How to Air Dry Thick & Wavy Hair

Over the years, I’ve become more partial to blow drying my hair for a polished look. As long as I have my tools of choice, I prefer the sleek finish. However, I do still try to limit how much heat I use on my hair to maintain its health, and sometimes I’m just too downright tired to blow dry it. In that case, I let it air dry.

With thick and wavy hair, letting hair air dry can be tricky. You need the right products to help tame frizz and define shape. Keep reading for my tips for how to air dry hair— especially if you have a similar hair type to mine— plus my favorite products to use!

Step 1: Hydrate in the Shower

After shampooing, I use a deep conditioner to intensely hydrate my hair, which is pivotal when you want it to look great without heat. Right now I use The Remedy Hair Mask from Overtone. It’s basically the deep treatment formula their color products are known for, just without the color. The magic in the mask includes coconut oil, shea butter and avocado oil— a holy trinity for shiny, soft and manageable hair.

Step 2: Towel Dry the Right Way

Straight out of the shower, I wring my hair out with my hands, and then use a micro-fiber towel to press out the water. Normal terry-cloth towels are known to be rough and cause frizz. If you don’t have a micro-fiber towel around, use a clean t-shirt to absorb as much moisture as possible. Then, I tie my hair up in a hair turban for about 30 minutes to absorb excess moisture. After letting it sit in the turban, it’s less wet and more damp, so it will air dry more quickly and evenly.

Step 3: Tame Tangles

Next, I personally need to brush out my tangles. I know it’s a bit controversial to brush hair while it’s wet, but my thick hair is painful when tangled as it pulls on my scalp. Since hair is most vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet, I try to minimize breakage by using a brush specifically meant for detangling with flexible bristles. I’ve been using the Wet Brush for nearly seven years and never looked back. This brush cuts through my tangles like butter, pain-free. Using anything else takes triple the time since I have to be so delicate. This changed my post-shower hair routine for the better!

Step 4: More Moisture + Start Styling

While my hair is still damp, I make it a point to apply moisturizing styling products. I start out with the Eva NYC Satin Dream Leave-In Cream which helps detangle, smooth and moisturize. This is a thicker product that contains argan and avocado oils, so I try to focus this on the ends. I then move on to the Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream, which I use near the roots and top sections of hair. This has a more lightweight consistency, so it won’t weigh down your hair or leave any feeling of residue. Finally, I finger comb the DevaCurl Wave Maker through my hair from just above my ears down to the ends— this is my styling product that provides hold and shape. Once it’s worked through, I’ll scrunch my hair to boost my waves.

You can absolutely try and find a one-and-done product that works, I’ve just found this trio to work best on me and my hair type (oily roots, dry ends, waves of all shapes and sizes plus lots of frizz).

Step 5: Finishing Touches

If you want a little more hold for your waves, you can blast a bit of flexibly hold hairspray that won’t feel crunchy when dry. My favorite for this is the Dove Style + Care Micro Mist Hairspray, which applies with a very fine mist for a light, even coverage. If you struggle with super dry ends, you can massage a bit of oil to finish them off.

When I follow this air dry routine, I’m left with manageable hair and defined waves that are healthy and beautiful without the need for heat styling. I’m able to focus on getting my day started and avoid damage, making my hair feel better every day!

Share your tips for air drying hair in the comments!


    1. I usually leave it up in a microfiber turban for about an hour, then let it down and it will air dry in the next 30 min. Otherwise, I’ll just leave it alone down and it will dry on its own!

  1. Hi,

    interesting products I have the same kind of hair, I will try this method out. Does this brand have a site? I cant find it

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