How to Air Dry Frizzy, Thick and Wavy Hair, According to a Beauty Editor Who’s Tried It All

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Summer is fast approaching, and though I’m excited about the longer days and breezy garb, there are a few things about the season that I could do without: sweat, humidity and the inevitable frizz that comes with it.

As someone with thick, wavy hair that’s prone to puffing up to Chia pet proportions, I’ve tried a lot of things to keep it smooth over the years. If you can relate, here’s the best routine I’ve found works for me.

How to Air-Dry Your Hair (and Not Look Like a Poodle)

Step 1: Shampoo after 5 p.m., which is to say later in the day but not so late that you go to bed with damp hair. Giving thick hair extra time to dry and settle overnight helps tame the puffiness. (Tip: Use a moisturizing shampoo and concentrate it on your roots, where the oil and buildup is, and simply let the suds wash down your strands. Don’t forget the conditioner; it’s a non-negotiable for our hair type.)

Step 2: Sandwich sections of your hair in a microfiber towel and press out any excess moisture. (Imagine the flattening motion of a panini press and replicate that motion on your hair.) Rubbing a regular towel over your strands can rough up the cuticle, which causes more frizz.

Step 3: Apply a styling cream to your freshly squeezed strands while they’re still slightly damp. This will ensure a more even application. Depending on the length of your hair, you’re going to need a nickel- to- quarter-sized amount. Rake it through from mid-lengths to ends. I use a wide-toothed comb for this.

Step 4: Separate your hair into two even sections on either side of your head, as if you were about to do pigtails. Starting at the top of your head, grab a small section of hair and begin twisting it, picking up more hair as you work your way down towards the nape of your neck. Keep twisting until all your hair is incorporated and tie it off at the ends, leaving one to two inches out. Repeat on the other side.

Step 5: Unravel your hair in the morning and use your fingers to lightly tousle your waves. Option to add a little oil as a finishing touch to boost shine and smoothness. Now is also a good time to practice your hair flip.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...