There’s something classically romantic about boasting Botticelli curls, right? Less romantic, perhaps, is the reality of curly hair maintenance; it isn’t as simple as emerging from a shell with tresses that spiral against the wind. It sometimes takes a village of beauty tools and products to get the exact lewk that you want. Knowing how to use a diffuser—an unwieldy but magical device—can aid you in that process.
But what makes a hair diffuser a valuable addition to your hair tools? Well, there’s no such thing as a bad hair texture, and there’s nothing wrong with “frizzy” hair. But if it’s not the desired curly look for you, then a diffuser can deflate unwanted frizz and inflate your curls. So if you want a curly coif that’s a true work of art, look no further. We tapped hairstyle pros for all the dos and dont’s of using a diffuser for your best curls yet.
Why you need to prepare your hair for a diffuser
“Prepping curls for diffusing is the most essential part of the drying process,” says curly hair expert Lee Wilson, a stylist at Salon deZEN in Alexandria, Virginia. “Any frizz or misshapen curl will only be amplified by the diffuser, so the hair needs to be almost perfect.”
That means whether you’re looking to get ringlets or beach waves, you want to have the proper style in mind so it can blossom with the diffusing process. “Make sure you have styled your [damp] curls in the way you want them to look when they’re dry,” says celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. “The diffused look will be an expanded version of the wet style. Use your favorite styling product for your curls and make sure there is no excess water in the hair before applying.”
Want to get into the specifics? Here’s exactly how you can go about getting perfectly curly locks.
How to use a diffuser, step-by-step
1. Form your curls and dry your hair
“Layer in your favorite products using ‘prayer hands’ on very wet hair,” says Wilson. “Scrunch and squeeze the products in for at least 90 seconds.” This, she says, creates a strong foundation.
2. Towel-dry your hair so it’s not soaking wet
“Use a microfiber towel or T-shirt to help wring out excess water before you start drying,” Wilson says.
3. Adjust the temperature of the diffuser
“Low air-flow and medium heat are the perfect combination of settings for drying without unnecessary damage,” says Wilson.
4. Use the diffuser on each curl
“Hover the diffuser around your head to dry the outside of the curl until the hair feels crisp, but still damp,” Wilson says. “Then lightly cup the curls with the diffuser, taking care to not keep it in one place for too long.”
Rubenstein also stresses that you don’t want to move the diffuser around constantly, as this can create more frizz. “Concentrate on one area, get it as dry as you want it to be and then move onto the next section,” says Rubenstein.
Final pro tip: While you’re diffusing, avoid running your fingers through your hair. “The worst thing you can do for your curls is to get your hands in them while diffusing, as tempting as it can be,” says Wilson. “The natural oils on your hands and any sort of friction can break up curls and cause frizz.”
5. Don’t be afraid to flip your head
One objective with diffusing is to get a buoyant, voluminous hairstyle. That gorgeous mane can be achieved if you’re unafraid to flip your hair a little bit. “Trying different positions, like flipping your head over or leaning back or to the sides can help you create maximum volume with little friction,” says Wilson.
6. Distribute the curls as you please
“Once the hair is dry, scrunch it a little more to help with volume and to break up any large clumps,” says Wilson. “Lift up the roots of the hair at the crown, using a pick for more volume. Avoid touching the curls throughout the day to minimize frizz.”
7. Don’t be afraid use a little product if you have some flyaways
If your curls look a little more electrocuted than intended, no worries! Rubenstein adds that a little pomade on the hands or spray wax can tame the extra frizzy bits. She recommends Unite Tricky Spray Finishing Wax ($30) as a solid smoothing option for fraying strands.
Final aftercare advice for diffused curls
Hopefully you’re dealing with the beautiful, bountiful curls of your dreams. Would be an absolute shame if anything happened to them, right? Interestingly, when you include a diffuser into your haircare routine, you should be extremely (and literally) hands-off in the time that you’re not styling. Avoid touching your curls and washing frequently—and care for your style while sleeping, too. “At bedtime, put the hair up in a loose high-pony or bun on top of your head and sleep on a silk pillowcase for the day-two hair of your dreams,” says Wilson. “Shake it out and spray with a curl refresher in the morning and you’re done.”
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