Low-Maintenance Haircuts For EVERY Hair Type

Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Ask a handful of women to air-dry their hair, and you'll likely get this excuse more than once: "I can't do that with my hair texture." But successful air-drying actually has little to do with your texture and a lot to do with your cut. Think about it: Your cut dictates how your hair will fall. And if the foundation of your style is at odds with your texture, it's all going to be a mess.

The artists at Hairstory Studio in New York City have signed on to this concept. "We try to empower women by giving them the right cut, so that they can rely on their hair," says hairstylist Wes Sharpton. Most women don't need a slew of fancy products or styling tools to air-dry — just a good chop.

And that's exactly what we gave five employees here at Refinery29. We asked the ladies — who have vastly different hair types — to put their strands in the hands of Sharpton and Beth Shanefelter, another Hairstory stylist. Some of them were already air-drying, but wanted their hair to behave better. Others were sick and tired of using hot tools to force their locks into submission. The goal was to make over their manes so that they could all air-dry with gorgeous results.

Ahead, find the cuts, as well as styling tips and tricks, that work best for each of their textures. Your hair will look so good, you might even start finding excuses to air-dry it.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Alexandra Polkinghorn, Director Of Editorial Operations
Before her cut, Alex was suffering from a common curly-girl conundrum: She had gorgeous coils, but their weight left them stretched-out and limp. "It was all one length, so it just sort of triangled out," she explains. "It's also pretty frizzy, so I never wore my hair curly if I wanted to look remotely polished."

Shanefelter understood, but didn't feel like Alex had to sacrifice her length. "Her hair would get a little wide when it air-dried, so we really wanted to make things lighter." The solution? Lots of layers — something that had previously scared Alex. "It just seemed so high-maintenance, but I let them go for it," she says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Shanefelter kept Alex's hair long, and carefully cut into the layers. "Her hair is fairly thin, so we didn't want to take out density," she says. During her consultation, they talked about bringing attention to Alex's high cheekbones, which they achieved with face-framing layers. "I didn't even know I should be highlighting my cheekbones, but I was thrilled!" Alex says.

The resulting cut allowed Alex's naturally beautiful curls to air-dry to perfection from root to tip — without an awkward triangle shape. "It's so much lighter, and I'm so relieved that the length is still there," she says. "This was a perfect update, without completely abandoning something I associate myself so closely with."

Alex was also a convert to Hairstory's Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme and Foundation Creme — which were the only two products used to style all of these cuts. "It smoothes [my hair] out and facilitates a nice air-dry," she says. No kidding — she hasn't used a single hot tool since.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Larissa Green, Social Media Editor
Larissa had recently taken out her box-braids and was wearing her hair naturally. But she wasn't up for a hyper-involved routine. "I wash and go!" she says. "But my hair is typically frizzy, unruly, and loose." Sharpton adored Larissa's natural texture and didn't want her new cut to require a twist-out, or any other pre-style style.

"Her cut is representative of what we like to do at Hairstory — we bring out the best of what people already have," Sharpton says. "It would have been easy to cut it all off, but we really wanted to do something that was very much Larissa." And Larissa wasn't ready for the big chop. So Sharpton's charge was to reshape her hair while maintaining her gorgeous texture.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
And that's exactly what he did. Sharpton took a good deal off the sides, and trimmed just a bit off the top. Larissa's biggest air-drying issue was her hair's tendency to fall in front of her face. So he used an illusion: "I cut her hair short along the hairline, and then gradually blended it into the length [behind that]," he says. "It's very nuanced — you don't notice it." What you do notice is how open and bright Larissa's face looks.

As her hair air-dried in the salon, Sharpton was adamant about keeping her natural texture, and not twisting it out. "He wanted to keep the 'erratic nature' of my curl pattern and natural Afro shape, which made me feel super-special," Larissa says. "It was like he loved my curls so much, he chose to carve the cut specifically for them."

The results left Larissa incredibly happy. "I feel like a new woman," she says. "It's so nice to feel good about the way you look without even touching your head."
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Eliza Florendo, Contributor Network Editorial Assistant
Eliza had one word to describe her hair: "Straight, straight, straight!" The limpness of her locks made it difficult to style without hot tools — especially since she wanted to inject major volume and texture. But she also wasn't willing to make the commitment in the morning. "Air-drying just gives me more time to do other things — like eat breakfast, sleep an extra hour, or run," she says.

She'd recently gotten an asymmetrical cut to make her hair more dynamic, but now wanted another change. "This is a typical decision for someone with Eliza's hair," Sharpton explains. "It seems interesting, but then you're trapped in that style. You have no choices." Eliza and Sharpton agreed that she wanted some fluidity with her hair. "We decided on doing a shorter cut with lots of layers and some side-bangs," Eliza says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Sharpton used a razor to evenly distribute layers throughout Eliza's hair. "I used broad strokes to create separation," he explains. For those with straight or thin hair like Eliza's, this is truly the best way to get that messy bedhead look.

Eliza immediately saw a difference in her hair. "To my surprise, I felt texture and body, not just silky-straight hair," she says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Ellie Stephens, Special Projects Consultant
It may not look like it, but Ellie's hair is extremely thick. "It was basically like wearing a scarf around my neck, and in the middle of summer, that's not ideal," she says. Ellie was an air-drier before her cut, mostly because, as she puts it, she's "pretty hopeless with a blowdryer — or any form of hairstyling tool." But her hair lacked texture, and just hung heavily around her face.

Ellie told Shanefelter that she wanted to keep most of the length — but that she was happy to get it reshaped. "I wanted to give her styling options, even if she were air-drying," Shanefelter says. "She mentioned pulling her hair into a bun and letting it dry, which would give a nice, beachy texture. I wanted her to still be allowed to do that."
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Ellie's makeover is proof that sometimes all you need is a trim. Shanefelter kept her length intact, but really went to work razoring layers and face-framing pieces. The biggest change came from simply bringing up the layers in the front of Ellie's hair. "It brought more attention to her cheekbones, and was perfect since she wears a center-part," Shanefelter says.

"Even before my hair had dried, it felt more manageable. But after it dried, it felt and looked amazing," Ellie says. "The layers created new definition, so my hair looked like it had a wave in it."

Ellie was able to keep cool as a result of her new cut, too. She recalled a 90-plus-degree weekend when she was able to walk around, hair down, without overheating. "My boyfriend and best friend say that this is the best my hair has looked in ages," she says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
Kaitlin Drexler, Account Director
Kaitlin's hair is actually fairly curly, but some mismatched layers were holding her back. "Her length was so long in comparison to her layers — it was disproportionate," Sharpton explains. Kaitlin wanted to embrace her natural look, but was caught up in a hot-tool-heavy regimen. She would dry her hair, and then curl it to achieve a look that was pretty similar to her natural curl pattern.

Unlike most of the others, Kaitlin was game for a big (big!) chop, which was serendipitous — Wes felt like that type of style would rebalance her cut and make her curls stand out. "I was willing to try almost anything new, with the exception of a pixie cut," Kaitlin says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
So Sharpton went to town. "I had two goals: to rebalance Kaitlin's layers and to evenly distribute the volume of her hair," he explains. "If it's too much of one length, it gets triangular." A chin-length cut with shorter layers around the crown was perfect for Kaitlin, since it tends to bring out natural curls.

"I was a little nervous at first when I realized exactly how short he was going, but Wes made me feel totally at ease the entire time I was in his chair," she says. "Once [my hair] dried, I felt really excited about my new 'do." Since her snip, Kaitlin has been air-drying daily — which makes her morning routine a breeze. "Now, I'd love to know what they'd do with my color," she says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hairstory Studio.
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