How To Air-Dry Your Hair—Without The Frizz

Embrace your natural texture with these expert tips.

A model with curly hair against a yellow background to illustrate tips on how to air-dry hair.

(Photo: Wade Hudson)

The benefits of giving your hair dryer the summer off are twofold: You’ll help prevent heat damage and reclaim some of your precious time. Read on for pro tips on how to enhance your texture without heat and keep frizz at bay, from two best-in-the-biz experts: Janet Jackson, Maui Moisture’s Canadian hair educator, and hairstylist Wendy Rorong.

1. Nail down your signature cut

The secret to making the transition to your natural hair texture easier is getting a haircut that works with your natural texture, not against it. Jackson says that layers are always a good option for curly hair as they are a great way to get volume and control the shape, but adds that it’s essential to choose the right types of layers for your specific curls, face shape and lifestyle. “Be sure to do a proper consultation with a curly hair expert before you cut,” she says.

2. Make hydration a priority

“Moisture is key,” says Rorong. When your hair lacks moisture, it pulls it from the air, which causes strands to get puffy and frizzy. Both Jackson and Rorong sing the praises of sulfate-free shampoo for keeping a lid on frizz. Sulfates strip natural oils from the hair and can make it dry, while sulfate-free shampoos maintain hair’s natural oil levels, leaving it with more moisture.

Jackson also recommends only washing your hair once a week or once every two weeks, if possible. “If you need to wash more often for whatever reason, try co-washing—just washing with your conditioner,” she says. Curly hair types should also incorporate a deep conditioning mask into their routine once a week. “[They are] a great way to hydrate the hair and give you more control when styling your curls or natural hair. Some may think that these treatments should be done in the winter, but they really should be used in the summer, too.”

3. Towel off excess water

When stepping out of the shower, gently towel off your hair. A light squeeze (rather than a vigorous shake) helps hair dry faster and ensures any product saturates strands more effectively. Rorong swears by soft microfibre towels, which are gentler on hair and absorb water better than traditional terry cloth.

4. Play up your natural texture

Using a wide-tooth comb, detangle hair thoroughly. Follow with a moisture-boosting treatment and a routine that’s suited to your specific hair type.

Straight and fine hair: A leave-in treatment that fights frizz is must. “After applying the product, let your hair dry about 90 percent of the way, twist into a top bun and secure with a claw clip,” says Rorong. “Drying hair this way will add texture.” For more oomph, sprinkle volumizing powder onto dry roots.

Wavy and curly hair: To enhance your natural texture while minimizing frizz and fly-aways, Rorong recommends using a styling cream formulated to define your natural curls. Comb the product through to coat each strand, shake out your curls, scrunch up as needed and let dry.

Kinky and coily hair:  This hair type tends to be dry, so look for products packed with hydrating ingredients, like shea butter, coconut oil and aloe vera. For ultra-defined and shiny curls, separate the hair into sections, distribute product evenly throughout, and then twist each coil around your fingers. Allow hair to dry completely.

5. Protect your style

Avoid rubbing and touching your hair as it dries, which can lead to frizz. To keep your smooth, shiny air-dried ’do intact for as long as possible, both Jackson and Rorong suggests sleeping on a silk pillowcase to reduce friction. “Get yourself a silk or satin bonnet (with no elastic band) or a silk pillow case,” says Jackson. At bedtime, she advises applying your favourite natural oil from your scalp to your ends before popping on your head wrap. This will help to hydrate your scalp and hair so you wake up with smooth strands.

UVA and UVB rays not only do a number on your skin, but they can also wreak serious havoc on your hair. Sun-damaged hair is significantly harder to manage and style, so using a product that contains a UV protectant or covering up with a cute sun hat before heading outdoors is a must. Jackson adds that it’s also important to protect hair from moisture-zapping chlorine when hitting the pool. She suggests coating hair with your favourite conditioner and then popping on a cute silk wrap to prevent it from seeping in.

And, a few frizz-fighting products to make ditching your dryer a smoother process.