Susan Lee/iStock


As a follow-up to Josh Peterson's post about letting your hair air-dry, I thought I'd share a few tips for styling air-dried hair with minimum you don't have to compromise your looks while saving electricity and split ends. Certain lucky folk have hair that dries perfectly in place whether touched by a hair dryer or not. Josh is probably one of these people (lucky bastard). In humid, tropical climates, I have a slight chance, if the stars and the seawater are aligned, of being one those people. But in all other climates and settings, I am not.

So I've picked up a few techniques over the years for adding style to your 'do without using heat, or gobs of products. Step #1 for each technique is to towel—dry your hair vigorously, so as to remove any excess water. Let it dry a bit before starting—each of the styles work best with hair that is damp, but not wet. Whether you comb first is up to you—I find that if I want my hair to stay wavy, I shouldn't comb or brush it when wet.

(Note: my hair has never been shorter than chin-length, so all tips come from semi-long to long hair experiences)

1. Loose Braids: Apply a tiny bit of hair spray or styling cream. Weave hair into two braids, one on each side of your head. Keep the braids loose at the top (so there isn?t a pronounced kink where the braid begins), and tighter from the middle down. When hair is almost dry, take out the braids, shape the waves with your fingers and a tiny bit of hair spray (if needed/wanted), and let dry the rest of the way. If your hair is long enough, you can wind braids around your head for a fun up-do during the day, and then undo them for a different style at night.

2. Tight Braids/Crimping: Separate hair into sections—make a few from the top layers, and three from the bottom layers. Weave the sections into medium-tight braids and leave in until hair is dry. (This one works well overnight—sleep in the braids and wake up with serious crimps. I'll admit, I haven't done this one since the 90s. But I think I might give it another go—it could look good with long, straight hair, or make for a fun up-do.)

3. Rag Curls: This one is straight out of my grandma's bag o' tricks. Cut an old t-shirt or cloth (or another material) into 6-inch strips. Take a small piece of hair, place the rag strip at the bottom, and roll your hair up towards your scalp, making a roll of hair with the cloth in the middle. Secure the twist by tying the two ends of the cloth, so the twist is snugly held near your scalp. Let dry (overnight works well). This one takes time—but my grandmother and her sisters swore by it back in the day!

4. Finger Curls: This technique is my go-to. Apply a bit of hair spray or styling cream (I often use a bit of whatever conditioner I just used in the shower), and start twirling sections of your hair around your finger, stereotypical ditzy girl-style. (I twirl clockwise on both sides of my head—so the left side's curls turn in, and the right side's turn out. It wasn't pre-meditated; it just happened—so you should forge your own twirling path.) The idea is to form your hair into a few large twisted sections, and let them dry with minimal movement (no head tossing or head banging or nodding enthusiastically), occasionally re-twisting the locks so they keep their shape.