We’ve all been there. After a hot summer day, you hop in the shower to clean off and then blast cold water for the last few seconds to cool down and feel refreshed. As you’re drying off, you recall it’s still 80+ degrees outside in the shade, and you wonder: Do I seriously need to blow dry my hair right now? Surely there must be another way?
Take heart and meet summer’s kindest styling trick: the air dry. With the right products and a few professional techniques, you can beat the heat and the heat styling and still score hair that looks crazy gorgeous, versus just plain crazy.
What She Said
The first thing to know about attaining quality air dry results is that success depends on applying, in the right fashion, a cocktail of products that’s suited to your hair texture and thickness. We reached out to LA-based celebrity hairdresser and #betternaturedpartner, Amanda Lee to score some girl-to-girl styling secrets for those steamy days when we just #canteven.
Amanda pointed out that the first step to a great style is healthy hair, and she recommends to all of her clients that they take a break from heat styling at least 1-2 times per week. “Constant use of hot styling tools is an absolute no-no because heat can break down bonds within the hair, making it weak and more susceptible to breakage,” she says, emphasizing, “ALWAYS use a heat protectant!” Her pick is Better Natured™ Shine Glaze which can be applied to wet or dry locks and protects up to 450°.
For some of us, one hesitation to air drying au naturel is memories of applying product to wet hair and waiting a bit too long to begin blasting it with heat. That unmistakable frozen appearance and crunchy feel of dried product are like a science experiment none of us is keen to repeat.
The good news according to Amanda is that when using Better Natured products, you don't have to worry about the stiff outer coating-feel that often happens when product-laden hair air dries.
What’s Your Type?
Here’s Amanda’s advice for achieving amazing air dry results based on your hair type.
The key to smooth, well-defined ringlets starts when the hair is wet. When getting out of the shower, don’t reach for your usual thick, fluffy bathroom towel. The textured surface will only increase frizz by disrupting your natural curl pattern. Instead, Amanda recommends opting for “a microfiber towel – or even better: a smooth t-shirt!”
After squeezing out excess water, prep damp hair with Better Natured™ Moisture Replenishing Masque. “About a quarter size is plenty,” she says. Rub masque together in your hands, cradle the curls from the bottom, and scrunch upwards to apply the product evenly to the ends and mid-lengths. According to Amanda, if you then gently repeat this motion using a cotton t-shirt “it will remove excess water and product and speed up drying time without creating frizz.”
Once this is done, she cautions, “Do NOT touch or run your fingers through your hair!” It’s critical to resist temptation because touching and tugging your ringlets as they air dry will both disrupt the curl or wave pattern and create unwanted frizz, which is “basically the opposite of what you’re trying to do.” Once you have your product in, she counsels “let it be!” And when it’s completely dry “give your hair a nice flip upside down to fluff it up.”
Better Natured™ Hydrating Leave-In Milk is a hairdresser favorite because this versatile product is nourishing and moisturizing while being light and easily absorbed. Because coily hair “tends to be on the drier, more fragile side,” Amanda likes to prep hair with several spritzes of this multi-tasking formula that features a signature Triple Plant Milk blend of Coconut, Tahitian Palm and White Orchid Milks. It detangles, smooths, softens, adds shine and overall replenishes even the most stressed strands.
If her clients’ hair still needs a bit more TLC to deliver peak-air dry results, Amanda will apply a nickel sized amount of Better Natured™ Damage Repair Strengthening Leave-In Cream. “I love to use products that will strengthen hair from the inside out while also making it look great, and this cream does just that!
Nothing adds volume to fine hair like volumizing products and a blow dryer. So, if you want to your locks to have a bit of oompf when they are done air drying, step one starts in the shower.
After shampooing, apply conditioner only to the mid-lengths and ends of your baby fine hair. Even a whisper of oil near the roots will weigh things down and without heat there’s no way to ‘elevate’ the results. Gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb and allow to air-dry for about 20 minutes, until the roots and ends are almost dry.
At this stage, Amanda recommends misting Better Natured™ Beachy Texture Spray on damp hair all over. Start slowly because with product you can add but you cannot subtract. The salt-infused spray is like “like a sea breeze in a bottle,” she says, and it adds just enough grit and texture to help build up fine hair. Again, flip hair over to add some extra lift, and don’t brush or touch. The final effect is “perfectly undone.”
No doubt about it, long hair, particularly if it has some natural wave, is the most versatile when it comes to air drying. Depending on the product and the level of effort, you can create voluminous beachy waves or a sleek, chic pony.
To channel your inner-surfer girl it’s important that your hair is moisturized but not weighed down. To achieve this balance, you need to reverse your in-shower routine and condition the hair first. According to Amanda, “It sounds strange but following the conditioner with a gentle formula like Better Natured™ Moisturizing Shampoo does the trick.” It’s free of ingredients that weigh hair down or strip it of moisture – like SLS / SLES** sulfates, mineral oil and silicone.
After towel-drying and lightly combing to detangle, apply Beachy Texture Spray all over. Working in sections, Amanda instructs, “tightly twist one-inch sections or hair from roots to ends, working your way around your head.” Then, as with curly hair, “do not touch until they are totally dry!”
The final step is gently loosening the twists using your fingers. If your ends look a little dull, apply two small pumps of Better Natured™ Shine Glaze to your fingertips “and twirl through the bottom half of your hair here and there to add definition,” she says.
While the results are beautiful but time-consuming, for the busy glamazon on the go Amanda suggests a slicked-back ponytail instead. “Whether you wear it high or low, it looks polished and powerful.”
Before stepping out of the shower, squeeze as much extra water from your lengths and you can. Using a fine-tooth comb, work through your hair to detangle, spritzing Better Natured™ Hydrating Leave-In Milk as needed. Then, using a t-shirt or microfiber towel this time, squeeze out the lengths again to remove as much remaining wetness as you can. “You want the cuticle to nice and smooth to minimize frizz,” Amanda explains.
To get your ponytail extra sleek, “start with 3-4 pumps of Shine Glaze, rub your hands to distribute the product, and work through your hair starting at the mid-lengths and working downward.” Brush hair away from your face, smoothing it down as you go, and fasten with an elastic that’s the same color as your hair. Using your hands, glide over the top and sides distributing any leftover product and leaving a sleek, shiny finish.
According to Amanda, “once your hair dries you can always add more if needed.”
*We hold ourselves to high standards and use the Global ISO Standard 16128 which defines naturally-derived as a plant or mineral derived material and water which is found in nature and has undergone limited processing. In the Better Natured™ line, the percent naturally-derived varies from product to product and ranges from 86% to 99%.
** SLS/SLES Sulfates = Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate.