You're tired. You're late. And the thought of pulling out your favorite blow dryer? Yea, that’s not going to happen. But if you have frizzy or flat hair, living a low-maintenance life and having a good hair day can seem like a far-off dream. The good news is that using one of the best air dry hair products can change the game. These oils, creams, mousses, and gels are designed to enhance your natural texture, seal your ends, are valuable heat protectants against UV heat, and restore hydration so your hair looks as defined and polished as possible.
How to Air-Dry Your Hair According to Your Hair Type
That said, slapping any old product on your ends isn’t going to get the job done—there’s a technique. “You need to take as much of the excess moisture out of the hair with a towel,” advises Adam Reed, celebrity hairstylist and founder of ARKIVE Headcare. “Comb through the hair with product and leave the comb tracks in place—don’t disrupt them until the hair is almost dry. Then gently manipulate and open up the hair. The longer you can leave the hair without touching it, the less frizz you’ll have. If you touch it, it gets fluffy and doesn’t maintain that nice, air-dry finish.”
Plus, you'll have to experiment to find out what kind of air dry product works best on your hair type. “You have to find a product that works really well with your hair, so it depends on your hair type. There’s a bit of a trial-and-error process,” explains Reed. “As a general rule, thicker hair with more curls will require heavier moisture to stay hydrated. Something like a cream could be a good place to start. Finer hair will need much more lightweight hydration.”
He also suggests using less product at the get-go so you don’t weigh your hair down. If frizz starts to creep up, consider adding a drop of oil into the mix for added hydration.
How Much Product To Apply
While the exact answer to the “how much product” question has more to do with your specific hair type and texture than anything else, celebrity stylist Glenn Ellis has a general rule of thumb that he tends to follow. “I always suggest starting with a dime to quarter size amount,” he says.
- If you have finer hair you’ll want to use a dollop closer to a dime size,
- if you have thicker hair you’ll want to use more. You want it to be enough to work through all of the hair but not too much that it is too thick. You can always add a bit more if needed but start off with less and add where needed!
- Best Overall Air Dry Hair Product: JVN Complete Hydrating Air Dry Hair Cream
- The Best Air Dry Product for Detangling: Briogeo Superfoods Avocado + Kiwi Mega-Moisture 3-in-1 Leave-In Spray
- The Best Air Dry Product for Wavy Hair: Kenra Professional Volume Mousse Extra 17
- The Best Air Dry Cream for Damaged Hair: Klorane Nourishing Leave-In Cream With Mango
Shop The Best Air-Dry Hair Products
Best Overall Air-Dry Hair Product
Our editors trust JVN—the brand is created by Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness—so it’s no wonder his air dry cream leaves hair, with a frizz-free look and touchable hold. The key ingredient? Hemi-squalane, which acts as a more hydrating replacement to the typical silicones often seen in hair products. Plus, the addition of moringa seed gives you shine, while chia seed gives your hair bounce. Better yet, the formula is incredibly buildable, which will leave you with glossy—but not greasy—hair.
Pros: Keeps frizz away for most of the day; Great for adding volume
Cons: Can weigh down thinner hair types; Some reviewers sayit feels sticky.
Customer Review: "I’ve been using this product for weeks and it’s amazing. I have thick frizzy hair and live in a humid climate. This cream is Everything I’ve ever wanted in a hair product. This makes my hair soft, shiny, and reduces frizz SIGNIFICANTLY!" — Sephora
The Best Air Dry Product for Detangling
Got tangled hair? We highly recommend scooping up this miracle-working primer from Briogeo to get rid of them. A few sprays directly into damp hair will make brushing through knots about 1000 times more manageable. This leave-in cream from the brand is formulated with tons of good-for-hair nutrients (read: chia seeds, avocado, kiwi, spinach, and sunflower seeds) that will keep your hair both hydrated and protected from the sun’s UV rays, which can mess with hair color and dry hair out over time.
Pros: Pleasant smell; Concentrated and lightweight
Cons: Can leave greasy residue for some hair types
Customer Review: "This product is heavy enough I can see a difference in my hair. I have low porosity so my hair does not absorb product easily. I could tell a difference by my third time trying it! SO AMAZING!" — Ulta
The Best Air Dry Product for Wavy Hair
This $20 styling mousse from Kenra remains a celebrity hairstylist favorite—it's featured in nearly every kit both backstage and on set. If you have natural waves, this mousse will define them but won't make them crunchy thanks to the fact that it has a firm hold but a lightweight feel in your hair. It’s great to add fullness to the hair, and provides heat protection up to 450 degrees. The formula is also designed not to flake off or leave build-up behind.
Pros: Pleasant smell
Cons: Adds minimal volume; Can be very drying
Customer Review: "Always use after shampooing and drying my hair until it's damp. Works great adding the volume I need for my fine hair. Will keep purchasing it." — Ulta
The Best Air Dry Cream for Damaged Hair
Hot tools can do some mega damage to your hair. While air drying is *chef’s kiss* for getting hair back to a healthy state, you can be left staring at split ends in the interim. Enter this vegan mango-infused leave-in product from Klorane. The wildly nourishing cream isn’t going to just prevent future breakage—it’s going to do its part to seal your pre-existing split ends and prevent new ones from coming in. It’s free of sulfates as well and includes mango seed butter and lactic acid which actually helps maintain moisture levels in the hair.
Pros: Great for thicker hair types; Can be applied to wet or dry hair
Cons: Can be too greasy for some
Customer Review: "Loveeeeee how soft and smooth this leaves my hair, even in the humid summer heat! Can be applied on wet or dry hair. A little goes a long way! Smells like juicy mangoes and peach!" — Revolve
The Best Air Dry Product for Added Texture
Leaving your waves or curls to their own devices can be risky business. If you’re going to let it dry au naturale—all the power to you. But, if you want a little help enhancing and defining your curl pattern and style without changing the natural shape, Alterna has you covered. This lightweight air dry balm is going to add the perfect amount of softness and shine. While the word blow-dry is in the name, you don’t need to use a hot tool to achieve amazing results.
Pros: Lightweight; Leaves hair feeling softer
Cons: Can feel too crunchy for some
Customer Review: "Lately I've been too lazy to blow dry my hair, but this "blowout butter" takes good care of my hair. I apply it in my hair, make a bun and leave it for a little while, and it does miracles to my hair when I undo it!" — Dermstore
The Best Budget-Friendly Air Dry Product
This drugstore fave hair product from Odele performs just as well as many of its luxe counterparts. Formulated specifically for air drying your hair, this lightweight cream provides the separation and soft finish that makes air drying so alluring. The formula is both sulfate free and paraben free, has a 100 percent natural scent, and is cruelty-free to boot. Plus, the formula smooths your hair and provides just enough separation for a lived-in look that never looks or feels heavy.
Pros: Affordable; A little goes a long way
Cons: Not ideal for short, straight hair
Customer Review: "This product is what have always been looking for. I never use heat to style my hair but have found leave in products really weigh my hair down. I have shoulder length thick wavy hair and this really gives me the volume and body I am looking for!" — Odele
The Best Lightweight Air Dry Product
For fine to medium hair that wilts under the weight of most other leave-in products, meet your airy new BFF. The patented liquid-to-foam formula from Aveda is so light you won't notice any crunch left behind—just soft strands. It also is geat for adding body to fine hair. One five-star reviewer said that “It even works with second day hair. I just dampen my hair and set overnight with the curler and allow to dry. It's provides awesome help, even with a head free roller.”
Pros: Quickly builds body; No hydrocarbon propellants
Cons: Strong tea tree oil smell; Can be messy
Customer Review: "My hair short, fine and straight. it needs body after washing. I have found this product to build body without leaving my hair stiff with residue. It leaves my hair healthy looking with shine, body and softness. It gives old hair a young vibe." — Nordstrom
The Best Air Dry Product for Volume
This styling cream from Moroccanoil is infused with ingredients that fight both frizz and static. This leave-in version is ideal for dry and brittle hair because it restores yoru hair’s natural elasticity and bounce while hydrating and conditioning natural locks from the inside. Argan oil is included in the formula to smooth everything over and add shine without weighing down your hair, and it’s free of parabens and sulfates to boot. Reviewers say it doesn’t leave behind a film and easily detangles strands.
Pros: Pleasant smell; Great for maintaining curls
Cons: Adds minimal shine; Bottle is cumbersome to use
Customer Review: "Great for curls. I've recently been trying heatless curls and this does the trick for the frizz!! amazing and light weight. Not greasy." — Sephora
This thick custard from Tracee Ellis Ross’s hair brand Pattern is here to provide medium hold and moisture to your strands. The oil-rich formula includes shea butter, sweet almond oil and cacay oil to prevent breakage and breakage. And while the formula might seem heavy, the texture is lightweight enough that it won’t hold your hair down over time. One reviewer said that this product “has the ability to slick my hair back, which can be a difficult thing to do on very coily and springy type 4 hair,” and that they “fully expected that my hair would be weighed down but somehow it remained light and fluffy.”
Pros: Top-rated; Includes shea butter; Fights breakage; Lightweight; Provides definition; Fights frizz.
Cons: Some reviewers found the smell to be too strong.
Customer Review: "I am very impressed with this styling cream! It gave me great definition and eliminated frizz without making my hair hard, or dry. It also has the ability to slick my hair back, which can be a difficult thing to do on very coily and springy type 4 hair. I fully expected that my hair would be weighed down but somehow it remained light and fluffy." — Ulta
Best Lightweight Air-Dry Hair Product
“When I know I’m going to be air-drying my hair, I run a bit of this serum through my ends," says E-Commerce Editor Julia Marzovilla. "I have color-treated hair that gets brittle and dry but oily at the roots, so I need something that’s going to make it look healthy while not weighing it down. This does just that. I have hair that sits right below my chin, so I apply a dime-sized amount and spread it through the lower half of my hair first before applying the very last bits to my roots and bangs. It’s designed to prevent breakfast and damage, and my hair has never looked better.”
Pros: Good for thin hair; Good for hair that gets greasy fast; Good for color-treated hair; Lightweight formula.
Cons: Can make your hair oily if you use too much.
Customer Review: "Best product for fine hair. It hydrates my ends, gives volume and it is not greasy. Also it helps disentangle my ends, my hair is chemically treated and is dry and entangled very easy. A little goes a long way. You only a small amount need a need a bit, so while it may seem pricey, it lasts a long time." — Sephora
Best Air Dry Hair Product For Curly, Fine Hair
“If you’re feeling sudden nostalgia at the sight of this OG Rusk styler, I get it. But there’s a reason why, after all this time, it’s still on shelves and has thousands of five-star reviews. My hair type falls at the common-yet-underserved intersection of curly and fine, meaning that products are often too heavy or too light; they either form a crunchy casing on my curls or make my hair feel like cotton candy, fluffing in the wind. But with Rusk’s Wired styling cream, a small dollop brushed by hand through wet, damp, or even dry hair will make your curls take on their most perfect shape—without frizzing over time or looking stiff and gelled down.” — Lucia Tonelli, Social Media Editor
Pros: Editor-approved; Lightweight formula; Good for curls; Good for short hair; Non-crunchy finish; A little goes a long away.
Cons: Some reviewers thought the smell was too strong; Using too much can weigh your hair down.
Customer Review: "Just a little amount of this product makes a huge difference. Love the way it makes my naturally curly hair to look. No need of curling irons etc. I can just use my fingers to style my hair the way I prefer." — Amazon
Best Easy Air Dry Hair Product
“I don't air-dry my hair often, but on days when I'm sprinting out the door, I use Ouai's Wave Spray," says Editorial Fellow Brooke Knappenberger. "My hair dries naturally pretty straight with only slight waves, but after a few spritz of this, my hair actually has those sexy beachy waves we all know and love. I will say this spray does leave a little bit of stickiness, but I don't mind because my thin, limp hair needs all of the hold it can get. Speaking of limp hair, this spray also adds a ton of volume so you can forget about your hair falling flat throughout the day—just one of the many reasons why I love this spray for quick mornings.”
Pros: Editor-approved; Good for thin hair; Good for Volume; Reviewers say it revives their curls.
Cons: Can add stickiness to your hair.
Customer Review: "My hair is long, wavy, and relatively thick; I was looking for a product that I could use to add volume to my waves, and this has been a dream!! I love that I can use this on my damp hair to help it airdry in a more uniform curl pattern, and when its dry to add volume and light hold. It really enhances my hair, helps with longevity of my styles, and smells absolutely incredible- such a sexy and seductive pleasant scent! This is one hair care product I can never go without again!" – Sephora
Best Hair Oil
Reed’s top recommendation for fighting frizz without heat involves using this double duty hair oil and one other product for the ultimate concoction. He suggests mixing the Arkive Good Habit Hybrid Oil with the Arkive Prologue Primer—the combo pretty much guarantees a smooth and sleek finish to your look without having to heat style. This oil is formulated with a blend of two oils—jojoba oil and baobab oil—both of which help lock in moisture and keep ends looking healthy and hydrated.
Pros: Adds instant shine, Easy to distribute throughout hair
Cons: Not for a dryer hair type.
Customer Review: "I never use oils because I'm scared of my hair getting greasy. This one almost feels bouncy in my hand - not oily at all. I just use a tiny bit through my ends when I blow dry my hai, and it just rreally maintains a healthy and hydrated look, despite having used heated tools on it. I often find when I strighten or hair-dy my split ends really stick out, but with this oil my hai stays completely smoothes, and it also smells great." — Bloomingdales
Best Detangling Air-Dry Hair Product
Use this priming spray as soon as you get out of the shower for hair that looks great. It detangles, protects against frizz, provides heat protection, and gives you a fresh boost of shine. Reviewers also love it because the airy formula disappears into the air without leaving residue or tackiness behind. “I’ve had this used in my hair whenever I go to the IGK salon and I swear it’s the secret behind that fresh-from-the-salon look,” confirms E-Commerce Editor Julia Marzovilla.
Pros: Detangles; Adds shine; provides heat protection; Fights frizz; Prevents color fading.
Cons: Some reviewers said it weighed down their fine hair.
Customer Review: “Love this spray! I tend to spray it in my hands and then rake it through damp hair. It's done wonders on making my hair so much more soft. Also works great for detangling and heat protection. I love the scent, and it leaves no residue in my hair, you really don't feel like there's any product in at all. Definitely will be repurchasing.” — Sephora
Best Air Dry Hair Product for Curly and Frizzy Hair
I swear by this stuff, and have for years," says E-Commerce Writer Gabrielle Ulubay. "Although it’s marketed as a leave-in, this hair lotion also works for me as a styler, defining my curls and diminishing frizz immediately with each use. It also strikes a few delicate balances that few hair products manage to successfully do: It’s creamy but not so heavy that it weighs down my curls, and has impressive hold but doesn’t make my curls feel crunchy or inflexible. I’ve tried dozens of other, higher-end products before, but this affordable option will always have a special place in my heart. Plus, Miss Jessie’s is a cruelty-free, Black-owned brand to boot!"
Pros: Editor-approved; Good for curly hair; Calms frizz; Defines curls; Won't weigh your hair down; Lightweight formula.
Cons: Some reviewers said it weighed down their fine hair.
Customer Reviews: "My hair is VERY dry and nothing I previously used gave me enough moisture to actually have wave definition. I was literally so hopeless. I tried SO many brands. THIS was the first product to give me everything in ONE. hydration, frizz control, styling. So thankful this product exists and is affordable. BUY BUY BUY." — Target
Your Air-Dry Questions, Answered
What Do Air Dry Products Do?
Air-dying your hair is the perfect no-fuss way to look good straight out of the shower, and air-dry hair products are the secret weapon to make your hair look amazing without much effort. “They coat the hair and help keep the frizz to a minimum,” says Ellis. “They also add shine and nourishment to the hair without leaving a crunchiness or heaviness feeling to the hair.”
Does Washing Your Hair Affect How it Air-Dries?
The short answer is yes. Before you think about air-drying your hair, you’ll want to find the best shampoo and conditioner for your hair type to really set yourself up for success. Shampoos and conditioners that weigh your hair down or make it too greasy cannot be remedied by adding in more products, no matter how good they are. “Shampoo and conditioner is an important part of any hair routine,” says Franck Izquierdo, Co-founder of IGK Hair Care. “Your styling routine can also help enhance the way your hair air-dries for the best results.”
Meet The Experts
Originally from Southern California, hair stylist Glenn Ellis is praised for his ability to adapt to different hair types and textures. Glenn is just as skilled at taming the most rebellious curls as he is at creating voluminous manes out of lifeless hair. Glenn’s talent and versatility has garnered the attention of the film, fashion, television, and music industries. He has earned accolades within the hairstyling community for his work featured in CR Fashion Book, Vogue, and Nylon Magazine, and he has had the privilege of working with renowned personalities, including Olivia Wilde, Tinx, Sara Paulson, Meg Ryan, Jane Fonda, Sienna Miller, and Sia.
Franck Izquierdo’s blend of masterful cutting skills, Avant-garde vision and savior-faire has made him the go-to stylist for celebrities across the globe. His grandfather, who owned a salon in Paris, mentored Franck in finding his own style at a very young age. He later developed his techniques in Paris and London at the most prestigious salons, including Toni & Guy on Faubourg St Honore where he served as part owner and international creative director. Today he co-runs the Miami-based IGK Salon in Miami’s Design District with his brother Leo. His expertise lies in working with geometry of the hair, the symmetry of the layers that complement the client's face shape and the natural fall of the style
Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
- Julia MarzovillaE-Commerce Editor
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