Masterclass: Heatless Styling

If you have had any experience styling your hair whatsoever, you’ll be aware that heat styling is damaging to the hair. To give you an insight into the science of it all, using heat actually breaks the protein bonds (called disulphide bonds) that give your hair its natural texture, causing it to change shape when it cools. Repeatedly breaking and bending these bonds with the use of heat puts strain on the hair and can eventually cause breakage. Heat tools suck moisture from the hair, so, as you can imagine, you’re more likely to experience dehydrated and weak hair if you’re a regular heat user.

In the salon, the majority of our clients tent to gravitate towards more “wash-and-go” styles that don’t require elaborate styling. We often get asked for air-drying tips and tricks and the summer weather is also the perfect excuse to master this simple technique for your individual hair type.

Whilst a good dose of heat protectant can help the issue somewhat, there’s no better way to protect your hair than by forgoing the heat tools altogether. Unless you’re in a hollywood movie however, it’s unlikely your hair falls into perfectly tousled beach waves with no help at all. So to give you some guidance we’ve enlisted the help of our Senior Stylist Ashleigh to offer some expert tips on heatless styling for different hair types.

Gigi Mae photographed by Madeline Johnson
Gigi Mae photographed by Madeline Johnson for Yöli & Otis

For curly hair:

Ensuring you get the best curls possible starts from the moment you finish washing your hair. “To combat frizz developing later, apply a leave-in conditioner before the hair begins to dry” suggests Ashleigh. “Frizz occurs when the hair cuticle is raised enough for external moisture to pass through and swell the strands, and when there are shorter strands (from breakage or new growth) that are not behaving in a uniform way with the rest the hair strands. A leave-in conditioner helps to smooth and protect the hair cuticle to prevent this from happening.” Although it’s tempting to get as much water out of your hair as possible after a shower, resisting the urge to disturb your curls is the real trick to getting a defined final look. “Try not to towel dry your hair too roughly when it’s wet” says Ashleigh. “Towel drying can ruffle the hair cuticles and disrupt and separate the curls as they try to form. Instead, gently squeeze or press as much water out of your hair with a thin towel or cloth. If you have tighter curls or ringlets, I would recommend product with some additional weight and hold for further definition. The Keep Curl Memory Gel aids curl retention (the ‘bounciness’ of your curls) and locks moisture into the hair. Once dry, if you’re still struggling with a little extra frizz or some flyways, simply run some a serum or smoothing balm over such as the Smoothing Fluid by Oway.”

For wavy hair:

Not quite curly, not quite straight? If you’re aiming to perfect softer looking waves, again starting with a leave in conditioner whilst in the shower can really help to give a shiny and frizz-free end result. Ashleigh’s simple braid technique is her go-to on wash day. “After washing and applying a leave-in conditioner, leave your hair alone as much as possible and let it dry until it’s just damp. Brush it through just once and pop it into a classic three section braid, or a couple of braids depending on how wavy you want your hair. Make sure your hair is not too wet however as this can cause a build up of trapped moisture on the scalp. I always take a drop or two of our Smoothing Fluid and smooth a little over the braid to eliminate any frizz and set it in place. Once the hair is dry, remove braids and separate with your fingers, twirling any sections that need a little extra help. Once completely dry, you can flip your head upside down and give the hair a good shake to get volume into the roots if it needs it.”

Chloe Sevigny by Harley Weir
Chloe Sevigny by Harley Weir

For straight hair:

Most people would assume that having naturally poker straight hair would be the dream, but as many will tell you that’s not always the case. Leaving straight hair to dry without any help from a good blow-dry to the roots can result in flat hair that sticks close to the head. Ashleigh recommends using a salt spray to bring a little life to lacklustre hair. “If your goal is also to add more texture and volume, sea salt sprays are great for adding some much-needed ‘grit’ to the hair texture. I love the Oway Sea Salt Spray as it’s not dehydrating like some salt sprays can be. Apply to damp hair and scrunch for a tousled, beach look.”

For thick hair:

Those with thicker hair often struggle the most when it comes to leaving the heat tools alone, simply because thicker hair takes much longer to dry. Although we do recommend giving your hair a break from heat where possible, when it comes to thick hair sometimes leaving it to dry on its own can cause problems. Ashleigh explains, “With thick hair it’s easy for moisture to become trapped close to the scalp, resulting in a build up and flakiness. Instead, I would recommend giving the roots a quick blast with a hair dryer or a very, very good towel dry at the roots, avoiding the ends of the hair, typically the most damaged area. Then let the ends dry naturally with whichever method works for your hair texture.”

Whether you’re looking to abandon your tongs altogether or simply reduce the amount of heat you use on your hair, try implementing some of our tips to give your hair a healthy break.

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