Everyone has their own method when it comes to styling their hair which often includes a medley of hair products and heat tools like a blow dryer, a flat iron, or a diffuser.
However, if you consistently use a blow dryer or curling iron to style your hair, you may want to reconsider as this puts stress on the hair, leading to breakage, split ends and brittleness—not a good look. While your natural texture and hair type has a lot to do with how your hair dries, there is a misconception that air drying your hair causes frizz. We have the inside scoop on how to elevate your air-drying routine so you can get smoother, shinier hair.
Celebrity hairstylist Sunnie Brook, has worked with the likes of Hailey Bieber, Elisabeth Moss, Hailee Steinfeld, Chrissy Teigen, Chris Hemsworth, Lana Del Rey and more. Known for her relaxed-luxury styling, Sunnie shares some of her top tips on how to air-dry your hair so it's frizz-free and has a soft, airy bounce. All about working with your natural hair, relaxed-luxury embraces soft bends and waves in an elevated, effortless way. As an educator for Paul Mitchel, Head & Shoulders' official hairstylist, and a salon owner herself, Sunnie's expert tips may be just what you need to break up with your blow dryer (even just for a little while).
The key to air-drying your hair without frizz is to treat and prime the hair before even stepping into the shower and lathering up. Sunnie suggests using a leave-in treatment like coconut oil on dry ends before getting in the shower. A leave in treatment will also protect the hair from common cleansers and chemicals found in many conventional shampoos. A hair mask can also help nurture and hydrate your hair before shampooing.
Depending on your hair type, you may be able to get away with getting rid of shampoo altogether, or only shampooing your roots, but most hair experts agree that using a conditioner is non-negotiable. This is because the outermost part of your hair, known as the cuticle, actually closes and opens. When your cuticles are open, moisture gets into the hair strands, expanding the hair as it dries, leading to frizz. Conditioner helps to close or seal these cuticles and lock in moisture, reducing frizziness and flyaways, which is especially important when air-drying your hair.
Another quick tip? Rinse your hair with cold water at the very end of your shower (not freezing, but cooler than room temperature). Along with also helping to seal cuticles and give your hair an added boost of shine, it's a proven method to help boost energy and revitalization.
Cue the right comb
Love to sing in the shower? Your comb can act as your microphone! And if you use the right one, it can also help you achieve your hair goals. Sunnie says using a large tooth comb to detangle your hair while it’s wet with conditioner is a game-changer, as this is when your hair is slick and smooth, leading to less breakage.
"Part your hair as desired while the conditioner closes down the cuticle," she says. This will eliminate the need to brush or comb your hair when you’re done showering, as this commonly leads to frizziness. It also helps with smoothness, moisture and shine—trust us, the results will make you sing.
Ditch the towel turbans
Wrapping your hair up in a towel is so common practice that ditching the habit may be a hard one. Yes, the towel turban is an iconic, snap-worthy style that starlets of today (hey, Selena Gomez) and of the past (the ever-glamorous Marilyn Monroe) have used in photoshoots and Instagram posts that make us feel like it’s not just a hair-drying method but a beauty look. Who is guilty of taking a fresh-faced, #nomakeup selfie post shower with their hair in a towel? You don’t need to lookup the hashtag to find out.
Iconic or not, wrapping your hair in a towel is possibly the worst air-drying offence, especially if you’re not using the right type of towel. Towel turbans not only lift the cuticles even more, but also create dreaded knots, and rubbing your hair in the towel can lead to increased frizziness when air-drying.
"Instead, towel blot [wet hair] with a 100% Turkish cotton for maximum absorption," Sunnie says. Some stylists also suggest microfiber towels or an old cotton T-shirt. Instead of aggressively rubbing your hair dry, gently blot the hair to keep cuticles smooth. You can also use your hands to squeeze excess water out of your hair before beginning this process.
Seal the ends
When it comes to split or dead ends, many people take to the scissors and start snipping away. Take a proactive approach and apply an anti-frizz product starting at the mid-shaft of your hair all the way to the ends. Part your hair into different sections and use this application method to ensure the product is evenly applied. Using a leave-in conditioner can also help improve smoothness and of course, there are plenty of nourishing and smoothing serums out there that can help close the cuticles and make them stronger.
Minimize the fuss
We understand that between work and play, most modern women just don't have the time to wait for their hair to air-dry, which is why many take to a trusty blow dryer. We challenge you to think of air-drying your hair as part of your self-care routine. Enjoy the downtime, relax, and let mother nature do the work. Sunnie says the less your touch your hair while it's air-drying, the better. There’s no need to brush your hair again out of the shower, so avoid it if possible. Brushing or running your fingers through your hair after coming out of the shower can undo all your hard work in closing the cuticles, opening them up again to damage and frizz. For curly and wavy-haired girls try not to scrunch the hair either—towel blotting is key. Embrace the texture of your hair and when it’s dry; just use your fingers to gently separate the curls and waves as desired.
Putting your hair in a loose braid or bun can also help add texture and waves while air-drying. If you have textured hair, try using your fingers to push or twist your curls in the right direction. If you choose to use hair products to enhance beach waves or tight curls, remember that these are usually best applied when the hair is damp, not sopping wet.
If you absolutely cannot part ways with your blow dryer, always remember to use a heat protectant product and use a low heat setting on your tools. Some stylists suggest just blow drying the hair around the hairline for a smoother look so you're not causing heat damage on the lengths of your hair.
Just like skincare or makeup, no two air drying techniques or routines are the same. What works for some may not work for others, however, we challenge you to skip the heat and try to find an air-drying routine that works for your hair type. Experiment with Sunnie's tips to fight frizz and boost health, and watch your hair transform.
Written By: Rosalyn Solomon