The Best Air-Dry Products & Tips for Every Hair Type
Now that it’s officially summer, our beauty game plan is to spend less time holed up in the bathroom styling our hair and more time outdoors — ideally, near a large body of water with an icy drink in hand.
But how to keep locks looking presentable without the help of a blow-dryer or styling wand? There’s a little more to it than just rubbing a towel over freshly shampooed hair and walking out the door.
Courtesy Erik Ekroth
That’s why we turned to Lexi Salkin of Blackstones, a downtown-cool NYC hair salon (clients include Chloe Sevigny and Helen Mirren) complete with its own luxe in-house hair-care line. As the salon’s lead stylist and educator, Salkin is a wealth of information on achieving fuss-free hair that requires little effort to maintain — just what we’re looking for this season.
“For all hair texture, air drying is definitely a ‘less is more’ endeavor,” says Salkin. “All you need are the right shampoo and conditioner, one or two well-chosen styling products and the willpower to not touch your hair or tuck it behind your ears.”
We picked Salkin’s brain on how to master this easy style — and the best products to use — on every hair type.
Courtesy Sephora, Nordstrom, Dermstore, Shu Uemura, Barneys
Prevent tangles by brushing your hair before you get it wet in the shower. Afterwards, establish a part using just your fingers (hands off that comb!) and then air dry a bit before finally adding product. “This allows the natural wave pattern to develop and not look contrived,” says Salkin. “Sometimes with finer textures, putting product in while your hair is still wet leads to a stringy texture.”
Once hair is almost dry, scrunch a water-based grooming cream from the middle to the ends to add lightweight separation and control minor flyaways. Top off with a delicate salt spray, which Salkin says adds texture and absorbs oil at the roots.
The post-wash focus for curls is on adding moisture and structure. Salkin recommends using a hydrating curl cream first (to add control and softness) and then finishing with a styling mousse (to add definition and memory to natural textures).
Salkin even gives an extra tip to prolong your look (because who wants to wash their hair every day when there are beach trips to take?). “The cream can also be used on dry hair to touch up curls on the second, third, even fourth day after washing,” she says. “Rub product into the palms of your hands like you would hand lotion, and then using just the palms, pat it onto the hair. Never rake your fingers through curls or frizzy hair, it only disrupts texture.” Duly noted.
Air drying thick hair is similar to working with curly hair. “In order to air dry thick hair successfully, it’s important to identify your hair texture first, then density,” says Salkin. “Is your hair soft and shiny, coarse, processed? Then pick products that are made for that texture.”
Salkin recommends a coconut oil treatment the night before to really infuse moisture. “Unlike finer hair, thick textures can seem to suck up product,” she says. “Rinse your hair, then coat it in the oil and braid or put it up (remember to place an old towel on your pillow case). Shampoo out and condition the next morning.”
Buy It! Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme, $31; sephora.com. Sachajuan Ocean Mist, $31; barneys.com. Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream, $28; nordstrom.com. RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream, $18; dermstore.com. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil, $69; barneys.com
— Jane Sung