Hey Mane April 17, 2024

Hey Mane


What’s the Difference Between Heat Styling and Air Styling? We’re Breaking It Down


One of the biggest debates in hair care has long been whether heat or air is more damaging to your hair. There have been many a heated discussion on whether you should air-dry your hair or blow-dry it with there being pros and cons for both. More recently, the discourse has extended to styling tools, namely due to the launch of the Dyson Airwrap in 2018. Many started to shy away from using heat tools because they believed that air-based styling tools like the Airwrap would cause less damage and offer better styling. As lovers of both heat-based and air-based styling tools, we decided to do some digging and call on the experts to break down the differences between heat and air styling while highlighting the benefits of each. We’ll even help you determine if heat or air is best for your hair so scroll below for all the deets!

Heat vs. Air Styling: The Main Differences

One Uses Heat, the Other Uses Air

This is a fairly obvious difference but we didn’t want to assume that everyone knew this before proceeding. Celebrity hair stylist Davontaé Washington shares, “Air styling relies on air alone so it is generally less damaging because you are not forcing heat on the hair to achieve the desired style.”

Air Styling Takes Longer

Whether you’re air-drying your hair after wash day or using an air-based styling tool, you can expect the time for your hair to be dried and/or styled to take way longer if you were to involve heat. “It can take up to a few hours for your hair to fully dry on its own,” says Washington. “This is also dependent on your length, hair type, and density. Heat styling is much faster and offers more instant gratification.”

Heat Styling Offers More Options

“Heat is essential to changing texture and shape for style variety,” notes Amy Abramite, Creative Director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL. If you want to take your hair from straight to curly or especially vice versa, you’ll need heat to manipulate the strand and lock in the desired style.

The Benefits of Heat Styling

It’s More Versatile

Again, hot tools offer more styling possibilities because they’re heat-based. No matter the style you’re hoping to achieve, there is a heat styling tool that will allow you to create your desired look. “Heat changes the texture of hair from frizzy to smooth with a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron, as well as the shape to straight, wavy, or curly,” emphasizes Abramite.

It Produces Longer-Lasting Styles

Want your look to last longer? Use heat. “The predictability and reliability of hot tolls also creates long-lasting results,” says Washington. “When using the right products, your look will have style memory and a better chance of lasting until your next shampoo.”

It Offers More Control Over the Style Outcome

Hot tools put you in the driver’s seat. They tend to be more reliable than air-based styling tools so you really get to control how the look turns out. After all, heat offers greater manipulation than air.

It’s Faster

When you need to be efficient with your time, use hot tools. You’re able to create looks quicker with heat-based styling tools versus air-based styling tools, getting you out the door sooner. Because who has time to fuss over their hair?

It Eliminates Frizz and Produces Shine

“Heat reduces frizz by smoothing the cuticle for a shiny, glossy appearance,” says Abramite. So if you’re seeking smoother, shinier hair, turn up the heat.

The Benefits of Air Styling

It Can Be Less Damaging

If used improperly, hot tools can damage your hair. This is why it’s always recommended to use a heat protectant before taking a hot tool to your strands. With air-based styling, you don’t really have to worry about damage as much because your hair isn’t coming into direct contact with the heat source. That to say, you should still use products like leave-ins, oils, and even heat protectants to shield your hair as much as possible.

It Promotes Volume and Movement

Apart from promoting healthier hair, Washington mentions that air-based styling can add more volume and movement to your natural hair texture. No heat required!

It Can Be More Cost Effective

The Dyson Airwrap will set you back a pretty penny but once you have all the attachments, that’s basically all you need. And guess what? You don’t even need that tool to create certain styles. “You can get creative and use household items like socks for example to create heatless curls,” says Washington. Think outside the Airwrap.

The Benefits of Air-Drying

It Enhances Natural Texture

This benefit rings true when it comes to air-drying specifically. “Air styling enhances natural texture by not disturbing the hair while it dries,” notes Abramite. If you’re looking to embrace your natural hair, this is the styling technique for you.

It Can Be Low-Maintenance

When it comes to air-drying, you don’t need to do much to your hair. “Time is saved in this low-maintenance routine because the hair dries over a period of time while doing other things on the go,” Abramite notes.

How to Determine Which Is Best for Your Hair

Want to change the natural texture of your hair? Heat styling is what you need. “Heat styling is best for those who want to transform their natural texture into something different,” shares Abramite. Washington also shares that heat styling “is also great for anyone with thick or coarse hair textures, and for those who prioritize longer-lasting results.”

Looking to minimize heat damage and enhance your natural texture? You guessed it, air-based styling is your best bet. Both Abramite and Washington share that air styling will help promote overall hair health and offer a more low-maintenance lifestyle.

Need help ensuring you use heat styling on your hair correctly? Here’s what you need to know, according to the pros!

About the Experts:

Amy Abramite is the Creative Director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL.

Davontaé Washington is a celebrity hair stylist for Kim Kardashian, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, and more.