Perfect white t-shirt: Everlane Cotton Box Cut Pocket T-Shirt (Runs TTS, and it’s also for sale because they’re phasing it out, and their newest version of this t-shirt is the 100% organic cotton version!) Sunnies: Ray Ban (these are the large 53mm, they also come in a smaller 50mm size!) Lipstick: NARS in Apoline (what I wore on our wedding day!)
In the past few weeks, this air drying tutorial (originally posted two years ago!) has become my #1 most popular post! Now is the PERFECT time to learn how to perfect air-drying, because honestly, who wants to style their hair right now? 😂
This method has been my #1 style method for years (long 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 told them my secret, it has nothing to do with my products or the vitamins I take, and everything to do with air drying my hair.
If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you know I’m VERY minimalist when it comes to hair. Most of this is due to sheer laziness, and the other part is due to the fact that I am a fan of keeping my hair damage-free.
The best way to keep hair healthy is to leave it alone as much as possible, which is why I blow dry to a minimum and only use my curling iron a couple of times a week.
That’s why I’m a big fan of this method, because it’s damage-free, hassle-free, and all while looking good! I love the look of easy messy beach waves! You know what a Francophile I am: is there anything more French than a messy and perfectly imperfect headboard?
I have gotten a LOT of questions about exactly HOW I do the entire air drying process. (And lots of recent questions about troubleshooting this method!), so I decided now was the perfect time to update this post.
Even if you think your hair can’t look good air-dried, give it a try.
I believe this method will change your life!
Now, I can’t take full credit for all these tips I’m about to share; in fact, I learned the “braid” method from my friend Meg. I’m sending everyone to her tutorial because it’s amazing and I have to give credit where it’s due. Thank you Meg for sharing this with all of us! If you have thin or fine hair, definitely check it out because it shares tips that work well specifically for fine hair.
I’ve since perfected this method over the years and found that while it’s SO easy, you have to follow the steps carefully for it to work, so pay close attention!
Once you get the hang of it once, it’s super easy, but sometimes it takes a bit of play 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, after, or at any time during this process. It will ruin your waves and turn your hair into a ball of frizz.
This step is crucial. You do NOT want to brush your hair right before you air dry it. Your hair will be FRIZZ CITY. I always run my fingers through my hair in the shower while I have conditioner on; this will remove any tangles, but won’t cause the frizz that comes from brushing or styling beforehand. Also, after your hair is dry, do not comb it either.
If you have SUPER fine hair and are worried about it getting tangled, 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 you’d normally get from brushing right before you air dry. (Can you tell I’m pretty professional about not brushing your hair? 😂) I swear it looks so much better that way!
By the way, if you’re curious, I use the Beautycounter Daily Use Shampoo and 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 cleanse and lather well, but this one really does! I LOVE them and did a full review of the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in this post! I think using a sulfate free shampoo makes a big difference.
Step 2: Dry with a microfiber towel
This is also key: microfiber towels really help reduce frizz because they are so much gentler on your hair. I wear a microfiber turban that I bought at Walgreens a couple of years ago, but you can also order them on Amazon! Meg also shared a cool hack: you can use an old t-shirt too!
How dry should the hair be?
Make sure all the excess water is out of your hair. I often use the towel, then get dressed, do my makeup, to give my hair a chance to dry a bit so it’s not SUPER wet (it will dry faster this way). You don’t want it to leak. Then I will go to the next step.
Step 3 – Apply a leave-in conditioning cream, followed by a sea salt spray
A hair moisturizer will help control frizz, if that’s what you’re most worried about! I love this one from Christophe Robin, as well as the R&Co High Dive shimmer and moisturizer. I also just started trying Prose leave-in conditioner and I really like it too! These brands are free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. (Okay, they’re not 100% “clean” by some standards, they’re much better than many other products!)
Whichever moisturizer you choose, follow up with a good mist of sea salt for that beachy texture. I love the Beautycounter sea salt spray, which I am obsessed with. I have tried many other sea salt sprays and I like this one the best, it even beats Bumble & Bumble! It’s just as affordable, and also 100% clean, like all Beautycounter products!
Step 4: Make a VERY LOOSE French Braid
This is the secret to perfect waves every time: simply pull your hair up into a VERY LOOSE French braid, using large sections.
The larger the sections of your braid, the larger 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 like the super chunky look for myself, but if you like it, use smaller sections!)
Secure it with an elastic, and then go back and separate the braid even looser. As loose as you can without sagging. It’s okay if some pieces stick out!
Tip for shorter hair: If you don’t have long hair, French braid two instead of one, in a ponytail style. This will result in more even, wavy 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 you it’s not really difficult! Google it, you will find tons of tutorials! If you adamantly refuse, then you can go for regular braids, but your waves won’t start as high on your head, if that makes sense!
How should you part your hair? Also, a tip for the roots!
How you do this will depend on your own hair – if I have a second quick I’ll just dry my roots because I have a strand and I also think that drying the roots prevents your hair from getting greasy for whatever reason. (meaning I can go longer between shampoos). If you normally need more volume at your roots, this will help with volume too!
I know I always say avoid blow-drying your hair to prevent damage, but the ends get damaged the most – a quick blast of heat a few times a week won’t damage your roots!
If I’m not blow drying my roots, I pull it back (no parts) because again I have a weird strand around my forehead, and if you blow dry this method backwards, it helps tame it and when you pull it out it will fall better.
(Yes, you’ll look like George Washington. That’s fine. Me too.)
If you don’t have a strand, you can part your hair completely normally. If you use this method, be sure to part your hair the way you want BEFORE you braid it. You don’t want to play with it once it’s dry or it could mess up your waves.
Step 5 – Undo the Braid While the Hair Is Still slightly damplet dry the rest of the way
You should remove the braid while your hair is still slightly damp. Let’s say, 90% of the way dry. You don’t want it to dry completely in the braid, otherwise it will look too wavy and weird, and you won’t get that natural beach wave/french girl hair look we’re going for.
Simply undo the braid and shake your head from side to side to loosen the braid, but do NOTHING ELSE. Do not 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 willpower not to run your fingers through your hair, but DON’T. don’t brush it once it’s dry, neither! Let it be! It takes willpower, I know.
Okay, that’s all. Are you ready. That easy, right? ?
Optional Settings – Perfect Beach Waves:
These are totally optional – sometimes my hair needs a few extra touches, sometimes it doesn’t! Here are three additional settings that I’ll add as needed:
Finish with texture spray:
I absolutely LOVE Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray, which is a great way to finish it off or freshen it up when you wake up in the morning. (I love Oribe because it’s another “clean” brand that doesn’t contain parabens.) use one of these on second or third day hair once the Sea Salt spray texture has faded. It also smells AMAZING. I use it after curling my hair too!
Add some sparkle:
If you notice that your ends are dry or in need of some shine, try Oribe’s texturizing and volumizing spray. I also love Bumble and Bumble’s barber oil (I have a sample that I use every time I travel!)
Add Volumizing Dry Shampoo:
I’ve reviewed some of my favorite dry shampoos right here! They are great for adding volume and stretching your hair as much as you can 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 in a loose braid at night!
I often like to put my hair back in a loose braid at night, which reinforces the waves while minimizing frizz and tangles. You can do this every night between washes. Often it will look better on the second, third or fourth day!
In summary, the most important steps to reiterate:
1. Do not brush your hair at any point during the process.. Finger comb it with conditioner while you shower to detangle it. Towel dry hair and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Add a cream or leave-in conditioner when hair is damp to control frizz. Add a spray of sea salt for texture.
two. Then put the hair in a French braid. (Or two French braids if you have shorter hair!) Pull it as far as you can.
3. Remove hair from braid when 90% dry, do not touch or brush it. Let it dry the rest of the way. That’s it!
Four. Optional: Finish with a finishing spray or dry shampoo for added volume.
Plus, products to enhance your air-dried waves:
1. Microfiber towel (optional, but recommended)
two. a moisturizing cream
3. My favorite sea salt spray
Optional: Texturizing Finishing Spray