin America. The brand’s Guava Leave-In Conditioner is packed full of deeply hydrating and reparative ingredients, including safflower extract, avocado oil, aloe vera, and tamarind extract. With their powers combined, the styling cream combats frizz, repairs strands, and imparts shine with just a coin-sized amount of product.

The product is designed to be applied from the mid-lengths to the ends only. Apply closer to the scalp and you’ll likely leave your strands feeling heavy and greasy.

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: 6.7 oz | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Shine

ARKIVE The Good Habit Hybrid Oil

ARKIVE The Good Habit Hybrid Oil


What We Love: Both hydrating and shine-enhancing, this light oil not only feels fantastic, but also smells incredible (doubling as a hair perfume of sorts).

What We Don’t Love: The jojoba and baobab oils can irritate sensitive scalps, causing them to itch.

Created by renowned celebrity hairdresser Adam Reed, ARKIVE is focused on nourishing, hair-healthy formulas, but it’s also designed as a tool for mindfulness. As a longtime mental health advocate, Reed (a 30-year industry veteran) formulated the products to be part of a self-care practice. Rather than mindlessly applying the oil, Reed suggests applying one pump of fragrant, earthy oil into the hands, then working the oil through mid-lengths to ends, taking care to notice the mood-altering scent, texture, and feel.

Even if a meditative moment isn’t your thing, the Good Habit Hybrid Oil leaves you, and your hair, feeling at peace. The weightless formula focuses on instantly reversing dryness, frizz, and UV damage.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 1.7 oz | Formula: Oil | Scented: Yes

Best for Curly Hair

PATTERN Styling Cream for Curly &Coily Hair

PATTERN Styling Custard


What We Love: Provides hold, definition, and shine for curly, coily, and tight-textured hair.

What We Don’t Love: We think the bold scent is fun, but we also see how it could be overpowering for some.

The medium hold cream, or custard as the brand describes the bouncy consistency, is designed to give a hydrated hold while enhancing definition and shine. Although you may think a custard-like product would be heavy, it’s actually a lot softer. It’s also buildable and perfect for layering — but a little goes a long way, meaning the jar lasts and lasts.

The brand’s signature slip makes combing through curls, coils, and tight textures easier than ever. However, if you’re looking for extra moisture, try the brand’s Curl Gel, which has coconut oil, cacay oil, and aloe vera.

Created and owned by the effervescent and supremely talented Tracee Ellis Ross, PATTERN has taken over the community of 3B to 4C hair types since its 2019 launch. From wash to styling to treatment products, the brand is designed to meet the often-ignored needs of natural, textured hair.

Price at time of publish: $25

Size: 15 oz | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Wavy Hair

Ouidad Botanical Boost Curl Energizing & Refreshing Spray

Ouidad Botanical Boost Curl Energizing & Refreshing Spray


What We Love: This multi-purpose spray can be applied to damp or dry hair to bounce curls back to life and encourage a stronger curl pattern.

What We Don’t Love: The subtle spritz can be too insignificant for kinkier curls.

Ouidad knows its way around waves and curls. Ever since Ouidad Wise (a Lebanese immigrant) opened the first-ever salon dedicated to curls in NYC, the brand has specialized in serving every kind of curl type, from loose waves to tight curls and coils.

Designed to encourage curl formation, this spray will work wonders on both wavy and curly hair — but will especially encourage definition and beachy texture for waves. It can be used on wet or dry hair, and the formula is ideal for freshening up curls on day two (or beyond), giving fantastic definition and shine to ensure curls keep their bounce. The aloe vera and rosehip-based formula infuses weightless moisture, while ginseng and pro-vitamin B5 help to protect hair from damage.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 8.2 oz | Formula: Spray | Scented: Yes

Best for Detangling

Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier

Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier


What We Love: It’s a dream for one-stop styling, offering UV protection, tangle-control, smoothing, and hair repairing benefits.

What We Don’t Love: It may not provide enough hydration and support for coarse and thicker hair.

Rahua is named for the oil that has beautified the hair of Amazonian women for centuries, the rahua oil. Rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as essential fatty acids and carotenoids, pure rahua oil gives hair instant and healthy shine, while also working to repair and restore damaged strands. The formula contains the brand’s super-powered rahua oil, as well as a handful of other potent Amazonian ingredients. It was originally developed as a detanger — which it does beautifully — but we also love it as an air dry styler because it leaves hair soft, shiny, and smelling like a tropical vacation.

While many brands utilize Amazonian resources, Rahua is one of the only brands working with the families and tribes in the region to ensure fair and ethical wages, sustainable farming, and land preservation.

Price at time of publish: $34

Size: 6.5 oz | Formula: Spray | Scented: Yes

Best for Damaged Hair

LolaVie Perfecting Leave-In Conditioner

LolaVie Perfecting Leave-In


What We Love: Hydrate, manage poofiness and extend the time between wash days with this leave-in conditioner, created by Jennifer Aniston.

What We Don’t Love: It may be too creamy for thin hair.

This leave-in was the brainchild of a celebrity who understands great hair: Jennifer Aniston. Her brand, LolaVie, is filled with easy-to-use, multi-tasking products and this air dry treatment cream is one of the brand’s best-sellers. First and foremost, it offers parched strands a serious dose of hydration with a blend of coconut oil, squalane, bamboo extract, and acai.

The deeply reparative cream is ideal for normal to medium hair, but the formula can be a little too rich for fine strands. The brand’s Glossing Detangler is more apt for finer hair, as it’s light and designed to give shine and tame flyaways.

Price at time of publish: $29

Size: 5 oz | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Frizz

Kevin Murphy Smooth.Again Leave-in Treatment

Kevin Murphy Smooth.Again Leave-in Treatment

Kevin Murphy

What We Love: Fantastic for thick, coarse, wavy, and coily hair to combat frizz.

What We Don’t Love: The Australian brand can be challenging to find in brick-and-mortar retailers.

Australian superbrand Kevin Murphy has a stable of air drying styling products, but Smooth.Again is our favorite. The thick cream centers on two main goals: Smoothing and moisturizing the hair. The heavy dose of hydration is key, as it not only helps with overall hair health, but will also naturally help with manageability, which is step number one to control frizzy flyaways.

Lund recommends Smooth.Again for wavy to coily hair (and all the types in between) to fight frizz.

Price at time of publish: $38

Size: 200 ml | Formula: Cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Colored Hair

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In-Shower Styler

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In-Shower Styler


What We Love: We’ve honestly not come across a product that’s easier to use than this one without compromising one bit of efficacy.

What We Don’t Love: Perfecting the product amount and technique can take a bit of trial and error.

Are you a true hair minimalist at heart or simply want the maximum output with minimal input? Then this Living Proof styler is just for you, offering plenty of gloss and staying power to your look. Designed to be applied in the shower — yes, shower — the styler is used after both shampoo and conditioner. Coat your strands from root to ends, lightly rinse out, then towel off, and air dry.

Price at time of publish: $30

Size: 5 oz | Formula: In-shower cream | Scented: Yes

Best for Humidity

Nexxus Ultralight Smooth Frizz Defy Cream Serum

Nexxus Ultralight Smooth Frizz Defy Cream Serum


What We Love: It feels weightless but delivers strong protection against humidity (and by extension, frizz) that works just as effectively on damp hair as it does for dry hair.

What We Don’t Love: The floral scent can be too strong for some.

“I like Nexxus Ultralight Smooth Frizz Defy Cream Serum because it doesn't weigh your hair down and it delivers smoothing properties. It also defends your hair against frizz and humidity by forming an invisible barrier around strands that lasts up to 72 hours,” says Redway.

In addition to fending off that dreaded poofy, stringy look like a Marvel superhero, the serum keeps hair smooth and conditioned with humidity-repelling almond protein and ultra-light moisturizing jasmine flower oil. But perhaps its greatest skill, beyond making frizz fake news, is reviving strands. “It can be used on dry or damp hair which is great for anyone who air dries their hair and may want to reactivate their strands on second-day hair,” adds Redway.

Price at time of publish: $18

Size: 4 oz | Formula: Serum | Scented: Yes

What to Keep in Mind

Hair Type

To successfully air dry your hair, you first need a strategy.

“As a general rule, thicker hair with more curls will require heavier moisture to stay hydrated, so something like a cream could be a good place to start,” notes Reed. This is crucial to nourish dehydrated or damaged hair.

Conversely, “finer hair will need much more lightweight hydration,” says Reed. Airy lotions and creams, detanglers, and spray-on formulas are more appropriate for these strands, which still need hydration, but can become weighed down easily.

Product Amount

As with most things in life, you can always add more, but it’s difficult to take something away, especially stylers that have already been absorbed into your strands. “Always start small with whichever product you use to ensure you’re not going in too heavy,” says Reed.

Hair Health

For Redway, air drying is just one part of the overall picture to maintain hair health. In addition to drying hair with microfiber hair towels to strengthen strands, she also recommends protecting hair while getting your beauty sleep. “Sleep on gentle fabrics to protect your air-dried hair,” she says. We love Slip silk pillowcases for keeping both our hair and our skin soft. “A silk pillowcase will reduce the friction between your hair and pillow and will not absorb all the beautiful ingredients you have added to your hair,” says Redway.

Your Questions, Answered

What does air dry cream do for your hair?

“Air styling and air styling products are all about controlling the hair as it dries,” says Reed. The main benefit of air dry products is that they’re able to style hair perfectly without requiring heat or hot tools. “The whole thing about an air drying product is that it will dry and maintain the shape that you put it in,” says Reed.

How can I make my hair look good when it air dries?

Great air-dried hair starts in the shower. Look for shampoo and conditioning products that “hydrate, manage unwanted frizz, and help to repair damage,” says Redway. She recommends Nexxus’ new Unbreakable Care Shampoo and Conditioner, which strengthens strands from the inside out to maximize the overall quality of the hair.

Once out of the shower, consider wrapping hair in a microfiber towel, which helps to remove excess water without over-drying strands, says Redway, who swears by the Aquis Towel.

But if your hair is curly or tight-textured, early intervention is key. “To start off a successful air drying routine, start on soaking wet hair,” says Ahmed, who suggests applying hydrating products straight out of the shower and then, most importantly (curls or not), leave it alone! “The longer you can leave the hair without touching it, the less frizz you'll have,” cautions Reed.

Should I put product in my hair before I let it air dry?

Every hair type requires a different manner of usage.

Straight to slightly wavy textures should towel-dry first, then go in with product, while wavy to loose curl types should apply to wet hair. Those tight curls or coils fare best when stylers are used on sopping wet hair.

Is air drying good for hair?

“Hair is at its most fragile state when wet so it is imperative that when air drying, you are gentle with your strands — no pulling or stretching,” says Lund. If you need to comb through wet hair, use a detangling brush specifically designed for it, like Wet Brush.

“It's just as important to use products that protect the hair whilst air drying as it is if you're using heat,” says Reed. “Sometimes [air drying] can dehydrate the hair, so making sure that you use a product to maintain hydration is key."

Overall, naturally drying hair is healthier than traditional heat tools. Redway is an air dry fan, especially for natural and curly hair types. “It is advised to air dry whenever possible,” she says. “Air drying your hair creates less damage often caused by heat styling,” adds Redway.

Why Shop With Us

Kristin Limoges is a freelance editor for numerous publications, including Byrdie, Harper’s Bazaar, and WWD Shop, and has nearly a decade of beauty writing experience. To compile this list, she researched and tested numerous air dry hair products, and consulted with celebrity hairstylists and experts — Lacy Redway, Sabrina Ahmed, Adam Reed, and Sarah Lund — to lend their expertise and share their favorite products.

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