Hair Care

How to Diffuse Curly Hair

There are so many dos and don’ts to consider when it comes to curly haircare – sometimes it’s hard to get down to the bottom of what’s right or wrong, after all, what works for one curl type, may not work for the other.

One thing we can always rely on is the fact that heat treatments – especially over long periods of time – are generally disadvantageous to anyone trying to keep their curls’ health optimal.

Curly hair, especially denser, textured curl types, are notoriously dry, which makes them sensitive to strong products and heat-based treatments. This is because both have a tendency to further dry out your hair, causing brittleness, damage and our worst enemy, frizz.

So, how do we get through the winter months without our trusted hairdryer? We couldn’t possibly brave the cold with wet hair, lest we’re ready to catch a lasting cold. And what about styling – how do we get the best out of our hair when we can’t use our hairdryer?

The answer is simple – you just need to switch up your tools in favour of a diffuser. A diffuser does everything a hairdryer does including drying your curls and aiding your preferred styling methods, without causing any damage.

This is because the diffuser attachment disperses warm hair evenly, instead of concentrating a single blast of hot air on one area of your head. This approach will cut your hair drying time in half and makes for great styling and curl definition, without leaving your hair feeling rough.

If you’re ready to make the switch from drying and styling your hair with a regular hairdryer, to doing so with a diffuser, follow these 4 top tips on how to diffuse curly hair for the best results.

Start by Adding a Leave-In Conditioner or Curl Enhancing Cream

Obviously, you’re going to want to start the process of diffusing with freshly washed, wet hair. Make sure it’s not dripping wet, just scrunch out excess moisture with a micro-fibre towel or a t-shirt.

For optimal results, you’re going to want to apply a leave-in conditioner or a curl enhancing cream. Both products are designed to feed your hair with extra moisture and hydration and will keep your hair feeling silky soft, whilst allowing you to get wonderful curl definition.

As I Am’s Leave-in Conditioner and Cantu Shea Butter’s Curl Activating Cream are excellent choices and work across all curl types; simply adjust the amount used depending on your hair’s needs and preferences.

The best way to apply these types of products is by using the “rake and shake” method. This consists of dividing your hair into 4-5 sections – to the front, the back and either side of your head – and gently raking the product through it using your fingertips.

This will ensure that your curls are evenly coated and makes dispersing that much easier, especially if your hair is extremely thick and textured. Upon completion of every section, use your fingertips to gently hold on to your ends and give your hair a shake.

This approach will help activate your chosen product and encourage your curls to already start finding their shape.

Part Your Hair & Start Diffusing the Top Part of Your Scalp

Before you start diffusing your curls, part your hair the way it naturally falls or the way you are planning on styling it today. Don’t use a comb to do so; seeing as your hair will still be partially wet or damp at this stage, you may risk damaging it by taking a comb to it now.

In fact, at this stage, it’s always best to just use your fingertips – they really are the best styling tool! That’s why so many hair and curl vloggers recommend finger-combing your hair in the shower to detangle prior to rinsing out any product and starting the styling process.

Now that your parting is in place, start by diffusing only the top part of your scalp to get a head start on the drying and defining process. For this step, you don’t have to angle your head in any particular way, nor do you have to crunch strands of hair into the diffuser attachment.

A woman diffusing her hair

Simply hold the diffuser right up against your scalp and hold it in place for two to five seconds before moving on to the next part. To do so, use a mild heat setting – there’s absolutely no need to use the highest heat setting.

Find a Good Angle & Add Volume

Once your parting is in position and you have kickstarted the process by working on your scalp, find the best angle from which to diffuse your hair.

Remember, you’re not working with a regular hairdryer here, so blowing the air into your curls or just holding the attachment up against your scalp isn’t going to do much other than keep you posted in front of the mirror all day waiting for the magic to happen.

You’re going to want to angle your head – in other words, reach your right ear towards your right shoulder to work on the left side of your hair, and vice versa for the left side.

This will make it much more comfortable to scrunch your curls into the diffuser attachment and will allow for much better curl definition. The best possible position to keep your head in – one that also happens to provide the most volume – is leaning forward.

Sit on the edge of your couch, bed or bathtub, lean your head forward and let your hair spill out in front of you. Hold the diffuser up against your ends, cup them in and work it up towards your scalp; hold your curls in this position for up to 45 seconds before moving on to the next section.

If your hair is prone to laying flat on top – a common problem for people with wavy, type 2b-c curls – there’s another trick that can help to add volume. Prior to starting the diffusing process, place duckbill clips at the root.

This will allow you to lift those areas that usually stay flat, allowing air to circulate beneath these sections, thus adding extra volume and a welcoming boost.

Play Your Curls Hot & Cold – They’ll Love It

Ok so, when we say hot, we really mean warm, but the point is, your curls will truly benefit from switching up the temperatures while you’re working the diffuser setting on them. This has several advantages, including being able to distinguish between your curls being wet or damp.

It will also help your curls dry much faster. It acts a bit like air-drying your hair on a warm spring or hot summer’s day – in a natural setting, your hair is never exposed to just one temperature.

Even if the air feels consistent in its temperature, there’s always going to be that little breeze coming in from somewhere, or that one area in the house that is naturally, always cooler. Switching up the temperatures on your diffuser will have a similar effect on your curls.

Last but not least, this cunning trick will close your cuticles properly and will keep your curl formation in place for much longer than when it is dried on one single temperature setting. Give it a try – you won’t regret it!


Hi I'm Hati and my hair is naturally very curly, obviously! I have started this blog to share curly hair stories and what I use to manage my own hair. Hopefully you will find it useful! My other main passions are food, art and animlas. I have a little cat who I love very much.

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