How to Air Dry Your Hair Type, According to the Pros

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There’s nothing like a fresh blowout, but using heat on our hair can do some serious damage if done too often. While it’s definitely a bit harder to perfect, air drying is an art that stylists say anyone can master, even if you have crazy, coily strands. Below, the experts offer their tips on getting gorgeous, silky strands without picking up the hot tools.

Straight Hair

Air drying straight hair may seem self explanatory and simple, but celebrity hairstylist Giannandrea Marongiu says there’s a technique to it. “Wash the hair as usual—preferably using a shampoo and a light conditioner on the ends—before rinsing with cold water. Next, towel dry with a microfiber cloth, which is optimal for delicate and fine textures. If your hair is very fine, I recommend using paper towels (it’s a great trick!). Comb or brush through the hair with a Wet Brush ($9) and apply a dime size of HPx Daily Nourishing Styling Cream ($35) to the ends.” Now, things get a little more advanced: “Gently shake the hair from side to side and downward so it falls into its part and dries in the shape you prefer,” he says. “When it’s dry, add a touch more of the Styling Cream to the ends.”

Wavy Hair

According to celebrity hairstylist and Aquage brand ambassador Laura Polko, “The best way to air dry wavy hair is to use a curl-defining cream on damp hair, breaking hair out into smaller sections and twisting pieces away from the face.” If you want to add more volume, she recommends hair plopping, which involves collecting your waves at the top of the head and wrapping them in a silk towel to keep your pattern intact until your hair dries. “Either way, work some of Aquage’s SeaExtend Silkening Oil Treatment ($20) onto ends since they can be drier on wavy hair, and once hair is air dried, shake out those twists for a nice natural wave pattern.”

While you may be used to applying your wavy hair–approved products when you’re fresh out of the shower, Polko urges clients to wait until their hair is 50-percent dry before applying product. “Something to look out for when air drying wavy hair is making sure to apply your styling products at the right time, since you don’t want hair to be too wet or too dry, but somewhere in the middle,” she says. “50-percent dry is a happy medium, but those with straighter hair can wait until hair is dryer, and those with curly hair can put product in before it’s halfway dry.”

Curly Hair

When it comes to the often hard-to-tame curls, stylists say less is more. “The best way to air dry curly hair is to do as little as possible,” says Stephane Andre, stylist at FEKKAI at The Mark Hotel. “First, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner with a mask twice a week. Then, detangle your hair with a wide tooth comb (I like Mason Pearson’s), lightly towel dry your hair with a cotton bath towel, apply a gel, leave it alone and let air do its thing.” Nai’vasha, celebrity curl expert and founder of Curl Queen, adds that It’s important to have a leave-in conditioner on the hair or your favorite definition product.

If curls are frizzy, celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble warns against touching your locks. “The key to keeping your hair from frizzing up is to not touch your hair after applying product. Let it dry so it doesn’t produce frizz.” Amber Fillerup Clark, founder of hair-care brand Dae, agrees: “The less you touch after setting or styling, the less frizzing will happen. Add a good amount of product to damp, towel-dried hair, then lightly run fingers through mid-lengths to ends, and give it a light ‘scrunch’ and then don’t touch! Another way to air dry curly hair with minimal effort is to braid it while it’s damp. Do a loose braid for a wavy texture.”

Dae just launched its new Cactus Fruit 3 in 1 Styling Cream ($26), and it’s the perfect formula for all hair types, but it especially works its air-drying wonders on curls. “You can use it on wet or dry hair and it leaves your hair nourished and touchably soft,” says Fillerup Clark. “Another amazing product for air drying is our Monsoon Moisture Mask ($28). After leaving it in wet hair for 20 minutes, rinse clean with cool water. Then, air dry and it leaves hair so soft, shiny and frizz-free. It’s amazing.”

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