How to Use a Hair Diffuser the Right Way

Experts break down the essential hair tool for your best curls.

Side view of a person with curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Photo: Getty Images

To keep your natural curls looking vibrant, voluminous, and healthy when blowdrying, there is one hair tool that is non-negotiable: a hair diffuser. 

For those who don’t know, hair diffusers are blowdryer attachments with prongs that distribute hot air. It snaps on easily at the end of the dryer, so you won't have to worry about it falling off while getting to work. Some hair diffusers even have universal sizes that can fit multiple dryers.

But to get into all the reasons why a hair diffuser is a must for your curls and how to use the attachment properly, we reached out to a few curly hair experts to break it all down for you. 

How To Use a Hair Diffuser 

How you use a diffuser will depend on your hair length and thickness. But in general, celebrity hairstylist Nai’vasha recommends using the tool on towel-dried hair.

When you're ready to go, she suggests gathering curls carefully and placing them on the mouth opening of the diffuser. Making sure that you’re working with medium to low heat (this is the heat setting she prefers because it replicates air drying), you’ll hold the diffuser close to the head for about five seconds (more if you have thicker curls). Then move the diffuser in a circular motion for another five seconds.

Follow up with a pumping motion for five seconds, and then go back and hold the diffuser close to the scalp for another five seconds before releasing your curls. Repeat this for all sections until your hair is dry. 

Fellow celebrity hairstylist Irinel de León adds that if you like your curls to look elongated, you’ll want to avoid cupping the hair into the diffuser for too long. But if you do want bouncier shorter curls, she says to cup hair into the diffuser for about 30 seconds. And for that extra body and volume, she suggests flipping hair upside and moving the diffuser in an up-and-down motion, cupping your curls for 30 seconds at a time. 

It’s also important to remember that moisture is key when using a hair diffuser. She recommends using products that give hair hold and moisture. She likes starting with a leave-in-conditioner, followed by a hydrating cream, and the finishing off with a gel.

The Benefits of Using a Hair Diffuser

Nai'vasha explains that a diffuser is designed to evenly distribute hot air from your blowdryer to reduce frizz. De Leon agrees and adds that a diffuser can help stimulate natural drying, improve overall definition of curls, and emphasize the natural curl pattern. Also, because it uses less heat, it helps protect hair from heat damage. So it really does it all for those natural curls. 

”A diffuser is a curly hair bestie,” says Nai'vasha. “It evades frizz, speeds up drying time, and encourages chunky pieces. A regular drying experience tends to dehydrate the hair and straighten [those curls].” 

What to look for when getting a hair diffuser

Hair diffusers come in different sizes, and with so much on the market these days, you’ll be able to find something that works best for your hair. But if you need some guidance, Nai’vasha recommends looking for a diffuser that’s on the bigger side with lots of prongs; she explains that this will speed up the drying time and allow for airflow to move farther throughout your hair. 

She personally likes diffusers like the T3 SoftTouch 3 Diffuser, which she says has lots of prongs and air outlets to create a faster drying process. She's also a fan of the YS Park Ion Diffuser, which she calls her favorite because it folds, is easy to pack, and uses ion technology to act similarly to traditional diffusers with prons, while protecting the integrity of your curls. De León’s pick is the Dyson Diffuser, which has long prongs to reach deep into the hair and allow you to style curls with greater control. 

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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