Whether you’re looking for hairstyling tips on the Internet or asking your friends for advice, you’re going to run into the word diffuser. A lot of us don’t really understand what that goofy looking piece of plastic that came with our hair dryer actually does, but if you have curly hair, using one of them is a must. Keep reading to learn more about diffusers and how to use them.
What is a diffuser?
Simply put, a diffuser is a device that spreads or inhibits an incoming force. For example, it’s used to slow down air entering an engine. It’s also used in cooking to disperse heat, creating an even cooking surface. In regards to hair dryers, this useful tool disperses the flow of air coming from the head of the dryer, spreading it over a large area. When you purchase a new hair dryer, you may notice one or more oddly shaped pieces of plastic in the box. These are the diffusers. Instead of a powerful blast of air that can damage hair, this attachment creates a gentle air stream that flows softly over and through your locks.
Anyone can benefit from diffusing, but those with curly hair are the ones who really need it. If you have curly hair, you know that blow-drying can create a nightmare of frizz. This is because hair dryers are quite strong and can blow waves and curls right out, causing a frizzy mess. When you use a diffuser, however, the dispersed air won’t interrupt natural curls/waves or create frizz. The finished result will be natural and full-bodied.
Benefits of using a diffuser:
- Decrease frizz
- Maximize shine
- Encourage natural wave/curl/texture
- Add volume
- Minimize heat damage
- Dry quickly and gently
Types of diffusers
Each type of diffuser serves a different purpose. Not all blow dryers come with every type of diffuser. Most diffusers were designed to fit a particular model of hair dryer, but there are some universal ones you can buy if you already own a device that didn’t come with any attachments.
- Flat Vented – used to close hair cuticles to seal in shine while drying and on newly colored hair to lock in color
- Mitt/Sock – this one fits any model, is great for traveling, and is made of heat resistant mesh
- Finger/Massaging – the most common attachment, this one is used to lift hair and add volume
If you’re looking for a universal diffuser, we recommend “The Director” Finger Diffuser by Spilo ($9.99) or the Ultralight Diffuser by Hot Sock ($6.95). No matter which type you use, this tool will help keep your locks healthy by encouraging natural shape and drying gently. Using a diffuser is similar to air drying, but quicker and more controlled.
How to use a diffuser
Step #1: Wash, Condition, & Towel Dry
Use products made for curly hair that tame frizz. Your best bet is a natural shampoo/conditioner because these types of products use oil to clean rather than harmful soap agents. Don’t use shampoos that contain sulfates because they can dry out your hair and contribute to frizz. Use a towel to gently dry. Pat and squeeze with the towel. Don’t be too rough or you will create frizz from the very beginning! If you’d like, use a leave-in serum or gel to encourage curls and waves. The best choice would be an anti-frizz serum or a product that protects from heat. Apply starting at the roots and make your way towards the ends of your hair, making sure that even the very tips are coated. Using a product like this will actually enhance all the great effects you’re getting from the diffuser and create a smooth, polished look.
Step #2: Blow Dry
Start with your head turned upside down. Let your hair fall in its natural shape. Starting at your scalp, move the dryer (with attachment) in a circular motion and massage your hair slowly with the diffuser’s “fingers.” If you’re not using a finger diffuser, you can use your own fingers to gently hold your hair. Working outwards towards the ends, use the attachment to scoop sections of hair towards your head and hold them there for a few seconds before moving on to the next section.
Step #3: Finishing Touches
Flip you head right side up. Don’t worry if it’s too poofy at first, your curls will soon settle and look fantastic! Make any small adjustments and then use your favorite curl cream or styling product. After using the product, dry gently (still using low heat) for about 60 more seconds. When you’re finished, use hairspray to lock in your new style. If you want a little extra volume, shake your head or use your fingers to fluff (before using hairspray). Finally, using a quick blast of cool air from the dryer will help keep everything in place.
If you don’t have time to take a shower, you can use a finger diffuser to style. Dampen your hair and proceed to use the diffuser like you normally would with your head turned upside down. When it’s almost dry, turn your head right side up and use the diffuser to style. Positioning the diffuser beneath the hair (pointed at the ceiling), dry from beneath to create body.
- When using your diffuser, set the blow dryer on low heat (using a diffuser with high heat can cause the device to overheat).
- Always keep the dryer moving, don’t let it continue to blow on the same section of hair.
- Try not to touch your hair too much while drying. Use the diffuser more than your own fingers.
- If you want to add volume near your scalp, use duckbill clips.
- Too much hairspray can weigh down the hair, making curls/waves loose their shape.
- Don’t try to use a comb or brush after diffusing – it won’t work and it will only create a frizzy mess!
Diffusing requires patience. It’s a tricky process, but it can lead to gorgeous hair! Keep at it and you’ll be a pro in no time. Follow the tips above to achieve full-bodied hairstyles without frizz. The hair on your head isn’t the only hair you should worry about. Click here for information about ways you can manage body hair in the comfort of your own home.