No matter how simple stylists and beauty gurus make it look, using a diffuser, especially for the first time, can be incredibly frustrating. You envision an end result of gorgeous, bouncy curls and somehow your fro still turns into a poofy frizz ball. There are a few things WOC should know before using a diffuser if there's any chance at nailing this styling method.
For naturalistas, nothing tops the feeling of triumph that comes with having a good hair day. Your bathroom becomes a chemistry lab every time you attempt to find holy grail combinations of products and the detangling process can feel like cardio. It's basically a full-time job trying to maintain a kinky-curly mane. So any styler that makes the process bearable is worth having in your stash. One of those genius tools everyone with curly hair should own, a diffuser can help you achieve the big hair of your dreams without all of the fuss.
You still need a little know-how to do your fro justice though, even if you're equipped with the best diffuser for curly hair. Giving the low-down on all things diffusing, curl expert Mia Emilio, Senior Stylist at Devachan NYC, shares everything naturalistas need to know.
1Diffusing Creates Big, Curly Hair
If anything, it's important to understand what a diffuser can do for your curls. Shrinkage is the public enemy number one of the natural hair community, and properly using a diffuser is a surefire way to stretch those strands. This tool can not only fluff your mane for a bigger hair look, but also speed your morning regimen along.
"The benefits of using a diffuser are faster drying time, and bouncier, fuller, voluminous curls," Emilio says. "Diffusers diffuse the air, aka, they disperse it, which means it prevents the dryer from roughening up the cuticle of the hair. It protects curls from frizz."
2Diffusing Keeps Heat Damage Minimal
There's no denying the facts: curlier hair is more susceptible to heat damage. No curly Q wants to risk destroying the texture she worked so hard to nurture. Especially if you regularly blow dry your mane, using a diffuser can cut down on your heat styling significantly.
"Diffusing is less damaging then just using a regular dryer because it's dispersing the heat over a larger area of hair, rather than concentrating it on one direct area," Emilio explains. When you just can't afford to wait for your locks to air dry, diffusing your hair is a much healthier alternative to using a standard hair dryer.
3All Diffusers Aren't Created Equal
Keep in mind that all diffusers aren't one in the same, even if they do serve the same purpose. Most are your typical round attachment with fingers for lifting roots. Then there are gadgets designed specifically with curly hair in mind.
"Devacurl's hand diffusers really changed the game," Emilio asserts. "With the hand, you can actually put it inside of your hair to dry curls from the inside layers towards outside ones, rather than typical diffusers where you dry from the outside and work your way in."
When hunting for a diffuser, you want to look for an attachment that can glide through your roots. A cold shot button is a great added feature to have, targeting curls and better locking them into place.
4Keep Your Drying Temperature Low
In the spirit of keeping heat damage at a minimum, it's best to use a diffuser on a low temperature setting. Starting on hair that is already 50 to 60 percent dry can even ease the urge to dry your mane faster with a higher temperature.
"I'd start off at a lower heat temperature. Starting off high when the hair is more wet can cause more frizz," Emilio warns.
5It's Okay To Diffuse Daily
You always want to be mindful of the heat setting used when diffusing. If you're cautious, sticking with cool to warm temperatures, there's nothing wrong with diffusing regularly. It doesn't hurt to work heat protectants into your routine for back up, either.
"I don't think you can over diffuse your hair," Emilio mentions. "Because the diffuser distributes heat, it's protecting you from being too harsh on one area. You can definitely use the diffuser on a daily basis, if needed."
6Tighter Curl Patterns Need Special Attention
If you've ever thought diffusing can't work for kinkier-curlier type 4 hair, guess again. Diffusers don't discriminate, enhancing all curly hair types if used with the proper technique.
"Diffusing can work for any curl type or texture, but for tighter curls, different rules apply," Emilio tells. "Try a lower gear setting and don't hold the dryer to close to your hair to protect from frizz and shrinkage."
7Hairspray Is Your Friend
A true master of the art of diffusing knows how to preserve her 'do with the right stylers. Before beginning the drying process, using a little hairspray can ensure you have a long-lasting curl result.
"One of my favorite tricks is spraying a little bit of hairspray all over to set your hair before you begin to diffuse," Emilio reveals.
8Never Diffuse Into Your Curls
Of course, there's a right and wrong to go about this drying method.
"If you're prone to frizz, don't cup your curls into the diffuser," Emilio says. "You want the heat to go down against your cuticle, not blow up towards the cuticle.
She recommends starting off by working the attachment in circular motions around the entire head first. Next, turn off your dryer, place ends into the diffuser, and turn on a low heat setting. Hold hair in place for about a minute and turn off your dryer. Repeat the process until your mane is fully dry. Finish by flipping your head over to give your hair more height and maximum lift at the roots.
9Avoid Touching Your Hair Too Much
Although diffusing can lead to fluffy, voluminous curls, poor technique can create a frizzy disaster on your head. Tousle your mane too much, and you could risk frizzing out your curls. Even worse, keeping your hair cupped into your diffuser for too long can misshape your curl pattern.
"You want to avoid disturbing your curls as much as you can, with your hands or the diffuser, otherwise you’ll end up with lots of frizz," Emilio warns. Once the hair is fully dry then you can fluff away."
With diffusers for every budget available, there's no reason not to snag one ASAP. Once you master the technique, you'll wonder how you ever lived without one.