How to Use a Diffuser for Defined, Frizz-Free Curls

Written by Ashley Mishler

Styling your curls can be a struggle. And because no two curl patterns are exactly alike (or two coils on one head for that matter), finding the right routine for perfecting your curl formation pattern can be hard. But there is one tool that everyone should have in their hair arsenal: the diffuser.

Hair diffusers are one of the key ingredients in the perfect curl cocktail. These handy little tools can help dry curly hair without creating unwanted frizz or disturbing texture. Often sold as an add-on to your standard blow dryer, or as a part of a set aimed for curly heads, diffusers attach to the end of your hair dryer and keep direct heat from overpowering your precious strands. If you don’t have a hair diffuser at home, or if you do and are unsure how to use one effectively, read on for some handy tips and tricks for how to use a diffuser on curly hair types.

How to use a diffuser for curls | Mane Addicts

How to Use a Diffuser

Properly Prep Your Curls

Always prep your mane before you begin the diffusing process. The prep portion of this routine will look different for everyone, but there are a few main steps that most will go through.

After you’ve washed your hair, apply the products of your choice (like a heat protectant and leave-in conditioner or air-dry curl cream) and thoroughly, but gently, detangle your curls. Ideally, you want the soaking wet hair to be soaking wet when you start your product application to help with curl definition—but if it’s too sopping wet to handle, you can always use a T-shirt (or curl-friendly towel) to scrunch out some excess water before you begin drying. At this point, you may also go through your locks, finger combing and defining/twisting each curl depending on your natural curl pattern. Once you are ready, attach the diffuser to the end of your hair dryer.

Start at the Roots

Once your hair and diffuser attachment dryer are ready, flip the switch and get to work! You’ll want to begin diffusing curly hair drying at the root and work your way down. We typically recommend doing this while standing up straight, but once the roots at the top of your head are dry, you can also slightly dip your head forward to focus on the back of your head and the nape of the neck.

As you dry your roots, use the nubs or extensions on your diffuser to lightly push the hair upward, sort of like a comb or your fingers. However, do avoid touching your hair too much during this process, as it will create frizz and potentially pull out curls in the process. It is also important not to apply too much pressure with the diffuser, as it could create frizz as well. Be soft with your touch.

If you want more volume, check out our top tips on how to blow dry hair for volume.

Move Down the Lengths

Once your roots are dry, start moving the diffuser down through your lengths. This is where you can control how much volume you are creating by the movements and positions you use. If you’re looking for more volume, dip your head forward. If you are looking for less volume, remain standing straight. Just remember to always keep the diffuser a few inches away from the head during this step, as the goal is to get the roots, then the mid-lengths dry before you move on to the ends.

Shake Out Those Curls

Once your roots and mid-lengths have dried, it’s time to shake it out. Flip your head completely forward and get in there with your diffuser. At this point, you can begin using the diffuser to cup your curls, softly piling them on top of the diffuser while pushing up toward the scalp. You can also ensure that the nape of your neck and the back of your head have completely dried. Once you have built the volume you are looking for and the undersides of your mane are fully dry, stand up and flip your hair back, continuing to diffuse if need be.

Scrunch, Set, or Spray

Now that your hair is fully dry, it’s time to scrunch and set your curls. Diffusing your curls can sometimes leave a cast or too much definition, so here is where you would break that up. Using the palm of your hands, scrunch your hair upwards towards the root as you softly shake your head to break things up at the base. Here, you can also pull apart curls where needed, or provide a little lift internally with the tail of a rattail comb. Once you are satisfied with your finish, spray and set as needed with a light-hold hairspray or product of your choice.

The first try with a hair diffuser isn’t always the easiest, but with a little practice, you’ll be on your way to the best curls of your life!

Caring for your curls is half the battle. Here’s how to properly take care of curly hair!