These 5 Hair Diffusers Will Give You the Defined Curls of Your Dreams


(Image credit: @claire_most)

Curly hair requires a special kind of care. For optimum health, shine, and bounce, it needs a gentle touch, lots of moisture, and the right products and tools. It's no secret, then, that creating a curly haircare routine can feel almost dizzying at times. With so many competing products, techniques, and philosophies, it's only natural to feel overwhelmed. 

While word-of-mouth recommendations are surely much-needed, most people need to go through some trial and error before finding the routine that works for them and their specific curl pattern. Luckily, there are a few nearly universal truths that can help. One of those truths is that a diffuser is almost always a staple accessory.

The purpose of a diffuser is to disperse the airflow of a hair dryer in order to encourage your natural wave pattern to form with minimal frizz or damage. According to Biolage curl specialist and celebrity stylist Cynthia Alvarez, "there are five different types of diffusers that each work to achieve different looks and work for different hair types." Keep scrolling to see all five types, and shop the best product picks from each one. 


(Image credit: @cassandra.cadwell)

First, we need to talk about how to properly use a diffuser. "I recommend always adding your products to wet curls before you start diffusing," Alvarez says. "Since diffusers apply a gentle heat, make sure to prime hair with a heat protectant, like the Biolage All-in-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray ($31). To lock in your curls without drying your hair out, I use the Biolage Curl Defining Elixir ($19), which is also alcohol-free."

For voluminous curls, Alvarez suggests flipping your hair sideways or upside down before cupping your hair with the diffuser. Move it up and down to thoroughly dry your hair. 

For elongated and defined curls, Alvarez recommends holding the diffuser at the roots, allowing the warm air to dry the ends. "You can move the diffuser around your head but be careful not to disrupt the curls. You can also stretch your ends while drying," she says.


(Image credit: @freddieharrel)

1. Hand-Shaped Diffusers

2. Cup Diffusers 

3. Collapsible Diffusers

4. Sock or Mesh Diffusers

5. 3D-Prong Diffusers


(Image credit: @chadkenyon)

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Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.