Air-Drying Your Hair: An Official Guide to Getting It Right

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Previously, the only time I’d air-dry my hair was in a panicked rush out the door. But it’s a really great option if you’re noticing damage from heat styling and want to give your hair a much-needed break. That, and it’s important to let your hair do its own thing sometimes, right? You’ll significantly shorten your morning routine and may even realize you like your strands better au naturel. I tapped Halli Bivona of the John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman for a tutorial on how to leave the house without a hair care in the world. These tricks will streamline the process and help your air-dried hair live its very best life.

Keep scrolling for your official guide to getting it right.

1. Shampoo and Condition

“When air-drying your hair, you always want to start by thoroughly shampooing and conditioning your hair. Often, the biggest concern is frizz, and the best way to avoid that is keeping hair hydrated. I like to start my air-drying routine by using a moisture shampoo and conditioner.”

Davines Oi Shampoo $34
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo and Conditioner $25
Bumble and Bumble Curl (Care) Shampoo and Conditioner $124

2. Towel-Dry

“Pat, never rub. Focus mostly on the roots because its the least exposed area of your hair and will take the longest to dry. Again, we’re avoiding frizz, so each hair type needs to achieve different levels of dryness before combing and adding product. Straight hair should get to 80%, wavy hair to 60%, and curly hair to just 40%.”

3. Brush

“Once you've finished towel-drying, comb your hair through. Those with straight hair should use a paddle brush, women with wavy hair opt for a wide-toothed comb, and curly hair types can gently rake through with their fingers.”

Harry Josh Pro Tools Paddle Brush $40
Sephora Collection Tidy: Detangling Comb $8

3. Add Product

“The right product makes all the difference. If you have straight hair, use a light oil and only apply it to your ends. With wavy hair, it’s best to use an oil-lotion hybrid for extra muscle and moisture—apply that from root to tip. Curly hair responds best with an oil-based mousse.”

Kérastase Elixir Ultime $51
Shu Uemura Satin Design Polishing Milk $31
Moroccanoil Curl Control Mousse $29

5. Brush, Scrunch, and Twirl

“To make sure your hair dries the way you’d like it to, you’ll want to continuously brush, scrunch, or twirl the hair to expose each strand to the air. With straight hair, it’s best to keep brushing. You can scrunch wavy hair, but avoid roughing up the cuticle (that’ll lead to split ends!). Curly-haired girls should take small sections all over and twirl each curl in a different direction. You’ll look a bit like Shirley Temple, but don’t worry! When the curls fully dry, massage your scalp to loosen the curls. That way, you won’t disturb the curls or create frizz.”

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