If you have curly hair, you have probably come in contact with a diffuser. Curly women are familiar with it: it’s that funky, funnel-shaped device that looks like it should be in your mechanic’s garage rather than with your beauty appliances. But for as long as diffusers have been around, so have the questions surrounding them. If you can’t get the hang of using a diffuser, read on for a stylist’s advice that will have you styling like a pro in no time. If you have never used a diffuser on your hair before, check out these directions for using a hair diffuser. If you have questions that need some clarity, Cindy Herrera, stylist and curl specialist at Ystylo Cindy Salon in Austin, Texas, has the answers right here.

Why Do I Need a Hair Diffuser?

Herrera recommends using a diffuser if your hair does not dry quickly. If you find yourself walking out the door in the morning with a wet head, then a hair diffuser might be the perfect solution. It will not only dry your hair, but your curls will form faster than if you let them air dry. Length is an important factor as well. The diffuser works best on shorter bobs, or those with medium length.

Remember, a diffuser only enhances your natural hair type. If you have straight hair and want curls, a diffuser won’t get the job done; you might want to turn to a curling iron. But if you have natural curls that are in need of shape and bounce, then a diffuser is right for you.

Herrera also highlights the fact that a hair diffuser may be unnecessary if your hair dries well. “I definitely have some clients who will walk in with natural hair that they air dried, and didn’t have to use a diffuser. How you put the product in your hair is going to determine the outcome of the curl, whether you use the diffuser or not.”

Applying Hair Product Correctly

The manner in which you apply hair product does indeed affect the result. The proper application of hair product goes back to how you care for it in the shower. As you rinse conditioner out of your hair, try combing your hair back with a wide-toothed comb. When you get out of the shower, blot the hair dry and flip your hair forward. Herrera suggests applying product to your hair by scrunching it into your curls from bottom to top.

If you have a lot of hair, try applying product by different sections. Dividing the hair into three sections is a great option. This will ensure that an equal amount of product is distributed throughout your hair. “You want to hear your hair squish on the top, the sides, and in the back,” Herrera says. “When you hear that, you know you have enough product in the hair.” Of course, Herrera recognizes that how much product you need is also dependent on the weather. “Every day is different for curly hair.”

What Products Should I Use?

Many women ask the question of what type of product is best for their hair. The answer is not simple; it really depends on your hair type. Mousse is great for girls with waves, but it definitely won’t hold tight curls. There are curl lotions, pomades, curl creams and custards that will match your hair type.

An easy rule to follow is to correlate the consistency of the product with the thickness of your curls. If you have finer hair, go for a thinner hair product. If you have thicker hair, go for a thicker product. “I like curl creams,” says Herrera, “but it’s whatever floats your boat; I personally like a softer curl, so I use Kevin Murphy or Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls. If you have finer waves, use a foam mousse rather than a mousse from an aerosol type can.”

Why Does My Hair Get Frizzy?

Herrera gets this question all the time, as many of her clients will complain of the same result. How dry your hair is when you diffuse will determine whether or not you will have frizz. The drier your hair, the more prone to frizz your hair will be.

“If you hair is frizzy, your hair is too dry, or you didn’t put enough product in the hair,” says Herrera. She recommends diffusing the hair when it is still very wet. Herrera also suggests eliminating the towel process if you can. If your hair is sopping wet, blot dry in a downward motion, and use a microfiber towel. Do not wrap your head in a towel, and do not shake up your hair with the towel, as this will result in frizz.

“Gently squeeze out the excess water from midshaft to end,” suggests Herrera. it is equally important to use the medium setting on your hair dryer. Using fast, high heat will disrupt the curls and create frizz.

Which Diffuser Should I Use?

There are several different types of diffusers out there, and recently the curly community has seen more creativity in diffuser design. The funnel-shaped finger diffuser is the most common type of diffuser and can be found virtually anywhere. The Director Styling Finger Diffuser is perfect if you’re looking for a traditional hair diffuser. If you’re interested in the latest innovations, check out the DevaCurl DevaFuser! Its design resembles a hand, so you get the perfect spirals that fingers can give. If you’re always on the go, try investing in the Hot Sock diffuser. This lightweight diffuser is simple, and perfect for traveling, and it’s designed to diffuse air while also shaping curls.

How Can I Make My Curls Last?

If your curls go limp the day after you diffuse, Herrera suggests reactivating the curls by wetting them. “Rather than restyling it, mist your hair with water. There’s no need to add more product; your hair should have product in it already.”

The product in your hair may feel like it has evaporated into thin air, but it is still present. Misting the hair will bring that product out again. If necessary, quickly run over your curls with the diffuser while the hair is moist.

Overall, Herrera can’t stress enough the importance of devoting time to your hair. “The more time you spend on your hair, the more you can get out of it. If you follow the instructions properly, the style can last for two or three days,” says Herrera.

What are your favorite tips for diffusing? Share them with us in the comments below!

This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.

Susonnah Gonzalez

Hi! I'm Susonnah Gonzalez. I write, work, and live in Austin, TX. I began my wavy hair journey in college, which is when I really began to explore the needs of wavy hair and the products that work best with it. Every day is different with my hair but every day I learn something new!

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