Diffusing 101

Posted by Adria Marshall on

For those with curly or natural hair, diffusing is a topic that often evokes strong opinions. Some individuals love it and use it regularly, as it helps them avoid the wet hair look. Others dislike it due to the time and effort required, especially after a tiring Wash Day. Preferences may also vary based on the season, with many opting to let the warm air naturally dry their hair during the summer months. Some may have experienced heat damage in the past and consequently sworn off blow dryers altogether. The bottom line is that everyone has their own viewpoint on diffusing, shaped by their unique experiences and hair care routines.

Well, August's blog post just might convince you to change up your drying game, who knows?! There are several different methods of diffusing depending on the results that you're trying to achieve, so there's something for everyone. Let's get started!


The Basics

A diffuser is a blow dryer attachment with "fingers" that allows a softer, dispersed airflow. The benefit of diffusing as opposed to traditional hair drying is that your curls:

  1. Aren't exposed to harsh, direct heat.
  2. Aren't blowing around every which way, reducing frizz.

The traditional method of diffusing is simply cupping sections of your curls into the diffuser cap in an "up-down" motion until your hair is dry. But, who's traditional? Let's get into 4 spins on diffusing to give you some options!

Pixie Diffusing

Pixie diffusing has gained significant popularity as a preferred method among many individuals. It combines the traditional diffusing technique with clever variations to enhance results. Pixie diffusing involves using a diffuser attachment with shorter, intermittent bursts of air, targeting specific sections of the hair for better definition and volume. This method helps create more controlled and defined curls or waves, making it a favorite choice for those seeking a specific look and texture. With its clever techniques, pixie diffusing has become a go-to method for many people aiming to achieve optimal results with their curly or wavy hairstyles.

Pros: More volume, less frizz.

Cons: Time consuming.

The Process:

1. With the dryer turned off, take a section of hair and place it into the diffuser cap.

2. Turn on the dryer and diffuse for your desired duration (Some folks like 10-15 seconds and others up to 2 minutes).

3. Turn the dryer off and remove the hair from the diffuser cup.

4. Rinse and repeat. Wait, no! Please don't rinse, you'll never finish! But, yes, repeat steps 1-3 with the next section. (I'm so funny!)

Helpful videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7yka03EP84

Pro Tips:

1. Keep the dryer on low speed to not disrupt the curl pattern.

2. Hit your hair with cool shot before turning off the dryer to set the curl, add shine and reduce frizz.

Hover Diffusing

Hover diffusing, a technique popularized by ManesbyMell, has gained significant traction in the past couple of years. This method focuses on avoiding direct contact with the curls while diffusing, aiming to enhance definition and minimize frizz. By hovering the diffuser over the hair instead of scrunching or touching the curls, the technique helps maintain the natural pattern and texture of the hair. This approach has become particularly appealing for individuals seeking to preserve curl definition and minimize frizz, resulting in more voluminous and well-defined curls or waves.

Pros: Decent volume, increased definition, reduced frizz. 

Cons: Time consuming.

The Process:

1. Hover your dryer slightly above your hair. (Focus first on your scalp)

2. Sway your hair periodically (front, back, side-to-side) - this will give you more volume while reducing frizz.

3. Repeat steps 1-2 until all of your hair is at your desired level of dryness.

Helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nk5p4OWIIs&t=415s

Pro Tips:

1. For added volume, towards the end of your diffusing session, cup the length of your hair in sections into the diffuser cap, channeling the traditional method of diffusing.

2. While traditionally diffusing, don't hold the curls in the cup for too long to avoid wonky curls.

3. While traditionally diffusing, reduce the heat setting since the dryer will be closer to your scalp.


Hammock Diffusing

Hammock diffusing is another great diffusing method. Similar to hover diffusing, your fingers are kept out of your hair, keeping frizz at bay. Giving your arms a break (whew!), your hands are free to create a hammock with a tshirt or microfiber towel to scrunch and encourage curl clumping.

Pros: Your arms don't get tired from holding the diffuser, curls clump nicely, encourages curls at the roots.

Cons: Requires a bit of set up time, can be a bit awkward.

The Process:

1. Prop up your diffuser on a table, bookshelf, countertop or any surface to allow the diffuser to blow towards you.

2. Collect hair in a microfiber towel or tshirt and "present" it to the diffuser, scrunching to create clumps.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the hair is at your desired level of dryness.

Helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBkaec34Vkg

Pro Tips:

1. Once your length is dry, pixie or hover diffuse if the roots of your hair are still damp.

2. After your hair is dry, allow the hair to settle for a few minutes before styling into its final position.




Tension Method

If you're super plagued by shrinkage, all that swaying from side-to-side and scrunching might not be your jam. Well, you're in luck as I'm a #TeamStretch girl myself!

Pros: Inches, baby, reduces single strand knots.

Cons: Uses a bit of direct heat, reduced volume, reduced definition.

The Process:

1. Keeping the head upright, hover diffuse until the hair is 50-75% dry.

2. Replace the diffuser attachment with the concentration nozzle.

3. Section hair.

4. Working in small sections (the smaller the section, the greater the stretch!), grab the hair about an inch from the end of the section and gently pull tout.

5. Hover the dryer with nozzle attachment over the section until completely dry. Hit the section with the cool shot and move on to the next section.

Helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34wIIC4AoUA&t=529s

Pro Tips:

1. Let products settle before starting diffusing.

2. Use a heat protectant since direct heat is used to stretch.

3. Don't apply heat to the ends of your hair. They look better curly and we don't want any direct heat on these fragile bits!

Well, there you have it, folks! I do hope that this overview of diffusing along with different diffusing methods was helpful!


Until next time!



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  • Loved the read and the tips. 🤎

    amber deboy on
  • It would be very helpful if the you tube videos were actual links that we could open.

    Sandra on

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