A Guide To Air-Drying Your Hair When It's Freezing Out

Photographed by Winnie Au.
There's a lot we miss about the summer when it's frigid outside. Aside from the lower electric bills, days at the beach, and weekends spent wandering around outside, there's that pressing beauty issue: drying our hair. Plenty of us stash away our blowdryers in the warmer months, only to struggle with hot tools during the winter again. But, is all lost when it comes to air-drying from November through March? Not quite, according to hair experts Mark Townsend and Larry Sims

Let's get one thing out of the way: You're not going to strut out of your apartment with dripping-wet hair and be a-okay. "You can actually freeze your hair, and it can break off," Townsend says. (He just painted our worst nightmare.) Sims reiterates that sentiment. "We have to make sure we protect [the hair] against all  [extreme] weather types," he says. "Just like we have to protect it against heat, we should protect it against harsh, cold weather. If your hair freezes, it can cause breakage." (If you do happen to freeze your hair, Sims recommends rehabbing it with a hot-oil treatment. "It will revitalize your hair and help add that moisture back," he says.) 
The same way you need extra moisture for your skin in colder weather, you also need to majorly hydrate your strands. This starts immediately post-shower. Townsend and Sims agree that you should blot most of the water with a towel. "Don't wrap it on top of your head, though," Townsend says. "It can cause serious breakage around the scalp." Instead, he suggests reaching for a microfiber towel. "The fibers are a lot less damaging than cotton," he says. 

Next, you'll want to condition your hair and help seal the cuticle. "The biggest secret to air-drying is to get moisture in the hair shaft," Townsend says. "Blowdrying helps conceal a lot of sins, but air-drying puts them all out there." For both curly and straight strands, Townsend and Sims recommend a leave-in conditioner. 

Keep an eye on the consistency of your product. "If you've got curly hair, and you're air-drying overnight, pick something that's creamy, like Smooth 'N Shine Go Pro Curls," Sims says. If you want your curls to dry faster, reach for something more lightweight, like a moisturizing mist. "The weight of the product is what determines how long it takes to dry," Sims says. "Creams and custards take hours."

If you have straight strands, try a product like Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Nourishing Treatment, says Townsend. "A light silicone or a dry oil will help to seal the hair cuticle," he says. 
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Once you've hydrated those locks, style them in a way that complements your texture. Sims suggests a series of four top knots for curly girls. "Separate the hair into four sections, and loosely wrap them into four balls," he says. Townsend says the looser the buns, the faster they'll dry. You can put two of the buns on either side of your head, twisting the hair away from the face, and then pop two on the crown.

If you're going for loose waves, try two braids down the back of your head. "Just split the hair into two sections — a top and a bottom — and braid them loosely," says Townsend. 

Sure, wash-and-go hair may be a warm-weather luxury. But, that doesn't mean our blowdryers can't take a much-needed winter break. We're guessing they'll enjoy their little staycations under the sink just as much as you'll dig your air-dried texture.

Got your own cold-weather hair secrets? Feel free to post them in the comments — sharing is caring. 

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