There are a few things in a hairstylist’s arsenal that make it possible for them to transform limp locks into gorgeously bouncy, shiny-looking tresses. Good products, of course, are key—but so are the right tools. A round brush and a high-powered hair dryer can help you achieve a perfectly sleek at-home blowout, but for naturally curly strands, a hair diffuser is a must. While these somewhat unwieldy-looking hair-dryer attachments might seem complicated, the truth is that they’re fairly easy to use. And once you get the hang of it, you can give yourself a bouncy, salon-quality curly blowout from the comfort of your own home.
Here, we’ll teach you how. In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of how to diffuse hair. We’ll start by explaining what a hair-dryer diffuser is and then discuss how to use it to achieve your desired hairstyle. Plus, we’ll clue you in on the best Kiehl’s products to use when diffusing your hair at home. Find all the details ahead.
What Is a Hair Diffuser?
A diffuser, or a hair-dryer diffuser, is a type of tool that you attach to your blow dryer. Usually, it looks like a large, rounded plate with small holes evenly spaced throughout. Some diffusers also have smallish, spike-like structures on their surface. Diffusers redirect—in other words, diffuse—the single stream of hot air from your hair dryer into multiple streams of hot air spread over a wider area. By preventing the hot air from being concentrated in one spot, diffusers may help reduce heat-induced hair damage (an unfortunate but common effect of using hot tools). It’s also believed that diffusers can help dry the hair without interrupting your natural curl pattern—that’s why diffusers are so popular amongst those with wavy and curly hair.
Who Should Use Hair Dryer Diffusers?
Anyone can use a hair diffuser attachment, though as noted above, they tend to be most popular amongst those with naturally curlier hair. If you want to give yourself an at-home blowout but have straight hair, consider checking out our article How To Do a Perfect Blowout.
How To Use a Hair Diffuser in 5 Simple Steps
Now that you’re caught up on what a hair diffuser attachment is and what it does, we can dive into the right way to use it. Keep reading for five steps that’ll help you make the most out of your hair-drying routine.
Start With Clean, Conditioned Hair
We recommend starting your haircare routine in the shower by lathering up with Amino Acid Shampoo and Amino Acid Conditioner. The amino acid and coconut oil-infused shampoo cleanses and helps add volume to flat hair, while the conditioner boosts hydration, leaving your strands shiny, soft, and manageable. The classic pair is suitable for all hair types and can be used daily or as needed for healthy-looking strands. (When you start running low, grab our 1L shampoo and conditioner refill pouches. They’re made with 81% less plastic and help reduce waste.)
Kiehl’s Tip: If you don’t want to shampoo before diffusing your hair, you can skip the product—but you’ll still want to make sure your hair is sufficiently wet. Otherwise, you’ll have the disappointing realization that blasting a blow dryer at dry hair isn’t very effective.
Towel-Dry To Remove Excess Moisture
Once you’ve stepped out of the shower, reach for a clean towel and gently dry your hair. For the best results, gather your hair as if into a ponytail and wrap the towel around it, squeezing down the lengths of your strands to remove excess water. What you don’t want to do is rub the towel onto your head: This creates friction, which can lead to breakage (and the risk of breakage is higher when your hair is wet). So be as gentle as possible, and take your time. Once your hair is no longer sopping wet, you can move on to the next step.
Apply a Nourishing Kiehl’s Leave-In Treatment
Next, help protect your hair from the heat of the blow dryer by applying a hydrating leave-in treatment, such as Strengthening & Hydrating Hair Oil-In-Cream. The creamy formula, which contains olive fruit oil and avocado oil, helps strengthen and repair damaged hair. It also penetrates the individual hair fibers to help reinforce them and protect your hair against further damage. Apply it from the ends of your hair upward, avoiding your roots.
For guys, we recommend using a non-greasy styling cream, like the classic Creme with Silk Groom. The classic formula with hydrolyzed wheat protein and jojoba oil moisturizes, conditions, and protects hair for the optimal styling experience. As with our other leave-in treatments, we advise applying this to damp hair, working your way from the bottom up the length of your strands. As your hair dries, the cream will absorb, leaving your mane silky and smooth.
Put Your Diffuser To Work
With your hair fully prepped, you can go ahead and reach for your diffuser. Attach it to your blow dryer and turn it on (preferably on a lower heat setting, which is less damaging to your hair). In contrast to regular blow drying, which is typically done from the top down, diffusers work best when held at the ends of your hair and pointed upward. To help encourage your natural waves or curls, you can scrunch your hair upward (toward the roots) as you work the diffuser around your head.
Touch Up Frizzy Areas As Needed
Diffusing hair may help reduce frizz, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be completely frizz-free once you’re finished drying your hair. You can address errant frizz and flyaways with Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-In Concentrate. Made with fairly-traded argan oil and babassu oil, this nourishing leave-in treatment helps smooth dry, frizzy hair without weighing it down. Dispense a small amount of the formula onto your palms and rub your hands together, then work the product through any frizzy or unruly areas you want to tame. It won’t leave your hair looking or feeling greasy; instead, it will help ensure that your style stays sleek, shiny, and smooth.