Hair diffusers are great for drying your hair without the harsh concentrated heat and the inevitable frizz that goes along with it. Everyone with curly hair hates the hair breakage and messy frizz that hair dryers cause without diffusers. Hair diffusers are a hairstyle lifesaver, but there isn’t always one around. If you’re on a trip or your diffuser breaks, is there a way to diffuse your hair?
Hair diffusers work by dispersing the heat from blow dryers, allowing your curls to dry more slowly and evenly. This preserves the curl pattern and health of your hair. Most diffusers come in the form of a plastic cap with air holes that covers the nozzle of your dryer.
However, anything that disperses hot air over your head can act as an effective diffuser. All you need to diffuse your hair without a diffuser is a kitchen strainer. Place the strainer over your head and blow-dry your hair. The strainer will help diffuse the heat over your hair just like a real diffuser.
What Is a Diffuser?
A diffuser is an attachment for a blow dryer. It generally has a big round base and large round prongs or spikes. Although, some bases are cone-shaped or flat. A diffuser is typically used to dry textured hair in a way that doesn’t cause it to become frizzy. The diffuser does this by controlling the airflow. It allows the blow dryer to gently dry hair in a way that preserves the curl pattern, which could otherwise easily frizz. This is a common problem for anyone with curly or even just wavy hair.
Why it Works
The reason a diffuser works is the way it restricts and directs airflow. It doesn’t allow the heated air to blow as directly on the hair. The diffuser allows you to slowly and steadily dry your hair as you run the spikes on the diffuser through your hair. This diffuser has little holes all along it through which the air bows.
This is a far slower and gentler way to dry hair and results in far less frizz. In addition to controlling frizz, the diffuser will add a lot of volume to hair and cause less interference with your curl pattern.
How to Use a Diffuser or Similar Substitute
Now, we know that a diffuser just needs to deflect the heat and diffuse it over a greater area. We’ll tell you how to use the diffuser or a similar substitute such as a strainer. We’ll cover a strainer in greater detail later on, but here are some simple steps to follow for a diffuser or any similar object you may have.
- Wash and comb your hair. Just wash your hair as you usually would. Then, comb out all of the tangles with a wide-toothed comb.
- Briefly dry your hair. It’s best to use a microfiber cloth so as to avoid the frizz terry cloth towels can cause. Drying your hair a bit first will make it easier to finish drying with the diffuser.
- Add cream or conditioner. After drying your hair slightly, you could add some curl cream, mousse, or another product if you wish.
- Diffuse your hair. Dry your hair in small sections using your diffuser or substitute and set the blow dryer to low or medium as high; heat could ruin your curls. Next, move the dryer closer to your head. Make sure your hair stays in the diffuser bowl or substitute.
- Finish diffusing your hair: Repeat the previous step with each small section of your hair. Keep working with each section of hair in the diffuser bowl or similar substitute until it is almost dry. Don’t allow it to completely dry. Letting your hair finish drying naturally will help retain your natural curls.
- Increase the volume. If you want more volume, you could use the diffuser on your crown. This should add volume to your hair.
- Add final products. After your hair is completely dry, add any other products you want to your hair, such as something to add some shine. Be careful not to add too much, or you could decrease the volume of your hair. Once you’ve added anything you want, scrunch your curls.
Hot or Cold Air for Diffusing
There is sometimes confusion over whether to use hot or cold air when drying hair with a diffuser. The only time you should use hot air is if you start to dry your hair while it’s still very wet.
Methods for Diffusing Your Hair Without a Diffuser
Although the best way to diffuse your hair is clearly to use a diffuser, if for some reason you don’t have one, there are some alternatives. We’ll explain a few of these next.
The Strainer Method
The strainer method is a very easy and reasonably effective way of diffusing your hair. It’s also convenient because most people have a strainer close at hand in their kitchen.
All you need to do with this method is put the strainer on your hair and then blow-dry. Although, you might want to put something on your hair before drying it to keep it from drying out. With the strainer, your hair will dry slower and more gently as the air will dry your hair through the holes of the strainer.
The T-shirt Method
This is an old-fashioned method, but it works quite well. You’ll have less frizz and nicer curls than you would by just blow-drying. Just follow these steps.
- Lay your t-shirt on a flat surface.
- Lean forward and hang your hair over the t-shirt. Make sure your hair is over the middle of the t-shirt.
- Wrap the shirt around your hair and tie it in place.
- In approximately half an hour, unwrap the towel. Your hair should be ready to style.
The Car Method
Using your car to diffuse your hair is also easy. Just get in and start your car and turn on the heater or air conditioner at the highest setting while keeping the windows closed. Your hair should dry quickly.
Advantages of Using a Diffuser for Curly Hair
A diffuser is great for curly hair. By spreading the hot air over a larger surface area, a diffuser can reduce the damage that hot air does to your hair. This is particularly good for people who frequently use a blow dryer since curly hair is easily damaged.
A diffuser will also add volume to your hair and help retain your curl pattern while preventing frizz. Using a diffuser may even enhance your curl’s definition. A diffuser can be a bit bulky and awkward to use, but for curly hair, it is worth it.
Using hot air at this point could seal the hair cuticle and help keep the shape of your curls. So, if you blow-dry your hair before letting it air dry a bit, hot air is more effective.
Although generally, diffusing your hair is a great way to gently dry your hair while retaining your curls, you should be careful. It’s best to only dry your hair to about 75% to 80% dry rather than drying it totally dry. Letting your hair air dry after this can help retain some of the moisture.
It’s also a good idea to avoid using your hands while diffusing your hair. It can be tempting to move your hair around with your hands while diffusing it. But it will not only cause frizz; it may change the shape of your curls as well.
Of course, as mentioned earlier in this article, using high heat is not a good idea. Doing this can easily cause frizz in addition to damaging your hair.
Adding Volume to Your Hair While Diffusing
Attach clips to your hair near its roots and try to keep them at an angle. By doing this, you will lift the upper section of your hair. This will increase its volume while you dry it.
Afterward, you can continue to dry your hair using the method you have chosen to diffuse your hair with. Alternatively, you can allow your hair to dry on its own while leaving the clips in place.
Although diffusing has many benefits, it can cause heat damage even if it is less damaging than a blow dryer alone. So, it may not be best to diffuse your hair every day. But, if you feel it is necessary to diffuse every day, don’t use high heat.
A diffuser is an amazing tool for drying your hair, but just because you don’t have one doesn’t mean you have to live with unbearable frizz. There are actually a number of substitutes that can protect your hair and still help you keep your curls without all the frizz. So just try any of these methods and see how great your hair can look without a diffuser.