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If there’s one season that I have zero interest in styling my hair every day, it’s summer. A time dedicated to relaxing, enjoying a body of water (hopefully) and just having fun with friends and family shouldn’t be interrupted with a lengthy hairstyling process. Air-drying your locks is an easy remedy — but how do you do it properly?
When on the hunt for a great styling product for air-drying your hair, you want to start by looking for keywords like “air-dry” or “control without heat," according to Paul Cucinello, a New York City-based celebrity stylist and co-founder of Cucinello Beauty.
The type of towel you use is also important when taking care of your locks. “When applying product to the hair, don’t rub or use any kind of towel that will disrupt the smoothness you see when the hair is wet,” explained Cucinello. “Try using a friction-free, chamois towel or a disposable paper towel (like Kleenex Hand Towels) to remove some moisture by just scrunching the hair.”
Once you’ve scrunched it to the desired texture, leave it alone. “When damp hair is basically looking the way you want it to, don’t touch it until it’s completely dry,” said Cucinello. “Make sure you use enough product to achieve the desired end result, and remember that you don’t have heat styling tools driving the product into the hair, so experiment with using a bit more product than you usually would.”
We’ve rounded up 17 incredible products you need, recommended by both Cucinello and shoppers alike, to effortlessly air-dry your hair in no time.
Best products to air-dry your hair
Lightly condition, smooth frizz and create softness with this pick from Odele. With a solid 4.2-star average from Target shoppers, this clean formula is safe for color-treated hair and works wonders for all hair types, from straight to wavy to curly.
“This product keeps hair soft and hydrated while maintaining gentle hold without frizz,” Cucinello said about this air-dry crème from R+Co.
Possibly the best texture spray I’ve ever come across, this pick from Mane Club adds the perfect amount of air-dried waves to my hair, without the dreaded crunchy feeling you might get with other air-dry or wave spray formulas. Reviewers on the brand's website also note how it's great for "low-maintenance" hair routines.
A popular and top-rated pick from Oribe, this cream formula feels weightless and airy and helps strengthen strands to prevent future breakage, making it ideal for finer hair types. Just apply and let your hair air-dry for a smooth style and added shine, or use it throughout the day to tame flyaways and frizz.
“[Its formula is] lightweight but super effective and leaves fine hair bouncy and full of shine,” Cucinello said about this supercrème styler from Tweak-d by Nature. “Plus, I love the natural, earthy scent.”
Not only is this vegan styling cream free from micro plastics, mineral oil, parabens and silicones, but this 4.4-star-rated pick from Authentic Beauty Concept also is free from artificial waxes and has an Ecocert certification for its socially conscious practices. This pick helps accentuate your natural hair structure without overburdening or weighing your strands down.
If you’re prone to major frizz, consider trying out this spray from Daily Dose. Not only will it help detangle and moisturize, but it will also allow you to wash, spray and go without much hassle. It also has a near-flawless 4.9-star average on the brand's website.
Air-dry like a classy French lady with this pick from Paris-based beauty brand, Leonor Greyl. With a 4.8-star average on the brand's website and featuring nourishing ingredients like shea butter and jojoba oil, this styling cream will help moisturize and tame unruly locks.
“This product set the original standard for moisturizing hair creams,” Cucinello said about this Kiehl's product. “It’s non-greasy, super concentrated and affordable, so it does the trick without breaking the bank.”
Featuring chébé, a millenia-old ingredient used by Chadian women to maintain long and healthy hair, this cream works well for all hair textures and types, including fine and thick, low and high porosity, dry or damaged, natural, in-transition, relaxed, colored, chemically processed or locked hair. It's also award-winning, landing a spot in Essence's 2021 Best in Black Beauty Awards.
Skip the crunch, flakes, and residue with this styling cream from L'Oréal Paris. With a 4.2-star average on Amazon, it will add softness, shine and a light hold for beautifully air-dried hair.
With a 4.4-star average on Ulta, this formula from Bumble and Bumble uses lightweight polymers to enhance hair’s natural texture, adding bounce and airiness, sans crunch. Plus, it has UV filters to help protect against the drying effects of the sun — ideal for the summer months.
No need for added heat when you have this 4.3-starred pick from Garnier — it’s lightweight, paraben-free and helps to control frizz while holding your hair’s natural shape as you air-dry.
“The unique spray applicator allows you to add product to your hair without disrupting your hair’s natural wave pattern, since you don’t have to rub it in,” Cucinello mentioned about this IGK air-dry spray.
Built for lighter hair colors, this FEKKAI crème uses chamomile extract to help naturally brighten your tone and will gently highlight hair over time. One Amazon reviewer even said it gave her "white hair a light golden sheen without any effort."
Bet you haven’t tried anything like this before — this leave-in styler from Living Proof is meant to be applied in the shower and lightly rinsed to create an effortless air-dried style once your hair is dry.
Use this air-dry balm from ALTERNA by working a generous amount throughout towel-dried hair, scrunching or wrapping your hair around your finger to create soft curls and allowing to dry naturally. Some Sephora shoppers even noted that this product leaves your hair feeling fuller "like a thickening spray does."
For more stories like this, check out:
- 20 expert-approved products to fight frizz this summer
- TikTokers say this clay face mask can revive hair — here's what experts say
- 14 Amazon products and tools that will save your hair this summer