15 Best Air-Dry Creams for Heatless Styling And Sublime Hydration

Written by Anoushka Sinha, Skincare Coach & Writer
Updated on Apr 22, 2024
Best Air-Dry Cream
Best Air-Dry Cream
The products curated for this article are independently chosen by the editorial team. If you make a purchase through the links mentioned below, we may receive a commission. Check out our product research & curation process

While blow drying is a once-in-a-while affair, air drying the hair is the norm. Or, at least it should be considering the downsides of excessively indulging in the former. But that doesn’t mean that one cannot style and smoothen their hair after washing — that’s where the best air dry creams come into the picture.

Trust me, I have had my fair share of crunchy, stiff hair days where I'd often just pull it back into a ponytail or let it be until the frizz got the better of me, leading to the inevitable messy bun. As someone with naturally wavy hair, I started air drying my hair to cut down on heat damage and embrace its natural texture. This is why finding the perfect air dry cream to enhance and protect one's locks is essential. 

When looking for the perfect air-dry hair creams, I went on a deep dive, testing out all sorts of products in hopes of finding the holy grail that would let my waves live their best life without any of the fuss. After many hits and misses, I've found a few gems I can't wait to share with you. Keep scrolling for the best hair products for air drying.

Our top picks

15 Best Air Dry Creams

With color-treated locks and frizz problems, I thank my stars for stumbling upon the OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream that doesn't just manage frizz but also protects vibrant hues. This little miracle is crafted with coconut oil and shea butter that revitalized my hair, improving its texture and definition. A dab of this cream on damp hair works wonders, making it incredibly soft and manageable, while keeping frizz at bay. 

With positive reviews on scent, I can say that it's like being whisked away to a tropical paradise with every use. Beyond taming unruly manes, it also offers that extra layer of protection to your precious mane.

Key Ingredients: Shea butter and coconut oil 

Hair Type: Wavy, curly, and coily

Pros
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Enhances natural curls
  • Protects chemical-treated hair
  • Makes hair shiny
  • Pleasant tropical scent
  • A small amount needed
Cons
  • The pump dispenser can be improved
  • Best Air Dry Cream for Fine Hair

    Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream

    Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream
  • This little bottle of magic is for anyone looking to ditch the heat-styling tools. Enriched with argan oil from Morocco, this lightweight formula protects your precious hair from environmental aggressors and oxidative stress (research by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). Moreover, its lightweight formula moisturizes the hair generously, without any greasiness. 

    As you work it through your damp locks, it gently holds your hair's natural shape, letting you embrace your true texture. It's especially perfect for those with fine to medium hair who crave control over their locks without the greasy look or feel. 

    Key Ingredients: Argan oil

    Hair Type: Dry, fine

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Offers flexible hold
    • Affordable
    • Good packaging
    • Easy to use
    • No sticky residue
    Cons
    • Not effective on frizz
    • Doesn’t help with curl patterns
  • Best Air Dry Cream for Curly Hair

    JVN Complete Air Dry Cream

    JVN Complete Air Dry Cream
  • By slipping this delectable JVN Complete Air Dry Cream into your routine, you’re treating your locks to effortless styling. This cream is your shortcut to smoother, more defined locks, infused with a powerhouse trio of squalane, moringa seed oil, and chia seed extracts. Just a dab of this rich, moisture-locking formula brings out the best in your hair's natural texture, making it perfect for anyone eager to celebrate their unique curl pattern without fuss. 

    And let's not forget the scent — imagine a burst of citrus with grapefruit and tangerine, mellowed by sweet honey and delicate violets.  I recommend using the best hair product for air drying and styling once a week if you have a sensitive scalp or nose! 

    Key Ingredients: Squalane, moringa seed oil, and chia seed extracts 

    Hair Type: Coily, curly, and wavy

    Pros
    • Deeply moisturizes
    • Luxe formulation
    • Enhances curl pattern
    • Lightweight
    • Long-lasting
    • Fresh scent
    Cons
    • Doesn’t offer structured hold for coarse hair
  • Best Luxe Air-dry Cream

    Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Air Dry Crème

    Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Air Dry Crème
  • This celebrity hairstylist-approved Air Dry Crème by Kristin Ess is more than just an honorable mention here on my list. Its sleek, Instagram-worthy packaging is just the beginning. Priced at just $10, it's a steal for the versatility and quality it offers. The formula is brilliantly designed to cater to both fine and thick hair types — simply adjust the amount you use. 

    Its hair-replenishing power deserves a 4.5  out of 5 rating in my books, as with the properties of plant protein and natural oils, it keeps the harsh impact of sun and oxidative stressors at bay. All in all, this is a great product to make your hair or any hair texture stronger and more resilient.

    Key Ingredients: Sunflower oil, chamomile extracts, avocado oil, hydrolyzed vegetable and pea protein, and panthenol 

    Hair Type: All hair types

    Pros
    • Allergen-free
    • Unscented
    • Free of sulfates
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Suits all hair textures
    Cons
    • Can be better in the frizz department
  • Best Air Dry Cream for Straight Hair

    R+Co Cool Wind pH Perfect Air Dry Crème

    R+Co Cool Wind pH Perfect Air Dry Crème
  • R+Co really “blew me away” with their Cool Wind pH Perfect Air Dry Crème — pun absolutely intended. My mane tends to frizz up and fall flat by midday, but this grease-free cream has worked wonders with its cold sealing polymer that fights frizz and adds shine, leaving the need for heat styling tools behind. 

    The blend of mango butter, apricot, and watermelon extract not only tames my locks but also infuses them with hydration, leaving my hair soft, manageable, and surprisingly light. It also adds that extra bit of nourishment my hair craves. My hair has never looked better even on the days I skip the blow dryer. 

    Key Ingredients: Mango butter, apricot, and watermelon extracts

    Hair Type: Dry, straight

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Gluten-free
    • Easy to store and use
    • Non-sticky formula
    • Offers shine
    • Moisturizes hair
    • Tames frizz
    Cons
    • On the pricier range
  • Best Air-Dry Curl Cream for Wavy Hair

    Curlsmith Weightless Air Dry Cream

    Curlsmith Weightless Air Dry Cream
  • Curlsmith's Air Dry Cream is packed with nourishing ingredients like jojoba oil, babassu oil, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter, that enhance natural hair textures.  This cream smooths and tames frizz effectively without the heaviness, perfect for those who love an effortless, air-dried look. Its hydrating properties leave hair soft and radiant, catering to a wide range of hair textures from wavy to tightly coiled. 

    The sweet, floral scent mellows as the product dries. In some instances, it might be too heavy for those with fine hair and not quite moisturizing enough for thick and coarse hair. Though the best for strong hold for hair, it's the perfect tool weapon for both air drying and diffusing.

    Key Ingredients: Castor oil, babusa oil, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter

    Hair Type: Dry, curly, wavy, and coily

    Pros
    • Scalp treatment
    • Cruelty-free and vegan
    • Super lightweight
    • Protein-free
    • Long-lasting moisture
    • Versatile styling product
    Cons
    • Leaves a sticky residue
  • Best for All Hair Types

    fave4 hair Up for Air Air Dry Cream

    fave4 hair Up for Air Air Dry Cream
  • This unique air-dry cream features a special polymer blend that not only smooths hair and reduces flyaways but also offers a gentle hold, perfect for styling. Enriched with babassu oil, known for its 70% lipid content, it deeply nourishes, leaving hair soft and healthy-looking (research by the Biomedical and Biopharmaceutical Research, Brasil). Ideal for managing frizz, this cream works well when applied generously on hair types like coarse, wavy, and straight hair that seek at-home salon-like results. 

    For those who love experimenting with different styles — leave it down, twist it into a bun, or braid it for various effortlessly tousled looks. I recommend this air dry cream for natural hair! 

    Key Ingredients: Quinoa, flax, Abyssinian oil, and heliogenol 

    Hair Type: Curly hair

    Pros
    • Phthalate-free
    • Gluten-free
    • Non-sticky and non-flaky formula
    • Cost-effective
    • Has a natural scent
    • Vegan
    • Paraben-free
    Cons
    • May not soften the hair
  • Best Lightweight Air Dry Cream

    Kenra Platinum Air Dry Crème 6

    Kenra Platinum Air Dry Crème 6
  • The Platinum Air Dry Crème 6 by Kenra stands out as an ideal choice for those with wavy hair who prefer to air-dry. It significantly cuts down drying time by more than half while infusing your hair with intense moisture from castor oil. This air dry cream provides a lighter-than-feather hold, ensuring your hair remains soft and pliable, not stiff like seven-day-old bread. 

    Because it's so light, you can easily layer it with other styling products, such as oils or serums, to enhance your hair's natural volume and texture without weighing it down. It’s a fantastic, versatile tool in my books for effortless, beautiful waves every day.

    Key Ingredients: Castor oil

    Hair Type: All hair types

    Pros
    • Quick drying time
    • No sticky feel
    • Easy to apply
    • Ideal for daily use
    • Lightweight formula
    • Cruelty-free
    Cons
    • Can better DEAL with frizz
  • Best Air Dry Cream for Blowout Effects

    SEEN Blow-Out Creme

    SEEN Blow-Out Creme
  • The SEEN Blow-Out Creme is a standout among air-dry creams, thanks to its innovative ingredients. The hair cream for coarse hair types includes some big names like hemisqualane and Ceratonia siliqua, which enhances hair's elasticity and strength. Additionally, the moringa extracts shield the hair from pollution and UV damage while offering hair care benefits (animal study by the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences). 

    Uniquely formulated to be safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin, this non-comedogenic cream adds long-lasting body, bounce, and shine without ‘baddies’ like sulfates or silicones. It also withstands heat up to 450º F, making it an excellent choice for healthy, vibrant hair even after salon-styling.

    Key Ingredients: Moringa extracts, hemisqualane, and Ceratonia siliqua

    Hair Type: Thin

    Pros
    • Color-safe formula
    • Keratin-safe
    • Lightweight
    • Doesn’t make you break out
    • Safe for eczema-prone skin
    • PETA-approved
    Cons
    • Doesn't offer much hold
  • Best Air-Dry Cream for Frizzy Hair

    OUAI Air Dry Foam

    OUAI Air Dry Foam
  • As someone with fine but plentiful hair, letting it dry naturally used to mean dealing with a lot of frizz. But with the OUAI air dry foam, I can simply apply and style without the worry of heading to a celebrity hairstylist for gorgeous hair. Its lightweight formula, enriched with panthenol and a kale protein blend, doesn't weigh my hair down. Instead, it enhances its natural texture, making my waves look more defined and uniform, rather than messy and frizzy. 

    On the bright side, I want to mention how uncomplicated the application is that lets my hair air-dry into a smooth, controlled style without any extra effort. The scent is also to die for as it contains subtle hints of bergamot, patchouli, rose, and jasmine that make your hair smell like a fresh bouquet.

    Key Ingredients: Panthenol, carrot protein, and kale protein blend

    Hair Type: Fine, wavy, curly, frizz

    Pros
    • Easy to use
    • Ideal for daily use
    • Cruelty-free
    • Pleasant scent
    • No sticky feel
    • Paraben-free
    • Sulfate-free
    Cons
    • Not ideal for sensitive scalp
  • Sun Bum Revitalizing Air Dry Cream

    Sun Bum Revitalizing Air Dry Cream
  • The Sun Bum Revitalizing Air Dry Cream is expertly themed to bring out the best in beachy hair. Designed for those with wavy hair, this cream avoids the pitfalls of heavier products that can weigh hair down and flatten waves. Instead, it lightly nourishes with sunflower oil and banana extract, keeping hair lively and voluminous. It's an ideal choice for achieving that effortless, lived-in beach wave look without the stiffness that gels can impart. 

    Light and refreshing, it enhances the natural texture of your hair while providing essential moisture and a subtle, pleasant scent. After trying it myself, I consider this air dry cream a cherry pick for daily use to capture a beach-ready vibe.

    Key Ingredients: Sunflower oils and banana extracts

    Hair Type: All hair types

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Hydrating formula
    • Paraben-free
    • Sulfate-free
    • Cruelty-free
    Cons
    • Can be better at taming frizz
  • Monat Studio One Air Dry Cream

    Monat Studio One Air Dry Cream
  • The Monat Studio One Air Dry Cream is your go-to if you want mane-taming magic without the fuss! Celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein swears by it for every hair type, mentioning how it expertly subdues frizz and conditions your strands, offering a feather-light finish. Ingredients like pea protein and murumuru butter seal the deal in this air-dry cream as it softens and in turn, moisturizes the strands. 

    To use, just work it through damp hair with a wide-tooth comb, give your head a gentle shake, and let it air dry — hands off! I give this frizz-fighting, hair-softening, and wonderful-smelling hair cream a solid 4.2 out of 5 stars. 

    Key Ingredients: Pea protein and murumuru butter

    Hair Type: Dry, straight, curly

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Melts into hair
    • No stiffness
    • Humidity protection
    • Cruelty-free and vegan
    Cons
    • Expensive
  • Joico Zero Heat Air Dry Styling Crème

    Joico Zero Heat Air Dry Styling Crème
  • Joico Zero Heat Air Dry Styling Crème is the holy grail for those seeking effortlessly stylish, air-dried hair. Whether you have fine or thick tresses, this formulation is tailored to every hair type, making it soft with every application. This cream battles frizz while amplifying shine, allowing you to transform your hair within seconds — ideal for those busy mornings. 

    Key ingredients like rosehip oil and flexible polymers enhance texture and manageability, ensuring your style holds without feeling heavy. The product's texture is lightweight and non-sticky, making it easy to spread through damp hair.

    Quick tip:

    For best results, apply a small amount to damp hair, twist a few sections, and let it air dry to achieve beautifully defined waves.

    Key Ingredients: Rosehip oil and polymers 

    Hair Type: Thick, fine, dry

    Pros
    • Has a natural scent
    • No stiffness or crunch
    • Foam-to-cream formula
    • Dries quickly
    • Simple to store and use
    • Offers shine
    Cons
    • Its counterparts offer hold
  • Fekkai Baby Blonde Multi-Tasker Brightening Air Dry Crème

    Fekkai Baby Blonde Multi-Tasker Brightening Air Dry Crème
  • I've discovered a gem for all the blondies out there: the Baby Blonde air-dry crème by Fekkai. This sunshine-in-a-bottle nourishes and brightens blonde locks while crafting effortless waves and taming frizz and fly-aways. It’s packed with light-enhancing minerals, organic French chamomile, and salicylic acid to boost brightness over time subtly. Additional extracts in the creamy product include pink pomelo, white tea, papaya, and pineapple enzymes that enrich and clarify blonde tones with each use. 

    I tried it on a friend (since I have black hair), applying it to her damp strands. The result? She couldn’t stop thanking me after seeing her revived, luminous, and frizz-free hair.

    Key Ingredients: French chamomile, and salicylic acid

    Hair Type: Color-treated, dry

    Pros
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Gluten-free
    • Brightens the blonde shades
    • Easy to use
    • Ideal for waves and curls
    Cons
    • Drying time can be improved
  • TRESemmé Air Dry No Blow Dry Cream

    TRESemmé Air Dry No Blow Dry Cream
  • Last, but not least, in my list of top air-dry creams, TRESemmé’s Air Dry Smoothing Cream secures its spot with a standout formula tailored for smooth, no-heat styling. This lightweight cream, rich in glycerin and silicone, skillfully tames frizz and controls flyaways, making it perfect for those who prefer to skip the blow dryer. Whether your hair is prone to frizz or simply needs a gentle touch of manageability, this product delivers. It's particularly effective for normal to dry hair types, offering a balanced treatment that doesn’t overload your locks. It’s a reliable choice for effortlessly achieving sleek, natural-looking hair.

    Key Ingredients: Silicone and glycerin 

    Hair Type: Normal, frizzy

    Pros
    • No sticky application
    • Offers a good hold
    • Dries quickly
    • No stiff-ness
    • Smells clean
    • Hydrates the hair
    Cons
    • Make cause buildups

    Now let's read the following buying guide for the best air drying products for hair to help you find and use them without any heavy guesswork.

    How to Efficiently Select an Air Dry Cream?

    Selecting the right air dry cream can transform your hair routine, especially on days when you want to skip heat styling. Here’s how to pick the perfect one:

    1. Understand Your Hair Type: Before anything else, know your hair type. Are your strands fine, thick, curly, or straight? Different textures will benefit from different formulations. For fine hair, look for lightweight creams that won't weigh down your locks. If you have thick or curly hair, opt for richer creams that provide more moisture and control. For those with coarser or curly hair types, search for creams that can deeply nourish and define curls, simplifying the styling process while eliminating the need for a hair dryer. If you're aiming for softer, beachy waves or a more defined texture, adding a styling cream can enrich your routine, providing the benefits of a leave-in spray or salt spray without the dryness. They also serve as a heat protectant for times when hot tools are a must, addressing hair concerns like damage and dryness. 

    2. Identify Your Hair Needs: Consider what you want from an air dry cream. What becomes necessary here is the choice and need for enhancement — natural waves, tame frizz, or add volume. With air dry creams, achieving that perfect 'shower styler' look or enhancing your dry styling cream routine is effortless, leaving your hair looking and feeling its best. So, first, identify your needs, and then sort after creams that may offer perks like moisturization, hold, or even UV protection, which is a bonus if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

    3. Check the Ingredients And Labels: Look for nourishing ingredients that benefit hair health. Natural oils, like argan or coconut, and butters can provide moisture without greasiness. Avoid heavy silicones if your hair is fine or gets oily quickly. If you have sensitive skin or prefer eco-friendly products, check for natural or organic ingredients.

    4. Consider the Climate: Your local weather can impact how a product works in your hair. Humid climates might call for a cream with stronger frizz control, while dry areas might require a more moisturizing product.

    By considering these factors, you can find an air dry cream that suits your hair type and lifestyle, letting you enjoy beautiful, styled hair with minimal effort.

    How to Use an Air Dry Cream?

    Using an air dry cream is a great way to achieve beautiful, natural-looking hair without the heat damage from blow drying. Here’s a straightforward guide on how to use one effectively:

    1. Start with Damp Hair: Air dry creams work best when applied to freshly washed, towel-dried hair. This means your hair should be damp, but not dripping wet. Gently pat your hair with a towel to remove excess water.

    2. Apply the Cream: Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, squeeze a dime- to quarter-sized amount of cream into your palm. Rub your hands together to emulsify the product.

    3. Distribute Evenly: Work the cream through your hair, starting from about midway down the strands to the ends. Avoid applying too much product near the roots as this can weigh your hair down. For even distribution, use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.

    4. Style as Desired: Once the cream is applied, you can help define your style. For waves or curls, scrunch your hair with your hands to encourage texture. For a smoother look, comb through gently to tame frizz and flyaways.

    5. Let It Air Dry: Allow your hair to dry naturally. Try to avoid touching it too much as it dries, as this can increase frizz. Once dry, you might find a light tousle or a shake at the roots can add volume and finalize your look.

    6. Adjust if Necessary: Once your hair is dry, assess if you need a little more product to tame any stray ends or add a bit more definition. 

    Air dry creams are fantastic for creating effortless styles that look great without requiring much time or any heat tools. With these steps, you can maximize the effectiveness of your product and enjoy beautifully styled hair, naturally.

    Conclusion

    When selecting the best air dry creams, consider your hair type, needs, and ingredients. After careful consideration, two stand out: the OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Air Dry Cream and the Garnier Fructis Style Smooth Air Dry Anti-Frizz Cream. OGX offers hydration and definition with its coconut-infused formula, perfect for curly locks. On the other hand, Garnier Fructis tackles frizz with finesse, leaving hair smooth and manageable. Both options provide effortless styling without heat damage. So, whether you’re embracing your curls or battling frizz, these creams have you covered. Happy shopping for your perfect air dry companion!

    FAQ's

    Do you put air dry cream on wet or dry hair?
    Air dry cream should be applied to damp, towel-dried hair for best results.
    What is the difference between an air-dry cream and a leave-in conditioner?
    An air-dry cream helps style and reduce frizz without heat, while a leave-in conditioner primarily moisturizes.
    What is the benefit of air-dry cream?
    Air-dry cream allows for heat-free styling, enhancing natural textures and minimizing frizz. Ho
    How do you style your hair with air-dry cream?
    Apply air-dry cream to damp hair, define your style with your fingers or a comb, then let it dry naturally.
    How do you prevent frizz when air drying?
    To prevent frizz when air drying, avoid touching your hair as it dries, and use a microfiber towel to reduce friction.

    Why Trust Pinkvilla

    Alvira, our in-house haircare expert, curated this list of top air dry creams tailored to various hair textures and types — be it straight, wavy, curly, dry, fine, or thick. Her selections ensure everyone can find the perfect match to enhance their natural style effortlessly.

    Our product experts study the specifications of every product we suggest and try them out to bring what’s proven to be worthy of your money, time, and energy. We also have subject matter experts from various fields like Fashion, Skincare, Haircare, Home Decor, and Health and fitness on board to make sure our suggestions are credible and trustworthy. You can trust Select to be your faithful shopping guide for all the right reasons!

    Author BIO
    reviewer
    Anoushka Sinha
    Skincare Coach & Writer

    Anoushka is certified in Professional Skincare and is a Mass Media (Journalism) graduate from Mumbai University. As a More