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It’s summer. The temps are high. And the thought of pulling out a 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, and restore hydration so your style looks as defined and polished as possible. 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. “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.”
Sounds pretty easy, right? To get on board with a shower-and-go hairstyle, keep reading. We’ve rounded up the 20 best air dry hair products, ahead.
How to Find the Best Air Dry Product for Your Hair Type
The short answer: It depends. “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.
The Best Air Dry Hair Products
The Best Air Dry Product for Fighting Frizz
Reed’s recommendation for fighting frizz involves double duty. He suggests mixing the Arkive Good Habit Hybrid Oil with the Arkive Prologue Primer—the combo pretty much guarantees a smooth and sleek finish. The oil is formulated with jojoba and baobab oil, both of which help lock in moisture and keep ends looking healthy and hydrated.
The Best Air Dry Product for Detangling
Got tangles? We highly recommend scooping up this miracle-working primer. A few sprays make brushing through knots about 1000 times more manageable. The product is formulated with tons of nutrients (read: chia seeds, avocado, kiwi, spinach, sunflower seeds) to keep hair hydrated—and protected from the sun’s UV rays, which can mess with hair color.
The Best Air Dry Product for Fine, Limp Hair
Frizz might be the most common complaint when it comes to air drying hair, but my fine hair girls know that lifeless, flat hair is a whole other issue. If you don’t want to use heat to get a little lift at your root, reach for this spray. It will help enhance your waves or curls and create a fuller-bodied look. An added bonus? The mist gives a gorgeous shine to strands.
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 style without changing the natural shape, Alterna has you covered. This air dry balm is going to add the perfect amount of softness and shine.
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 mango-infused leave-in. 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.
The Best Air Dry Hair Oil
Leave it to Jennifer Aniston to create one of the best air dry products out there. Her brand’s lightweight hair oil does it all: destroys frizz, seals split ends, adds moisture, and boosts shine. It gets bonus points for being super lightweight. As someone with super fine hair, I can attest to the fact that this oil won’t leave you looking greasy.
The Best Budget-Friendly Air Dry Product
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.
The Fan-Favorite Air Dry Product
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.
The Best-Smelling Air Dry 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.
The Best Air Dry Cream for Humid Days
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 Best Air Dry Cream for Environmental Protection
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 Best 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 Best Air Dry Product for Wavy Hair
This remains a hairstylist favorite—it's in nearly every kit backstage and on set. If you have natural waves, this mousse will define them with a touch of hold but won't make them crunchy.
The Best Lightweight Air Dry Product
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 Best Air Dry Product for Textured Hair
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.
The Best Air Dry Cream for Taming Flyaways
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.
The Best Air Dry Product for Damaged Hair
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.
The Best Air Dry Product for Brittle Hair
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.
The Best Air Dry Product for Volume
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.
The Best Air Dry Product for a Fast Dry
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.
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.
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