How To Air-Dry Hair? A Comprehensive Guide

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan
by Ramona Sinha

Drying hair seems like a deceivingly simple task. You just need to let your hair down, right? Not so much. If you leave your hair sopping wet, by the time your hair air-dries, it will be a jungle of frizz and mess.

The perfect air-drying technique requires the right products, tools, and application techniques according to your hair texture, length, and climate. In this comprehensive guide, we break down how to air-dry your hair according to various hair textures and types. Scroll down to learn more.

The Pros Of Air-Drying Your Hair

Air-drying is considered the simplest and healthiest way to dry your hair for the following reasons:

  • It Prevents Heat Damage: Air-drying gives your hair a much-needed break from the blow dryer and other heat styling tools.
  • It Helps Retain Moisture: Heat styling often dries out the strands. Air-drying prevents moisture loss from your locks, keeping them hydrated for long.
  • Prevents Hair Breakage: Blow-drying involves applying concentrated heat on a hair section during vigorous combing. This often stretches the hair shafts, causing breakage. Air-drying does not involve such aggressive techniques.

Best of all, air-drying saves you the time and effort that go into blow-drying. That said, you will still need to invest in a proper aftercare routine for styling your hair. But before that, it is essential to understand which types of hair are ideal for air-drying.

Which Hair Types Are Ideal For Air-Drying?

Contrary to popular belief, air-drying does not suit every hair type. Certain hair textures have an undue advantage, including:

  • Fine Hair

Very thick and dense hair may end up taking the whole day to air-dry. If you are blessed with finer locks, air-drying your hair is easier.

  • Natural Textures And Waves 

Air-drying can enhance the beauty of naturally wavy hair and improve its texture.  It does not weigh the hair down and adds definition to your waves.

  • Undamaged Hair

If your hair is relatively undamaged, smooth, and in good shape, your hair will air-dry in the best possible manner.

If your hair falls in the above categories, then you should consider drying your hair naturally. But to get the best frizz-free results, you should know how to air-dry your hair according to your hair texture. The following section will help you out.

How To Air-Dry Your Hair According To Hair Type

1. Curly Hair

Method

  1. Wash your curls with a sulfate-free shampoo and condition them.
  2. Squeeze out the excess water with a microfiber towel.
  3. Flip your hair and part it into four sections.
  4. Apply a lightweight hair gel/oil to each hair section.
  5. Scrunch your hair up to define your curls.

Top Hacks For Curly Hair

  • Pick Safe Products

Choose the right kind of products like curl-defining creams, lightweight serums, hair gels, and curl-taming lotions. Check the ingredients and pick products that have moisturizing oils, plant butters, and other hydrating ingredients. However, avoid silicone-containing products as they may cause buildup.

  • Maintain The Curls

Use the right curl definers on damp curls to maintain their natural pattern. The right curl definers give your locks a more controlled look. Avoid thick and dense products. Go for a co-wash to preserve your hair’s natural oils.

Do not brush your curls in a downward motion. It will leave your hair with no room for any volume. Instead, brush your hair at a 90-degree angle off the hair scalp to preserve the fluff. Once completely dry, fluff the roots with a wide-toothed comb to lift them and add movement.

  • Towel Dry Your Curls

Use a microfiber hair towel to prevent friction, hair breakage, and frizz.

2. Coily And Afro-Textured Hair

Method

  1. Apply a leave-in conditioner to your damp hair.
  2. Massage a few drops of coconut or jojoba oil throughout your curls and scrunch.
  3. Finish off with a curl cream and define the coils with your fingers to give them a corkscrew shape.
  4. Let your hair air-dry.

Top Hacks For Coily Hair

  • Pick Nourishing Hair Oils 

Use lightweight and moisturizing natural oils, such as olive, avocado, and Jamaican black castor oils. Apply only a few drops to add shine and hydrate your coiled hair.

  • Stick To An Aftercare Regime

Follow a dedicated aftercare routine. Start by applying a mixture of a leave-in conditioner and nourishing hair oil to damp hair. Finish off with a hair styling cream to define your curls.

If you want soft spirals on your thick coily hair, here is a weekly routine you should follow:

  1. Saturate your hair with diluted apple cider vinegar.
  2. Cleanse with a hair cleansing cream.
  3. Deep condition for about 15 minutes and put on a shower cap.
  4. Before styling, apply a lightweight daily conditioner from your roots to the ends.
  5. Apply a bentonite clay mask for thorough cleansing.
  6. Finish off with a natural styling gel that allows the coils to hold the shape.
  7. Let your hair air-dry.
  • Braid And Twist Your Curls For Definition

Braid your hair, twist it into a bun, and clip it a couple of inches below the crown. This small effort gives your hair extra lift and adds more body to it. Alternatively, you can finger coil your hair for a more defined look.

If you want less volume, flatten your roots by making two loose braids. Shake it out after an hour for an unfussy look. Before untwisting your braids, apply a moisturizing mist. Finally, use a hair pick to fluff the roots gently.

3. Straight Hair

Method

  1. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo and conditioner.
  2. Towel dry your hair and apply a volumizing mousse evenly.
  3. Detangle with a wide-toothed comb
  4. Toss your hair back and forth, allowing it to settle naturally.

Top Hacks For Straight/Fine Hair

  • No Touching

Avoid touching or playing with your hair while it is air-drying, or you will end up with frizzy hair.

  • Use The Right Amount Of Product

Use just a pea-sized or dime-sized (as per the hair length) amount of the product and distribute it evenly. Otherwise, it may weigh your hair down.

  • Add More Waves

To get soft waves framing your face, tuck a hair section behind the ears and clip it with bobby pins. As your hair air-dries, the pins will work to exaggerate the bend and give you enviable soft waves. Conversely, twist your hair into four buns before going to bed and wake up with soft, pretty waves around your face.

  • Invest In A Hair Mousse

Use a lightweight texture-enhancing cream/mousse to minimize frizz, lift the roots, and prevent flyaways. Always comb to distribute the product evenly and allow it to settle down. You can use a lightweight spray for an instant pick-me-up.

4. Wavy Hair

Method

  1. Wash your hair with a lightweight hydrating shampoo and conditioner.
  2. Detangle with a wide-toothed comb.
  3. Squeeze out excess water with a microfiber towel and let your hair air-dry for 15 minutes.
  4. Mist on a salt spray (while it is damp) to volumize your hair and let it dry.
  5. Apply a styling cream and twist your waves in two-inch sections for extra definition and shine.

Top Hacks For Naturally Wavy Hair

  • Braid Your Hair

To define your natural wave, loosely braid your hair before going to bed and clip it up into twists. This will also prevent your hair from puffing up. For beachy waves, mist your damp hair with a salt spray, make four loose braids, and allow them to air-dry.

  • Use The Right Products

Buy a heavy curl defining cream for thick and wavy hair. Use hydrating shampoo and conditioner with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and natural oils.

  • Minimize Frizz

Use a lightweight dry oil and follow up with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or serum. Use a wide-toothed comb to distribute the product evenly, prevent frizz, and add a glossy sheen to your hair. If you live in a humid area, use a light-hold heat and humidity hair gel.

  • Dry Your Waves Correctly

Never let wavy hair dry on its own. Use a microfiber towel to soak excess water and eliminate chances of frizz. Let it air-dry for about 15 minutes and shake it out.

In the next section, find the top tips and hacks to air-dry your hair minus the frizz.

Three Cardinal Rules Of Air-Drying Hair Without Frizz

Irrespective of your hair type, follow these three rules for perfect air-dried hair:

  1. Choose an appropriate conditioner and hair styling product. Avoid experimenting with products, and consult a hairstylist to pick the best products for your hair type.
  2. Use a blend of leave-in conditioners and lightweight hair stylers to define your natural waves and nourish your hair.
  3. Work out the quantity of product to use (based on your hair type).

These tips can help you retain hair definition. Not all hair types air-dry fast; some may take hours to dry. Find out why in the next section.

Why Does It Take My Hair So Long To Air-Dry?

Usually, it takes an hour or two for damp hair to dry completely. However, this time may vary depending on the hair length and porosity.

Highly porous hair can take an entire day to dry. It’s because porous hair quickly soaks water and takes longer to dry. Usually, curly, kinky, and coily hair types are highly porous and take longer to dry.

Wrapping Up

Air-drying is the safest way to dry your hair without any damage. However, it takes the right products and relevant techniques to air-dry the hair without any frizz. We hope the tips mentioned in the article will help you air-dry your hair and give your mane a polished and all-natural look.

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.
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