If you've ever gazed skeptically at the weird, claw-like shape of a diffuser and thought to yourself What the heck do I do with this? you're definitely not alone. Diffusing your strands to get the most out of your natural texture and/or curls is an art, and learning to perfect said art is no easy feat. There will definitely be some trial and error involved as far as the process you use and the products you choose, but making sure you have a best-of-the-best diffuser is one of the most important (and easiest!) steps toward mastering your drying routine. Oh, and if you thought diffusers were only for people with wavy, curly, or coily strands, think again.
"I am always shocked by how many people think they don't have any curl or wave," says celebrity hairstylist Matthew Collins. "That said, no matter your texture, if you diffuse the right way, you will get at least 25% more wave or curl pattern in your hair. All hair textures can enhance their curls and waves with a diffuser. There are just different steps or product choices you'll have to consider." (Don't worry—we'll take a deep dive farther down.)
Of course, even though diffusers will enhance all textures and hair types, they are an especially strategic PIC for peeps with curly and coily strands. Since the airflow is dispersed evenly over a larger part of your hair, it's less disruptive to your natural curl or wave pattern, and the best models will also help curb frizz while upping the ante in the shine and volume departments
Below, we're chatting with Collins and hairstylists Ro Morgan and Drew Schaefering to find out which diffusers they trust to enhance their celebrity clients' curls, and they'll also share what to try and what to avoid when it comes to using your new diffuser on your curls. Keep scrolling! Ten of the best diffusers, according to pros and reviews, are just ahead.
The Best Tips for Using a Diffuser Like a Pro
Tip #1: Flip your head to create more volume. "If you want volume, flip your head over and diffuse until it's dry," Morgan instructs. "Make sure the diffuser is under your hair as you dry."
Tip #2: Use your fingers to your curls' advantage. "If your curls need some help and encouragement to avoid frizz, use your fingers and twist small sections of hair to detail curls as they dry, and apply your favorite curl or moisturizing products," shares Schaefering. "The trick is to touch the hair as little as possible until it is nearly dry. Once your curls start to take shape, scrunch and encourage the curl—just don’t brush them out!"
Tip #3: When in doubt, less is always more with your diffuser. "Less is always more—less heat, less power, less movement, less everything," says Collins. "You want to touch and manipulate with your hands as little as possible, scrunch up in your diffuser as little as possible, and just go very slow and gather an area of hair and gently bring it toward your scalp area." To get a tighter curl and more volume, Collins recommends doing the above process with your head upside down, gathering one section of hair in the diffuser at a time and scrunching it slowly toward your scalp. Let it sit there for some time (that's why low heat is important!), and once that area is 70% dry, move on to the next section, working your way around your head.
Tip #4: Use your diffuser to "shake out" your curls. "When the look is dry, your curls may be clumped together," says Collins. "If you want to break it up and expand the look, put your dryer on cold, and use the fastest air setting to start shaking out your curls." Psst! Hot air will make your curls fall, but the cool air will lock in your style and keep it frizz-free.
The Most Common Diffuser Mistakes
Mistake #1: brushing through wet hair. "First, it all starts when the hair is wet," Schaefering tells us. "Curls group together when hair is wet, and we need those groups to stay together as it dries. This means that from wet to dry, we want to avoid using combs, brushes, or anything tighter than a wide-tooth comb to detangle."
Mistake #2: rough-drying hair with a bath towel. "Avoid rubbing and flipping your head over in addition to wrapping the towel on top of your head," notes Schaefering. Instead, try gently squeezing or blotting excess moisture out when you're still in the shower.
Mistake #3: not being patient. "We tend to move hair around thinking that it will dry faster if we do more to it," shares Schaefering. "Breathe and trust the process by allowing the diffuser to do its work without moving your hair too much."
Mistake #4: setting your heat too high. According to Morgan, most people make the mistake of using too high of heat while they're diffusing their strands. "I always suggest using your diffuser on the low heat setting. Additionally, using a diffuser on the cool setting can really help lock a style in a style," he says.
Mistake #5: touching your hair too much. "People usually keep touching the hair while it’s drying, which disrupts the curl, making it frizzy," Morgan points out.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Diffuser Depending on Your Hair Type
"The whole purpose of a diffuser is to create a soft flow of hot air that dries hair without moving it and, therefore, disrupting curls and causing frizz," Schaefering explains. "For some, it's as simple as drying our hair in its natural state, keeping the curl formations together and pretty. For others, it's a scrunching and manipulating technique that gives our hair and curls more body and bounce. Diffusers can be used to dry hair from a wet state to dry, and they also can be utilized to set an already-styled look to last longer by using clips, hair spray, and heat."
According to Collins, if you have wavy, less curly hair and are really looking to enhance your curl as much as possible, there are two important courses of action. First, be sure to elevate your diffusing process by applying a styling product with polymers—aka something that will create some grip and hold like a mouse, gel, or texture spray. Second, gather and direct the section of hair toward your scalp as you diffuse to create the most curl.
However, if your hair is very curly or coily, Collins says you'll want to use a more emollient type of product (think oils, creams, and smoothing formulas) with your diffuser. "The denser or coarser your hair is, the more product you'll need to use to make sure you have definition and max shine to your hair," he adds. Additionally, you'll want to focus more on definition rather than shortening/enhancing the curl by bringing your sections close to the scalp like someone with a less curly texture might do. "Basically, everyone can enhance their curl with a diffuser, but it’s about finding a diffuser that gives you enough control, using it correctly, and adding in the right types of products," he notes.
On the ultra-straight side of the hair spectrum? Follow Morgan's advice by twisting or braiding your hair and then diffusing.
The Pros' Diffuser Picks
"This is my all-time favorite diffuser, and it's the only one I have used in the last five years," says Collins. "It's designed to have perfect airflow, so the airflow is focused, and you then get more control of your hair and far less frizz. It’s also very short and compact, so it’s much easier to use since you can hold it closer to your head with less strain on your arms and shoulders. It magnetically clips to Dyson's Supersonic Hair Dryer ($399), which has three heat controls and three power controls, all of which help to create a natural finish for your texture."
Yes, this diffuser from T3 is one of the best options for coiled, tightly coiled, or curly hair, but it will also enhance fine and wavy textures. The proof? It's the exact model celebrity hairstylist Bryce Scarlett used on me last year to re-create Margot Robbie's signature red carpet waves.
"Break it up a bit," he says. "When you're drying the hair with a diffuser, it becomes a game of how much heat you can play with to get the perfect volume before it starts to get frizzy. You have to take the time to really get to know your hair. Anything that has to do with natural texture demands some trial and error."
The Top-Rated Diffusers
Say hello to one of the highest-rated diffusers for curly hair on Amazon. It comes in tons of fun colors (hey, it's the little things, right?), and it's the perfect fit for hair dryers with a nozzle diameter between 1.7 inches and 2.6 inches (which, according to the brand, means it's suitable for roughly 90% of hair dryer models on the market).
Another hit we found on Amazon, this baby maintains an impressive 4.3 out of five stars despite its walloping number of reviews (7331!). This particular model is designed to take natural curls and texture to the next level thanks to the 360-degree airflow, which ensures an even distribution of hair to maximize volume and shine while simultaneously minimizing excess frizz.
We love ingenious beauty inventions, and this diffuser-hair-dryer hybrid from Bed Head has to be one of our all-time favorites. You can detach the diffuser attachment if you're looking for a faster dry time, but leaving it on will ensure curly haired folks reach peak gloss, definition, and volume sans frizz. Blame it on the nifty tourmaline ceramic technology!
While this best-selling diffuser looks more like a recreational drug than your traditional diffuser, it packs a major punch in the curl-enhancing department. It's suitable for all curl, coil, and wave types and fits most hair dryers, and the 360-degree airflow makes for a faster drying time than other models on the market. Not to mention you'll never have to sacrifice shiny, hydrated strands—the ceramic inner core of this diffuser has your back in the gloss department.
Everyone we know who has a BaBylissPro blow-dryer considers it one of their most prized hair possessions. Not surprisingly, the brand's beloved diffuser is just as fab. This one will fit the brand's Volare V1, Portofino, or Luminoso Dryer, and is the pro-level cure for enhancing naturally wavy, curly, or permed hair with beautiful separation, lift, and bounce.