How to Air Dry Your Hair to Perfection

Aly Walansky
Photo: ImaxTree

Photo: ImaxTree

On those sweltering summer days, the last thing we want to do is spend time under a hot hair dryer. But what are we to do? Sadly, air drying hair is a lot more complicated than getting out of the shower and letting hair sit. Use these tips to get the perfect air dry every time.

Consider your products. 
Look for shampoos free of  sulfates, parabens and gluten. This means it doesn’t have detergents that dry out your hair and no extra chemicals that will take longer to dry, says Dominick Pucciarello, master stylist at Mizu New York Salon. If you have curly hair or thick hair, use conditioner as a styling product, instead of rinsing out. If you have fine hair, rinse it out. Make sure to concentrate conditioner on the ends, because that’s one place where your natural oils aren’t reaching.

If you want wavy hair, use a a beach spray, like Verb’s Sea Spray ($14,, mixed with Oribe Gel Serum ($59, If you want to go straight, use a dry oil, like L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil ($32, If you have naturally curly hair, Pucciarello recommends an alcohol-free gel mixed with a rich styling cream. Split your hair into five sections, and use a quarter-size amount for each section. Flip your head over and shake it out to distribute the product.

Do NOT towel dry.
One of the best kept secrets to a successful air dry is the importance of never touching the towel to your hair, says Chaz Dean, celebrity hairstylist and founder and creator of WEN Hair and Body Care. Towels are a large origin of frizziness. If the hair is to damp or you’re needing to get it out of your face, avoid the frizz-causing fibers in the towel, and instead opt for a soft cotton t-shirt, pillow case or microfiber cloth. All of these materials, unlike a towel, have threads that are finer. When hair is wet, it’s at its weakest and most fragile state. Thus, a regular cotton t-shirt is smooth enough to not disturb the hair.

Try a mousse. 
When air drying your hair, try using a mousse, says Charles Baker Strahan, Herbal Essences celebrity stylist. It gives great hold without that stiff, crunchy feeling. Strahan recommends applying Herbal Essences Naked Volumizing Soufflé ($6.99, to very wet hair.  “Put a golf ball-size amount into the palm of your hands and then rub your palms together to  emulsify the product. Use your palms almost as your palette—dip your fingers into your palm to pick up the product and then rub it at the scalp. The roots require the most product to lift and provide volume. Then, wring out the remaining moisture from the hair, allowing the water to carry the product evenly through the hair. Shake the hair allowing the curl tendrils to form—don’t brush or detangle, this will only loosen the curl and create frizz,” he says.

Beware the bangs.
Best route is to blow dry just those. They never seem to air dry just right on their own, and a few seconds under the blow dryer won’t melt you.

If you have extensions…

After your shower, use your towel to blot your hair, holding the base in a ponytail to prevent from any pulling at the base, says Daisy Miftari, an extensions expert at RPZL, the first hair extension bar, opening in New York this fall. Miftari suggests you then take the long part of your hair and wrap it in the towel. Squeeze and hold for a few seconds. Remove towel and then wrap your hair again using a different part of the towel . Squeeze again and hold for a few seconds. Comb your hair with a wide tooth brush. “Again, do not pull on the base of your hair and use the same ponytail technique mentioned above. Apply any hair products desired and repeat the towel wrapping. Run fingers throughout your hair to separate stands and give volume. Do this throughout the drying period,” says Miftari.

Consider keratin.
Another alternative is getting a keratin treatment to make it dry faster, says Pucciarello. It eliminates frizz and cuts down your dry time by 40 percent.

Braid it.
Another hairstyle would be a braid, says stylist and makeup artist Mia Silverio at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. Braid your hair while it is damp and let it dry while braided. A looser braid will give your hair a beautiful wavy texture, whereas a tighter braid will give you more of a crimp throughout.

Read more: You’re Doing it Wrong: Using Your Hair Dryer