I have enough hair on my head for four people, and I’m not even exaggerating that much. If you took half my hair away, it would still be super thick. It’s coarse and sort of wavy, but not good beachy wavy, and not completely straight, either. It’s voluminous, and frizzy, and takes at least 45 minutes to blow dry. Don’t even get me started on my year-long struggle with flat irons.
In other words, my hair is a pain. The color is just about the only thing it has going for it.
It’s taken me the better part of 26 years on this planet to learn how to even remotely tame the wild mane that is my hair. I’ve gone from getting haircuts too often, to not enough (oops…). I’ve tried cleansing conditioners and about a million different styling products and yes, at one point in my life I had bangs. (Didn’t we all have a Zooey Deschanel / Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada phase? No? Just me?)
And now, I have finally sort of mastered my hair. I have learned that, like many wild things, trying too hard to tame and control it will only result in disaster. So I have taken a cue from the Olsen twins and embraced the air dry. Also, I think it’s been pretty well established on this blog that I just love the Olsen twins.
Anyway, here’s my current routine, from shower to final product. It looks and sounds like a lot, but it’s really not that much because I am super lazy.
I will caveat, however, that it is a fairly expensive routine. I am a firm believer that you should 100% splurge on hair care, because drugstore products either do not work as well, are diluted, or have weird damaging chemicals in them. Also, my sister is a licensed cosmetologist, and she told me not to use drugstore products, and she is a literal professional so I do what she says when it comes to my hair.
So! Without further ado! A Little Leopard’s guide to air drying even the unruliest, thickest hair to get beachy, textured waves overnight:
One. Use a salt scrub. On your scalp.
No, for real, I literally just started using Christophe Robin salt scrub instead of traditional shampoo and I am obsessed. Entire articles have been written about how amazing this product is. It sounds weird, but the salt scrub truly gets rid of all the gunk and buildup on your scalp, and lathers into a more traditional-feeling shampoo. My scalp has never felt so clean and nourished.
Yes, it’s expensive at $53 per jar, but there’s a travel size available for $19, which is the one I bought. A little of this product goes a long way and I only wash my hair about once a week, so I can see the baby jar lasting quite awhile.
Two. Deep condition that ish with a mask.
I haven’t found my holy grail conditioner yet. I did really like Oribe Gold Lust Conditioner, but that might literally be the most expensive conditioner on the market. Right now I am using a mask by Kerastase, but I’ve also tried the Ouai Treatment Masque and liked that too. At any rate, my strands are thirsty enough to warrant a deep conditioning treatment on the regular.
Three. Styling! Tame frizz with serum + leave-in conditioner.
More conditioner! All the conditioners! I’ve been using the classic John Frieda Frizz-Ease which, yes, is a drugstore product. But I don’t know if it’s actually doing anything, so I probably won’t repurchase.
I do love a good leave-in conditioner, though, which I comb through to make sure it’s evenly distributed. I just got a sample of Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm by IGK and have been liking that, so far. But leave-in conditioner is another product where I tend to bounce from brand to brand.
Four. Try not to touch it too much while simultaneously applying styling creams and mousse.
In addition to leave-in conditioner, I apply an air-dry balm like Bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It. I flip my head upside down to shake out the volume, then rake it through my strands to improve control and shape.
Then I use mousse. Yes, mousse! It’s not totally cheesy and 80s! Ouai makes a great one, and it’s also just really fun to apply.
Oh, and the whole time I try to touch my hair only as much as necessary, because more touching = more frizz.
Five. Braid and spray.
After scrunching mousse through my hair, I braid it into two or more loose braids. More braids simply create tighter waves. If it’s the weekend and I need to run errands with wet hair or something, I stick to pigtail braids so I don’t look like a total wacko. My friend Kira also gave me a great tip to braid as close to the ends as possible, which creates a more even, natural wave.
Finally, once my hair is in braids, I spritz all over with Ouai Wave Spray, which was truly a life-changing product for me. In fact, if I had to cut this entire styling routine down to one product, it would probably be Ouai Wave Spray.
Six. Dry and finish!
I always sleep in braids after I wash my hair, no matter what time of day I wash it. Then, the next day, I shake out the braids and apply Ouai Finishing Creme. It’s technically meant for fine to medium hair, apparently, but screw the rules because it adds a really lovely finish and control to my superthick hair.
Finally, I take a pump or two of Ouai Hair Oil (I have been loving the new Rose Hair and Body Oil, but the original is great too) and just put it on my ends. I also pat down the top of my head with it ever-so-slightly to try to reduce some of that lovely frizz halo that results from air-drying. If anyone knows how to fix that for real, please let me know.
I promise, it’s not a time-consuming routine at all, once you’re done washing and conditioning your hair. (That part always takes me a solid 15-20 minutes by itself.) It’s just a lot of product…but a magical cocktail of products that will give you some approximation of Olsen-twin hair, even if you have enough hair for both Mary Kate and Ashley. And it only took me twenty-something years to figure it out.
Are you a fan of air-drying your hair? How long do you typically spend on it? Let me know your tips and tricks in the comments!