If you're like me, you've wanted to get in to diffusing, but just couldn't figure out why your end results looked absolutely NOTHING like everyone else's. From dry, crispy, and shrunken, to frizzy and dull, your attempts at diffusing have been practically a fail. Worry no more, I'm here to help! I've managed to identify the 4 key areas of concern when it comes to diffusing, and what to do about them.
In this video, I'm starting on a wash and go that I did earlier in the afternoon. I followed the LOC method prior to styling, using Giovanni Direct Leave-In as my leave-in conditioner, Longview Farms Pure Refined Emu Oil to seal in moisture, and Amika Straight Up Smoothing Balm as my cream. I followed that up with my curl definer of choice, and allowed it to air dry with the front pinned back for gentle elongation (since I have more shrinkage up front) for about 4 hours or so. The front half of my hair is still pretty wet from being pinned up, and my roots were still wet all over, also.
For me, this is the perfect hair to actually diffuse on--I'd say it was about 60% dry. (Yes, my hair takes forever to dry. I'm also applying more Amika Straight Up Smoothing Balm prior to diffusing for added moisture and heat protection. This step is optional, but recommended).
So let's get on with these major areas of concern around diffusing, and how to hack them.
1. Diffuse mostly dry hair for volume
The first and most major area of concern for many of us is shrinkage and lack of volume when diffusing. I know, there's nothing more irritating than watching a diffusing tutorial on YouTube and emulating what the vlogger did, but instead of a curly, fluffy mane, you end up with shrunken, thin and puny looking curls. Luckily, there's a hack for that, and it's really easy: wait until your hair is at least 50-60% dry before diffusing.
Wait until your hair is at least 50-60% dry before diffusing.
Not only does starting on more than halfway dry hair help cut your diffusing time down considerably (leaving you with hair that isn't dried out), air drying prior to diffusing also gives your curls the opportunity to expand naturally before the diffusing process locks them into place. Trust me, I've diffused on completely wet hair before. Not only did it take an eternity, but the end result was shrunken and flat. Once you're done diffusing, you can remove the attachment and send straight shots of heat to your roots and length while gently tugging your hair downward to further elongate and enhance volume.
2. Apply styler, then don't touch
The second area of concern when it comes to diffusing is frizz. There's a common misconception because you use a diffuser, your frizz problems will disappear. That's not the case at all. Mitigating frizz has less to do with the diffuser, and more to do with what happens to your hair prior to diffusing. Combating frizz in the diffusing process is actually two-fold. Before you begin diffusing, ensure that you've applied enough styling product to your hair. I'm not saying you have to use an entire vat of Eco Styler gel, but do set yourself up for success by ensuring that your strands are decently coated in your curl definer of choice. And after you've applied the product, whether it be via shingling, rake & shake, praying hands, or another method, try your best to keep your hands out of your hair.
Once it's time to diffuse, make sure you're handling the hair gently as you move about your head with the diffuser. Moving around your head, alternate between sitting the diffuser at your roots, resting it flush against the length of your hair, and scooping it gently into the bowl and scrunching upward. Repeat this as long as it take for your hair to dry. When it's 90-95% dry, you can begin shaking and fluffing with the diffuser for added volume.
Try adding a smoothing balm or serum to your hair right before diffusing. The Amika balm I used in the video below provides heat-activated frizz fighting, smoothing, and heat protection all in one. Smoothing products will help cut down on frizz during diffusing and in the days following.
3. Layer products to avoid crunch
The third area of concern is crunchy curls. Nobody wants crispy curls that look like they're two steps from total disintegration. The first hack in preventing curl crunch is to layer your products properly and ensure that you have some sort of leave-in (at minimum) between your curls and your curl definer. The next way to knock out crunchy curls is to scrunch them with an oil of choice -- like argan, emu, avocado, or Jamaican black castor oil. Take a dime or nickel sized amount, rub it between your palms and scrunch it throughout your hair gently to remove the crunch (aka gel cast) without causing frizz.
4. Avoid heat damage
Lastly, let's address the concern that lies in these two dreaded words: heat damage. Honestly, I'm unaware of anyone having ever suffered heat damage at the hand of the diffuser. If anything, diffusers help prevent heat damage via blow dryer, by diffusing the warm air around the curls, as opposed to directly on them. But even if you're in the overly cautious camp, there are three simple hacks that you can use to safeguard against heat damage.
- One, keep your blow dryer temperature on cool, low, or medium heat.
- Two, keep the diffuser moving. Don't sit it on any one section of your hair for too long. I like to move from section to section within 10 seconds or less.
- And three, use a heat protection balm, serum, or spray to shield your tresses.
I hope you all found these hacks helpful. I know in the video, I don't have the massive, voluminous curls that some YouTubers do, but that's because I want this wash and go to last a good 3-4 days. Remember, the less manipulation you do on day 1, the longer the style will hold.