Perfect White Tee: Everlane’s Cotton Box Cut Pocket Tee (Runs TTS, and is also on sale because they’re phasing this one out, and their newest iteration of this tee is the 100% organic cotton version!) Sunnies: Ray Ban (these are the large 53mm size, they also come in a smaller 50mm size!) Lipstick: NARS in Apoline (what I wore on our wedding day!)
Over the past few weeks, this air drying tutorial (originally published two years ago!) has become my #1 most popular post! Now is the PERFECT time to learn how to perfect air-drying your hair–because honestly who wants to style their hair right now? 😂
This method has been my #1 styling method for years (far before quarantine).
Not a week goes by without someone asking, “What products do you use?! How is your hair so healthy!? Do you take hair vitamins?!” and I let them in on my secret–it has nothing to do with my products, or what vitamins I take–and everything to do with air-drying my hair.
If you’ve been hanging out around here for a while, you know I’m VERY much a hair minimalist. Most of this stems from pure laziness, and the other part is due to the fact that I’m a freak about keeping my hair damage-free.
The best way to keep hair healthy is to leave it alone as much as possible, so I keep my blow-drying to a minimum and only use my curling iron a couple times per week.
That’s why I’m a big fan of this method, because it’s damage free, hassle-free, all while looking good! I just love the look of easy, messy beach waves! You know what a Francophile I am–is there anything more French girl than a messy, perfectly imperfect bedhead?
I’ve received a TON of questions on exactly HOW I do the whole air-drying thing. (And many recent questions regarding trouble-shooting of this method!) so I decided now was the perfect time to give this post a refresh.
Even if you think your hair can’t possibly look good air-dried–give this a try.
I think this method will change your life!
Now, I cannot take full credit for all of these tips I’m about to share–I actually learned the “braid” method from my friend Meg. I send everyone over to her tutorial because it’s amazing and I have to give credit where credit is due–thank you Meg for sharing this with all of us! If you have thin or fine hair, definitely check it out because she shares tips that work well for fine hair specifically.
I have since perfected this method over the years, and figured out that while it’s SO easy, you have to follow the steps carefully in order to get it to work, so pay close attention!
Once you’ve mastered it once, it’s a snap, but sometimes it takes a little bit of playing to get it to work well with your hair!
How to get beach waves using my easy air-dry method!
Step 1: Finger-comb your hair with conditioner IN THE SHOWER. Do not brush your hair before, or after, or anytime during this process. It will ruin your waves and turn hair into a frizz ball.
This step is crucial. You do NOT want to brush your hair right before you air-dry. Your hair will be FRIZZ CITY. I always comb my fingers through my hair in the shower while my conditioner is in–this will remove any tangles but won’t cause the frizz that brushing or combing it beforehand will. Also, after your hair is dry, don’t comb it then either.
If you have SUPER fine hair and are worried about it being tangly, try combing it with a wide-tooth comb like this one before you get in the shower. That should keep tangles at bay but still reduce the amount of frizz that you’d usually get from brushing right before air-drying. (Can you tell, I’m really pro not brushing your hair? 😂) I swear it looks so much better that way!
By the way, if you’re curious, I use Beautycounter’s Everyday Shampoo & Conditioner. They are sulfate-free and much less harsh on your hair! I’ve tried other sulfate shampoos and really didn’t like them because they didn’t clean or lather well, but this one really does! I LOVE them and did a whole review of the shampoo, conditioner and body wash in this post! I think using a sulfate-free shampoo makes a really big difference.
Step 2: Dry with a microfiber towel
This is also key–microfiber towels really help reduce the frizz because they’re much easier on the hair! I use a microfiber turban that I picked up at Walgreens a couple years back, but you can also order them on Amazon! Meg also shared a genius trick–you can also use an old t-shirt!
How dry should hair be?
Make sure all the excess water is out of your hair. Often I will use the towel, then go about getting dressed, doing my makeup, to give my hair a chance to dry slightly so it’s not SUPER duper wet (it’ll dry faster this way). You don’t want it dripping. Then I’ll move on to the next step.
Step 3: Apply a leave-in conditioner cream, followed by sea salt spray
A moisturizing hair cream will help control frizz, if that’s a big concern of yours! I love this one from Christophe Robin as well as R&Co’s High Dive moisture shine cream. I also just started testing out Prose’ leave-in conditioner and I really like that too! These brands are free of parabens, phthalates and sulfates. (Granted they are not 100% “clean” by some standards, they’re much better than a lot of other products!)
Whatever moisture cream you decide to go with, follow it up with a good sea salt mist for that beachy texture–I love Beautycounter’s Sea Salt spray which I am obsessed with. I’ve tried a lot of other sea salt sprays and I like this one the best–it even beats out Bumble & Bumble’s! It’s so affordable–and it’s 100% clean, too–as are all of Beautycounter’s products!
Step 4: Pull into a VERY LOOSE french braid
Here’s the secret to perfect waves every time–just pull your hair into a VERY LOOSE french braid, using big sections.
The bigger the sections of your braid, the bigger your waves will be.
It’s not supposed to look pretty! The smaller the sections of hair you use, the thinner your waves will be–I like big, wide waves (I don’t love the super piecey look for me, but if you do, use smaller sections!)
Secure with an elastic, and then go back and pull the braid apart even looser. As loose as you possibly can without it falling out. It’s okay if a few pieces stick out!
Tip for shorter hair: If you don’t have long hair, do two french braids instead of one, pigtail style. This will result in more even, wavier hair.
What if I don’t know how to French braid? I really think you’ll get the best results with a French braid, so it’s worth learning. I promise it’s really not hard! Google it, you’ll find tons of tutorials! If you absolutely refuse, then you can do regular braids, but your waves won’t start as high up on your head, if that makes sense!
How should you part your hair? Plus, a tip for roots!
How you do this will depend on your own hair–if I have a quick second, I’ll blow dry just my roots because I have a cowlick and I also think blow-drying the roots prevents your hair from getting as greasy for whatever reason (meaning I can go longer in between shampoos). If you typically need more volume at your roots, this will also help with volume!
I know I always say to avoid blow-drying your hair to avoid damage–but your ends incur the most damage–a quick blast of heat a couple times per week isn’t going to hurt your roots!
If I’m not blow-drying my roots, I pull it straight back (no part) because, again, I have a weirdo cowlick around my forehead, and if it dries in this pulled-back method, it helps to tame it and when I take it out, it will fall better.
(Yes, you will look like George Washington. It’s okay. So do I.)
If you don’t have a cowlick, you can totally part your hair normally. If you do this method, make sure that you part your hair the way you want it BEFORE you braid it. You don’t want to be messing with it once it’s dry or else it may mess up your waves.
Step 5: Undo braid while hair is still slightly damp, let dry the rest of the way
You want to remove the braid while your hair is still slightly damp. Say, 90% of the way dry. You don’t want it to completely dry in the braid, otherwise it will be really crimpy and weird and you won’t get that effortless beach waves/french girl sex hair look we’re going for.
Simply undo the braid, and give your head a shake from side to side to loosen the braid, but do NOTHING MORE. Don’t touch it!
Leave it alone, and let it finish drying. You’re done!
Remember, you don’t want it to look perfect. It will take all your will power to not run your fingers through your hair, but DON’T DO IT. Don’t brush it once it’s dry, either! Leave it be! It takes willpower, I know.
Okay so, that’s it. You’re done. So easy, right? ?
Optional tweaks–perfecting your beach waves:
These are totally optional–sometimes my hair needs a few extra touches, sometimes it doesn’t! Here are three extra tweaks I’ll add when needed:
Finish off with texture spray:
I absolutely LOVE Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray which is a great way to finish it off, or give it a refresher when you wake up in the morning. (I love Oribe because it’s another “cleaned up” brand that doesn’t contain parabens.) Honestly, you may not even need this if you use Beautycounter’s Sea Salt spray because it does add a bunch of texture already, but I always like to use one of these on second or third day hair once the texture from the Sea Salt spray has faded. It also smells AMAZING. I use it after I curl my hair as well!
Add some shine:
If you find that your ends are dry or could use some shine, try Oribe’s texturizing and volume spray. I’ve also been loving Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Oil (I got a sample that I use whenever I travel!) Make sure to ONLY apply oil to the ends–otherwise, it can weigh your hair down and make it greasy!
Add dry shampoo for volume:
I reviewed some of my favorite dry shampoos right over here! They’re great for adding volume and for stretching your hair as far as you can in between washes. (Which I would highly recommend for healthy hair!) If you still need more volume, tease the roots a bit with a teasing brush!
Tip: Put it back into a loose braid at night!
Often times, I like to put my hair back into a loose braid at night, which reinforces the waves and keeps frizz and tangling to a minimum. You can do this every night in between washes. Often, it will look better on the second, third, or fourth day!
To recap, the most important steps to reiterate:
1. Don’t brush your hair at any time during the process. Finger comb it with conditioner while in the shower to remove any tangles. Towel dry hair and squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Add a cream or leave-in conditioner when hair is damp to control frizz. Add a sea salt spray for texture.
2. Then put hair into a french braid. (Or two french braids if you have shorter hair!) Pull it as loose as possible.
3. Remove hair from braid when it’s 90% of the way dry, don’t touch it or brush it. Let it dry the rest of the way. That’s it!
4. Optional: Finish with a finishing spray or a dry shampoo for more volume.
Plus, the products to enhance your air-dried waves:
1. Microfiber towel (optional, but recommended)
Optional: Texturizing finishing spray