Many of us curly girls have heard the benefits of diffusing, but upon trying a diffuser for the first time we're left with more frizz than air drying. Diffusing can be a key step in your routine - if you know how to do it correctly.
Why use a diffuser on curly hair?
The air force from a hair dryer can ruin the way your hair clumps together into defined waves or curls. A hair diffuser can reduce the air velocity from your hair dryer, allowing you to dry your hair without disturbing your curls. Diffusers are also beneficial for anyone in a hurry needing to dry their hair quickly and safely.
In addition to drying time, you maximize the volume of your waves, giving the illusion of thicker, fuller hair. Some have complained that they experience a lot of frizz when they diffuse, and that could be due to using the diffuser incorrectly. It will boost volume, but the right techniques and product application should do the trick.
The benefits of using a diffuser
- It prevents frizz, when done correctly
- It doesn't disturb your natural curl pattern
- It speeds up drying time without adding frizz
- It is less damaging than direct heat from a blow dryer
How do you use a diffuser?
If you are new to diffusing, here is how to perfect your technique for voluminous, defined curls. Before you start, make sure you have a diffuser that stays on your hair dryer (many will fall off). Look for a universal diffuser attachment like a Pop Up Silicone universal attachment or the Hot Sock, they fit most dryers.
Step 1. Apply products
Apply your favorite styling products to soaking wet hair and then allow your hair to air dry partially before using the diffuser. Some people dry as much as 75% before they diffuse, but this will depend on your preference.
Step 2. Insert duckbill clips
If you need to add volume at the crown of your head, then inserting duckbill clips at your roots can help create lift at the root of the curl. You can find a full clipping tutorial here,
It will look something like this when you're done:
PHOTO BY BRIANNE PRINCE SALON
Step 3. Set your hair dryer to the medium, cool setting
Be sure not to over-dry your hair as this will create frizz. Some curlies diffuse their hair with the heat setting on to speed up the drying process, but when possible we recommend avoiding using heat on curls for their overall health.
Step 4. Hang your head sideways or upside down
Hanging your head sideways or flipping your head upside down is another way to create lift at your roots. Then you can gently lower sections of your curls into the bowl of the diffuser.
Step 5. Move the diffuser towards your head
In order to let the air circulate around the roots, you will have to lift the diffuser up towards your head.
Do not move the diffuser around the way people do when blow drying straight hair, this will disrupt the clumping of your curls and curl formation! Instead, lift the diffuser up towards your roots, hold it still for as long as you can (at least 30 seconds) and then gently lower it and repeat on the next section.
Step 6. Repeat
Diffuse in large sections until your hair is 80-90% dry. It's best to dry your hair completely before leaving the house so that the humid air outside doesn't create frizz as it's drying.
After you diffuse
Once your hair is dry you may notice a hard cast on your curls from the styling products you applied while your hair was wet. "Scrunch out the crunch" by smoothing a small amount of a light curl defining cream all over both hands and then scrunching your curls from the ends up towards the roots. This will break up the hard cast, without losing the curl definition.
For an extra boost of volume, you can shake out hair and fluff the roots. Some curlies like their curls to be super defined, and some don't mind sacrificing a bit of definition in favor of volume - it's a personal preference! But if you prefer volume then you can flip your head over and fluff it at the roots. Once you've done this, try your best not to touch your hair throughout the day so as not to cause extra frizz.
Watch how Sandra aka JustCurly diffuses her curls below.
Where to buy a diffuser
You can find "universal" diffuser attachments that fit onto the end of most hair dryers. Some blowdryers even come with a diffuser attachment. If yours didn't, you can buy one separately from the links below.
If you're short on bathroom cabinet space (most curlies are) then this may be the universal diffuser attachment for you. It collapses like an accordion into a flat disc because of its flexible silicone material. This also makes it easier to travel with than traditional large diffuser attachments.
This is called a universal diffuser but you will likely need a hair dryer that's on the smaller side in order to fit this attachment. Some curlies find that their results with this diffuser far surpass other diffusers, but some find the shape of this attachment awkward to use. It really comes down to personal preference, but it's important to know these factors before investing the extra money.
This hard plastic diffuser attachment is similar in design to the popular Diane Soft Finger Diffuser, which is getting harder to find in recent years.