Curly hair is beautiful and highly sought after, but a lot of people who don’t have it, don’t realize how much work it takes to maintain. Styling requires multiple steps and products, and a regular hair dryer does curly hair no favors. That makes for an extended waiting game while curls dry naturally before final styling can be done. Using a diffuser attachment on your hair dryer can make much shorter work of styling, and reduce the products you need to boot, but which is the best diffuser for curly hair? We’ve got the answer for you.
- What is Hair Diffuser?
- All Curls are Different
- How to Choose Based on Your Goals
- Product Comparison
- Product Reviews
- Tips for Using a Hair Dryer Diffuser
- Overall Tips for Managing Curly Hair
- Preserving Curls Overnight
What is Hair Diffuser?
A hair diffuser is a simple attachment you add to the nozzle of your hair dryer. It spreads out the heat from the dryer in order to prevent damage to your curls. Because the hair dries under indirect heat, the finished result is frizz-free. It doesn’t take much more time than traditional blow drying, either.
Many hair dryers come packaged with diffusers, but they may not be designed with curly hair in mind. There are several different styles of diffuser, including cup, hand, sock, and hood. Diffusers that work best for curly hair may also have other features, such as ionic technology to accomplish drying faster without creating frizz.
You may also wonder about curly hair diffuser vs air dry method – is it worth it? We say yes, because it’s faster and also helps add volume and shine to your style.
All Curls are Different
One of the tricky things about finding the right curly hair dryer diffuser is that no head of hair is made exactly the same. Just as you have had trial and error in terms of the right hair products, you may find you need to experiment a bit in order to land on the best one. However, we have five very highly rated products to show you that lots of other curly-haired people have loved using.
How to Choose Based on Your Goals
Different curls need different care. You may even want different diffusers based on how much time you have on any given day. Following are the most common styles of hair diffuser attachment and what they’re best for.
Goal: Fast Drying Time & Body
+Answer: Cup Diffuser
The most standard shape of diffuser, the cup model is great for getting the job done in no time. Dry your curls upside down, holding each section out from your head for a few minutes to add body. As with all diffusers, it’s best to start with high to medium heat and shift down to the cool setting to finish.
Goal: Avoid Having To Hold The Dryer
+Answer: Hood Dryer
Hood dryers are the kind you often see ladies sitting under at the hair salon. All you have to do is relax while the hood does its work. The heat and air from a hood dryer is spread out across its whole surface, which helps to avoid frizz associated with regular dryers. It is best to use the dryer on high heat for the first ten minutes, and then massage your scalp a little bit to loosen the curls. Move to a medium setting for 10-15 minutes more, and then switch to cool to finish off.
Goal: Manage A Tight Curl Pattern
+Answer: Hand Diffuser
A hand diffuser is shaped exactly like a hand (hence the name) with holes in the fingers to let the air through. Slide the diffuser into your hair at the scalp and leave it still. Move it around your scalp as the hair dries. This method will dry your hair at the roots and eliminate that cold scalp feeling, but leave the rest to dry naturally. This is usually the best strategy for a really tight curl pattern.
Goal: Dry Just a Little Bit or Protect a Fragile Curl Pattern
+Answer: Sock Diffuser
Much like a hand diffuser, a sock diffuser looks exactly like its name. It will fit over the nozzle of your hair dryer and release the air very gently. This is good for jump starting the drying process, but takes quite some time to fully dry. It’s ideal if your curls tend to fall apart if they’re handled too much when wet.
Adjustable Air Flow
Fits 1.6-1.8 in.
Ion nano technology
Up to 2 in
Ion nano technology
Adjustable height; wheels
Buyer pays shipping
Heat resistant foam
30 days, unused only
1 Hair Diffuser, Professional Hair Blow Dryer Diffuser
Get perfect curls in record time with the Segbeauty cup diffuser. It uses ionic nano technology to dry hair evenly. Ions help to break water molecules so that they evaporate faster. That also means you don’t have to use such high heat, which is nice, especially in the summertime when the last thing you want to do is blast yourself with hot air!
This diffuser is made with high quality materials that don’t release any toxic fumes upon use. It features 114 air outlets along multiple prongs that separate the curls without destroying them, and also shortens drying time. That will save you electricity, too.
Another handy feature is that you can adjust the air flow of your diffuser by twisting the base, adding new capacity to your dryer. It is also lightweight and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Just be certain that your hair dryer has a round nozzle with a diameter between 1.6-1.8 inches; the best fit can be achieved if the barrel tapers a bit toward the nozzle.
5.5 x 5.5 x 5 inches
- Lonic nano technology
- Adjustable air flow
- Reduces drying time while adding body
- Does not fit all dryers
- Can heat up upon use
- May not attach securely depending on dryer
2 BIO IONIC Universal Diffuser, Black
The BIO IONIC diffuser also uses ion technology to decrease drying time and keep hair healthy and hydrated. It has 12 outlets for air and provides frizz-free curls with that lift you want. Designed by a hair stylist, it is made of long-lasting, heat resistant materials and won’t add a lot of weight to your dryer.
One of the nice things about this cup style diffuser is that it has rubber grips on the inside to conform to the nozzle of your hair dryer. It is advertised as universal, but many users mentioned that it can’t handle a nozzle that’s greater than 2” in diameter. Still, it fits many different models and allows air flow to be adjusted based on your needs.
6 x 6 x 5.8 inches
- Lonic technology
- Adjustable air flow
- Rubber grips for a strong connection
- Fewer air holes
- Spikes may be too long for really tight curl patterns
- Not truly universal as advertised
3 Adjustable Hooded Floor Hair Bonnet Dryer Stand Up Rolling
If you are looking for an affordable hood dryer, this 1300 watt model may just fit the bill. It has a swivel hood with hinged hood door and moves easily from room to room on strong wheels. The temperature control setting allows you to adjust the heat up to 75ºC (167ºF). The height of the hood can also be adjusted from 48” up to 63”, which should allow you to use almost any chair in your home while drying.
Set the timing function up to 60 minutes. Some users reported needing that long to dry, but others said they were surprised by how quickly the dryer works. It also runs significantly quieter than other hood dryers, so you can even watch TV while drying if you wish. One thing to know is that the dryer needs to heat up for 30-40 minutes before use, so don’t forget to switch it on before getting in the shower.
11” in hood diameter
- Works quickly and quietly
- Timer function
- Easy to roll around
- Must preheat
- Wheels don’t lock
- Not ideal if you need high air flow
4 Hot Sock Diffuser - Pack of 3
A sock diffuser is the answer to several issues with traditional diffusers. For one thing, they are extremely lightweight. They also fit onto any dryer via an elastic mouth. Sock diffusers can be folded and tossed into a bag for easy portability that takes up no valuable packing space, and you can feel confident that it will fit the hair dryer at your hotel or gym.
Made of sturdy, heat resistant foam, the Hot Sock hair diffuser for curly hair provides extremely gentle heat and air flow, helping to prevent damage and frizz. The gentleness makes it ideal to add volume to curly hair that separates easily. However, using a sock version will take longer than with other styles of diffuser.
Hot Sock diffusers are very affordable, but they do wear out eventually and need to be replaced. Buying a multi-pack is helpful in this regard – not only will you have a spare handy, you can choose to keep one in your gym bag, at a friend’s house, and at home. Sometimes the elastic mouth grip will loosen after extended use. A good hack for this is to secure it with an elastic hair band until you replace it.
- Extremely lightweight and easy to travel with
- Fits almost any dryer
- Great for fragile curls
- Drying takes some time
- Elastic grip may loosen over time
- Will need replacing as it wears out
5 BestTrendy Professional Universal Hair Diffuser Attachment
The BestTrendy hair diffuser is a cup model that features a ton of air holes and twelve prongs to separate curls. It’s a great choice if you’re not sure about the size your hair dryer nozzle, because it fits models from 1.4 inches all the way up to 2.7 inches. The diffuser is built to fit securely and snugly on hair dryers within this range. A nice additional feature is the lockable buttons, which help hold the diffuser in place.
The twelve prongs are softly rounded at the end and long enough to touch the scalp and keep the diffuser the right distance away. The cup is somewhat shallow though, so you won’t be able to do huge sections of hair at once.
2.6 x 6.1 x 6.1 in
- Fits a wide range of hair dryers
- Plenty of air hole for quick drying
- Long prongs comfortable prongs
- Shallow cup
- Can be difficult to attach
- May not be ideal for very tight curls
Tips for Using a Hair Dryer Diffuser
A diffuser is a simple little tool that can make a huge difference in your hair care routine. The way you use it can also affect the final results. Following are some tips for how to use a hair diffuser to get the best from your new styling tool.
- Either wash your hair or spritz it with water; if your hair is not wet, the diffuser can’t do anything to change the shape or texture of your curls.
- Gently squeeze out extra water, but do not rub it or twist it in a towel.
- Dry hair in sections that naturally separate and go along with your overall hair pattern.
- Start with higher heat and turn it down to low and finally to cool as hair dries.
- For cup diffusers, place natural sections of hair into the cup and then hold the diffuser against your scalp. The prongs should keep it the right distance away to avoid burning your skin while also adding volume at the roots.
- Unless your curls are very tight, use gentle circular motions as the diffuser is near your scalp to loosen up the style and give it a nice flow.
Overall Tips for Managing Curly Hair
Since you’re here, you know to use a diffuser when drying your hair to add volume, eliminate frizz, and protect the integrity of your curls. That’s the most important tip we can give! Following are some more ideas to help achieve a style you love.
The key is to comb the bottom few inches of your hair all around, then the middle section, and then the crown. This way, each knot is gently detangled. If you comb from your crown downwards, the knots get compressed together and become very difficult to remove without damage to your locks.
2 Trim split ends frequently.
Split ends weigh down your do and can make hair look frizzy, the very thing we hope to avoid by using a diffuser. A trim every six to eight weeks help to keep your locks looking bouncy and fresh.
3 Don’t be afraid to mix styling products.
Sometimes called “product cocktailing,” you’ll want to experiment with various products to find just the right mix for your hair. Every head of curly hair is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all product combo that will work for everyone. Play with various quantities of products like smoothing serum, mousse, coconut oil, and styling gel to discover your signature cocktail.
4 Never brush; use only a wide-toothed comb.
Not only do the tight bristles on a brush break up curls, they can also break the hair itself. Curly hair tends to be quite fragile, especially in the places where the strands curve. A wide-toothed comb is the best bet to gently detangle curls without messing up your lovely curl pattern.
5 Apply a conditioning treatment to your ends.
Sometimes hair goes through a dry or dull phase. That’s normal, and may be fixed by changing your shampoo. But whenever you feel that product all over would weigh down your curls too much, just apply styling cream or oil to the ends. That should keep them looking healthy and add a bit of bounce to your style.
6 Refresh with a curling iron.
A curling iron may not be in your tool kit because your hair is already curly, but it can actually help a lot to refresh curls that have become separated or saggy. Choose an iron with a barrel that’s about the same size as your curls if you absolutely love the natural shape. You can also get one larger if you want to stretch out your curls, or smaller if you’d like tighter locks.
Preserving Curls Overnight
There’s no doubt about it – curly hair requires a lot of work to style, from the products to the tools to needing a hair diffuser attachment or the time to air dry. The end result is simply beautiful, however, and inspires a lot of jealousy in those with stick straight locks that just lie there. Curly hair has a lovely bounce that catches light in a sparkling way.
So after you invest all that time in styling, it is frustrating to wake up with mashed or matted locks that can’t go another day without a wash. Besides the time commitment, washing curly hair too often can easily dry it out. So we’ve got six ways to arrange those curls before bed that will keep them looking great the whole next day. One or more of them should be ideal for you, no matter how tight or delicate your curls.
1. Loose bun
A classic fave, the loose bun looks great for day and protects your curls at night, too. For sleeping, apply a leave-in conditioner and a little bit of gel before flipping your hair over and securing it in a high bun. It’s important to keep the bun loose so that your curls don’t get stretched out. Secure it with a wide scrunchie rather than tight elastic and pins in order to avoid dents in the morning.
In the morning, simply shake out your curls and finger style to your liking. Or, if your hair is damp, use your diffuser to set the style just as you like it.
This is actually a popular method of drying for curly hair, but there’s no reason you can’t sleep this way, too. The benefit of plopping is that your hair dries without being weighed down or stretched out by gravity.
To do it, take a clean T-shirt (long or short sleeved) and lay it out on a counter or bed in front of you with the sleeve side closest to your body. Lean over and drop all of your curls onto the shirt. Then pull the body of the shirt up over your hair and secure it in place by tying the sleeves over it. If you use a long sleeved shirt, cross the sleeves in back and bring them to the front, over your forehead, to tie.
In the morning, simply remove the turban and let your locks fall naturally. A quick comb, maybe a bit of your favorite serum, and you’re done.
3. Two-strand twist
If you notice that only certain sections of your hair come out flat or weird in the morning, try the two strand twist. Simply target the problem section, divide it into two, and twist the segments around each other from roots to ends, securing gently with a coated elastic band. If you want your curls to tighten up overnight, try this technique with damp hair.
Plenty of ladies with curly hair use the pineapple trick to keep their curls looking beautiful overnight. To do it, flip your head over and gather your hair into a very high and loose ponytail. Secure it with a scrunchie or coated elastic band so as not to have a dent there in the morning. Then, stand up and separate the ponytail so that half is positioned on each side of your head.
If your hair is too short for it to reach the top of your head, you can use multiple pineapples to pull hair away from where your head usually hits the pillow. All it takes in the morning to style is to release the ponytail, give a quick spritz of water or curl refresher, and go.
Braids are great for keeping curls looking nice because there are lots of different kinds of braids. One of them should work for you (provided your hair is long enough). Looser braids keep a natural curl pattern looking fresh, while tighter braids add a crimp effect. You can divide your hair into sections and do 6-8 individual braids, or sweep it all into a French braid. Experiment to find out what works best for you.
6. Sleep on a satin pillowcase or bonnet
Sleeping on a satin pillowcase will help to prevent frizz because hair glides smoothly over the surface. This strategy can be used in combination with any of the hairstyles mentioned on this list. If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping on satin, a satin bonnet can provide the same effect while letting your skin enjoy whatever fabric you prefer. A bonnet has the added bonus of minimizing tangles, and can keep any serum, coconut oil, or leave-in conditioner that you use before bedtime from transferring to your sheets.
Curly hair can be time consuming to maintain, but it is such a beautiful style. With a handy diffuser attachment for your hair dryer, or even a separate hood dryer, you can shave some valuable time off of your hair care regimen and add smooth volume to boot. Choose one of our picks for the best diffuser for curly hair to feel confident that your choice has been tested and approved by many other users with curly locks.