How I've Been Styling My Hair At Home (No Blow Dryer Required)

And the golden rule to follow when air-drying hair.
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One of the most consistent parts of my beauty routine prior to quarantine involved heat-styling my hair once a week. Whether I gave myself a sleek blowout or rough-dried it then followed up with a flat-iron, I rarely felt put-together unless my hair was "done" just-so. That quickly went out the window sometime within the first month of quarantine when I realized just how unnecessary it was considering we aren't leaving the house. (That being said, some routines—as long as they make you feel your best—are worth maintaining. I still have my nails painted at all times, from quick manis as the bathroom sink.) As soon as I learned to embrace the slight inconsistencies of air-dried hair, I haven't touched a blow-drier since. Here's how I've been styling (or rather, not styling) my hair lately: 

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Depending on how long it's been since my last wash (for me, that's between four and eight days since I have thick, coarse hair that's on the drier side), I either shampoo once or twice. My goal is to get my hair squeaky-clean, so the way I determine whether to do one or two washes has to do with how sudsy it gets. I want it to lather nicely. 

I alternate between using Prose (gifted), Oribe, and Ouai Shampoo and Conditioner depending on what my hair needs, i.e. if it's feeling thirsty or if the color's looking a little brassy. After I shampoo, I put in conditioner and comb through with a wide-toothed comb and let it sit as I wash my body, shave, and use an exfoliator on my face. The goal is to leave it in for two to five minutes. I rinse the conditioner out last. 

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The moment I turn off the water, I become aware of not touching my hair. I ring it out one good time, then immediately wrap it in a hair towel—I like Kitsch and Aquis (gifted). As it dries a bit, I do my skincare routine. Because I have such thick hair, the towel is necessary to take out some of the moisture, but I'm cautious not to leave it in for more than five minutes so that my hair doesn't dry in a weird way. It's exactly enough time to put on deodorant, lotion, and face serum and SPF.

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As soon as I take my hair out from the towel, I use my fingers to carefully find my part, and very gingerly place sections of hair back where they're supposed to be. In the past, I would use a fine-tooth comb and rake my hair back to make a harsh part, but my friend Ashley Streicher, who's a hair stylist and inspired this entire technique, taught me that part of the appeal of air-dried hair is embracing its imperfect qualities. 

Once I find my part, I gently smooth the two three-inch sections in the front and tuck them behind my ear. This ensures that the hair from my part to my hair is more or less straighter and sleeker, and keeps hair out of my eyes so I'm not tempted to touch it—which is crucial for cutting back on frizz. 

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This is the most difficult part, since you have to train yourself to completely ignore your drying hair. Just pretend it isn't there, and avoid touching it. If you take anything from this post, it's Ashley's words of wisdom: The golden rule is do not touch your hair while it air dries. 

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Once my hair is 75% to 80% dry, I will start to take small portions of hair on either side of my part and flip them to the other side. The volume should look rather silly and over-the-top (see photos above!). Leave your hair there for 20 minutes, then flip to the other side. I'm unclear on why this gives my hair dry with a good amount of volume in the front, but the one time I forgot this part, it didn't look the way I wanted it to. 

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When it's almost completely dry, I'll go back in and add an oil if it's feeling dry, or R+Co's Sun Catcher (gifted). If dry, I use a Shu Uemura oil that smells like heaven and makes my hair glossy, shiny, and hydrated. I mostly focus on the ends of my hair to make them more defined, but also because they're pretty fried from color treatment. 

If I want undone waves that also smell good, but in a slightly androgynous woodsy way, I use a few pumps of Sun Catcher and scrunch them up into my hair as well.

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I usually wash my hair in the evenings, so if I'm watching TV or about to go to bed, I'll be mindful of how I lie on it. I put my hair behind me, and tilt my head back a little bit so that I can smash my hair against the back of a pillow or couch so it doesn't get too fluffy.

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In the morning, once my hair is fully dry, I will occasionally go in with either my flat-iron to add some waves (no more than five or six per side) or a curling iron for no longer than three minutes. The goal is for your hair to have messy, undone waves and not clearly look like you styled your hair. 

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A couple of days later, if it's feeling a little wilted, I'll go in with Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray. What I'll do is basically take it from far away and do a windshield-wiper movement toward the under part of my hair. Then, I will pull it out and do the same movement again. Finally, I scrunch up the middle part, and pull up the top portion of hair and spray it back, then go in with my hand to work it in. This is just for a little volume and to make sure it smells good and has texture—again, the goal isn't to make it necessarily look perfect.

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