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

To minimize the amount of time spent and damage done while styling your hair at home, you want to air-dry wet strands most of the way and set the style with a little heat to finish. (Fully air-drying your hair can actually cause unintended damage, but blasting it on full heat, as you know, is definitely drying.) We'll walk you through the nitty gritty details ahead.

how to air dry fine hair
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How To Air-dry Fine Hair

Put away the heavy creams and oils. Instead, spritz on a lightweight leave-in conditioner and comb it through damp hair. This will help smooth the cuticle (key to preventing fuzz) without weighing things down. Next, take your blow-dryer and quickly blast your roots, lifting sections as you go. Give the rest of your hair a rough blow (scrunching the bottom sporadically) until it's about 60 percent dry. Let it air-dry the rest of the way. If you need a little more polish afterward, spritz a shine serum into your palms (not directly on your hair) and work it sparingly through the ends only.

Get the look: Innersense Hair Love Prep Spray ($28); Windle & Moodie Shine & Smoothing Oil ($40)

how to air dry thick hair
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How To Air-dry Thick Hair

Run a quarter-sized amount of styling cream from mid-shaft through the ends. Separate hair into four sections and twist each one into a small bun. Secure the buns with a U-shaped pin (bobby pins and hair elastics create unwanted dents). Unravel hair when 80 percent dry and blow-dry the rest of the way, raking fingers through to blend the waves together as you go. Finish with a little more cream if needed.

Get the look: Kristin Ess French Pin Set ($10); Virtue the Polish Un-Frizz Cream ($40)

how to air dry curly hair
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How To Air-dry Curly Hair

Coat curls generously with a moisturizing cream. Next, using a diffuser, dry your hair until it's about halfway there. Then twist ringlets into your desired shape and avoid touching them while they're drying, as this can disrupt the curl pattern. If you have kinkier curls, after applying the cream and diffusing hair, try braiding it into four tight sections. The tightly woven braids will help tamp down the ends of the curl (where it tends to get puffy). Once hair dries completely, work a few drops of hydrating oil through to separate the ringlets and add some shine.

Get the look: Bio Ionic Universal Diffuser ($24); Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Strengthening Treatment Hair Oil ($30); Christophe Robin Luscious Curl Cream ($32)

how to air dry wavy hair
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How To Air-dry Wavy Hair

The easiest of the bunch to style, wavy-haired gals simply need to coax out their natural bends with a little mousse and muscle. To do this, rake a tennis ball-sized amount of mousse through damp hair. Then, rough dry your hair on a low heat setting until it's about halfway done. Next, pull it into a big, loose braid and coil the braid into a bun, securing it a few inches below the crown. This will give your hair a bit more volume at the roots. Shake it all loose when dry.

Get the look: R+Co Chiffon Styling Mousse ($29)

how to air dry short hair
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How To Air-dry Short Hair

After you've towel-dried and combed out your hair, spritz sea salt spray all over. Then flip your head upside down and lightly blow-dry while scrunching strands to produce volume and encourage waves. When your hair is halfway dry, stop and twist a few pieces in the front into small buns and secure. Let the hair air-dry the rest of the way, and take down the buns. Finish with a few quick blasts of cool air to loosen up the waves.

Get the look: Playa Endless Summer Spray ($24)

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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...