Ask a Hairstylist: What are the Best Cuts for Air Dry Styling?

Solange Knowles mid-length natural wavy hair

Sergi Alexander / Getty Images

Heat styling can be a real drag. Not only does it eat up time from our busy schedules, but it also can do a number on our hair. And while there are heat-protectant products out there to keep strands from getting dry and damaged, I'm proposing that you skip blow-drying altogether (or at least for a little while) and try air-drying instead. It stems from my number one rule when it comes to hair: Don’t fight your texture!

I often see clients who have deep-fried their hair to achieve a day-to-day look that just isn’t manageable. The straight-haired girls are curling and waving as if their lives depended on it, and the ladies with textures are straightening their hair to death. But it’s not their fault—they usually come in with a haircut that doesn’t allow their locks to air-dry beautifully. You have to have the right haircut for your texture to really wash-and-go with ease, but just think what you can do with the extra 30 minutes every day.

Meet the Expert

Mark Townsend is a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include the Olsen sisters, Dakota Johnson, and Shay Mitchell, among others. He is also Dove’s go-to hair guru.

Keep scrolling to find out my advice on the best cuts for air-dry styling on three types of hair textures.

01 of 21

Curly: Long, Blunt Layers

Lorde long, curly hair

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Anyone who knows me knows I love a curl! When I’m lucky enough to work with a naturally curly-haired client like Lorde, I rarely go for a blowout—I like to play up the curls and texture as much as possible.

02 of 21

Curly: Lob With Face-Framing Layers

Tessa Thompson curly side-parted lob
Getty Images

I’m beyond obsessed with the haircut Ted Gibson just gave Tessa Thompson—it’s an absolutely brilliant long bob with face-framing layers. Curls do require a little more love to keep them looking bouncy, healthy, and touchable, so I tell my curly-haired clients to use a detangling conditioner and comb it through while in the shower.

Look for products that will add moisture to the curl without weighing it down. Anything too heavy will cause the curls to fall and lose their bounce.

03 of 21

Curly: Long and Accessorized

Nicole Richie long curly hair with orange headband

Amanda Edwards / WireImage / Getty Images 

Nicole Richie goes au naturel with her curly mane. Since she keeps some length, her coils are less tightly wound than they would be given a shorter style. Pair this look with a headband to accessorize and also to add contrast to a full head of curls.

04 of 21

Curly: Blunt Medium-Length

Solange natural curly medium-length haircut
Getty Images

After showering, it’s important to seal the hair cuticle, so I rake a small amount of Ouidad Curl Quencher Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream ($26) through the curls and then do not touch them! The less you touch the curls while drying, the more defined and beautiful they will be. Solange is an example of serious curl goals.

05 of 21

Curly: Long Pixie With Bangs

Jessie Buckley curly long pixie

Dominique Charriau / Getty Images 

Those with curly hair may be wary of going short (the "poof effect" is real, people)—but don't be. In fact, there are plenty of short hair options for curly-haired peeps, a long pixie being one of them. If you want to incorporate a bang, you don't need a full fringe; instead, a few placed curls like Jessie Buckley will do.

06 of 21

Curly: Long and Glossy

Jhene Aiko long curly hair

Allen Berezovsky / WireImage / Getty Images

Jhené Aiko's curls look gorgeous worn long and with extra sheen. This length lends some weight and pull to curls, making for a versatile look that can transition from day to night. Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly ($15) will help you achieve Aiko's definition and shine.

07 of 21

Curly: Lob With Long Layers

Thandie Newton natural curly lob

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

If curly hair is cut completely blunt, you can get an A-line or “Christmas tree” effect, but if it’s too layered, the ends can look thin and scraggly. I like to keep the layers on the longer side and make sure to cut the layers bluntly with scissors, avoiding razors or thinning shears at all costs. Thandie Newton shows us how it's done.

08 of 21

Wavy: Long and Beachy

Gisele long, beachy waves

Jason LaVeris / Getty Images 

I'll just be honest and say it: Wavy-haired ladies have it inherently easier than women with straight or curly hair. Their natural texture lends itself to air-drying beautifully, and there will never be a day that beach waves go out of style. Case in point: the eternally beautiful Gisele Bündchen.

09 of 21

Wavy: Long and Brushed-Out

Zendaya long, red wavy hair

David Livingston / Getty Images 

I am seeing a lot of hair trends lately that are ’60s- and ’70s-inspired. Take Zendaya's long, brushed-out waves, for instance. The dark red shade takes her mermaid mane to the next level.

10 of 21

Wavy: Shag

Alexa Chung wavy shag

Jun Sato / WireImage / Getty Images

I love that the shag is making a return, only this time it’s more modern and feminine with a wavy texture, as pictured here on Alexa Chung. You want to bring out your hair’s natural wave or bend, so this is the cut that needs lots of layers starting around lip length and continuing around the whole head.

11 of 21

Wavy: Voluminous and Undone

Natasha Lyonne undone long and wavy hair with bangs

John Shearer / Getty Images

In case you haven't guessed yet: natural, untamed hair is all the rage. Natasha Lyonne's strawberry-blonde mane makes a powerful and stylish statement. Texture and fullness take center stage thanks to products like Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.

12 of 21

Wavy: Medium-Length

Priyanka Chopra wavy medium-length hair

Michael Stewart / FilmMagic / Getty Images

A medium-length cut is incredibly versatile. And while it's appropriate for all hair types and textures, this length is ideal for those with undulating tresses. It's long enough to highlight hair's movement, but short enough to require minimal upkeep. Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of its greatest proponents it seems.

13 of 21

Wavy: Long, Textured Layers

Shay Mitchell hair


Shay Mitchell turns up the edge with her long, wavy mane, by amping up her natural texture. Her hair secret? Air-drying, of course! And a little bit of coconut oil.

14 of 21

Wavy: Long Shag

Suki Waterhouse long shag
Getty Images

After showering, apply a big dollop of a mousse, like Dove Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream Mousse ($8) (this is my favorite product for air-drying hair) and rake it through the hair with your hands to distribute it evenly from roots to ends. This will eliminate frizz while also keeping the waves defined and shiny. The end result? A long shag with loose curves similar to Suki Waterhouse.

15 of 21

Straight: Blunt Lob

Lana Condor shoulder-length straight hair pulled back on top

Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

Straight hair can get a bad rap for looking thin without a voluminous blowout, but the problem is not the texture—instead, it’s usually the haircut. Too often, women equate body and volume with tons of layers, but these over-layered ends are actually what’s causing the hair to look flat or fine. Straight hair needs a cut that will fall into place, so it’s best to stick with chic, structured haircuts—like a bob or a lob, as pictured here on Lana Condor.

16 of 21

Straight: Pixie

Sonoya Mizuno pixie

Amanda Edwards / WireImage / Getty Images

It doesn't get much more low-maintenance than a pixie cut. Sonoya Mizuno amps up the texture of her pixie with lots of short, choppy layers. To style, work a small amount of Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax ($39) into hair.

17 of 21

Straight: Long Layers With Side-Swept Bangs

Penelope Cruz long hair with side-swept bangs

Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images 

Straight-haired ladies have it relatively easy when it comes to air-drying their hair. However, to keep hair from falling flat, add long layers, which will create subtle body and movement. Applying a small amount of a volumizing product like R+Co Rodeo Star Thickening Style Foam ($32) to hair while it's drying usually doesn't hurt either.

18 of 21

Straight: Bob

Emma Roberts bob

George Pimentel / WireImage / Getty Images

There's more than one way to wear a bob. Dark roots and a simple hair tuck behind the ear is equal parts grunge and chic on Emma Roberts. The chin-length frames her face beautifully.

19 of 21

Straight: Lob With Choppy Bangs

Dakota Johnson long straight bob with bangs

Joe Scarnici / WireImage / Getty Images

Dakota Johnson is the perfect example of a wash-and-go girl with straight hair, and I love that she has the choppy bangs to give her long bob a bit of an edge.

Blunt ends make hair look thicker. While it's a great option if you've got fine tresses, feathered ends will work better for thick hair since it keeps edges soft.

20 of 21

Straight: Long Layers

Sofia Vergara long straight hair with red lip

Phillip Faraone / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Sofía Vergara maintains her length and incorporates long layers to give her mane movement. A long bang is versatile and requires minimal upkeep, especially for those with straight strands. For a polished finish, work a small amount of Bb. Don’t Blow It Fine (H)air Styler ($31) throughout hair.

21 of 21

Straight: Choppy Lob

Rose Byrne ombré bob
Getty Images

Rose Byrne has the coolest choppy lob. On damp, straight hair, I like to add a few pumps of Dove Oxygen Moisture Leave-In Foam (This item is no longer in stock—we suggest Nexxus Hydra-Light Leave-In Foam, $12, as a replacement) and let it dry naturally. This moisturizes the hair and gives it flexible hold as it dries (ladies with fine straight hair can skip conditioner in the shower and just use this as a leave-in). Once dry, spray dry shampoo throughout hair during the day for added volume and texture.

This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Related Stories