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 wash and go with ease, but just think about 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.
Keep scrolling to find out my advice on the best cuts for air-dry styling on three types of hair textures.
Curly: Long, Blunt Layers
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.
Curly: Lob With Face-Framing Layers
I am beyond obsessed with the haircut Ted Gibson gave Tessa Thompson here—it’s a 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.
Curly: Long and Accessorized
Nicole Richie goes au naturale 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.
Curly: Blunt Medium-Length
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.
Curly: Long Pixie With Bangs
Those with curly hair may be wary of going short (the "poof effect" is real, people)—but don't be. 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.
Curly: Long and Glossy
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 ($18) will help you achieve Aiko's definition and shine.
Curly: Lob With Long Layers
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.
Wavy: Long and Beachy
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.
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.
Wavy: Voluminous and Undone
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 ($49).
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.
Wavy: Long Shag
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 result? A long shag with loose curves similar to Suki Waterhouse.
Straight: Blunt Lob
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.
Straight: Long Layers With Side-Swept Bangs
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.
There's more than one way to wear a bob. Dark roots and a simple hair tuck behind the ear are equal parts grunge and chic on Emma Roberts. The chin-length frames her face beautifully.
Straight: Lob With Choppy Bangs
Dakota Johnson is the perfect example of a wash-and-go girl with straight hair, and I love that she has 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.
Straight: Long Layers
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 ($32) throughout hair.
Straight: Choppy Lob
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 ($33) and let it dry naturally. This moisturizes the hair and gives it a 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.
What's the best way to air dry your hair?
What types of products do you need to air dry your hair?
That depends on what type of hair you have. Those with straight hair can apply a light oil to their ends, while those with wavy hair are advised to use an oil-lotion mix for added moisture. Curly hair also needs an oil-based product, which should be distributed throughout the hair, from root to tip.
Can you go to bed with wet hair and allow it to air dry while you sleep?
That isn't advised by the experts. In fact, sleeping with damp or wet hair can lead to creases from the pillowcases (which can't be avoided, even with a satin pillowcase).