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Diffusing 101

Posted by Adria Marshall on

If you're a curly or natural, you've more than likely formed an opinion on diffusing. You love it and hover diffuse on the daily - I mean, who walks around like a wet dog all day?! You hate it, cause who has the time to hold that heavy thing for 30 minutes after an already strenuous Wash Day? You dig it in the winter but prefer to let the warm air do its thing in the summer. You got heat damage that one time and have sworn off anything resembling a blow dryer going forward. My point is, you have an opinion! 

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 is one of the most popular methods of diffusing these days, combining the traditional method of diffusing that we all know and love with some clever techniques.

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:

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 has become quite popular over the past year or two. Coined by ManesbyMell, Hover diffusing avoids touching your curls to increase definition and reduce frizz.

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:

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:

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:

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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