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5 Tips for Letting Your Gray Hair Air Dry, According to Stylists

No, your hair doesn't "dry badly."

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Air drying your hair isn't always reliable, especially after it goes gray (if you haven't noticed, that shift can cause increased frizz, dryness, static, and the like). Sometimes, it seems to dry with the perfect wave or curl, while others, it falls flat or turns into a frizzy mess. With so much left seemingly to chance, it makes sense to break out your hot tools when you need your strands to look on point. But it turns out that doesn't have to be the case. If you know the proper steps, it's easy to get air-dried hair that looks amazing every time. Read on for stylists' best tips for letting your gray hair air dry. They'll make your getting-ready routine faster, healthier, and more beautiful.

READ THIS NEXT: The 5 Best Hairstyles for Gray Hair, According to Experts.

Start your process in the shower.

Close up of the back of a woman's head with gray hair washing her hair in the shower.
Mr.Cheangchai Noojuntuk / Shutterstock

The key to achieving beautifully air-dried gray hair is starting your prep early. "Gray hair looks better when you use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner," says Jessica Shults, hair stylist and owner of Twisted Scissors Salon in New York. "Using cooler water to rinse the conditioner helps seal the cuticle and lock in that moisture for the day."

If you want to take things a step further, you can select a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for people with gray hair. "These will help maintain color and reduce yellowing," says Arrogant Smith, a professional hairstylist and hair consultant for KES Wigs. "They are sulfate-free, which helps keep color from fading from water oxidation." With a combination of color maintenance and moisturization, you'll achieve strands that look and feel healthy.

Befriend your wide-tooth comb.

young woman combing wet hair

A wide-tooth comb is essential in any air-drying arsenal. "If you have curly hair, I find that it's best to comb the conditioner through your hair in the shower, then don't comb it once you get out," says Shults. "The curls will dry more defined if they aren't brushed or combed once out of the shower." You can also do this step after conditioning in conjunction with a leave-in conditioner or detangler.

After you exit the shower, you should only use a wide-tooth comb. "Avoid brushing or combing wet gray hair as this can cause breakage," says Krysta Biancone, the co-founder of Amari Salon & Spa and hair stylist at Hair by Krysta. "If you need to detangle while air drying, try using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb instead of a brush." Grey hair tends to be brittle, and brushing it when wet can cause breakage.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Ways You're Ruining Your Gray Hair, Stylists Warn.

Invest in these products.

Woman pushing a shopping cart in the supermarket, focus on woman

You may want to supplement your air-dry routine with a few helpful products. "The best products for air drying gray hair are typically oils, creams, and leave-in conditioners," says Shults. "Gray hair lacks moisture, so using products that have moisture in them helps the hair look its best."

If you have fine hair, opt for an oil, which won't weigh down your hair. If your hair is naturally thick, coarse, or frizzy, try a cream or leave-in conditioner. These products will give your gray hair the moisture it needs to shine post-dry.

Use a microfiber towel.

stack of green, white, and pink towels

A microfiber towel is essential in any gray haircare routine. "They are specially designed for hair drying because they absorb much more water than a regular terry cloth or cotton bath towel. A microfiber hair towel also helps reduce frizz and prevents styling product buildup on your locks by grabbing onto any residue left behind on strands," says Smith. "This is especially important for gray hair, which tends to be dryer and more fragile than other hair colors." Use a blotting motion to rid your hair of excess moisture. You don't want to use aggressive movements that could rough up the cuticle.

Smith recommends the Devacurl Microfiber Devatowel. "It's designed explicitly for gray hair due to its ultra-soft fabric that gently dries without causing friction or damage while increasing shine and luster in your locks," she says.

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Leave it alone!

Woman Styling Gray Hair

Once you've blotted your hair with a microfiber towel, let it down and leave it alone. "Honestly, the best tip for air drying is not to touch it," says Shults. "Gently squeeze the excess water out of the hair and let it be until it's completely dry. The more you touch it, the more chances you give it to become frizzy." After a few hours, you can brush through it to create your final look.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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