The Best Way to Air-Dry Your Hair for a Natural Style

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Air-drying your hair sounds simple and natural but if you want to create a certain style there's more to it than just waiting for the air to do its thing. We talked to stylists who gave us advice on the best ways to dry your hair to achieve the natural look you seek, be it straight, wavy, curly, or coily.

Wavy Air Dry

Hold the Heat-Wavy-Print-Aug-2021
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Without a little help, waves can dry lopsided, or fuzzy. To coax out those ripples, try this technique from celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager

  • Rake mousse through damp strands and part your hair.
  • Place an old silk scarf across the top of your head, with ends down by your ears. Secure the scarf at the crown of your head with a hair clip.
  • Working away from your face, wrap sections of your wet hair around the scarf, picking up hair as you go.
  • Secure the ends with a scrunchie.

"This method allows you to control your end result—wrap hair tighter for more of a curl or looser for a dragged-out wave," says Brager. Wait until the hair is dry (you can even sleep on it).

If you have shorter strands, "comb a golf-ball-size amount of mousse through damp hair. Beginning at your temple, slide in a duckbill clip horizontally, dragging strands off the hairline by about half an inch. Grab another clip, move an inch down, and repeat. Continue down the lengths of your hair," advises Brager. Let dry.

Straight Hair

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"Straight hair is a great canvas to play around with," says Lacy Redway, celebrity hairstylist, and Unilever global hair-care brand ambassador. For a face-framing bend, "apply a leave-in conditioner to your damp hair. Then, twist your hair up into a bun, and use a scrunchie to secure it while it air-dries."

The scrunchie manipulates your strand's shape without creating unwanted kinks. The tighter the twist, the more pronounced the waves.

If you typically rely on your blow-dryer or curling iron for extra volume, try this heat-free trick instead: "Loosely part your towel-dried hair on the opposite side of your natural part. Secure it with a clip. Once dry, remove the clip, flip the hair back to your natural part, and massage the roots to get a lot more volume," says Brager.

Curly Air-Dried Hair

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"The prep work you put into your curls will enhance overall results once [your] hair dries," says Redway. Look for sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo and conditioner formulas that will protect and pamper your tresses.

To add definition, keep a curl cream handy. "Massage it into your curls before letting them air-dry. Wrap the curls around your fingers to help the curl pattern form" advises Redway.

To speed up dry time after product application, use a microfiber towel—an old cotton T-shirt works too—and scrunch the hair up to your scalp. Not only does this clump the curls together, but it also pulls out excess water without creating fuzziness.

Air-Dry a Coily Style

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The key to defined, gorgeous coils is moisture, moisture, moisture. Properly hydrating your hair begins on wash day. While in the shower, after coating your curls in conditioner, detangle them with your fingers before rinsing them out.

On days that you don't have time for twisting or braiding, section your hair off—this ensures each strand gets a drink—and begin applying your favorite curl cream or leave-in conditioner. Now is not the time to be stingy with your hair product—then let your hair air-dry. If some areas of you do look flat, wrap the strands around your finger to enhance their shape.

For an easy way to add some extra oomph, Redway suggests using pin-curl clips at the roots to increase volume while your hair dries. "Once dry, gently spread the curl open with your fingers to encourage volume and bounce," recommends Brager. Pro tip: Fill up a spray bottle with water and mist sections as you pin-curl them. Wet hair absorbs product much more quickly than dry.

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