How to Air Dry Hair Without Frizz – The Wash-and-Dry Routine That Works

By Tina Moretti
Published 11 Feb 2022

How to Air Dry Hair Without Frizz – The Wash-and-Dry Routine That Works

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There’s something about air-drying your hair that just feels so refreshing. Especially in the summertime, when the humidity is high, and you just don’t feel like using a hairdryer, or you just want to give your mane a “heat holiday.”

However, if not done correctly, air drying can be more hassle than the quick blow dry, resulting in frizzy and hard-to-style hair.

But fret not. It’s not impossible to achieve flawless air-dried hair. If you’re still in favor of swerving your hairdryer and adopting a low-maintenance, no-heat post-shower routine, it’s all about listening to your hair and adjusting the process in a way that prevents frizz from developing right from the start.

I used to spend hours air drying my hair, but I kept adjusting and improving my process until I found the sweet spot that would:

  • 1. Save me time
  • 2. Dial in my perfect hairstyle with minimal fuss

Yes. I believe I have finally mastered my wash-and-dry.

Today, I will show you how to air dry your hair without frizz with the exact steps I use to save time and avoid frustration.

But before I dive into the step-by-step guide, allow me to explain why your hair gets frizzy and unruly when air drying in the first place. Understanding the causes may help you figure out what you may have been doing wrong.

So here goes …

Why Hair Gets Frizzy When Air Drying

Why is my hair frizzy when it dries naturally

Frizz is often the result of a moisture imbalance in the hair shaft. When hair is wet, the cuticles (the outer layer of the hair) are raised, and as the hair begins to dry, the cuticles re-close and trap moisture within the shaft. If there’s too much humidity in the air, this barrier can flex, expanding the hair’s size and weight.

Hair Stretches and Swells When It’s Wet

When your hair gets wet, the cuticle (the shingle-like outer layer of your hair) starts to lift out of the hair shaft. It may seem like it closes back up again after it dries, but that’s far from true. The hair cuticles lift when the hair is wet.

And when you brush or comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb, you’re pushing the hair with the lifted cuticle in one direction, which causes frizziness. After all, it’s easier for water molecules to evaporate in humid weather than in air that’s more dry and hot, which is why curly hair looks the way it does after air drying.

Therefore, whether the cuticle closes all the way depends entirely on what you do to it after it gets wet. If you do things to your hair that force the cuticles to “open” back up, like combing, brushing, or even using a blow dryer, you’re doing the equivalent of lifting all of those shingles back up and exposing them to air; this causes frizz.

Lack of Conditioner

More often than not, frizzy hair happens when there isn’t enough conditioner in the hair to help it “glue” better. If your hair is porous and you don’t use enough conditioner, then there’s nothing helping to hold down that hair cuticle and keep it from drying up.

If your hair feels rough before it dries, this means there isn’t enough conditioner in the hair to help it. As a result, your air-dried hair will frizz up because nothing is sealing those lifted hair cuticles – they will just “snap” up into the air!

To remedy this, make sure to drench your tresses with enough conditioner and leave it in for 1-2 minutes.

Then rinse the hair and air dry as usual while scrunching with a towel to absorb excess moisture. Your hair should look more smooth and “glued” together.

​​Drying Hair in Steamy Bathroom – Humidity

how to let your hair air dry without getting frizzy

Allowing your hair to dry in a steamy bathroom is a bad idea.

Hair that’s not completely dry doesn’t have “closed” hair cuticles, even if you’ve added enough conditioner.

“Closed hair cuticles” = hair that’s smooth, shiny, and free of excess frizz.

Open hair cuticles = hair that feels rough looks dull (and often resembles big poofy hair), and is frizzy.

When hair cuticles are open, it’s very easy for all of the little water molecules to escape from hair and cause it to be frizzy.

Therefore, if your hair soaks up too much moisture when it dries, the cuticles will act like they’re still wet and just open up, creating frizz.

Avoid extra moisture in your hair when it’s drying ( i.e., by not blow-drying or setting hair in steamy bathrooms/showers!) Instead, use a dryer with a cold setting to avoid excess moisture buildup. It forces the hair cuticles to shut when hair dries.

Related: How to avoid frizz after washing your hair

How to Air Dry Hair Without Frizz

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to air dry your hair effortlessly without allowing frizz to creep in.

1. Use An Anti-Frizz Shampoo

The lack of natural oils on the hair shaft makes the hair dry and frizzy. This can be due to over-washing, using harsh products, sun exposure, or a naturally dry climate. Shampooing further removes the oils from your scalp and hair, aggravating the problem.

Unlike regular shampoos, anti-frizz shampoos help replace these lost oils and keep your hair sleek and smooth. They contain conditioning ingredients that coat the hair shaft and help to seal in moisture. Look for a shampoo designed for combating frizziness.

Here’s the best one I recommend:

2. Don’t Skimp On The Conditioner

Conditioning your hair properly is one of the most important things you can do to help it retain moisture. Moreover, a conditioner also works to lower the hair’s pH, which shampoo and water can raise during the washing process, forcing the cuticles to open up.

Related: The benefits of pH-lowering shampoo and conditioner for hair

By rebalancing the pH level of the hair, conditioning helps to smooth down and close the hair’s cuticles to minimize the occurrence of frizz.

So be generous with your conditioner and let it sit. It will prep your wet hair to air dry faster without frizz.

3. Comb and Detangle Your Hair In The Shower

Always comb and detangle your hair when it’s drenched in conditioner. Not when it’s dry, as dry brushing creates frizz and can potentially cause hair breakage.

Conditioner lubricates the hair, adding smoothness and slip that help your comb or detangling brush glide easily without ripping through your tangles.

Using a conditioner is one of the best ways to get rid of knots and tangles without causing any damage. So next time you’re in the shower, be sure to start combing and detangling your hair when it’s coated with conditioner.

4. Rinse With Cold Water

Rinsing your hair with cold water after washing will help reduce frizziness. When your hair is wet, the Cortex (the thicker inner layer of the hair shaft) swells and absorbs as much water as it can. This makes the cuticles (the outer layer of the hair shaft) open up, and as the water evaporates, it takes tiny amounts of moisture with it. If you rinse your hair with cold water, it will close the cuticles and, as a result, minimize the amount of frizz you get later when air drying.

Washing your hair with cold water can also help seal in moisture, leaving your locks looking sleeker and shinier. The colder the temperature, the better.

5. Dry Your Hair Away From The Bathroom

The bathroom is a pretty moist place. It’s usually humid in there after a shower, and the moisture is also coming from your hair as you dry it. This moisture contributes to frizziness, so you want to fight it as much as possible.

So don’t let your hair air dry in the bathroom, where there is excess humidity. Instead, pick a spot that is well-ventilated – like near an open window. That way, you fight off the frizziness before it even starts!

6. Use a Microfiber Towel

I’m a big fan of microfiber towels.

Unlike a regular towel, a microfiber one absorbs more water from your hair without the need to rub or squeeze. All of which can cause damage and frizziness, of course.

With a microfiber towel, you just have to wrap it around your head and let it soak up the excess water. Trust me; it does speed up the drying process without leaving any knots and tangles.

If you have long hair that tends to get frizzy, use a bigger towel or even a t-shirt to cover up your shoulders or back while waiting for it to dry. This helps fight statics by keeping cold air out of your damp hair.

7. Use A Leave-In Conditioner

Applying a leave-in conditioner to damp hair after washing can help to keep it hydrated and minimize frizz as it air dries. If you have wavy or curly hair, a styling cream or oil-based conditioner will work better on your natural texture, enhancing curl definition and overall manageability.

Here’s the best leave-in treatment to use on air-dried hair:

8. Baby Your Ends

Adding oil to your hair ends after washing can help to prevent frizzy ends as the older parts of the hair will dry out faster than the roots. A lightweight sealing serum, oil, or styling cream will help to moisturize and seal them, preventing dry and frazzled ends.

Here’s the best serum I recommend:

Read Our Review: Redken Frizz Dismiss Oil In Serum Review

9. Style Your Hair When It’s Wet

When your hair is wet, it is in its most natural state, meaning you can shape it the way to want easily. If you wait until your hair is completely dry, you may find that it’s more difficult to style and will more likely create frizz in the process.

By styling your hair when it’s wet, you’ll be able to achieve your desired look with minimal effort.

So if you’re looking for a little more volume or want to prevent your natural curls from wilting throughout the day, try styling your hair while it’s wet and notice the huge difference it makes.

10. Deep Condition Weekly

One of the best ways to avoid frizzy hair is to regularly use a deep conditioning mask on your locks. A conditioning mask will nourish, boost hydration, and heal your hair strands from the inside out making them more resilient and frizz-proof.

Aim to deep condition your hair at least once a week.

Look for a conditioner that is packed with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or argan oil. Apply the conditioner to freshly shampooed hair, working it through from root to tip.

Leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it out well. You should notice a big difference in the way your hair looks and feels after air drying.

11. Experiment With Different Products and Tools

The idea of air drying is to avoid heat damage.

But did you know? The Dyson Supersonic air dryer also does an excellent job at drying your hair without exposing it to direct heat!

It uses an air multiplier to amplify airflow and create a high-velocity jet of air that dries your hair faster. This technology also helps to reduce frizz, as it doesn’t create any hotspots that can damage your hair.

12. Take a Break From Hot Tools

Curling irons, straightening irons, blow dryers, and even curling wands all emit hot air directly onto your hair, causing heat damage to your strands, leading to frizzy hair.

If you air-dry but then use tools before your hair is 100% dry, you put your hair at risk of heat damage. Avoid air-drying your hair if you need to use a hot tool soon after.

13. Adopt A Low Maintenance Routine

Less is more when it comes to hair styling products.

In general, the more you manipulate your hair, the more likely it is to become frizzy. So try to limit heat styling, and avoid using hairsprays and other styling products that can also cause frizz.

Adopting a low-maintenance hair care routine can help reduce frizz and damage, as it allows your hair to settle into its natural state.

Final Thoughts

You can totally air dry your hair without frizz if you follow a good post-shower haircare routine and use the right tools to help you. Whether you have long straight hair, thick hair, curly, permed, or naturally wavy locks, these few simple tips will help you combat frizz when air-drying your wet hair!