In case you haven't noticed, there's a new hair texture trend on the rise, and it's all about looking "real"—as if you didn't do anything to your hair at all. (Even though you did, of course.)
Oh, beauty world, you can be so ironic sometimes!
Maybe you've seen this look on Emily Blunt:
Or Alexa Chung (who, let's face it, was doing it before everyone else):
Ashley Madekwe has worn it:
And so has Emma Stone:
And Jamie Chung (albeit a little dressier):
Plus, there's Cara Delevingne:
And Lily Aldridge (yes, models do this hairstyle a lot):
These celebs all have hair that looks air-dried... but better.
"We're seeing hair that has much more natural texture to it, that almost looks effortless," says celebrity hairstylist Charles Baker Strahan, who has worked with Leighton Meester, Mariah Carey and Brooklyn Decker. (He's the guy who gave us the scoop on Leighton's amazing hair colour, remember?)
Now, there are a probably a few lucky people who can literally say they #wokeuplikethis, and can get the look by simply air-drying their hair, and nothing more.
But for everyone else—whose hair may go too frizzy, flat, straight, curly, whatever—you can fake that air-dried texture with a little help:
1. Get the Right Cut
Lobs and long layers are the way to go.
A lob (long bob) is an in-between length that hovers around the collarbones. It's the perfect counterpart to messy texture because the shape gives you automatic polish.
"So many celebrities are moving away from the trend of long, flowing hair—especially with extensions—and doing shorter hair looks, such as layered bobs or lobs," says Charles. "It's something that gives you a 'look,' without having to work for it."
That's not to say that long hair can't do air-dried texture, too.
Just know that long hair tends to be heavier and "hangs" there. Because of all the weight, any natural curl you may have tends to get straightened out. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on how much wave you want. In general, the air-dried trend is about a little bit of wave, but not actual curls.
No matter what length you choose, long layers are key. They're going to best show off the texture you're creating, which would only get lost in one-length hair.
"Layered haircuts that have strong, solid shapes will look best," says Charles. "The layers enhance volume and create lightness, so that the hair moves with you. If everything is all one length, especially if you have a bob shape, it can look like a lampshade."
2. Apply Mousse to Wet Hair
It doesn't matter what your hair type is. Mousse is for everyone!
It's going to serve as the foundation for our faux air-dried style, helping to control, define, volumize and protect from humidity—all while keeping your hair soft and touchable.
Charles recommends working the new Herbal Essences Naked Volumizing Soufflé into wet hair. It's ultra-lightweight, free of silicones and dyes, and can be used on all hair types.
"The mousse will help to hold your hair in place as it's starting to dry, so the texture stays in," says Charles.
3. Blow-Dry With a Diffuser
A diffuser attachment to your hair dryer disperses the air flow so it spreads over a larger area.
"A diffuser will force out the excess moisture, to give you that dryness you're looking for more immediately," says Charles.
I'm a longtime T3 user, so I recommend the T3 Featherweight 2 Dryer:
With the T3 SoftTouch 2 Diffuser:
If your hair is straight or wavy, then you can just use your fingers to rake through your hair as you dry it. But if your hair is curly, then you'll want to take more time with a brush to create a straight or semi-straight texture.
Alternatively, if you DO want to just air-dry your hair, you can. "If you want to save time in the morning, shampoo your hair at night and allow it to air-dry before you go to bed," says Charles. This will prevent any weird kinks that you might get from sleeping on wet hair.
4. Use a Dry Shampoo
If you thought dry shampoo was just to sop up greasy roots, think again. It does do that—but it's an amazing texture builder, too.
Always use dry shampoo on dry hair. First, spray it generously on the root area. "Then, rub your hands against your scalp and pull them down and through," says Charles. "That's what will give your hair texture."
Dry shampoo works well on second-day hair, and even clean hair. "If you have baby-fine hair that doesn't hold body and volume, using dry shampoo on clean hair will give life to your hair that you haven't experienced before," says Charles.
I've mentioned it dozens of times before—my favourite dry shampoo is Dove Refresh + Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo. It doesn't look or feel powdery, builds amazing volume and the price is right!
5. Curl Random Sections
If you still want more texture, wrap random sections of dry hair around a curling iron to create loose, soft, natural-looking bends. (You can do this in the morning if you washed your hair at night.)
"Use a larger barrelled curling iron if you want less texture, and a small one if you want more," Charles suggests.
More T3 love. The T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand is genius, because it comes with three barrels: 1 inch, 1 1/4 inch and 1 1/2 inch.
"Take a few pieces and wrap them around the barrel, leaving the ends out," says Charles. "This will give you that tousled, undone, perfectly imperfect feeling."
6. Try a Dry Texturizing Spray
If dry shampoo alone isn't giving you quite enough texture, layer in a dry texturizing spray—a new hybrid product that's kind of like dry shampoo, hairspray and beach spray in one.
You can mist it all through your lengths, instead of just concentrating on the roots. A dry texturizing spray won't be as good as dry shampoo for soaking up oil, but it should be better at creating a roughed-up texture, especially if you scrunch.
It won't leave any powdery residue, and will also give you a bit of non-crispy hold.
7. Apply An Air-Drying Cream
This is a brand new category this year, how exciting! There's a new cream product out now that is specifically made for air-drying.
So if you can't be bothered with all the things I outlined above, then you could just use this product and work it into damp, towel-dried hair to give it a more refined look as it air-dries—no heat required.
It's called Bumble and Bumble Don't Blow It, and I adore it.
This is a lightweight cream that works on all hair types to create not just that covetable air-dried texture, but also softness, volume and bounce. Let me tell you. It WORKS!
To finish the look, either leave your hair the way it naturally parts on its own, or create a straight centre or side part for more polish and definition.
I couldn't be happier that this au naturel look is on trend right now. Low-key, non-styled hair makes for a wonderful counterpart to more "done up" makeup and a dressier outfit. I always think it's cooler to mix it up—kind of like pairing high- and low-end pieces in fashion—so you don't look like you're trying too hard.
It might not be 100 percent effortless, but the little effort it does take to get the air-dried look isn't a big deal—especially with emerging product categories like the dry texture sprays and the Bumble and Bumble Don't Blow It cream.
So much better than having to recreate vintage waves or stick-straight strands without a hair out of place, am I right? I love that we're celebrating realness and imperfection!
Do you like the air-dried look? How do YOU achieve it?