How To Air-Dry Wavy, Straight, Curly, or Coily Hair

Using heat on your hair too often risks damaging it. Instead, try these air-drying methods.

Air-drying your hair sounds simple. However, if you want to create a particular style, there's more to it than simply waiting for your hair to dry.

Health talked to stylists who advised on the best ways to dry your hair to achieve a natural look—be it wavy, straight, curly, or coily.

Wavy Hair

Hold the Heat-Wavy-Print-Aug-2021
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Without a bit of help, waves can dry lopsided or fuzzy. To coax out those ripples, try the following technique from celebrity stylist Bridget Brager:

  • Rake mousse through damp strands and part your hair.
  • Place an old silk scarf across your head, with the 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 result. Wrap hair tighter for more of a curl or looser for a dragged-out wave," said Brager. Then, wait until the hair is dry. You can even sleep on it.

If you have short 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," advised Brager. Then, let your hair dry.

Straight Hair

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"Straight hair is a great canvas to play around with," Lacy Redway, celebrity stylist, told Health. 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 hair'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 Brager's 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," said Brager.

Curly Hair

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For air-drying curly hair, look for sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo and conditioner formulas to protect and pamper your tresses.

"The prep work you put into your curls will enhance overall results once [your] hair dries," noted Redway. To add definition, keep a curl cream handy. 

"Massage [a curl cream] into your curls before letting them air-dry. Wrap the curls around your fingers to help the curl pattern form," advised 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 that method clump the curls together, but it also pulls out excess water without creating fuzziness.

Coily Hair

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The key to defined, gorgeous coils is 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.

When you don't have time for twisting or braiding, section your hair off. Apply generous amounts of your favorite curl cream or leave-in conditioner. Then, let your hair air-dry. If some areas look flat, wrap those strands around your finger to enhance their shape.

For an easy way to add some extra oomph, use pin-curl clips at the roots to increase volume while your hair dries, suggested Redway. 

"Once dry, gently spread the curl open with your fingers to encourage volume and bounce," recommended Brager. Pro tip: Fill a spray bottle with water and mist sections as you pin-curl them. Wet hair absorbs product much more quickly than dry hair.

A Quick Review

You don't need heat to style your hair. Using heat on your hair too often increases the risk of damaging your hair. Instead, use these tips to air-dry your hair, whether wavy, straight, curly, or coily. 

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  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair styling without damage.

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