How to air-dry your hair this summer

Searching for some low maintenance, air-drying hair styling options to stay cool in the warmer months? Find out how to ditch the dryer with some helpful pointers from hair experts


Now that British summertime is in full swing (did someone turn the UK thermostat up to 11?!) there’s something very enticing about ditching the dryer and letting Mother Nature style your strands… until you catch your reflection two hours later and see you’ve morphed into a less-than-fabulous frizz ball. Well, not on our watch. We’ve been on the phone with some of the best hairdressers in the UK – we’ve dubbed them the Layered Air Force – to quiz them on fighting the frizz while letting our lengths get waved by the wind. If you’re looking to let your strands do the talking this summer, we’ve got their top tips on air-drying hair like a boss – step away from the irons (for now) and learn the essentials. Air Force DONE!

Throw in the towel

“Drying your hair with the same type of towel you used on your body can damage the hair cuticle, leading to frizz and unwanted knots,” reveals Steve Rowbottom, creative director at Yorkshire salon group Westrow. “Instead, use a soft microfibre towel and gently press it against the hair.”

Forget me knots

After removing any excess moisture from your hair, use a wide-toothed comb to brush out the tangles. “Remember to start in small sections at the bottom of your hair and work your way up, which is much more gentle on the hair than tugging from the top,” says Westrow’s Steve Rowbottom.

Don’t go naked

To get the best results when air-drying hair, products are key and the only fighting chance you have of preventing air-dried hair from becoming frizzy. “Products will also help create the right type of movement in air-dried hair,” advises Matthew Curtis, who works at New York and London Fashion Weeks.

Try a next-gen air drying product

“There are great new products that cater to air drying you hair,” explains Jonathan Long from Lockonego London. He points to Redken’s No Blow Dry range, which includes three air dry creams for different hair types. We can also recommend JOICO’s Zero Heat Air Dry Styling Crème – and there’s a version for thicker hair too.

Do the twist

If your hair is naturally wavy or curly, try a technique called twist drying. This involves twisting hair with fingers and mousse, crème or a sea salt spray to manipulate the natural shape. “For a more textured finish, twist small sections tightly, and for gentler waves, twist larger sections more loosely,” says Matthew Curtis.

Angel Montague-Sayers, from Sally Montague in Derbyshire, also recommends twisting large sections of your hair around your fingers with a styling cream that has a light hold – she suggests Tecni.ART Bouncy & Tender from L’Oréal Professionnel. “This product helps to encourage any curls, waves or movement your hair may have,” she says. “Remember to twist the two front sections away from your face!” For this to work, your hair should NOT be dripping wet, and you’ll need to leave the twists to stay while they dry (Angel also recommends gently tying these up into an Invisibobble while they’re drying).

We’ve also heard of one hairdresser winding all the windows down in her car when driving to get the air doing its thang!

Treat AND scrunch

If your hair has a natural texture and it’s long, choose a blow dry balm or curl-form serum then mix it with some treatment, such as a conditioning hair masque. “Rub together and scrunch all over the hair,” suggests Darren Ambrose, co-founder of D&J Ambrose in Pinner. “Shake it out so the structure falls into place, then either twist random areas around your fingers to enhance the shape, or loosely plait the hair until dry and then shake out for a more boho feel.” A plait you say? Well, read on…

Plaits are your pals

Matthew Curtis uses his wife as a perfect example of the power of the plait: “She’ll towel dry as much moisture out as possible, then run Kérastase Mousse Bouffant through the lengths before quickly French plaiting her hair loosely down the middle of her head and all down the back,” he explains. “Later, she’ll shake this out and be left with a lovely soft wave. She may need to style a couple of bits with serum and hairspray, but the overall look is always effortless and cool.”

Get slicker than your average

You could just embrace the wet look and work it into your style – it continues to be a huge trend at Fashion Weeks, year on year. For this, you can use a good hair oil, such as Goldwell’s Elixir, and work into your damp hair for some nourishment, then use a wet-look gel on top to set it all in place. “Using your wide-tooth comb, pull your hair back off your face and behind your ears,” advise Jennifer Linton and Jayne Macdonald, co-directors of Linton & Mac in Aberdeen. “The gel will set it in place and you won’t need to fret about frizz, as long as you leave it alone.” This finish is F-I-E-R-C-E with a bold lipgloss or some statement vintage earrings.

Life’s a beach

Oh beach spray, let us count the ways we love thee! If your hair is bleached or dry, look out for one that’s offers a little more TLC, such as Wella Professionals EIMI Ocean Spritz Spray – it’s a natural mineral salt spray that helps protect hair against dehydration and UV damage. For a little texture and hold, try L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.ART Beach Waves, which helps create sexy, tousled waves with a natural-looking matte finish. Simply spray on damp hair, then scrunch to create that perfect beach-y texture.

Sleep on it

If you’re after Instagram-ready un-done waves, try braiding your hair loosely or wrapping hair in a bun on the top of your head… the night before! This will also stop hair from getting knotted in the night. “In the morning, just release hair and rake your fingers through gently to blend the sections together,” says Westrow’s Steve. Et voila!

OK, use your hairdryer – but this is just a little cheat!

“For straighter hair, blast your roots upside-down for a minute or two,” suggests Joe Hemmings at Bloggs Salon in Bristol. “Just lifting the hair off your scalp will help with root lift.”

And one final warning… fingers can be your foes!

Frizz is often caused by your fingers, pulling through hair or playing with it too much. So, remember to sit on your hands every time you want to touch your hair!

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