Whether it's too hot outside to even think about using a blow dryer, or you simply need a lazy hair day, air-drying is one of the easiest ways to style your hair. But this method works out for some better than others—some curly-haired girls love the look of their natural spirals, while others might need a diffuser to get their coils just how they like them. And for those with fine hair, air drying can cause their strands to lose all volume and lay flat on their heads. But don't fret—there are always new developments in the hair landscape. Whether you have a vendetta against air drying or you just haven't tried it, we're here to persuade you to ditch the heat with the help of some new products.
What should you look for in an air-drying product?
It all comes down to finding the right formula to enhance your natural texture, whether you've got stick-straight strands or 4C curls. That might mean an airy lightweight foam that adds volume and a touch of hold, or a heavy-duty cream to keep those curls in place while they dry.
That's why we've rounded up the best mousses, gels, foams, and creams for different hair types and styles for an effortless look, heat be damned. Here, the absolute best air dry products for every hair texture, no matter what kind of weather gets thrown at you.
The Budget Beautifyer
Odele Air Dry Styler
This drugstore fave performs as well as any of its luxe counterparts. Formulated specifically for air drying, this cream provides the separation and soft finish that makes air drying alluring.
John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Air Dry Waves Styling Foam
No one tends to frizzy hair quite like Frizz Ease, and this foam formula is great on air-dried strands. It’s weightless, easy to disperse throughout hair, and maintains hold when scrunching.
Best for Textured Hair
TPH BY TARAJI Twist and Set Moisture-Rich Twisting Hair Cream
This rich, moisturizing hair cream from Taraji P. Henson’s hair care line has become a go-to for wash-and-go looks. Thanks to ultra-nourishing ingredients like shea and mango seed butter, pequi oil, and broccoli seed oil, it keeps textured hair defined and moisturized—and lasts.
JVN Complete Hydrating Air Dry Hair Cream
We trust JVN—that is Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness—implicitly, so it’s no wonder his air dry cream leaves hair, as he might say, gorgeous. The key ingredient? Hemi-squalane, which acts as a more hydrating replacement to the typical silicones often seen in hair products.
IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Air-Dry Styling Cream
Arguably one of the best things about beach waves is that you get them at the beach. Mentally, you’ll be there with this coconut-scented gel, which leaves waves and curls feeling soft, not crunchy.
Best for Dry Hair
NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Texture Wave Cream
A dollop of this hair cream, which harnesses the power of sea grapes, Japanese camellia oil, and blue algae to protect and moisturize hair, helps seal in hydration and enhance your hair’s natural wave pattern.
R and Co Cool Wind pH Perfect Air-Dry Crème
This is called the "perfect air-dry crème" for a reason. This clean and cruelty-free product works to hydrate your towel-dried hair while leaving it soft and touchable. Just smooth it through your hair after a shower, and you're good to go.
The Hardworking Hair Water
Kristin Ess The One Signature Hair Water
This isn't just a tall glass of water. Kristin Ess' hair water comes out in a super-fine, consistent mist for even application. It also has a proprietary strengthening complex with castor oil to smooth the appearance of damaged hair cuticles and protect your locks from environmental stressors.
The Weightless Foam
OUAI Air Dry Foam
Looking for the perfect beach-day hair? Best for wavy and curly-haired girls, the Ouai Air Dry Foam helps achieve that natural, tousled, and textured vibe. It refines the curl pattern and tones down frizz. Don't worry, you won't feel any crunchiness.
The Wave Awakener
Kenra Professional Volume Mousse Extra 17
This remains a hairstylist favorite—it's in nearly every kit backstage and on set. If you've got natural waves, this mousse will define them with a touch of hold but won't make them crunchy.
The Fine Hair Fix
Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Soft Mousse
If you've had some hair loss recently, you might be craving a voluminous boost to make your scalp look lush. Enter this air-light mousse, which will pump up strands and soften them for a natural but bouncy look on the go.
Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam
For fine to medium hair that wilts under the weight of most leave-in products, meet your airy new BFF. The foam formula is so light you won't notice any crunch left behind—just soft strands.
The Double-Duty Curl Reviver
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In-Shower Styler
Consider this in-shower styler the ultimate hair multitasker. Designed for women with textured hair, it enhances the definition of curls, while also adding body and shine for a seriously voluminous effect.
Bumble and bumble Bb. Don’t Blow It Fine (H)air Styler
If your hair is prone to frizz, this styling cream is great for achieving a no-fuss look. When applied after the shower, it smoothes down flyaways in seconds and has a sleek finish.
Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream
If the summer heat creates a frizz halo around your part, this creamy, dreamy formula will help hydrate the hair and help your curls stay coiled.
The Cult Favorite Hair Oil
Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil
Dubbed liquid gold (and rightfully so), this hair oil is infused with extracts like sandalwood, jasmine, and edelweiss flower, which work to deeply condition and repair damaged and brittle strands.
For Fine Hair
FEKKAI Brilliant Gloss Multi-Tasker Perfecting Creme
Dry, frizz-prone hair can use an extra boost of hydration to stay sleek, especially in the heat. This formula delivers some much needed moisture with olive and coconut-derived silicone alternatives, and boosts shine in a major way.
Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream
This is a styling cream infused with ingredients that fight frizz and static. This leave-in version is ideal for dry and brittle hair because it restores elasticity and bounce while hydrating and conditioning natural locks.
Joico Zero Heat Air Dry Styling Creme
Joico's line is perfect for locking in lasting shine and volume. It offers two lines—one for thin/normal hair and another for thick/full hair—but both have no sticky residue and minimize drying time when applied to damp hair.
Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.
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