Diffusing Curly Hair: A 101 Guide

Oh the hair dryer – one of the curly world’s greatest conundrums.

Many naturalistas run from it, afraid of past blow outs and using too much heat.

But the benefits of using a diffuser are undeniable –  whether it’s pumping up the volume or speeding up dry time.

Luckily – you can totally master using heat safely, and make the most of your diffusing time, with a few simple techniques.

We teamed up with Senior Stylist, Mia Emilio, of Devachan SoHo to break down everything you’ve ever wanted to know about diffusing curly hair.

First things first –
It’s best to start the drying process on wet (but not soaking wet) hair. Think, post scrunching with a microfiber towel – like the Deva Towel.

Some curly girls will recommend waiting for your curls to set before going in with a diffuser (some say at least 30 minutes, others wait over an hour, that’s totally up to you and your curls).

The point of using a hot tool is to speed up the drying process (which you know, takes hours when you air dry).  The point of using a diffuser attachment is to disperse the air coming from the blow dryer, it prevents too much heat from being blasted onto one part of your hair.

But you also have to get to know your dryer. We’ll be explaining all of the settings on the Deva Dryer (because, well, duh). But most dryers have similar settings.

You’ve got your heat settings: low, medium, high. Plus a cool shot button.

Then you’ve got your speed settings – again: low, medium, high.

Very complex, we know.

It’s always best to start the drying process on low heat, and low speed and then gradually work your way up.

Mia recommends turning the heat up as you begin to dry, and even switching from the warm setting to the cool setting every once and a while (especially when you’re looking to add height in the root area).

Now speaking of the roots – how do you dry curls at the roots? Using a targeted nozzle will fry your hair, and a bowl diffuser definitely won’t let you get to the inner layers. Enter…the DevaFuser.

Ergonomically designed to look like a hand and provide 360 airflow, it can get all up in your layers just like your hand can, and will seriously aid in speed drying your roots – which by the way take the longest to dry. When you start the drying process, start at the inner layers, then slowly work your way out.

Once you’ve managed to dry the roots, now you’ve got to tackle the ends. The DevaFuser is great for scrunching short hair, but if you have long hair or your hair just needs a little more encouragement (hey wavy haired humans!) a traditional bowl diffuser can come in handy.

You can use a bowl diffuser to dry your hair by cupping the ends into the bowl – but be careful, if not done right you can end up creating a lot of frizz. Be sure to start on a low heat and speed setting and low heat and don’t cup the hair for too long in one specific area. Cup for a few seconds, drop down, and then move on to another section, and keep repeating as needed.

If you like a more mellow look, keep your head up right for most of the drying process and try, occasionally, tilting your head to the left or right as you dry, which will allow you easy access to your roots, without dramatically increasing your volume.

If you’re someone who prefers to pump up the volume start the drying process with your head in an upright position, then flip your head forward. Drying upside down really helps max out your volume.

Once you’re almost 100% dry, you can massage your hair at the root to create an even fuller look.

And if you really want to go wild, switch to the cool shot setting at the end, remove your diffuser, and blast your hair with air at the root like Lynn Kate does here:

Do you have any tips and tricks for diffusing your curls? Share them with us in the comments below!