The relationship status of curly hair and blow dryers? Um, let’s just say it’s complicated. With a lot of frizz, messed-up curls, knots and heat damage being the side effects of a DIY blowout gone wrong, styling curly hair can be nothing short of intimidating. Enter the diffuser, a blow-dryer attachment specifically designed to maintain bounce, preserve natural curl pattern and stop frizz from the get-go. To get the lowdown on best practices and some quick tips, we reached out to L’Oréal Professional Artist Ron Lopez and the Artistic Director of Color Wow Hair Joseph Maine. Ahead find their tips for mastering the art of diffusing curly hair and amping up your bounce.
What Is a Diffuser Anyway?
Basically, a diffuser is a blow-dryer attachment. “The purpose of a diffuser is to reduce the airflow from a blow dryer … a diffuser attachment helps dry the hair without disturbing the cuticle layer,” says Lopez. He adds that when the full strength of the blow dryer meets the hair, it can cause curly or wavy hair to frizz.
Diffusing Hair Tip #1: Success Starts With Prep
First things first, prepping your hair starts in the shower. Lopez recommends focusing shampoo on the roots and addressing tangles during conditioning. “Take a wide-tooth comb or wet brush while conditioner is on so as to not damage or excite the cuticle of the hair.” Leaving a bit of conditioner in post-rinse can also help tame the most coiled or voluminous hair types.
Once out of the shower, Maine says you should start styling immediately and work in product before your hair starts to dry. “Use a wide tooth-comb or a twisting motion with your fingertips to work a product like Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair through while beginning to form shape to your hair,” he says. We also love using L’Oréal Paris Curve It Curl Taming Cream for this step.
Diffusing Hair Tip #2: Just Keep Drying
Over-dried hair is the enemy of voluminous curls. To avoid frying your ends in the diffusing process, Maine recommends starting at the base of your hair rather than with the bottom. “This doesn’t require much effort, just flip your head over and start with the base; move the water toward your ends,” says Maine. Flipping your head upside down will also amp up the volume and help you focus on hard-to-dry areas.
Diffusing Hair Tip #3: Slow and Steady Wins the Hair Game
To keep frizz out of the equation and achieve the best bounce possible, getting every ounce of moisture out of your stands is 100 percent the key. That being said, raising the pressure level on your diffuser isn’t the way to go. Maine recommends using high heat but turning down the pressure a notch or two for the best results. “When diffusing, be sure not to move the dryer up and down quickly and scrunch the hair vigorously. The more you disrupt the hair, the more unruly it will become,” says Maine. Another hot tip? Lopez says you should avoid moving your diffuser in circular, massaging motions at all costs. “The diffuser needs to be held in position and gently moved to the next section.”
Took your time but still have a curl that insists on going rogue? Maine recommends wrapping the section round the handle of your diffuser or a comb and going in with a blow dryer for a few seconds until it’s tamed.
Diffusing Hair Tip #4: Beauty Is Maintenance
When you put the time in to style your hair, you expect lasting results. Hair that falls the second you walk outside? Not ideal. Maine says that when it comes to preserving the bounce of your curls, the biggest no-no’s are playing with your hair and drying it out. Running your fingers through your locks will only cause your hair to frizz up and heat styling will have negative effects over time. “Straightening hair is the quickest way to mess up your curl pattern and overdry the hair, which will loosen your shape,” says Maine. “Also get regular haircuts; overworked ends will never curl as well as the rest of your hair.”
Diffusing Hair Tip #5: Products are Key
“Never use matte or drying products; curly hair needs all the moisture it can get,” says Maine. “Some girls equate weight to control and don’t enjoy a lot of volume. For those clients I’ll follow Dream Coat for Curly Hair with One Minute Transformation Anti-Frizz Styling Cream, which is a moisturizing crème that when used liberally can give a bit of weight to the hair.” If heat damage is a concern, Lopez recommends spritzing on the Serie Expert Leave-In Color 10 in 1 Vitamino Color A-OX. “This spray is a great first layer that offers heat, UV and damage protection.”