8 Best Air-Dry Products and The Ultimate Guide to Air-Drying

Best Air Dry Hair Products

Heat damage may be the reason for dry and lifeless locks, so you are right that you always or at least sometimes opt for air-drying.

And you are even more right that you are searching for the air-dry products. Skipping them would be your biggest mistake.

Find out all secrets of proper air-drying and reveal the best air-dry hair products recommended by stylists!

Best Products for Air-Drying Hair That Surpass a Blow Dryer

Your hair needs a rest from hot styling tools, and blow-dryers are among them too. Below you’ll find a lot of tips how to choose the air-dry product which will be right for your hair type and texture. Because air-drying doesn’t mean you can ignore styling your locks.

ProductBest ForPrice
John Frieda Styling Foam - Editor’s Choice
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Air-Dry Foam
curly and wavy frizzy hair Check Price
Pureology Hydrate Air-Dry Cream
Pureology Air-Dry Cream
dry, colored hair with natural wave Check Price
Bumble&Bumble 'Don't Blow It' Cream
Bumble And Bumble Fine Hair Styler
fine to medium, soft hair Check Price
Matrix Twisted Boho Cream
Matrix Twisted BOHO Air-Dry Cream
all curl types Check Price
L'Oreal ‘Air-Dry It’ Cream
L'Oreal Air-Dry It Cream
medium to coarse hair Check Price
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Styler
Living Proof Air-Dry Creme
straight to slightly wavy hair Check Price
Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Detangler
Garnier Fructis Spray
easily tangled/curly hair Check Price
Shu Uemura Wonder Worker Spray
Shu Uemura Spray
air- and blow-drying, thick hair
Check Price

#1: John Frieda ‘Frizz-Ease’ Air-Dry Foam – The Right Hairstyles’ Choice

Curly hair has its specific problems (dryness, non-manageability, knotting, frizz, curl shrinkage, etc.), and needs special care. John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease foam is formulated with polymers. They coat hairs and make strands smooth and a bit straighter. Moringa oil is something new for you in hair products too, right? It is full of vitamins (A, C, Bs) and fatty acids (unsaturated, omega 9, 6 and 3). Some even suppose it may replace olive oil in future. Moringa oil is a good emollient, it prevents split ends and dandruff, sulfur in it triggers natural collagen and keratin production.

Keep in mind this product only ENHANCES the natural texture. Its soft hold does not create waves or curls if your hair is straight. John Frieda’s foam holds hair in natural shapes. Plus gets rid of frizz, adds shine and bounce, smoothes out stiff unruly strands.

How to use:

Towel-dry hair and apply 2-3 pumps through your hair not touching the roots. If you use it too close to the scalp or in bigger amount, hair may look greasy after air-drying. May be used on dry hair to touch up defined curls.

Pros
  • tames all kinds of frizz
  • non-sticky, lightweight
  • safe for colored and chemically-treated hair
  • quick-drying
  • extremely nutritive
  • budget-friendly
Cons
  • not sulfate-free (sodium laureth sulfate)
  • not silicone-free
John Frieda’s Foam works best for medium-thick and wavy-curly hair types, as well as for hair that is a mix of waves, curls, and straight strands. According to reviews, it gives hair an overall look of nice frizz-free feather-light waves without that familiar crunchy feel. Has a nice fresh smell.

#2: Pureology Hydrate Air-Dry Cream – For Dry and Color-Treated Hair

Frizzy and prone to breakage mane may be a result of serious dehydration. Especially if you dye your hair often. To replenish the loss of moisture and control the unwanted frizz you don’t need a whole army of products. Pureology hydrating air-dry cream will complete all these missions alone. And here is why.

The cream has an advanced ‘Micro-Emulsion’ hydrating technology with soft and hard polymers that revitalizes exhausted dry hair. Color fade complex protects your hair shade. The product includes coconut and sunflower seed oils. They smooth locks, relieve frizz. Oat, wheat and soy proteins help to repair and strengthen hair. A perfect product if you are opting for easy low-maintenance at-home styling. Reviewers like most of all the shine and bounce it gives their hair, and write it really cuts down styling time, as manufacturer promises.

How to use:

Cleanse and condition hair. Apply an adequate amount of product (for example, a nickel-size) to towel-dried hair from the mid-length and to the ends. Scrunch strands for a more surfer-y look.

Pros
  • color protection (Anti Fade Complex)
  • good hydrating properties
  • lightweight consistency
  • 100% vegan
  • shortens drying time
  • 100% recyclable
  • anti-frizz
Cons
  • not sulfate-free (sodium lauryl sulfate)
  • may not work for very thick curly hair
Pureology’s air-dry cream is a good wave enhancer that doesn’t leave a sticky feel or look greasy. It gives a proper amount of hold (medium) and flirty beachy texture. The scent is a pleasant mix of bergamot, ylang-ylang and patchouli (although quite strong). According to reviewers, works for thick, fine and thin hair with a natural wave or curly texture.

#3: Bumble and Bumble ‘Don’t Blow It’ Hair Styler – For Lazy Styling Fine Locks

Bumble and Bumble is a dinosaur in the air-dry products’ niche, as it was among first brands that launched one. The iconic ‘Don’t Blow It’ cream not only has a pleasant tube design, but also really works by adding body and bounce to locks. Natural texture becomes manageable and you get a messy airy look.

The secret of this product lies in a strong texturizing blend of polymers, conditioning agents and UV-filters. The first add bounce, the second quickly absorb into hair and soften it, the latter protect strands from the sun. Star ingredients here are anti-inflammatory opuntia and extracts of 2 different cactus-flowers. Reviewers write the ‘Don’t Blow It’ cream works like trendy sea-salt sprays, but leaving pleasant softness in hair. One more thing they warn buyers about is that the cream doesn’t create much body for very straight type 1 hair. The product’s scent is clean and subtle.

How to use:

Towel-dry hair, take some product and apply it to the midshaft and down. Scrunch or twist strands if needed. Use other B&B stylers if you have them in your beauty arsenal.

Pros
  • sulfate-free
  • color-safe
  • with UV-filters
  • creates volume
  • tames flyaways
  • has a pleasant creamy consistency
Cons
  • a bit pricey
The B&B cream has two versions: Don’t Blow It Fine, described above, and Don’t Blow It Thick, for fine and thick hair types accordingly. The latter product gives curly-haired gals defined weighed down curls. If you have medium to thick or coarse hair, that may be your option, check.

#4: Matrix Style Link Twisted BOHO Air-Dry Cream – For Defined Curls with Natural Finish

Matrix is one of the few brands that distinguish air-dry products by texture. This one is a light-hold cream for curly hair of any type. Results in loose soft curls. A must-try if you are tired of crunchy feeling, which a lot of strong-hold air dry mousses leave.

Key ingredients of the Twisted BOHO cream are the hydrogenated castor oil and vitamin E. They are both nutritive and vital for quick hair growth. A blend of polymers control the frizz and flyaways, but leave enough movement and dimension in hair. As reviewers write, it doesn’t weigh hair down and doesn’t leave the greasy feeling. A lot of women even use it for overnight styling. Leave it in loose hair before going to bed or plait your locks for a crimpy look.

How to use:

Apply a small amount (dime sized) to your hair as a post-shower treatment (after detangling), scrunch strands, let your hair air dry or rough dry locks 50% with a diffuser. Another one trick girls do to speed up the process is low-drying.

Pros
  • light-hold, but gives enough definition
  • softening
  • lightweight consistency
  • great for using at night time
  • cuts down drying time
Cons
  • not sulfate-free (sodium lauryl sulfate)
  • long-haired girls complain about the product’s size (and the price)
Matrix Twisted BOHO is a great idea how to escape the heat if your hair has curls. Two more air-dry products of this brand are the Air Dry Chill BOHO (smoothing, to tame flyaways) and the Air Dry Wild BOHO (texturizing, for messy looks).

#5: L’Oreal Paris ‘Air-Dry It’ Cream – For Undone Soft Waves in Thick Hair

Time to create a more romantic feminine look. If you like your tresses to be soft, shiny and dimensional, but are always in a rush and think that blow-drying is a waste of time, the L’Oreal ‘Air-Dry It’ Cream may become your main hairstyling lifehack.

The main thing the following product does for your hair is conditioning, thanks to polymers and castor oil ingredient. It is very lightweight and provides a very light hold, so your curls will not be crunchy and hard to rub fingers through. Frizz control, softness, shine, clean look – these benefits are a really tempting offer.

Though created for girls with medium to coarse hair textures, the product is reported as beneficial for straight hair too, as it makes it slightly wavy. It has a light and refreshing scent. There is nothing else to say, positive reviews on Amazon speak for themselves.

How to use:

Apply to clean hair, air dry. For extra gorgeous effect stylists recommend applying a bit of the product to the ends when hair is completely dry. May be combined with other L’Oreal air-dry products.

Pros
  • 24-hour hold
  • provides touchable feel
  • leaves no residue
  • good price
  • designer packaging
Cons
  • not sulfate-free (sodium lauryl sulfate)
The ‘Air-Dry It’ line includes two more products – the Wave Swept Spray and the Ruffled Body Mousse, we advise to check them too to choose the one among this trio which suits your hair texture best.

#6: Living Proof ‘Perfect Hair Day’ Styler – In-Shower Product for Texture and Shine

It may sound very strange, but this innovative product STYLES your hair while you are still IN THE SHOWER! But first some details about the product itself and its effects.

The Living Proof PhD is a lightweight great-smelling white cream feeling like a conditioner, that provides light to medium hold as a result. It is one of the Allure’s Best of Beauty 2017 Award winner and works for normal straight or wavy hair without any special needs (not extremely dry or oily).

The product includes a powerful blend of texturizers and conditioners. Styling ingredients activate when rinsed. As hair dries, strands with product contract, thicken thanks to special Thickening Molecule (PBAE), and separate enhancing natural hair texture. Locks become shiny and soft, but still hold an effortless shape. You get the just-left-the-salon finish.

How to use:

Shampoo and condition hair. While you’re still in the shower apply the Living Proof cream from roots to tips (for medium hair it is a quarter-sized dollop). Next step is to lightly rinse your hair. To what point? Normally for 3-5 seconds, you should still feel a little product in your locks. Towel-dry hair, scrunch and let it air dry. If you have pin straight hair, plait it in 2-4 braids for more natural texture. Or do like in this YouTube hair tutorial.

Pros
  • sulfate-free
  • silicone-free
  • safe for colored and chemically treated hair
  • makes hair easy to detangle post-shower
Cons
  • it is not always clear how much product to use and to rinse, you’ll need to adjust it for your hair type
Time for the bottom line: the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day leaves hair frizz-free and shiny, without greasy or sticky feel, locks are accurately shaped and defined, fuller (not much) at the roots. Plus if combined with other brand’s products, your hair will stay clean longer.

#7: Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Spray – Detangling Drugstore Product for Knotty Hair

Pure Clean Detangler+Air Dry spray is another one great post-shower styling product that has natural ingredients and works miracles on women’s locks. You get a flyaway-free and no-frizz hair, that looks smooth and feels soft.

The spray’s first function lies in detangling hair, it makes combing easy and pleasant. The second mission is conditioning and enhancing texture. Active ingredients here are castor oil, aloe leaf juice, and vitamin E. They boost hair growth, heal inflammations, improve blood circulation and smooth strands. No harsh chemicals among components, and this means you may use it on your teenage daughter’s hair too. Has a fresh ‘aloe’ a-la ‘cucumber-y’ smell and milky-looking consistency (a bit watery). In other words, it is a great alternative to silicone-based detanglers that tend to build-up in hair.

How to use:

Shampoo and condition hair. Holding the bottle a few inches from your locks mist the product throughout your mane. Comb to untie knots, scrunch strands, let them air dry loose or tied in braids or a bun.

Pros
  • acts as a detangler
  • sulfate-, paraben- and silicone-free
  • vegan formula
  • gentle for everyday use
  • has a perfect bottle sprayer
Cons
  • not always tame baby hairs as doesn’t have a strong hold
Garnier Fructis Detangler will be a breakthrough for you if you regularly use drugstore detangling products but haven’t found the one that doesn’t leave sticky feel yet. It is marked as an air-dry spray, but doesn’t actually texturize, so be sure to add more styling products to complete the wavy or curly look if you have straight tresses.

#8: Shu Uemura Wonder Worker Spray – A Legendary Multitasking Pre-Styler

Shu Uemura Wonder Worker is a hair primer, that can be used prior to any kind of styling, either natural drying or a blow out. When used before blow drying the Wonder Worker locks in moisture and smoothes strands. If you use it for air-drying, you’ll get your natural hair texture, but very defined. And, according to reviews, it may be used for second-day hair styling too. This suits us!

Shu Uemura’s spray hydrates and conditions locks, as includes coconut and moringa oleifera oils. What’s more, it detangles strands, tames frizz and hides flyaways, leaves a luxurious silky finish (really noticeable). The Shu spray provides light to medium hold and smoothes locks, sometimes even taking away the wave. Straight-haired girls may additionally need to use a texturizing product.

How to use:

Spray throughout damp hair from mid-lengths to the ends. Scrunch the product into strands or comb to distribute evenly, leave to air-dry. Be sure not to overdo the product. If you have flat roots spray a sea-salt mist at the crown and parting.

Pros
  • universal
  • gives glossy finish
  • locks in moisture
  • safe for color-treated hair
  • may be used for the second-day hair
  • detangles
  • no silicones, no sulfates
Cons
  • a bit expensive
Shu Uemura Wonder Worker 100% deserves to be in a list of the best products for air-drying hair, and has all chances to become one of your favorites. It is a universal 2-in-1 primer, light and good-smelling, not sticky and great-working. A promising base for other stylers. You may even carry this product in your purse for touch-ups during the day (in case hair loses its shape due to summer heat, humidity, etc.)

How to Air-Dry Hair Like a Pro: Benefits, Secrets and Results

If you want to air dry hair and end up with shiny, bouncy and salon-worthy mane (instead of frizzy unruly limp strands that force you to wash your hair once more and take a blow-dryer), you will need to follow some rules, starting from shampooing and ending with the choice of hair product and even towel! Interested? Then find out all nuances.

What Is Air-Drying?

Let’s start with the basics. Air-drying hair is drying locks naturally, without heat. No hair dryers and curling wands for more texture, you just step out of the shower and go back to your daily routine, not wasting time on post-shower styling. Almost. It is a real trend nowadays.

Reasons to Switch to Air-Drying (At Least Sometimes)

  • Air-drying saves time: you skip annoying blow-drying routine (that may sometimes take an hour). Plus in the heat you can even tie your damp hair with an air-dry product in a bun or braids, and unplait them at the office. Perfectly undone waves are yours.
  • If compared to blow-drying, it causes no damage at all. If carried out properly.
  • Gives hair rehab from a lot of styling products, as in most cases you’ll need just 1 product with a lightweight grease-free consistency.
  • Is a blessing in summer, when blow-drying becomes a torture.
  • Will become a fun experience as with different ways of air drying you’ll get absolutely different results.
  • There exist really cool air dry hair products that work just as good as blow-dryers.

Cons of Air-Drying

Actually air-drying has only one disadvantage: it may take forever… Especially if your locks are long or very thick, or you squeezed not enough water from your strands. It may take half of the day (if the weather is not hot), be ready for this and don’t plan much stuff outside your house. Oh, and another con: air-drying may result in completely unruly frizzy hair if you don’t use an air-dry product. That’s it.

Common Mistakes While Air-Drying

Don’t do these things, please!

  • Using improper terrycloth bath towel or proper microfiber towel but aggressively – this results in frizz and knots. Squeeze out the excess moisture gently. For coily hair you may even use paper towels instead of a regular towel.
  • Brushing hair. Detangle wet strands while you are in the shower with your fingers or at least with a wide tooth comb. No brushing. Some advise combing hair before the shower.
  • Not using a product. All products leave your hair looking greasy and weighed down? You just haven’t found your ideal air dry product yet. Look for lighter hold if you have fine hair and for more powerful if you have the thickest curls imaginable. Just don’t give up!
  • Touching your strands while they are air-drying and then, when they are completely dry. Keep your hands away from your locks, otherwise, you will face that popular problem of greasy and frizzy hair, and your strands will lose their shape.
  • Using too much air-dry product – hair will look greasy in this case.

What Are Air-Dry Products

Air-dry products, in fact, are all leave-in styling products, that may be left in hair post-shower. They include most leave-in conditioners, beach wave sprays, moisturizing serums and styling creams. However, products marked as ‘air-dry’ are specially formulated for either defining natural curl pattern, creating waves on straighter hair or straightening locks. Their important function is the anti-frizz effect. They are applied to wet strands (though may be used on dry locks too, but the result is not so visible then) and most often not rinsed out (#6 Living Proof is the exception).

How to Air-Dry Hair Properly

This is the best way to air-dry our locks in order to keep them healthy, shiny and nice-looking:

  1. Shampoo and condition locks (better with anti-frizz products too). Curly and wavy hair types need more serious moisturizing. Try the no-poo or co-wash for your coily mane.
  2. While you are still in the shower, detangle your hair with fingers.
  3. Remove the excess water from strands. Some stylists recommend applying a product before towel drying, when hair is wet. The reason – the product distributes evenly, and hair absorbs it quicker. However, in most cases it is recommended to apply the air-dry product to towel-dried, damp hair. Try both variants to figure out what works for you. The latter option is best for straight hair.
  4. Apply the product starting from the top. Don’t forget to cover the ends too. Scrunch hair a bit. For fine hair it will be reasonable to start applying air-dry cream or mousse from the midshaft.
  5. Leave locks air-dry.
  6. Add some product (not necessary the same as in previous steps) to tame the flyaways if any.

A quick video-tutorial how to air-dry hair:

Most Viral Ways of Air-Drying Hair

Let’s bring more diversity into the air-drying routine! Some other methods:

  • Detangle hair with fingers, apply a product, randomly twist hair in loose 2-strand twists (no elastics needed), leave them air-dry.
  • Scrunch strands with a product several times while they are drying (good for curly hair that still lacks volume).
  • Apply some product, plait 1 or 2 loose braids for casual beachy waves, 4 tight braids for crimped hair. But don’t keep hair in wet braids for too long to avoid too crimpy look.
  • Air-dry your hair tied in a high twisted bun. The result – wild shaggy texture.
  • Make 4-8 twists and pin them up to stretch a bit. This is for natural hair. Rollers will also help to straighten locks.
  • Make several looped ponytails out of your hair, and you’ll get texture and bounce.
  • Comb out your hair and secure behind the ears with hair clips (and paper towels between them and strands) – you must have seen this trick from fashion shows’ backstage, resulting in sleek polished looks.
  • Change your part (or make it zig-zag like) and air dry hair – this will add root volume, especially useful for longer heavy locks. Hair is still flat at the top? A high-quality dry shampoo will save the situation (method approved by straight-haired girls).
  • Make 2-3 low twisted buns at the nape, the result – beautiful waves from the midshaft.
  • ‘Plop’ your hair using a rectangular microfiber towel or an old T-shirt (best for wavy and curly hair types). Leave for several hours or overnight.

Do You Always Need a Product for Air-Drying?

Definitely yes. Only a small number of women have unique locks that air-dry in perfect frizz-free curls, waves or straight cascade that don’t need further styling (blow-drying, flat-ironing or curling). For the rest of us product-free air-drying is unpredictable. Air-dry creams, mousses and sprays are the key to your perfect air-dried look. BTW, you will need less product if to compare with blow-drying, so don’t skip this step.

How to Speed Up Air Drying?

Most air-dry products are formulated to make air drying quicker. But still, if you have short hair, it will be dry in an hour, med locks will be ready in 2-3 hours, and long, thick or curly hair may take up to 6-8 hours and still be damp after unplaiting braids or buns. A diffuser or low drying may help if you are short on time. Hair plopping is the last hope. Curly-haired bloggers show this trick on Youtube and swear it takes only 1 hour. No more options.

Great News!

If you are not satisfied with your air-dried hair, don’t rush to judgment. With time your hair’s elasticity will improve if you cut back on your blow-dryer and curling wand. In several months it will look air-dried much better.

So, if you are a big fan of the ‘I woke up like this’ hair but are super-rational or lazy to spend an hour with a blow-dryer in your hands, you’ll definitely like air-drying. Five to ten minutes after the shower and you are free to do chores, play with kids, put on makeup or record an Instagram story… All this may become a reality thanks to the best air-dry hair products described above. Don’t miss your chance to free hands and time for more important things of your life.