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The Best Way to Air-Dry Your Hair for Every Texture

Instead of fighting your natural texture, enhance and embrace it! We tapped four celebrity stylists for their top tips on how to ditch the tools and air-dry your hair.
By Anneke Knot
July 08, 2021
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Wavy 

Hold the Heat-Wavy-Print-Aug-2021
Credit: Sarah Krick/Gallery Stock

Without a little help, waves can dry lopsided or fuzzy. To coax out those ripples, try this technique from celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager (and use the smart code below for a video of the technique!): Rake mousse through damp strands and part hair. Place an old silk scarf across the top of your head, with ends down by your ears. Secure scarf at the crown with a hair clip. Working away from your face, wrap sections of hair around 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 hair is dry (you can even sleep on it) to undo. 

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. 

Your Air-Dry Arsenal 

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Straight 

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Credit: Ondrea Barbe/Trunk Archive

"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 leave-in conditioner to damp hair, twist your hair up into a bun, then use a scrunchie to secure 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 towel-dried hair on the opposite side of your natural part; secure it with a clip. Once dry, remove the clip, flip back to your natural part, and massage the roots to get a lot more volume," says Brager. 

Your Air-Dry Arsenal 

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Curly 

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Credit: Kayla Varley / August Images

"The prep work you put into your curls will enhance overall results once hair dries," says Redway. Look for sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo and conditioner formulas that will protect and pamper. To add definition, keep a curl cream handy. "Massage it into your curls before letting them air-dry. Wrap 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 up to your scalp. Not only does this clump curls together, but it also pulls out excess water without creating fuzziness. 

Your Air-Dry Arsenal 

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Coily 

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Credit: Joy Wong / thelicensingproject.com

The key to defined, gorgeous coils is moisture, moisture, moisture. Properly hydrated hair begins on wash day: After coating your curls in conditioner, detangle them with your fingers before rinsing. On days that you don't have time for twisting or braiding, section 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— then let air-dry. If some areas look flat, wrap 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 go. Wet hair absorbs product much quicker than dry. 

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  • Dark & Lovely Hair Hydrator

    Avocado oil, aloe, and rice water complex take care of your curls. After washing, spritz on this leave-in as a primer, or use throughout the week to refresh your style well after wash day.

    $6.00
    shop it
    riteaid.com
  • Emerge It's Knot Happening Sulfate Free Shampoo and High Key Smooth Conditioner

    Knots have met their match. The almond-milk-rich shampoo and conditioner duo gently cleanses and conditions for tangle-free tresses.

    $7.00
    shop it
    target.com
  • Nexxus Curl Define Ultra-8 Pre-Wash Treatment

    "Before any twist-outs, braid-outs, or protective styles, apply this deep-conditioning treatment to soften your strands and cause less breakage," recommends Redway. 

    $15.00
    shop it
    ulta.com

This article originally appeared in the  July/August 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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