17 Easy No-Heat Hairstyling Hacks
As we age, heat and hot styling tools become some of our hair’s worst enemies. Sure, we have our No Remorse Heat Protection & Taming Spray at the ready to shield our strands when only our favorite hot appliance will do.
But as a general rule, limiting the amount of heat we subject our delicate strands to is the smartest plan of action for our aging locks. Especially as summer’s temperatures soar—and our tresses really seem to take on a mind of their own—who wants to aim even more hot air their way?
This is why we’re ditching the heat in favor of air-drying our locks with this roundup of hairstyling hacks designed to help you beat the heat and look your best.
How to Curl Your Hair Without Heat:
The Ripple Effect—Gorgeous Waves Without a Curling Iron
Who needs hot rollers when your fingers can get the job done? Whether you twist, plait, or pin your tresses, your wave-making methods are endless! Before you begin, always prep damp tresses with a texturizing or hydrating protective spray for a beautifully hydrated body.
The beauty of this hack? When you curl your hair without heat, your braid or bun never has to be perfect. Think of it as a means to an end—the beautiful, bouncy waves left behind! Best of all, you can achieve the waves of your dreams while you sleep.
Do the Twist
This technique creates soft, subtle waves. Begin your twists at the crown for allover waves or at the base of the scalp for a bounce that begins chin-length. If you have short hair, start twisting your strands at the crown and pin ends at the nape of your neck. The tighter you twist, the more dramatic the results.
Pro tip: Twisting sections in alternate directions adds movement and body while twirling in the same direction creates a more uniform look.
These days there’s a braid for any occasion. You’ve got the French braid, the Dutch braid, the Halo braid, the fishtail braid…so the wave styles they create are virtually limitless. Even each braid has options: Go traditional or unconventional depending on how you position each plait.
Pro tip: Get strategic and sprinkle in tiny plaits or bubble braids for unexpected bursts of texture.
Tie the Knot
A high bun or chignon creates sleek face-framing strands that cascade into soft waves below the chin. Add braids at the nape of the neck before pinning your bun in place for even more textural interest. Or weave in tiny rows of plaits along the hairline for subtle face-framing flair.
Pro Tip: The tighter you pull your tresses to your scalp, the sleeker your top strands will be. Securing the bun in place with a scrunchie helps to avoid kinks.
Put a Pin in It
Twisting tresses into tiny pin curls sets the stage for stunning 1940s-inspired waves. Carefully wrap small sections of damp hair around the tip of your finger from end to root and secure with a bobby pin. Continue around your scalp and wake up to beautiful all-over curls!
Pro tip: Concentrate your tightest pin curls at your crown to increase volume, body, and bounce.
How to Style Frizzy Hair Without Heat:
Smooth Moves—Frizz-Free Curls Without a Diffuser
This one’s for all our curly hair gals who are ready to embrace their natural texture. The key to styling frizzy hair without heat is acting fast because the window of opportunity for shaping curls before frizz sets in is extremely small. So once you form your perfect coils, hands off! Friction equals frizz.
At Your Fingertips
Creating defined curls is only half the battle. Keeping frizz at bay is the other—so be sure to start with hydrated strands. The only tools you need to form your coils are your fingers. Twist small sections of hair starting at the root, smoothing the strands between your fingers as you head toward the ends. Adding a few pin curls at your crown ensures volume and definition.
Pro Tip: Treat your tresses to a deep-conditioning butter masque, a leave-in conditioning cream, or hydrating spray for a moisturizing boost before you do the twist.
It’s Tee Time
You’ve probably heard that your terrycloth towel is no friend to your delicate tresses—the towel’s fibers not only roughen up the hair cuticle but they also soak up too much moisture. While a micro-fiber towel is a much gentler option, we like the T-shirt method best. It reduces frizz while removing water, without disturbing the curl pattern—genius!
Pro Tip: Before wrapping your hair in your tee, spritz tresses with a protective spray to fend off frizz and flyaways. Then, use your hands to softly scrunch your curls up to your scalp.
Do the Plop
Spotted all over YouTube, the hair-plopping method is considered by some to be a game-changing hair-drying technique. Why? It encourages the formation of curls by gently absorbing excess water so hair dries soft and frizz-free—wrapping your hair in a towel twists and stretches out your curls. Hair plopping also helps with volume and lift at the crown. You can plop for as long as you like—even overnight. All you need is a long-sleeve T-shirt, pillowcase, microfiber towel, or veil net (think fishnet stockings) and your favorite styling products. Ready? Here’s a tutorial to get you started.
Pro Tip: While this technique is designed for tight curls and frizz-prone hair textures, looser waves and even straight hair can benefit, especially if your goal is to create tousled texture.
How to Straighten Your Hair Without Heat:
Straight to the Point—Sleek Strands Without
a Flat Iron
This hack may seem like mission impossible, especially if you’re dealing with naturally curly or frizz-prone hair. But with a little patience and some practice, you’ll find it’s well worth the time and effort. Similar to creating waves, when you straighten your hair without heat, your hair will need to be set overnight or for several hours during the day—the summer heat will help speed up drying time!
Supersize Your Curlers
While Lady Gaga’s 2010 “Telephone” video may have put Coke-can curlers in the spotlight, she certainly wasn’t the first to go big with this old-school hair-setting technique. Women in the ‘60s used oversize curlers (and often real soda cans) to style their tresses. While this method does help create volume and large curls, the large diameter of the cans or curlers actually straightens naturally wavy and even curly tresses when wrapped tightly around.
Keep It Cool
Sure, nothing beats that blast of hot hair for smoothing away kinks and curls, but when you’re avoiding heat, blow-drying with cold air could be your second best option. While your tresses may not turn out as silky smooth as when you use your hair dryer, you’ll certainly achieve a relaxed look.
Pro Tip: Prepping hair with products or essential oils designed for taming tresses and smoothing the cuticles is key. This style is easiest to achieve if your hair is naturally fine versus thick or coarse.
It’s a Wrap
This hack is performed exactly as it sounds. By wrapping wet hair around your head, you’ll smooth out kinks and curls for a sleek look. You’ll need a few props: 3-inch roller pins, a fine-tooth comb, hair gel or mousse, and a satin scarf or turban.
Start by creating your part and separating your hair into two sections. Then, beginning on one side and holding hair taut, comb hair in a circular motion all around your head, smoothing strands and securing them with pins as you go. When this first section is complete, use the same technique to wrap the remaining hair. Secure with a satin scarf while you sleep to prevent frizz and strands from unraveling.
Pro Tip: Customize your wrapping technique to your hair length and placement of your hair part to smooth away as many kinks and curls as possible.
How to Volumize Hair Without Heat:
Amp It Up—Va-Va-Volume Without a Blow-Dryer
Yes—creating body and lift without your hair dryer is possible, even when you have thinning hair. When your goal is to volumize your hair without heat, the products you use play an important role, as do the following styling tricks.
When it comes to creating volume, the magic starts in the shower. A sulfate-free volumizing shampoo and conditioner like our Wake Up Call Volumizing Duo will hydrate, strengthen, and add bounce while smoothing away frizz. Follow with a few spritzes of Lift Me Up Hair Thickener. This magical spray wraps around strands to instantly thicken hair while lifting it at the roots for all-over volume.
Do Your Prep Work
No matter how you ultimately style your hair, while it’s still damp, comb your tresses to the side opposite your natural part and let it set. Once your hair is fully dry, flip it back to your regular part—et voilà, instant volume.
Pro Tip: The side-swept look is not only a universally flattering style for women over 40, it’s a surefire way to add volume to thinning hair.
Roll with It
Go retro with a few strategically placed rollers at the crown of your head to lift and create volume. After spritzing freshly washed tresses with a thickening spray, wrap hair around rollers and allow it to dry overnight.
What a Tease
This is perhaps one of the easiest and most instant ways to boost volume without heat. Take a fine-tooth comb and simply backcomb dry tresses at the crown of your head. Then, gently comb the top of the strands to smooth out. A setting spray will help hold the look in place.
We Have Liftoff
To prevent hair from drying matted to your head, after spritzing damp hair with hair thickener, place a few small clips at your crown to lift roots and create volume—this works particularly well for wavy and curly textures. Once hair is fully dry, remove clips and comb fingers through, gently lift tresses away from your roots. Set with a finishing spray.
High and Dry
Dry shampoo is not only great for refreshing tresses in between washings, but it also adds volume, too. And it’s not just second or third-day strands that benefit. Dry shampoo can add lift, texture, and extra grip to just-washed tresses, which can often be resistant to holding styles.
Pro Tip: Make sure you use a non-comedogenic product like our Fresh Start Scalp Renewing Dry Shampoo to prevent pores from clogging.
How to Style Your Hair Without Heat:
Up and Away—Perfectly Polished in a Pinch
Sometimes your biggest hairstyling hurdle is a lack of time. This is when an updo such as a sleek chignon or another protective style like one of the braids we described above steps in for the win.
The Anytime Hairstyle
These styles work wonderfully on just-washed, damp tresses, and “dirty” strands, or when you need to recycle the previous day’s hairstyle and there’s no time to shampoo and start from scratch.
If you’re working with second third- or even fourth-day hair, a sprinkle of a non-comedogenic dry shampoo like our Fresh Start Scalp Renewing Dry Shampoo will instantly refresh and add volume to your tresses while keeping your scalp at its healthiest.
As always, when you’re holding the heat, a good styling mousse, gel or finishing spray is key to taming flyaways and setting your look in place.
Pro tip: The more twists and braids you add the better when styling your hair without heat—especially when your goal is a purposefully messy bun. A few face-framing tendrils will also help achieve an easy elegance that’s especially perfect for summer’s casual-cool vibe.
Tell Us: What’s your favorite way to style your hair without heat for summer? Share in the comments below!