What is a diffuser and how do you use it?

by Hair Romance on May 23, 2013 · 30 comments

in Curly Hair,Hair Products,Hair Style Advice

What is a diffuser and how to use it to style curly hair

A diffuser is an attachment that goes on the end of your hairdryer.

It diffuses the air as it come out so that you no longer get a blast of air on your hair, but rather it spreads softly through your hair. Diffusers are mainly used to style curly hair as it lets your dry your curly quickly without disturbing their natural shape.

There are two main types of diffusers. The round plastic attachments, as shown in the photos, which are custom made for a particular hairdryer model or you can buy a plastic universal diffuser that fits most hairdryers.

The other type of diffuser available is called a sock diffuser. This is made of a fine heat resistant mesh and fits like a loose sock on the end of your hairdryer nozzle. The sock diffuser is great for travelling as it is very small and easy to pack. (It also won’t freak out the guys as customs like my plastic diffuser does!) It’s also the only option for hairdryers that do not fit a universal diffuser, such as the ghd air.

How do you use a diffuser?

What is a diffuser and how to use it to style curly hair

If you’re blowdrying curly hair you MUST use a diffuser.

Without it, the dryer is too strong and will blow your curls out of shape and cause them to frizz.

When using a diffuser, always set your hairdryer on a medium speed to avoid it overheating. Keep your dryer moving so that the air distributes evenly through your hair.

Check my full post for tips on how to style curly hair, and always start to use a diffuser with your head upside down. Let your curls fall into their natural shape and them bring your dryer up into your hair to dry it.

Drying your hair upside down with a diffuser will give your hair a LOT of volume. Don’t worry, this will settle down in a few minutes and give your curls a great shape.

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Do you use a diffuser to dry your curls?

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

David V May 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

Thank you for the back-to-basics tips! Things I think I should know, I’m totally clueless about! Thanks!!!!!


Hair Romance May 23, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thanks David!


Amy May 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Hi there, wanted to add my 2c worth on diffusing! I diffuse my very curly, thick, frizz-prone hair most days, especially in winter. I have tried lots of types of diffusers and many techniques and, at least for me, there is one combo that wins hands down.

First, the bigger the diffuser the better. Mine is at least 20cm wide with big fingers – it is irreplaceable! I got it for free with a cheap hairdryer 10 years ago and have put it on every dryer since. I have tried others but the small ones just don’t work well on thick hair, and take so long! They don’t allow enough air circulation.

Second, tip your head upside down/to the side and gently push the diffuser up towards the scalp. Hold it there a good while. You can move around and come back, but if you are constantly going up/down/up/down like so many people recommend you are just going to end up with a hot mess. The less you touch your curly hair with your hands, the better. Same applies with the diffuser. Keep it in place, at an appropriate heat and speed, until you are most of the way there. It dries surprisingly quickly if you keep it relatively still.

Last, keep your head upside down for a minute or so until it cools down and ‘sets’. If you tip your head up straight away, the weight of the still-warm hair will drag it down at the scalp. Oh, and don’t dry it to the bone! Leave it the tiniest bit damp so as to not frazzle it in the long term. Once almost dry, the rest will happen quickly on its own.

I could go on all day… but I’ll spare you!


Hair Romance May 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm

FANTASTIC tips Amy! Thank you so much for sharing them. Feel free to go on, I could talk hair all day x


Miss Pink May 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I have never understood how to use a diffuser and I think I might have to give it a try. I avoid my hairdryer because it always makes my hair go really frizzy and while I wouldn’t say I have curly hair it definitely isn’t straight. Maybe a diffuser is what I have needed?


Hair Romance May 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm

A diffuser will enhance any natural wave you have, but it won’t completely eliminate frizz. I’d give it a try. They are really inexpensive and a such a useful addition to your hairdryer. Let me know how you go! X


curlywurly May 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I pretty much always use a diffuser on my lazy curls. I have several different types (bowl, finger and a ‘deva-fuser’). I usually use the ‘pixie curl’ technique for drying, basically I scrunch up my curls into the diffuser turn the hairdryer on, and hold for abit then turn it off. I then move onto another area of hair. I tend to get better curls, when I diffuse.


Hair Romance May 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm

The diffuser is my secret to awesome lazy curls too! Thanks for sharing your tips X


Samantha August 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Great product is a must for any diffuser i swear by Paul mitche
Gel & Kenra products they work great on my naturally curly hair along with my diffuser


Hair Romance August 30, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thanks for the tips Samantha!


Carolina October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I recently bought a 3 in 1 diffuser, I know how to use the finger diffuser but no idea of what are the soft finger and air diffusers for or how to use them. Any guidance would be highly appreciated!


Michelle October 18, 2013 at 2:47 am

So glad to read that I’ve been diffusing my hair correctly all these years and that I’m not crazy! My diffuser is like the one in the picture, I love it!


Hair Romance October 20, 2013 at 12:17 am

Thanks Michelle! I can’t live without my diffuser xx


HairDare October 25, 2013 at 11:48 pm

What kind of hair products should you use before and after diffusing your hair?


Hair Romance October 31, 2013 at 6:30 am

it depends on your curls really, but I use a curl cream and heat protectant before and then a serum/oil after


El Beauty Blog de Eli December 18, 2013 at 7:51 pm

My curls don’t normally react well to blowdriers, they get quite frizzy, so I try to avoid it. But now it’s winter here and I need to get at least my scalp dry when I come from my swimming lessons in order to avoid catching a cold, so I normally only blow dry the roots/scalp area, yet I still get a lot of frizziness (I come out of the gym looking like an eighties rock star). Any tips on how to dry that specific area?
BTW I have just discovered you blog and I love it, being the hair junkie that I am. Your posts on curly hair are so useful! Keep up the good work!


Hair Romance December 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Thank you!! Do you use a diffuser? This makes it easier to just dry the roots. Use it on low-medium as the slower the hair dries, the less frizz is created. I also use a curl cream when I blowdry my hair which helps reduce frizz by moisturising my hair. Hope this helps! x


Ceanna Marie December 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

if your hair isn’t naturally Curley but has a little bit of wave in it, can I still use the diffuser to gain Curley hair?


Hair Romance December 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Hi, it will only encourage the natural wave in your hair. If you want defined curls you’ll need to use a curling wand x


veronica April 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I just bought a conair diffuser to put on my conair blow dryer. Supposed to be a universal one but it won’t stay on. Any ideas?


Hair Romance April 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

Hi Veronica, they have a lot of different models so maybe it’s not the right fit for your one? One size doesn’t necessarily fit all unfortunately. I’d contact Conair to check your model.


Sheree April 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm


I have just had an old hairdryer die on me & wanted to know if there was one in particular you would recommend to buy for curly hair as I want a good one with a diffuser but I am not sure what brand to get & I dont want to spend a fortune either. Any good advice on this.



Hair Romance April 27, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Hi Sheree, I love the Parlux dryer and diffuser, and I had my previous one for 10 years. Though if you don’t want to spend that much, this Wahl dryer is excellent value.


Rebecca July 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hi there! I have naturally thick, curly hair. I always style it wet and let it air dry. I towel dry it a little to where it’s not still dripping then I brush it and add mouse with my hair upside down then I flip it over and apply more mouse, so it’s even throughout. I then flip my hair back over and scrunch it. As it is drying I’ll sometime occasionally scruch here and there. Not always, but sometimes my roots will look flat and just blah but the rest will be perfect. Any suggestions?


Hair Romance July 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Try switching your part as your hair dries Rebecca, it can help create more volume at your roots


Mary August 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Hello :))
I have a 3b curly spirally hair and I have been avoiding heat for years now because it absolutely destroys my hair. The question is could the heat coming from the diffuser be as much damaging?..Can I use the diffuser almost daily? Won’t it cause heat damage to the hair?.I also have another question that is unrelated to the subject: as I mentioned before I am a 3b, if I cut my hair, what kind of layers should I have in your opinion?….Thank you a lottt :)))


Hair Romance August 5, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Hi Mary, yes a diffuser is still heat but it’s gentler than directly blowdrying your hair. If your hair is affected by heat though I would be careful about how much styling you do. You shouldn’t need to use it daily as you only use it when you wash your hair. With 3b curls you normally don’t need to wash your hair every day. As for layers, rounded long layers work well but talk to your hairdresser to customise the cut to your face shape and curls. Christina x


Misha August 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hey@ I have 50% grey hair with a good wave that is getting increasingly frizzy. Do you think a diffuser would help? Thanks!


Hair Romance August 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

Hi Misha, grey hair changes the texture of your hair so that’s why it’s frizzy. Use a deep conditioning treatment and use a smoothing serum to tame the frizz in dry hair.


Jaqui August 27, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Hi there, I have long thick hair with a slight kink in it. I have a Label M Magic Diffuser with adjustable air flow. Is more or less air flow better for wavy hair? Thank you.


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