Summertime marks the season when I’m a little bit lazy with styling my hair. With many dips in the ocean, I try to stay away from heat styling as much as possible, letting my hair air dry. This, however, may sometimes result in hair looking less polished and even dry at times. I started searching for a hybrid product that would be something between a leave-in conditioner and a curling product. Something that would nourish the hair, add soft texture and shine, but also be lightweight. And so I stumbled upon air dry styling products that sounded just like what I was looking for!
What is an Air Dry Styler?
An air-dry styling product for the hair is designed to enhance and optimize the natural drying process without the need for heat styling tools. It simply makes your hair dry more “polished”, helping to control frizz, add texture, and shine, and define curls or waves while allowing the hair to dry naturally. It is an ideal product for those seeking a quick and easy way to style their hair while avoiding heat damage and reducing styling time.
How To Get The Perfect Air-Dried Look
After testing a few air-dry products it became quite apparent that it’s only wishful thinking to expect one product to do it all. Especially if having any type of textured hair or damaged hair for that matter. In my experience, most air-dry products seem to be formulated and work best for straight type 1 (ABC) hair and healthy hair.
However, anyone can benefit from adding these products to one’s air-dry routine:
- Leave-in Conditioner
Preferably use a leave-in spray before applying, for added hydration, better frizz control, and more shine. And for some added heat protection if you suddenly find yourself in a rush.
- Hair Oil
Those with dry or damaged ends might also want to finish off with a few drops of hair oil on damp hair. Or add a split-end serum for extra nourishment.
Also, something I’ve discovered is that air-dry products are best used during summer or when humidity levels are more balanced. Using an air-dry cream in the midst of a dry winter might end up not being hydrating enough and result in a dry frizzy mess.
In all of my pictures, I’ve prepped my hair with Davines Oi All-in-One Milk and added a tiny bit of Amika The Closer Instant Repair Cream to my dry and brittle ends. As none of these air-dry styling products were truly enough alone to help my hair air-dry without frizz and keep it in good condition until my next wash.
OUAI Air Dry Styling Foam
A unique product in its niche; most air-dry products come as a cream. And having tried Bumble & Bumble’s Don’t Blow It (thick) styling cream (review here), I felt like opting for something more lightweight that had less of a chance of leaving any product residue.
As the name suggests, the OUAI air-dry styler is more of a foam than a mousse. Which makes it very lightweight! I’ve tried it in many different ways and would recommend applying it to towel-dried hair for the best results. Even better if you use a spray leave-in before applying the air-dry foam to minimize frizz further. Although the OUAI leave-in conditioner felt weirdly drying to my hair, it worked beautifully in conjunction with the air-dry foam. Resulting in less frizz and more defined waves. 👌🏼
For my waist-length hair, I use about 4 pumps in the lengths and 1 pump scrunched into my roots. Because this product is so lightweight getting some in your roots won’t result in your scalp getting greasy fast. But always use it accordingly to what feels best for you.
Results & Conclusion
On the OUAI’s website, the girl with a little bit of wave to her hair looks very styled and polished. However, looking at the curly examples, I’d say that my hair is a close match. It doesn’t tone down frizz much without adding complementary products into the styling routine. However, the hair dries nicely and airy without feeling or looking dry. Good for anyone wanting a boost in volume! The hair also feels soft and lustrous.
The OUAI air-dry foam is one of my favorites to use in the summertime. While it doesn’t truly satisfy my defrizzing needs, it surely helps my hair dry in a better state with zero product feel or residue. It also has a gorgeous scent! Quite mild, not as perfumey as their other products.
Although some individuals may prefer to incorporate one or two of the things mentioned before to reduce frizz further, I believe that all hair types can benefit from it. It especially works great on shorter hair for a second-day hair feel. (boyfriend approved) Additionally, since it may not provide significant hydration, it may not be the ideal styling product for use in dry air conditions or with hair that’s very damaged and dry.
Good For: All hair types who prefer a very lightweight product.
R+Co Cool Wind Air-Dry Cream
Before this one got a lot of hype I was interested in it as I’m always excited about new product launches from R+Co! Although their products are a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, I love how innovative and fun the brand feels.
This one’s also best worked through towel-dried hair and can be applied near the roots. As the R+Co Cool Wind comes as a cream it is a bit harder to figure out the right amount for your hair. The amount will vary depending on the length and thickness of the hair and desired result. I’m honestly still trying to figure out the right amount for my hair. Especially as it’s so lightweight.
I got utterly disappointed when I first tried this product. My hair did sort of dry polished but had a halo of frizz around it. 👀 You know, that frizz you get when the humidity levels are very high? I can handle and accept “airy frizz”, but this did not look good. After a few tries with the same result, I left it on the shelf to rediscover it for summertime. And this time, together with prepping with some leave-in spray, the result was more of the desired look!
Results & Conclusion
I was initially very disappointed with this product. However, using it during the right circumstances, it truly delivers on its promises! My hair dries shiny, soft, and feels easy to comb through. No product residue, even when applied a bit too much. It gives my waves a little more definition than if I had only used their leave-in conditioner, High Dive (review here). The scent isn’t my favorite R+Co fragrance but isn’t overpowering. And although it doesn’t have the same ingredients, I also find it comparable to R+Co Turntable Curl Defining Cream. (Which, I personally felt was a bit too lightweight to do anything for my waves and so have not reviewed it.)
With that being said, I still have this lingering impression that Cool Wind is most suitable for individuals with straight type-1 hair. As someone with textured hair, I think a curl cream would be a more optimal option. This air-dry cream has the ability to bring forth a second-day hair effect, and I notice my hair dries a bit flat at the roots in comparison to the OUAI air-dry foam, regardless of whether or not I apply it directly to my roots.
Looking through reviews, some people like it and some people don’t. Especially those with curly and wavy hair, seem to face the same issues with frizz. However, after testing Cool Wind in different conditions, I’ve discovered that it does have its positive qualities. While it might not be my absolute favorite air-dry styling cream, I’m willing to keep an open mind and see how I feel once I finish the tube.
Good For: Mostly straight hair, but perhaps some wavy and curly hair types might like it.
JVN Air Dry Cream
The curly hair community was buzzing about the JVN air dry cream when it first launched. And as the founder, Jonathan Van Ness, has textured hair, this product seems more catered toward those with waves and curls. So my expectations were high you could say.
The JVN air dry cream enhances the natural texture of your hair and provides hydration and frizz control without the need for heat styling. It helps to define curls, reduce frizz, and leave your hair with a soft and natural finish.
Off the bat, the texture of this one is also quite lightweight. However, does have more of a feeling of weighing the hair down if you use too much. In retrospect, this is perhaps a good thing for us with textured hair as it will give a little more nourishment and hold.
I find myself taking a bit less of this than I do with the R+Co Cool Wind. And considering how long my hair is, the average person probably can probably get away with only using about 2 pearl-sized amounts. In other words, a little goes a long way!
With the JVN air dry cream, I find that there’s not so much of a right way to apply it. For example, I find that I can use this in wet styling as well as in damp hair. This is also a more versatile product than the other two. It can be used on dry hair to smooth out frizz.
Results & Conclusion
The JVN air dry cream is supposed to enhance the natural texture of your hair, help to define curls, reduce frizz, and leave your hair with a soft and natural finish. And it definitely delivers on its promises! I find it to define my waves better than the other two, with minimal frizz. It also seems to add the most amount of shine and gloss out of the three products.
One of my complaints would perhaps be that the hair dries a bit flat at the roots. And whenever I brush through the hair, it poofs and feels dry compared to the other two air-dry products. I really like the scent which I don’t find to be overpowering or lingering. However, I gave a sample to a friend and she hated it. 🤷🏻♀️ It smells a bit of grapefruit, which can be a hit or miss for some. Grapefruit to me usually smells like vomit. 😅 But because of some floral notes, I find it quite pleasant.
Good For: All hair types, preferably wavy, curly, and even kinky textured hair.
Bonus: Davroe Curl Definer
With this bonus segment, I wanted to show the difference in curl definition when using a lightweight curl cream as opposed to an air-dry cream. Hopefully, this helps anyone with textured hair decide whether an air-dry styling product is right for them.
Because, although air dry styling products are touted for all hair textures… It is apparent that most on the market cater to more straight or slightly wavy hair. Or people who don’t know how to take care of their wavy/curly hair. 🤪 But while curl creams may be the better option for those with textured hair, curl creams do tend to have a heavier feel.
One of the best curling creams I’ve found to be perfect as an air-dry cream for wavy/curly hair is the Davroe Curl Definer. It’s lightweight, meaning it doesn’t have a lot of hold. But has just the right amount of hydration to keep locks more defined and polished with minimal frizz. This is truly a one-and-done product for whenever I want to air-dry my hair with polished results without a hair dryer. (but with the added bonus of having some heat protection if I ever find myself in a rush.) For those who prefer a silicone-free formula, there’s also Davroe Curl Balm that gives very similar results. But I personally prefer the Curl Definer.
But please be aware, as it is a curl product it can turn up heavy if you use too much. For the best lightweight feel, it’s optimally styled in wet hair rather than towel-dried hair.