No, not a blow dry bar in East London: “Air drying” or “Air styling” is the thing that we’re all doing now, which is to say – we are not using our hairdryers anymore. Confused? Scared? Don’t be.
I have been trying to blow dry my hair into submission since 1997 and I have been confused and dismayed as to why it doesn’t really work. It either goes fluffy, making me look very 1980s in a bad way or I manage to tame it into a blow-dried shape but it then goes flat, plastering itself to my head like a hairdo drawn on a balloon.
Back in the Spring I was reading something about Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, which said the trick with this salty spray that will help you achieve the much longed-for goal (if you’re a certain sort of girl) of “tousled beachy waves”. I am a slobby hippy at heart – actually, not even really at heart, on the surface, too – so this rings my bell. But Surf Spray hadn’t really worked for me, it just made my hair crispy.
But the advice I read said: “Wash your hair, towel-dry DO NOT BRUSH IT, add Surf Spray then leave it alone. Think of your hair as a stoned-out hippy and the hairbrush or hair drier as ‘The Man’.”
I suddenly got it. My hair is and has always been a stoned-out hippy. It doesn’t like being brushed and it doesn’t like being blow-dried. What it wants to do is just be left alone.
Since understanding this key fact, my haircare routine has gone like this: brush hair before washing. Wash. Roughly towel dry. Arrange hair with fingers in roughly the correct shape. Apply pretty much any styling spray, creme or goo and then leave to dry. Do not brush. Definitely do not blow dry.
You might think about this picture: what’s so special? It just looks like your hair is a bit of a mess. It’s hard to describe, the way it falls and moves and behaves just suddenly feels right. At 35 – THIRTY FIVE – I have finally got the hair that I really want.
I understand that not everyone’s hair is the same and those born with curly hair already know not to brush it or go anywhere near a hairdryer. But if you have hair like mine that has an indistinct and uneven wave or kink and you wonder why hairdrying isn’t the magic bullet that everyone else seems to find it – you just might, like me, have Hippy Hair.
There’s a good piece from our friends at The Pool here about air drying, but I take issue with the idea that the hair ought to be combed or brushed when wet. Don’t do it!
Some products that work well with air-drying:
For a smooth and silky finish Keratase Elixir Ultime. Even if you decide that air drying isn’t for you and you want to go back to a blow-out, this is the world’s best blow dry serum. One bottle lasts for ages.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray. Makes your hair a bit scarily crispy, but does do the trick.
Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It. I haven’t actually tried this – yet, but Bumble and Bumble usually get this sort of thing right.
If you don’t like to follow the crowd and enjoy having smaller name brands in your bathroom, (this is without question a thing), then Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist will have everyone wondering how you know about these niche artisanal products.
All of these products are available on Amazon and the prices vary from seller to seller, which is why I haven’t included any.
I am VERY excited to read this and will be trying it tomorrow. My hair is thick, longish and has a random wave every now and then (why?!) If I blow dry it fully it takes about a week, stays nice for approx 20 mins then goes berserk. I now think it just wants to be left alone and freeeeeeeeeee
LET IT BE FREE. it’s worth a try! let me know how it goes
Well it did have a nice tousled look but didn’t dry for hours 😕 So fine for a weekend but maybe not when I have to get up and out of the house
Aha yes… I hadn’t considered the possibility that you actually have to BE anywhere…
I have started doing this in the last year or so, coincidentally around when my son started school and some days I just can’t BE ARSED or the kids are killing each other or I wanted to stay in bed for longer because I had a gin hangover. My husband LOVES it and says I look like a mermaid (what the fuck? Didn’t know he was into that but whatever) and says I should have my hair like that all the time.
It has been a good thing! I have learnt to embrace it whereas before I hated it and thought I looked like Roger Daltrey. I don’t though, so it’s all good. A bit like when you have a zit and it’s like the biggest thing in the world but really nobody else can see it, it’s just all in your head.
I use Alterna Bamboo Style Boho Waves, which works a treat.
it’s a hop skip and a jump from mermaid hair to roger daltrey: but both are good
I did a air dry this week – combined with twisting hair into ridiculous corn row type affairs to boost the curliness (as burning myself – including somehow branding a boob?! – on my curling wand, aka torture device, wasn’t working for me). The air dry worked to a point, but did fall horribly flat within about two hours probably because I used no product other than hairspray. Hopefully b&b will save me from sad hair.
Have just spent the last hour of my work day catching up on your blog (don’t tell my boss), I have missed your wit and tales of the Coren household, welcome back! xxx
it’s all about product, definitely. hair spray is bad for this I don’t know why. you need something that gives texture?? that means it won’t go flat. bumble and bumble won’t disappoint you
“those born with curly hair already know not to brush it or go anywhere near a hairdryer”
You’d think so, but it took me quite a while to figure out that brushing is not compulsory. I was brought up thinking that not brushing your hair was like not brushing your teeth (i.e. dirty and disgusting) when in fact it has nothing to do with cleanliness.
I hardly ever blow dry my hair as it’s so fine that it doesn’t really add anything, and goes split endy much quicker. I use Schwarzkopf Gliss liquid silk spray every morning after washing, which costs only £1 at my local Roy’s. I don’t usually brush it (no time for that sort of thing), just sort out the fringe with my fingers and twist it up into a bun. By the time it’s dried a bit, I let it out and my hair looks delightfully beachy, (or, that’s what I tell myself!)