The Secret to Air-Drying Your Hair


The only thing worse than summer heat? Having to use a hair dryer. If you want to unleash your hair’s full potential (and avoid the extra sweat), air-drying is the ultimate power move. Air-drying, or letting your hair dry naturally, is a great way to make the most of your hair’s natural texture. By minimizing damage from heat, you can retain moisture and optimize your hair’s texture — all while saving time.

When it comes to air-drying hair, there’s no one-size fits all solution. Results will depend on hair type, texture, and environment, so the key is finding the method that works best for you. 

To help you master the art of air-drying your hair this summer, we’ve created a step-by-step guide and outlined tips based on hair type. If you’re ready to achieve a gorgeous head of hair without the heat tools, look no further: air-drying could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

How to air-dry your hair

Air-drying hair is a game-changer that can save you time that would be otherwise spent blow-drying hair and protect your strands from heat damage.

While the benefits of air-drying are clear, finding your ideal routine may require some trial and error. However, with the right products, patience, and some practice, you’re bound to achieve your perfect air-dried look.

Ready to get started? We’ve broken the process into four simple steps.

Step 1: Start in the shower

Laying the proper groundwork for a successful air-drying experience starts in the shower. You’ll want to begin by finding the right shampoo for your hair type — this will help retain moisture and prevent frizz as your hair dries naturally. Next, you’ll want to follow up with a nourishing conditioner and gently detangle your hair with a wide-toothed comb.

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After conditioning, try using an in-shower styling product, such as the Perfect hair Day™ In-Shower Styler, to add body, fullness, and natural texture and save time during the air-drying process.

Step 2: Towel-dry your hair

To cause minimal damage while drying your hair, try using a microfiber towel. Microfiber towels can reduce friction, causing less damage to the cuticle — that is, the outer layer of the hair shaft. Damaged cuticles can cause dryness, which can lead to hair breakage and frizz. For best results, try lightly squeezing or blotting your hair.

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Once you’ve eliminated excess moisture, gently comb through your hair to remove knots and tangles. Wide-tooth combs or brushes with flexible bristles designed specifically for detangling can help prevent damage. Start at your ends and slowly work your way toward your scalp to reduce the risk of breakage. 

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The best way to air-dry hair is different for everyone, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different towels, combs, or drying methods to find what works best for you.

Step 3: Apply styling products

The right styling products can make all the difference when letting hair air-dry. To help you create your desired look, consider adding a mix of hydrating products, texture enhancers, and volume boosters to your routine.

  • Hydrating products can help maintain an ideal moisture balance for hair strands. Moisture is crucial to maintaining hair elasticity, which can prevent breakage and support the overall health of your hair. Too much moisture, though, can cause hair to lose its natural volume and even look greasy. To strike the ideal balance, use hydrating products such as the frizz® Intense Moisture Mask, the Perfect hair Day™ Weightless Mask, or the Restore Repair Leave-In conditioner.
  • Texture enhancers can help you create a more defined look by enhancing your hair’s natural texture, adding movement, and creating volume. To emphasize your hair’s natural texture, try products such as the Perfect hair Day™ In-Shower Styler, the Curl Definer, or the Full Texturizing Foam.
  • Volume boosters can add lift and body to give the illusion of a fuller head of hair. To boost the volume of your air-dried hair and achieve a more natural look, try using Living Proof’s multi-purpose Dry Volume & Texture Spray or Style Lab® amp²® Texture Volumizer.

As with towel-drying, it’s important to experiment with different styling products to find the right combination for your hair and step up your air-drying game.

Step 4: Set your hair + let it dry

When learning how to air-dry hair, it’s essential to consider your specific hair type. To help you achieve optimal air-drying results, we’ve outlined a few tips, techniques, and recommendations based on hair type.

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  • Wavy hair: Once you’ve applied your desired styling product, try scrunching your hair up toward your scalp with your hands. This will help create volume and further define your natural waves. After your hair is set, try not to touch or manipulate it as it dries. The more patient you are, the more natural the result will be.
  • Straight hair: If you want to avoid having your hair fall flat, you can apply a volume booster and braid your hair to create natural-looking waves. Simply divide your hair into sections while damp, braid them, and secure the braids in place with bobby pins or clips. Try to avoid touching your hair as it dries. Once your hair is done drying, undo the braids and loosen your hair with your fingers or a comb. For added dimension, try applying a texturizing spray and scrunching it throughout your hair with your fingers.
  • Curly hair: Lather your hair with a curl-enhancing product and use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to distribute product and detangle any knots. Scrunching your curls toward your scalp with your hands will help create a more defined, voluminous look. Then, you can reshape individual curls by twisting your fingers through each ringlet. This will help them stay tightly wound and prevent frizz. Then it’s just a matter of time. Let your hair dry freely, and avoid touching it for the best results.
  • Coily hair: Coily hair is incredibly versatile but can also be dry and fragile due to a thinner cuticle layer. Before setting your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner and enhance your curls with a styling gel, curl cream, or custard. Distribute the styling product evenly and use your fingers to detangle your hair from the tips toward the scalp. Then, you can section your hair out and create twists or braids before letting it dry. To maintain your natural curl shape, prevent frizz, and avoid breakage, try not to touch your hair as it dries.
  • Fine hair: To create added lift, try using pin curls or no-bend clips. These can help you guide your hairline to frame your face and form your desired shape. When your hair is dry, try adding a light texture spray for added body and movement. Because fine hair is generally more delicate, you’ll want to avoid heavy products and be sure to style it gently.

Every head of hair is unique. Part of learning how to air-dry hair is to experiment with different products and techniques to achieve your desired look. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at how you can tailor the air-drying process for your hair type.

How to air-dry your hair based on hair type

To create a luscious, effortless look without heat, you’ll need to tailor your air-drying techniques to your specific hair type. From wavy to straight, fine to thick, and curly to coily, we’ve got you covered with the tips and tricks you need to succeed.

If your hair is wavy…

If you have wavy hair, you can enhance your natural texture by scrunching — that is, gently squeezing sections of hair from tips to root with your hands. This technique can help define waves for an effortless, beachy look that will have everyone wondering what your secret is. For best results, make sure you evenly distribute products throughout your hair.

Products to use

Want to maximize your waves’ potential and ensure consistency? Check out these Living Proof products:

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If your hair is straight…

Looking to add texture and boost of volume to your hair? Root lifting, which involves teasing or backcombing the hair at the roots, can help create a more dynamic look. Another way to build the subtle illusion of a fuller head of hair is to try twisting, which is separating your hair into twisted sections as it dries.

Products to use

To give straight hair more dimension, try any of the following:

If your hair is curly…

There are a few key techniques for reducing frizz and maintaining definition if you have curly hair. Raking is running your fingers or a wide-toothed comb through your hair. This technique is an effective way to untangle knots or evenly distribute styling cream or other products. Plopping — an air-drying method in which you wrap your curls in a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt — can also help retain moisture and allows your hair to set without being touched or disturbed.

Products to use

To enhance and define curls, try out any of these products:

If your hair is coily…

If you’re looking to enhance definition and moisture retention for coily hair, there are a few tips you can test out. Shingling is the act of applying a styling product smoothly through each curl with your fingers to elongate, enhance, and define it. To best maintain coily hair, moisture sealing is essential too. After applying a leave-in conditioner, you can seal in moisture by applying the right products.

Products to use

If you’re looking to achieve an ideal moisture balance, prevent dryness, and nourish a healthy head of hair, try adding any of the following to your routine:

If your hair is fine…

The key to air-drying fine hair is to add volume without weighing it down. Therefore, you’ll want to select lightweight styling products. To add body to fine hair, you can try root boosting — spraying a specific product at your roots — to give your hair a fuller, thicker look.

Products to use

If you’re looking to add volume to fine hair, try any of the following:

How to get the perfect summer air-dried look

Finding the air-dried method that works best for you will depend on your specific hair type, styling products, and routine. While everyone’s hair is unique, we’ve listed some tried-and-true tips to help you achieve a flawless air-dried hairstyle this summer.

Shape your hairline with no-bend hair clips

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Have you been wondering how to keep your hairline smooth, controlled, and polished while air-drying? The answer is no-bend hair clips. These clips work wonders because they don’t leave marks or creases on your hair, even if you’ve had them in for a while.

After applying your styling products, align the clips perpendicular to your hairline and secure them in place. Try not to bend or twist your hair while you shape your hairline. For best results, leave the clips in for at least 10 to 20 minutes or until your hair is dry.

Use a silk pillowcase

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Investing in a silk pillowcase can be a game-changer for air-dried hair. Unlike synthetic fabrics and cotton, silk is smooth and will allow your hair to move against your pillowcase overnight without pulling or tugging. In addition to minimizing hair damage, the natural qualities of silk pillowcases can help your hair retain adequate moisture too.

Don’t go to bed with wet hair

If possible, it’s best to fully air-dry your hair before going to bed. Even with the help of a silk pillowcase, sleeping on wet hair can create friction, increase frizz, and promote breakage. This is because extra moisture can weaken your hair’s structure. To avoid disrupting your hair cuticles and waking up with a frizzy or tangled head of hair, try leaving enough time to air-dry your hair before bed.

If you’re short on time, don’t worry. You can speed up the drying process by absorbing excess water with a microfiber towel or using the plopping technique. These alternative methods for drying will help you avoid damage or frizzy hair without opting for a blow dryer before bed.

Avoid touching your hair

Touching your hair isn’t just tempting, it’s often a reflex. That said, it’s best to avoid the urge to meddle with your hair as it air-dries. Minimizing touch will help preserve the integrity of your cuticles and prevent unwanted frizz. If you’ve washed, applied product, and styled your hair — you’re almost there. Muster up that last bit of patience to let your hair dry untouched, and you’ll be rewarded with the natural, effortless look you’ve worked for.

Mastering the air-drying process can take time, but you’re already on your way. With the right tips, techniques, and products now at your fingertips, you have what it takes to unlock your hair’s natural brilliance this summer.

Ready to join the air-drying revolution? Take our hair care quiz to find the perfect hair products for you and enjoy the results of your new-and-improved hair care routine in no time.