Air Dry Hair: For Longer Stronger Hair

Like many black women I have experimented and tested my hair to see what works best for my locks. This article follows 3 Tips To Prevent Heat Damage To Black Hair, for a reason, direct heat for the purpose of drying hair is damaging to hair, avoid it if you can. The best alternative to using heat is to air-dry hair, only problem is, air drying can make your hair frizzy and trashy if you don’t know how to do it right.

For Natural Hair

Most natural hair ladies are not into heat to dry hair. Natural hair is a good candidate for wash and go hairstyles. The key to getting hair to look its best after air drying is to use a conditioner that has good slip (without silicone), softens the hair and makes it easier to comb out.

Wrap an old cotton t-shirt around the hair after it is washed out and let it absorb the moisture. Re-wrap the hair several times with the shirt until it is just damp. Try not to use towels to dry your natural hair.

When the hair is damp seal in the moisture with a carrier oil or a hair butter (shea is good) and then you can define your curls in several ways, you can Bantu knot the hair-this makes for fabulous curls, twist it in big or small twists according to the curl definition that you want or plait it. Let it air dry and then comb it to highlight your curls.

If you want to reduce shrinkage to the hair seal in the moisture when it’s damp and then comb it in one wrapping the ends in a bun. This should ensure a bit of stretching. Remember to moisturize when the hair is damp.

The beauty about air-drying natural hair is that after sealing in the moisture, you can wear your hair in pretty much any style that you desire. Define your curls, stretch the hair a bit or twist it, braid it, cornrow it to change up your look.

For Relaxed Hair

Relaxed hair is another ball game when it comes to air-drying, ironically we tend to use heat on relaxed hair to get it to look a certain way, completely forgetting that the hair is weaker than natural hair and way more susceptible to heat damage, if this method is used to dry the hair all the time. For a fuller, healthier look, air-dry your hair. There is a reason why people who air dry their relaxed hair have a fuller, stronger head of hair. Heat breaks down the hair further and makes the hair lighter (reduces volume). Done on a regular basis the hair loses its luster and body.

To air-dry relaxed hair and to avoid the trashy, frizzy mess that your hair can become. The steps are simple. After washing hair, dry hair with a cotton tshirt. One of those smooth cotton shirts that you might have in your wardrobe. Wrap your hair in it . Do not agitate or rub the hair dry just allow the shirt to absorb the moisture, change around the damp spots of the shirt periodically, until your hair is just damp with no excess water.

For straight styles, lightly coat hair with a carrier oil to seal in moisture and then wrap the hair on the head. It should resemble a sleek cap when you are done. This will take some time to air-dry if your hair is very long. But the end result is straight hair without the help of heat.

Another method for straight hair is to do the t-shirt procedure above and then smooth all the hair back (catch up in one) in a loose bun. This is a bit faster than a wrap and you can wear your wear like this to work or wherever. It should get dried overtime; however, because you coated it with oil (paying close attention to ends) when you loose it out there should be no frizz.

For a wavy look, set hair with large rollers and allow to dry, finger comb when you are done. Combing out hair will make the hair look big and you will lose your curls. However, if you lightly coat the ends of your hair with carrier oil then the results should not be frizzy. After a day or two you can wrap the hair again (use a moisturizing spray first and then seal with oil) and then you can get your hair straight.

If you are in a hurry, its winter, you have a cold or your hair is wet and you want it to be dried in short order. Use the tshirt method, until your hair is just slightly damp, change shirts if you have to, and then seal in the moisture. Wrap or set hair and then put your overhead dryer on low (the lowest heat setting) it should feel almost cool and speed up the drying session.

Curly hair styles are the best to wear while air drying. Look at this article for ideas, How To Do Curly Hairstyles With Relaxed Hair.

Have fun air-drying and you will see the stark difference in the thickness of your hair overtime.


  • Deanna said:

    Does a hooded hair dryer count as direct heat? I set my hair on rollers, and try to air dry as long as possible, but due to time constraints, I usually get under the dryer for about thirty minutes.

    • Brenda said:

      Hey Deanna,
      I have been in that situation several times myself, I use low heat when I am under the hooded dryer. Try not to use the heat on high.

  • Adanna said:

    how can I get a good carrier oil??

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      You can get a good carrier oil in your local shops or supermarkets or buy them online. I found my 100% Pure Castor Oil in my local supermarket.

  • Louann said:

    I usually sit in front of a fan and let the hair dry that way is this a good option?

  • Michela said:

    Hi my name is Michela and i’m 13 years old with tons of questions. First I would like to know how to air dry your hair without making the roots all tangley and hard to manage? I love your site by the way

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Michela,
      Thank you for stopping by. You can gently comb out your hair from root to tip when wet and then follow the procedures above.

  • Nicole brown said:

    Hi, I’m thinking of air drying using the wrapping technique. I notice you only said to apply a carrier oil to prevent fizz.

  • Nicole brown said:

    What about using wrap setting lotions? Is it unnecessary to use them when using a carrier oil?

  • Tonya said:

    I really want to start air drying because I know direct heat is bad for relaxed hair but…. My hair is super thick!!! Even after I blowdry it after washing it looks like I have an Afro. And the ends get really trashy too… I just don’t know what to do because it seems like the only way for my hair to look good is if heat goes in it.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Tonya,
      What can replace the trashy effect is if you air dry hair in curlers or plait it. Before you plait the hair while it is still damp use some jojoba oil on it. It works really well to get you a smooth finish.

  • Julissa s said:

    I want to do a transition from relaxed to natural hair. Mainly because I would like a change and the middle of my hair is over processed and needs to be cut anyway. What is the best route I should take. I was thinking of doing the hair relaxer mention with the bannans so my hair can get used to not being straighted by chemicals. Any suggestions?

  • Thembelihle said:

    Hi I’m Thembelihle. Does Alma oil also count as carrier oil?

  • Tiffany said:

    I have relaxed hair. I’ve moisturized and wrapped it. Only thing, I washed it in the night and want to sleep while my hair dries. What kind of material(cloth) should I use to cover and hold it in place for the night?
    (I’ve tried using pins, they don’t really keep the hair in place during the night.) I thought of using the same cotton shirt, but would that just defeat the purpose of moisturizing in the first place?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Beverly said:

      Invest in a 100% silk scarf In a week you’ll notice a difference

  • Chante said:

    After sealing hair if I leave it open, does that affect my hair from having movement. I have a lot of volume and softness but between my strands its very rough. Help!!

  • katelynn said:

    I like to air dry my hair alot of the time but when it’s dry it’s is usually frizzy and curly and tangled and THICK can you help me ?

  • bella said:

    Good day , I am Bella , I just washed my hair, t-shirt dried and applied coconut oil, however my hair is now breaking . Is there any other hair product I can use ?

  • Yoonix said:

    Hi, Could Olive oil be used as carrier oil

  • Kate said:

    Hello, i am trying to transition my hair from relaxed to natural/curly. I have spanish hair and i am trying to use NO HEAT. One problem, how can i dry my hair COMPLETLY with out my hair turning puffy. Also if you have any tips for transitioning please tell me. Reply quick urgent because i need quick help. Thanks!?

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Kate,
      I have some transitioning tips here. Will add more in the coming year. You can seal your hair with oil or butter when wet and it will not frizz.

  • Toya said:

    hi brenda what oil is best to prevent hair frizz? what is your advice on using tcb naturals hair & scapl conditioner with olive oil and vitamin E, it has all the carrier oils: rosemary, jojoba, castor oil , but it also has mineral oil and petroleum.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Toya,

      Hair frizz is prevented when your hair is well moisturized with water. When the oil seals in the moisture then you will find that you will hardly have the frizzies. I have no experience with TCB products. How is it working for your hair?

  • Oma hope said:

    Please can hair mayonnaise be used in place of castor oil or butter for relaxed hair when air drying? And please can I comb when it’s still damp?

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