Styling your hair—whether it’s long, short, or somewhere in between—is a great way to complete a dressy look or amp up a casual outfit. However, many of the traditional styling methods you probably know involve a combination of heavy hair products and heat styling tools.
Curling irons and straighteners are usually okay when used only once in a while, but if they’re needed every day, they could wind up damaging your hair. In order to avoid these problems, you should try styling your hair in other ways without heat.
The dangers of heat styling
Before we dive into the no-heat style ideas, it’s important to understand the significant risks heat styling tools create for your locks. The main danger with heat is that is zaps moisture out of the hair shaft. This means that the hydration that makes your hair smooth, soft and shiny will be depleted more rapidly than normal, potentially damaging the shaft in the process.
If you’re using heat styling tools every day, your hair might suffer in the long term, especially if it’s already damaged, dry or curly. A lack of moisture can make hair brittle, leading to faster damage, breakage and frizz. It can also result in faster split ends, as well as a dry, lackluster texture and appearance.
Thus, while heat styling tools are a quick and easy way to get perfectly styled hair, they are also a quick and easy way to cause long-term damage.
Top no-heat tips for curls and waves
If you’re going for a curly or wavy-haired texture but your hair is naturally straight, you don’t need a curling iron to achieve your desired look! Instead, try one of these heat-free methods.
- Pin curls: Before you go to bed, wash or completely wet your hair, then air dry slightly so the hair is damp. Take small, inch-wide sections of hair and wrap each section around your finger. Slide the curl off your finger while holding the curl tightly in place, then secure each against your head with a bobby pin. Leave curls in overnight, then let them loose and finger-comb them in the morning.
- Braids: To achieve a loose, wavy curl look, braid your hair tightly when it is damp and leave the braid in overnight to dry. In the morning, loose waves will be your result! You can alter this method to get looser or tighter waves. The more braids you do, the tighter the waves will be, giving your hair a “crimped” appearance.
- Sea salt spray: Spraying a bit of sea salt hair product and fluffing your hair with your hands can also create a textured, wavy appearance that helps you look like you came right from the beach. Sea salt sprays are a great alternative to hot tools and work great on hair of any length.
Other heat-free hairstyles
If curls aren’t your goal but you want a cute style to try, here are a few more simple and adorable styles.
- Sleek ponytail: A simple, sleek ponytail is great for casual errand-running and fancier events. Sleep on day-old hair to help smooth it out, then gather hair in a high ponytail, combing strands back to make it as smooth as possible. Use hairspray to tame fly-aways as necessary. To add a cool effect, leave a small section of hair loose, wrap it around your hair tie and secure it with a bobby pin.
- Braids: Braids of all kinds take natural, air-dried hair and turn it into a masterpiece! Create a simple side plait or upside-down braided bun for day looks, or do a more intricate braided bun, braid crown or braided headband look for parties. Pull on the sections of braids after you’ve secured them to fluff them out and make them look messier and more natural.
- Twists: Twists are not only useful in creating heatless curls and waves—they also look great when styled in a half or full up-do. Twist small sections of hair from above your ears and combine them at the back of your head for a decorative half-ponytail, or create larger twists lower on your head and secure them together to form a floofy bun at the nape of your neck.
There are so many beautiful styles you can create, and all without the damaging effects of hot tools. Store your curling iron and straightener for a few weeks and just experiment with creative styles using your hair’s natural texture and appearance—the results may shock you, and your hair will thank you for it.
Also, if you must use hot tools, always use a heat protectant spray and make sure to moisturize your hair after. Limit your heat styling to one or two times a week to keep hair looking and feeling healthy.