The right ways to air-dry your hair

The dog days of August are made for wash-and-wear hair.

If blasting your blow dryer in the sweltering summer heat is putting you over the edge, skip it. “Everyone always thinks the more heat, the straighter the hair or the more perfect the style, but that’s not always the case," says Mikey Warda, a stylist and colorist at the newly opened Salon Kazumi in Beverly Hills. "One of the best looks right now is a very undone beach-y wave and, yes, a lot of tools can be behind it when I do it in salon, but you can create that style and others without heat."

The less-is-more credo is actually the best way to approach air-drying. The key? Taking your hair type and texture into account. And if you don’t have hair that naturally dries perfectly sleek and swingy, don’t worry.

Follow Warda’s tips below and know that you’ll only have to work it a little bit.

If your hair is straight and fine-to-medium-fine
Consider yourself the golden child of air-drying. This is the simplest wash-and-wear type. The trick here is not weighing it down with product. “Even a mousse seems lightweight but it can get sticky and make this type of hair heavy,” warns Warda. “Consider skipping product altogether or if you want some lift, choose a dry texturizing spray, which acts like a dry shampoo but without the powdery effect.” Comb out after your shower then use your fingers to lift sections of hair around the crown and give the underside of each a light spritz before letting it dry.

If your hair is straight, thick and coarse
Your locks can handle a bit of mousse to create volume at the roots and you need a smoothing product to tame the ends, says Warda. Follow the steps above, trading the spray for a small amount of volumizing mousse. Next, work a smoothing cream into the ends, adding more to tame frizz once dry. “If you love air-drying and you’re really prone to frizz—as in you always feel like you need a blowout, I suggest getting an in-salon semi-permanent smoothing treatment. The one I use is gentle and organic and just coats the outside of the hair, giving you that smooth, shiny wash-n-go look for three months,” he says.

If your hair is wavy and fine-to-medium-fine
Classic surfer-girl waves originated from air-drying on the beach with a bodifying blend of seawater and suntan oil in the hair. Replicate the same idea here post-shower with a product upgrade: Towel dry and comb out, then spritz a salt spray all over your hair and work it through with your hands before sectioning it down the middle and creating a braid on each side. Sleeping in the braids will really amp up the wave, advises Warda. “When you wake up, mix a pump of hair oil and a dab of molding wax in your hands and rake through to break up the wave and cut frizz.”

If your hair is wavy, thick and coarse
You can follow the steps above, but rake through a bit more of the hair-oil-molding-wax combo without worrying about it getting weighed down. “This finishing touch is my secret weapon—even when I’m creating the look in the salon—you end up with perfect, messed-up, beachy waves,” he says.

If your hair is curly and fine-to-medium-fine
For Curly Sues, the goal is to work with the curl and avoid frizz by hydrating your hair, notes Warda. “When you get out of the shower, dry it with a towel, but don’t comb it out. Then take one pump of hair oil mixed with a smoothing product that has the consistency of lotion, and scrunch it into your hair. The mix acts like a conditioning gloss to soften and define your curls so you don’t end up with that crunchy, ‘90s finish,” he says. “In this case, don’t run your fingers through it. Let it be as it dries or you’ll risk making it frizzy.”

If your hair is curly, thick and coarse
This is the most frizz-prone type and texture, so start by trading deep-cleansing shampoo, which can be drying, for a moisturizing formula and condition well. Then follow the steps above, using a bit more product as needed. “It’s not necessary but you could use a diffuser on the end of your blow dryer on the cool or cold setting. It can help create springy, soft curls,” he says. And remember, to minimize frizz and keep curls intact—hands off.