De-mystifying the Diffuser

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Nation, I see many posts on Naturally Curly asking about diffusing. I remember being totally intimidated by what looks like a torture tool from some 50s hair salon. Since then I have come to view it as a wavy’s SO. Many of us simply can’t live without one. This is a Wavy Nation Public Service Announcement!

Diffusing is a Wavy god send. Besides allowing you to leave the house in the dead of winter without freezing our head off, it can cut drying time by huge chunks and, for 2as like me, you just can’t get much boing without one. That’s OK for some looks but when you want the most of your wave, it’s a time battle between water weight dragging out your waves and getting that gel cast to set.

You see, products kind of act on a wavy like a “set”, only instead of a curler, the product holds the clumps together and reinforces the wave crest. If your pattern is strong enough (you have a LOT of boing in  your wave – usually shorter wave crests) that wave is going to hold to some extent without pulling out before the strands/clumps dry. You can air dry with equal ease if you wish. You may still get more boing for your buck (see what I did there?) with a diffuser, but that is just a perk.

I use two kinds of diffuser. I have both a bowl diffuser (modeled by my beautiful boy, Sage):

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and a Devafuser “Hand”.

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I think some may find that odd, but how many people do you know who have different kinds of curling irons? We use more than one product (usually). There is nothing wrong with more tools in your toolbox where diffusers are concerned either.

Like everything about hair, diffusing is going to take some experimentation. There are many videos on diffusing to be found on YouTube and they are great. I even made one!

Probably the single most effective technique some beautiful person invented is pixie diffusing. That is where, with your dryer off, you place a section of hair in the bowl (often while upside down or leaning side to side, depending on if you need some volume up top at the crown) and turn the diffuser on, letting the section sit in the bowl without moving the dryer for X amount of time (I like to do about 30 second chunks of time), then turning off the dryer and moving it to a new section. It sounds laborious but you will love it because it keeps your clumps from pulling apart and for the frizz prone, cuts down on frizztastrophes. Or even just frizz squalls.

How long you diffuse is entirely up to you. In general, try to go no longer than having your hair get to 80% dry or then even pixie diffusing will not save you from blowing your clumps apart. You want to air dry the last bit of the way before scrunching out any crunch also to be seen from here forward in this blog as “SOTC”.

Over time, I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually leave the house with my hair at 90% dry and I do not look like some Jean-Paul Gaultier statement. I can SOTC when I get to work. I can also (as I am doing as we speak) turn a fan on low, place it some feet away and let that help get a little more “diffuse” power to help the last bit dry (My thanks to the ladies on Wavy Hair Community for bringing this up some months ago!)

Plopping (piling your hair in a flour sack, t-shirt or micro fiber towel and tying it up) before you diffuse will also help a bit with dry time.

I have seen some folks use those flat diffusers with fingers but I can’t get that to work for all the tea in China. I think they are either more useful for certain effects for wavies or better suited to much curlier tresses.

There is a dryer out there that looks something like a lolly pop that I have seen but don’t know how effective it is. I really like the bowl effect for maximum wave. Some people use a sock diffuser when traveling or a folding diffuser. I love the Deva Hand for some finishing work and getting some extra volume at the root.

To recap:

1) Anyone can try diffusing

2) Pixie diffusing is the best technique to avoid frizz

3) Only diffuse to about 80% dry

4) For hair health, use low heat/low speed settings

5) Bowl diffusers will encourage more wave

6) Deva Hand diffusers can be useful for a different effect or finishing off

I would love to see your comments and tips in the comments! Until next time, keep riding the wave!



12 thoughts on “De-mystifying the Diffuser”

  1. Oh how I wish defusing worked for me. Even though it takes much less time than air drying, it’s dedicated “at the mirror” time, and lots of it, to dry my length. Time that I don’t get. If I pile it all in the bowl there’s so much that the ends get paper dry before the length gets any and I end up with a very elooooongated triangle head. Not a good look. Sigh. I’ll keep trying. And air drying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you clip the root area and crown? That’s a way to get the air all the way through so that not just the ends are drying and create volume. In my video, you’ll see how I lift a lot of hair out from the scalp with clips. It’s a way of “shaping’ the crown. There is no getting around that it is indeed a bit of time. But usually 15 minutes for me gets me at least halfway there and cuts air dry time. Also, the cooler the setting you can use the better for the ends.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My hair is SUPER thick and coarse! I really have a lot of hair, so diffusing is a challenge. Even with a bowl diffuser and small sections, my hair pushes out over the sides of the diffuser bowl. And sectioning my hair breaks up the clumps and gives me frizz. Any tips?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a diffuser you have to order from the UK called the Sedusa, but I know people who have and quite like it. You can browse “sedusa” on in Curltalk and see some threads. It’s very deep and seem to work well for more hair.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh absolutely. I use a little bit of leave in conditioner on the ends (you can put back in just a little of what you used as a rinse out conditioner) a definer or a mousse and then some gel over that. The gel will seal in your definer or mousse. Using mousse under a gel can give you more volume. If volume is not a problem for you then try jelly or cream curl product. If you have a stronger wave pattern some folks just use gel. I have several videos on how to apply and dry various combinations under Wavy Hair Tutorials at that show you more exactly ways you can apply and diffuse product.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This video specifically shows you how to use a mousse or foam and a gel together. I use Deva Volumizing Frizz Free Foam and Jessicurl Spiralicious but you could use even a drugstore mousse and gel for some good results.
      Try an Herbal Essence, Suave or Pantene mousse and a gel like LA Looks but go easy first time out on amounts. You can always work your way up to finding the amounts that works for you. Experiment!


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