Looking to cut down on heat styling? We welcome you to the fuss-free world of hair air-drying, where we make the most of our warm mornings and nights while avoiding heat damage. No, our air-dried locks don’t look like lifeless, limp messes; instead, they come in various forms of beachy waves, bouncy spirals, and tousled, effortless-looking curls and bends. How do we do it? It’s actually quite simple: as long as you pair a good heatless styling technique with good hair products, your locks will turn out bouncy, smooth and shiny.

Without further ado, here are the best fool-proof ways to dry your hair au naturel without sacrificing the body and bounce.

Stylish girl with straight hair

How to Air-Dry Fine, Straight Hair

Normally, straight hair tends to lack body and movement that wavy and curly hair types have. This is especially true for ultra-fine hair, which can quickly turn flat and lifeless even after a good blow-dry session. To give your straight hair some lift and volume when air-drying, here’s what we suggest.

  • Step 1: Condition first, shampoo second

This technique may sound a little strange but bear with us because your fine, straight hair will love it. Instead of shampooing your hair first and then conditioning it, reverse the routine: start with your conditioner by applying it to the bottom two-thirds of your hair, and then follow with your favorite gentle shampoo. This routine will help clean your scalp and hair and leave it nice and conditioned, without weighing it down. If you normally shampoo twice, simply condition your hair before the second shampoo.

  • Step 2: Give your locks a quick towel dry

Using a microfiber towel give your hair a quick dry. While you can always use a regular towel, a microfiber one is gentler on the hair, plus better at absorbing moisture so we highly recommend it. Do be gentle as you don’t want to cause any breakage, but don’t be afraid to really go in there, especially the roots. We’ll take care of the potential knots and tangles in the next step.

  • Step 3: Get Your Styling Products Ready

Use a little bit of your favorite leave-in conditioner on the length of your hair and then comb through it with a wide-tooth comb. Then, mist on some volumizing spray of your choice to add body and volume to your hair and let it sit. Once your hair is completely dry, lift up small sections of your roots and sprinkle some volume powder for that voluminous lift and texture.

Alternatively, if you want a wavy, piece-y kind of look, use a wave-enhancing mouse before letting your hair dry. Scrunch up your hair really good, from roots to the ends, lightly twisting small sections of your hair for a pretty spiral-y look.

And if you’d prefer some beachy waves? After using your leave-in conditioner, wait about 15 minutes until your hair is somewhat dry (it should still be damp though) and then braid it into a classic three-section braid and let it air-dry. Finish off with a touch of serum on your ends.

Check out our review of the best hair brushes and dry shampoo.

How to Air-Dry Wavy Hair

Whether you have thick or thin wavy hair, you know how much effort typically actually goes into achieving that “effortless” beachy waves look. Creating a polished look can be particularly challenging when you’re not using any heat tools and you’re air-drying your hair; the good news is, it’s absolutely possible! To keep your wavy locks defined but not puffy and frizzy and your roots voluminous, follow these air-drying steps.

  • Step 1: Gentle shampoo + hydrating conditioner

Wavy hair is more prone to dryness and therefore frizz, so to counteract that, shampoo with a gentle, lightweight formula once or twice (once if your hair is dry, twice if it feels flat and oily), and follow with a hydrating conditioner of your choice. We suggest sticking to products that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, shea butter and other hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. Be sure to wash your hair properly – gently scrub and massage the shampoo on your scalp and roots only, and apply the conditioner on the length of your hair. Don’t forget to rinse thoroughly!

  • Step 2: Towel dry, then detangle

Wrap your head in a microfiber towel for about 10-15 minutes, then gently pat your hair, squeezing water out of it. Be careful not to rub your hair though – this is what creates frizz and can lead to breakage. Once you’re done, it’s time to detangle your hair the proper way. Before you take your wide-tooth comb, apply some detangling spray or a light leave-in conditioner to the middle and end sections of your hair.

  • Step 3: Salt spray + styling mousse

While your hair is still damp, mist some salt spray to build some volume and body; don’t go overboard though, especially if your hair is naturally voluminous. Then, apply a small amount of either a styling cream or a mousse to your locks while twisting your waves in 2–3-inch sections. Finish off with a touch of oil for extra shine.

girl with curly hair

How to Air-Dry Curly Hair

If your curls and coils tend to get a little puffy and frizzy when your air-dry them, all you have to do to prevent this is add lots of moisture to your hair. Aside from a good hair mask, you’ll also need a couple of leave-in products to further add hydration as well as build bounce and shape. A nice oil or silicone serum won’t hurt either.

  • Step 1: Sulfate-free shampoo + moisturizing mask

Curly and coily hair thrives on moisture so make sure you don’t over-wash your hair and strip it of its essential oils. Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo and a rich, intensely moisturizing hair mask that will keep your curls soft and manageable. We recommend looking for humectants and emollients in your mask or conditioner such as glycerin, honey, aloe vera, shea butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil, all of which can boost hydration of your hair strands and help detangle and smooth them out.

  • Step 2: It’s detangling time

After you’ve washed and conditioned your hair, quickly (and gently) pat-dry it with a microfiber towel to remove excess water. Next, it’s detangling time. We recommend getting a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and a detangling spray and applying both to your damp hair. Be generous with your leave-in conditioner, but less so with your detangling spray – mist your entire hair length (roots excluded of course) but only a little. Then, section your hair in however many parts you like (the more hair you have, the more sections you should make), and using either your fingers or a wide-tooth comb, comb your hair. Leave your hair to dry au naturel at least 80%.

  • Step 3: Finishing touches

Once your hair is almost completely dry, it’s time to apply your finishing products. If you want extra definition, use a lightweight mousse or cream; if you need to tame it a little, go for a hair gel (and don’t forget the hairline as well). Finally, apply a touch of hair oil onto your ends for that brilliant shine.