Curly girls are no strangers to using items typically relegated to the kitchen in their hair. We use flaxseeds and aloe vera to style with, avocados and honey to deep condition, and chopsticks to dry. Now there's a new tool to make the transition from the kitchen to the bathroom: your strainer.
HolyCurlyRiRi on Instagram recently shared on her blog that she diffuses her hair using a strainer. This may sound crazy to the the non-curl enthusiasts, but when I shared it with my NaturallyCurly teammates they mostly nodded and said, "yea, I can see that." It's brilliant really.
Why use a strainer?
This technique gives Riri "perfect little ringlets that look like I used a curling wand." The trade-off is that what you gain in frizz-free curl definition you lose in volume. Wavy Instagrammer @Annabananas3474 tried the technique after seeing Riri's post and reported that she gets better definition too, "More shrinkage (no stringy separated ends which can be the bane of my wavy hair existence) and the clumping I work SO hard to achieve but usually kind of falls apart was just not an issue. The smaller sections really allowed the clumps to stay, well, clumpy!"
If, like me, you don't mind giving up definition in order to achieve big hair, then you may want to stick to your regular diffuser, but if you're looking to cut down on frizz then grab your strainer and give this a try.
Faster dry time
After trying this with her own Ikea strainer, Lulu, aka @curlicue_lu, shared that "I seem to get a lot of air flow around my curls, and more control by moving the strainer toward or away from my head. With more drying surface area than my normal diffuser, I'm able to dry more hair at a time." This sounds extra-appealing to me because after years of air drying my hair, the extra step of diffusing (for volume) is a real drag on my morning routine. Anne also noticed the time-saving benefit, "My hair dried SO fast!"
What kind of strainer?
Riri uses a big strainer, and says that a smaller strainer still does the job but just takes longer. Just make sure whatever strainer you use is not too deep, "The first time I tried it, my strainer was WAY too deep and my hair just kind of blew around in there. Reminded me of a cotton candy machine" says Anne. Like Lulu, I used the metal mesh strainer you can get from Ikea.
How to diffuse with a strainer
Using your strainer, cup a section of wet curls into the strainer and bring it up towards your scalp, then point your blowdryer at the hair without the diffuser attachment and turn it on. Follow the pixie curl diffusing method, which means you cup the hair, turn the diffuser on, then turn it off before you move onto the next section. Then cup the next section, bring it up towards your scalp, turn the diffuser on again, dry for a minute, turn it off, and repeat. I recommend using this method when you use a diffuser attachment as well, it really cuts down on frizz!
Keep the strainer still to fight frizz. Anne says "I imagine Curly Girls with more defined curl patterns and thicker hair could probably move the strainer around more, but I found I needed to keep my hair stable or it would've been a frizz fest of epic proportions."
Depending on the type of strainer you have, you may need to follow up with your diffuser attachment. Lulu says "I like the strainer I'm using because I can get it very close to my head. [However] it's difficult to get to my roots, plus I don't want to smash them, so I end up using my normal diffuser at the end to lift the roots."
Watch HolyCurlyRiRi diffuse one half of her head with a diffuser attachment and the other half with a strainer to see the side by side comparison.
"I got MORE definition, MORE volume, MORE curls as opposed to waves,and the curls are holding up beautifully. My hair dried faster and had hardly any frizz. I'm so in love with this technique and I'll be doing it more often than not, I think." - Anne
"This allows me to dry a bit faster. I also seem to get about the same definition and volume as my normal diffuser." - Lulu
"I can't even describe you the amazing definition I get! Perfect little ringlets that look like I used a curling wand. The volume isn't as good due to the amazing definition and no frizz." - Riri
I gave it a try
I'll be honest, I was mostly trying this for kicks. I'm pretty devoted to my universal diffuser attachment so I didn't think I could be converted by a kitchen hack. But then... it actually worked! Yes, it was awkward holding a strainer and drying my hair (especially when I had my phone in my hand trying to Instagram story it) but once you get the hang of the angles it's not so bad. I personally didn't think it dried faster than my diffuser attachment, but I may have had the strainer on too tight or the dryer too close to the strainer (I was trying to prevent frizz). I'm definitely willing to give this a few more tries.
These are my results below. With some more fluffing and flipping upside down, I was actually able to achieve a good amount of volume - albeit fleeting volume as a wavy - and that's ultimately my goal. When I diffuse with my diffuser attachment I find that my waves form tighter ringlets than they do when I air dry. I can achieve 3a curls when I diffuse, and way more lift and volume. With the strainer, my waves actually formed bigger S-shaped waves than I'm used to. You can see them in the photo below. I think this may be because the strainer works almost the way plopping does, bending the hair accordion-style to fit into the bowl shape of the strainer, and creating the big S-waves. The biggest selling point for me was when my coworker told me my hair looked like a lion's mane. That's what I'm going for!
This technique gets my thumbs up, and I'm excited to see what other curlies think of it.
Have you tried this? Did it work for you too?