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It’s a sad fact of life that the natural enemy of healthy hair is heat. If you’re trying to repair damage, grow out length, and generally maintain a bouncy, soft, shiny follicle, you need to avoid blasting your hair in high temperatures. The problem? Air drying hair ain’t easy. Done wrong, and you can look anywhere between the cowardly lion and the scarecrow. But done right, you can achieve a beautiful, natural finish that your future hair self will thank you for. Here’s how.

Good air drying actually starts with the wash. Getting the right shampoo and conditioner down will help ensure you start off on the right foot. If you tend towards dryness, the IGK Thirsty Girl Shampoo is a lifesaver, infusing locks with moisture from the get-go. But if you have an oilier hair type – or fine hair that tends to get flat and dull – go instead for the IGK 1995 2-in-1 Shampoo and Texturizer. This has clay in it, and can create waves and hold in even the most fluffy, slippery hairs.

Good conditioning is also key to air-drying, and my current favorites are the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food 3-in-1 Conditioner, Leave-In & Masks. These giant tubs of joy can be used both as a conditioner-mask and a leave in product, making them ideal for the lazy amongst us. And as air dryers, I’m counting us all in that. The best flavour is Banana, if only for the scent alone.

If you’re of the supremely damaged ilk, though, I’d recommend skipping shampoo entirely and using the incredibly innovative IGK Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil. A small pump of this worked through wet hair manages to remove grime and add hydration. It’s also amazing for travel, since it replaces both shampoo and conditioner.

One out of the shower, it’s a good idea to try and lock in shine while hair is still damp. I find applying an oily product immediately after washing means hair dries with more definition and less frizz or fluff. The Kérastase Oleo Relaxed Advanced is incredible (an amped up version of the classic Oleo Relaxed I’ve loved for a long time). The Amika Glass Action is a new friend, slightly thicker and heavier than the Kérastase, but offers a mirror like reflect even to the dullest of locks.

If you have hair that needs calming, rather than repairing, though, you’ll probably want to add in a styling cream here. For wavy to curly locks, the Bumble & Bumble Curl Defining Crème helps create soft, malleable tendrils minus the frizz. If you simply want hair to dry in an appealing style without trying to boost texture, go instead for the BB Don’t Blow It (H)air Styler. This stuff is kind of magical, giving the look of an undone blow-dry without having to use heat.

Once hair is semi-dry to dry, I enjoy spritzing something through it to add a bit of texture. The Bumble & Bumble Hair Tonic is wonderful for those who find most texturizers too much, as it refreshes and adds just a hint of subtle volume without ever causing mad tangles.

However, if you don’t fear a ton of texture, the Amika Bushwick Beach No Salt Wave Spray and the French Girl Rose Sea Spray are amazing – basically, surf-girl locks in a bottle. My advice with both, though, is that a little goes a long way, so start small (I’m talking one or two sprays, max).

After all your hard work, you want this air-dried style to last between washes, right? The way to do that is by amping up texture as the days go on. The IGK Beach Club Texture Spray is a great dupe for the super pricey Oribe, and can help reinvigorate lacklustre locks between washes. But for uber-grease, bring out the big guns with the IGK Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo. This will revive even the dirtiest of tresses – for a day, at least.

Shop 11 editor must haves for that perfect heat-free hair styling

Featured images via French Girl Organics

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