The Best Way to Air-Dry Your Hair—without Frizz or Fuss
Written by: Brianna Peters
Published on: September 20, 2022
Photo courtesy of DanielBrunoGrandl/Blaublut-Edition.com
The confidence that comes from embracing your natural hair texture can be powerful. The bonus, of course, is that it keeps your hair healthy; blow-drying and heat-styling are damaging, no matter how careful you are. Top LA hairstylist (he often does Gwyneth’s hair for events) and creative director of Virtue Labs Adir Abergel loves a good air-dry—and he’s got incredible tips for making air-dried hair look its best.
Shampoo Makes a Major Difference
in the Way Your Hair Looks
When you blow-dry, you’ve got many steps (and styling products) that can potentially alter your hair’s appearance. When you air-dry, the fundamentals become more important, because you don’t have all the styling backup. “Pick a shampoo that’s specific to your hair’s needs,” says Abergel. “If you lack volume, use a volumizing shampoo. If it’s dry and brittle, use something really moisturizing. Shampoo really makes the biggest impact.”
After You Condition, Rinse with Cold Water
“Conditioner can be just as important as shampoo,” says Abergel, so pick one that works for your hair type and texture. And, he says, a quick cold rinse before you hop out of the shower helps seal the cuticle, for less frizz and more shine.
Detangle in the Shower
“While your hair is wet and the conditioner is still soaking in, you have a little more slip, so you’re less likely to get breakage when you brush your hair,” says Abergel. He loves a wide-tooth comb or the popular Manta brush: “It’s so great and gentle on the scalp.”
Get Serious with Masks
“Treat your hair with a mask or serum once a week and your hair becomes more shiny and elastic,” says Abergel. His tip: Smooth hair treatments from about where your brows are down to your ends. “The first few inches of your hair are typically the most healthy—you don’t need to put treatments there,” he says.
Dry without Agitating
For a really special occasion (like the red carpet), Abergel sidesteps frizz by drying sopping-wet hair between paper towels or an old cotton T-shirt. “Place the ends of your hair between sheets of paper towels and scrunch it up so the paper towel soaks up most of the moisture,” he says. “It creates less friction, so your hair dries smoother.” In real life, microfiber towels perform a similar function, helping hair dry more quickly with significantly less frizz.
Styling Creams and Oils Work Wet or Dry
Abergel suggests that those with curlier hair apply leave-in conditioner or frizz cream while the hair is still really wet. For straighter or wavy hair types, use a cream or oil after your hair is somewhat dry. “I smooth the product all over my hands like a hand cream, then run it through the hair,” he says. “That way, the product distributes evenly.”
Editors’ Tricks for Their Best Air-Dry
executive beauty director
Hair type: Wavy and dry
“I agree with Adir: Shampoo makes all the difference. I alternate between Grown Alchemist Nourishing and Rahua Hydration—I just can’t choose. But if I really want to make my hair look amazing, I use the goop hair serum before I shampoo: The resulting texture and shine are really noticeable. I think conditioner makes slightly less of a difference, but I use, again, the nourishing one from GA and the hydrating one from Rahua. I get out, smooth in leave-in conditioner from Sangre de Fruta, and brush my hair (once, ideally) with the incredible No. 002 brush from Crown Affair (it feels like heaven) and I’m done.”
associate beauty director
Hair type: Curly and dry
“My hair vibe is gently mussed and casual, whether I’m going into the office or sipping a negroni at a fancy wedding. To give my curls soft definition that’s not too polished, after washing I wrap it in this special microfiber towel that speeds drying time; then, after a few minutes, I spritz in this frizz-smoothing, super moisturizing leave-in cream that smells faintly of mango and vacation (a leave-in moisture bomb like this one is the secret to making curly hair shiny and manageable). I gather my damp lengths into four braids around my head and twist each one into a little bun secured with these skinny silk scrunchies that don’t snag (and look so, so cool). In the morning, I unravel the braids, and the resulting crinkly, beachy, silky texture is exactly what I want.”
associate beauty editor
Hair type: Straight, fine, and highlighted
“If I leave my hair to its own devices, it air-dries lifeless and flat, with no wave, volume, or texture. Here’s what works: Once I’m out of the shower, I lightly towel-dry and then generously apply leave-in conditioner from my midlengths to ends. Then I split my hair into six sections when it’s still damp, twist each section, then twist three already-twisted sections together and clip them at the ends with these incredible clips. They easily secure my hair and don’t leave kinks or indentations. The result? Sexy, tousled hair with a not-too-perfect vibe.”
assistant beauty editor
Hair type: Thin, full, and straight
“As soon as I step out of the shower, I wrap my hair up in a towel so my hair dries faster, with a softer texture and a bit more volume. I brush my hair through once and—if I’m still in my apartment once it’s dried all the way through—I add two drops of this amazing hair oil to the ends for shine.”