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Members of the curly hair club know that ringlets, coils, and curls require special treatment to look fresh and bouncy day in, day out. Of all the hair styling tools in your kit, a diffuser for curly hair is the most essential. With the right hair diffuser, you can speed up your drying time without dealing with frizz or flat pieces.
Hair diffusers do exactly what their name suggests: They diffuse a hair dryer’s airflow across a wide surface area to deliver gentler heat that dries your strands without smoothing natural texture. Most hair diffusers are pronged, bowl-shaped attachments that click onto the nozzle of your best hair dryer. Others, like hand diffusers and hooded diffusers, are dedicated solely for diffusing curly hair and are not compatible with other attachments. “A diffuser is a great tool to help maintain your natural hair pattern and helps control frizz, leaving you with a gorgeous texture,” says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. The best hair diffusers easily work for all curl types, from the gentlest type 2 waves to the type 4 coils.
All curl patterns are different, so just like hair dryers for curly hair, hair diffusers are not one-size-fits-all. Selecting the best hair diffuser for your curl pattern requires some research and consideration: Think about how you wear your hair on a daily basis, how often you dry it, and what type of result you’re after.
For everything you need to know about hair diffusers and other key curly hair products, we asked celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons and natural hair experts Kamara Brown and Erinn Courtney to get a complete breakdown on hair diffusers, as well as their picks for the best hair diffusers out there.
Top Hair Diffusers of 2023
- Best Versatile: Pattern The Blow Dryer
- Best for All Curl Types: InfinitiPro By Conair 1875 Pro Hair Dryer With Diffuser Attachment
- Best for Short Curly Hair: Devafuser Universal Diffuser
- Best Hooded: Eleganty Soft Bonnet Hooded Hair Dryer
- Best for Long Curly Hair: T3 Soft Curl Diffuser
- Best Hair Dryer + Diffuser Combo: Remington Damage Protection Hair Dryer
- Best for Travel: HairiZone Universal Hair Diffuser
- Best for Volume: Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser
- Best for Curl Definition: Ghd Professional Hair Dryer Diffuser
- Best for Thick Hair: Bio Ionic Universal Diffuser
- Best Budget: Conair Volumizing Diffuser
- Best Universal: BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Universal Finger Diffuser
- Best Splurge: Dyson Gentle Air Attachment
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The 15 Best Conditioners for Every Type of Curly Hair
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The 12 Best Hair Brushes for Curly Hair
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Pattern The Blow Dryer With Hair Diffuser
Best Versatile Hair Diffuser
- Type: Multiple
- Compatible with: Included Pattern hair dryer
- Special features: Very lightweight
Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair care line, Pattern, puts curly girls first. After two years of development, Pattern’s The Blow Dryer launched in January 2023. Unlike most hair dryers that include only one attachment for curly hair, each of the four attachments in this blow dryer are specifically designed to uplift your curls. The bowl diffuser features aluminum plates that heat up to expedite your dry time. And the comb attachment helps detangle without flattening out your ringlets. If you’re looking to stretch or smooth your curls, the dryer has two attachments that’ll do the trick as well as the best hair dryer brushes out there.
What reviewers say: “I love the brush attachment, which allows me to get closer to the root and grabs all the hair at the nape of the neck. When I’m going curly the diffuser is great! Love the double lock for the attachments. They never fall off. I can also dry my hair on medium heat and still get done faster than with my old dryer.”
InfinitoPro By Conair 1875 Pro Hair Dryer With Diffuser Attachment
Best Hair Diffuser for All Curl Types
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Included InfinitiPro by Conair 1875 hair dryer
- Special features: Long prongs with venting
“InfinitiPro by Conair is one of my favorite diffusers for all curl types,” says Fitzsimons. “It applies gentle and even heat to your curls leaving them gorgeous and frizz-free.” You’re also able to choose a cooling air option which Fitzsimons says will help lock curls instantly. Easy to use and at a pretty great price, it doesn’t get much better than that.
What reviewers say: “Love this. I got it mainly for the diffuser attachment. I see a big difference in terms of frizziness.”
DevaCurl Devafuser Universal Hair Diffuser
Best Diffuser For Short Curly Hair
- Type: Hand diffuser
- Compatible with: Most commercial hair dryers with barrel diameters measuring 2 to 2 1/2 inches
- Special features: Unique shape allows for easy drying on the back of your head and close to your roots
Fitzsimons picks Devacurl’s Devafuser Universal Diffuser for short curly hair because of its lack of prongs. Without prongs, he explains, it’s easier to grip onto shorter strands for an even blow-dry. It also provides 360-degree airflow to surround curls so that you cut down your drying time, while preserving moisture in hair and enhancing its shine. As an added bonus, its heat resistant and will fit most dryers — it features an expandable band at the base that secures the diffuser in place.
What reviewers say: “I have always fought frizz and I have the type of hair that I used to have to put in my products and let it air dry or else it would frizz like crazy. With this diffuser, I can quickly dry my hair and not have any frizz plus have beautiful curly or wavy hair.”
Eleganty Soft Bonnet Hooded Hair Dryer Diffuser
Best Hooded Hair Diffuser
- Type: Hooded hair diffuser
- Compatible with: Most commercial hair dryers
- Special features: Adjustable drawstring and chin strap to keep the bonnet in place
If you prefer a hands-free approach, go with a hooded hair diffuser. This Eleganty Soft Bonnet Hooded Hair Dryer includes a hose attachment that secures around the nozzle of your hair dryer, concentrating the airflow into the bonnet. You can use the bonnet to dry your hair on its own, or use it to set your curls with curling rods or rollers. If your hair is in need of some nourishment, fasten it on after applying a leave-in conditioner or hair mask for extra absorption. Over 10,500 enthusiastic Amazon shoppers award it five stars.
What reviewers say: “Due to my thinning hair, my Doctor wanted me to cut down on my weekly visits to the hair salon where they use very hot hair blowers. She said sitting under a hair dryer is so much healthier than a hair blower. I saw this on Amazon and thought I would give it a try, but I never thought I would like it and knew I would probably return it. Well, I just tried it tonight and I’m in LOVE with this thing.”
T3 SoftTouch 3 Hair Diffuser
Best Diffuser For Long Curly Hair
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: T3 Aireluxe Hair Dryer
- Special features: Two prong sizes and plenty of venting
The T3 Soft Curl diffuser is one of Fitzsimons’s go-tos for long curly hair. Elongated prongs, he explains, are best suited for hair that is medium length or longer. Here, you’ll get vented finger extensions that distribute heat evenly and gently so that you get volume, body, and a faster drying time. You’ll also notice your hair looking super shiny and frizz-free.
What reviewers say: “I cut my long hair to shoulder length a year ago and it released all this curl. I’ve been blowing it dry, then curling it, but with this I can skip all that and it looks great! My curls are set, so much better than crunching and air drying.”
Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer With Hair Diffuser
Best Hair Dryer + Hair Diffuser Combo
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Included Remington D3190 hair dryer
- Special features: Ionic tourmaline plates help decrease frizz
We love a good two-in-one product. If you’re looking for a dryer and diffuser combo that comes together in one purchase, Fitzsimons recommends the Remington Damage Protection hair dryer three-piece set. He loves the dryer’s heat control sensor to ensure that you’re not damaging curls or fading away color with excessive heat. The diffuser attachment will distribute heat evenly and will also be super gentle with your curls, for a shiny and soft look. Over 32,000 Amazon shoppers award this affordable hair dryer five stars.
What reviewers say: “I wanted to try a diffuser so I got a cheaper one and let me tell you this dried my hair about 85 percent in about 13 minutes on high. I like to let my hair air dry the rest of the way so this is perfect for me. The air flow is not weak like some other dryers I had in the past. This is great for traveling and vacation instead of bringing your huge hooded portable dryer.”
HairiZone Universal Hair Diffuser
Best Travel Hair Diffuser
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Most commercial hair dryers with nozzles between 1.7 to 2.6 inches
- Special features: Includes short and medium prongs
Do you have a dryer that didn’t come with an attachment? No problem. One of the best universal diffusers is one of Brown’s selections, the HairiZone Universal Hair Diffuser. She says it’s adaptable for about 90 perfect different types of blow dryers. It’s a great option for taking on the road — although it’s larger than other options, it’ll connect with most travel hair dryers, as well as the ones you encounter at hotels and bed and breakfasts.
What reviewers say: “Bought this for traveling since hotels all have different hairdryers and never have diffusers. Tried it with my hairdryer and love it. Dries my hair quicker and my curls look better. I’m using this every day from now on. It might be a bit bulky for traveling but I’ll make it fit in my bag.”
Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser
Best Hair Diffuser For Volume
- Compatible with: Most commercial hair dryers, including Drybar’s Buttercup and Baby Buttercup hair dryers
- Special features: Medium and long prongs
“While diffusers work similarly in regards to volume, I would definitely recommend Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser for those looking to give their curls that extra oomph,” says Fitzsimons. This diffuser reduces the speed of heat and guarantees a very gentle blow-dry. You’ll also notice reduced frizz and defined, voluminous curls. As an added bonus, it fits most hair dryers.
What reviewers say: “I love that the rubber grip expands to fit the nozzle, but has plastic strips on the inside so that it maintains its shape, rather than being just rubber and collapsible.”
Ghd Professional Hair Dryer Diffuser
Best Diffuser For Curl Definition
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Ghd Helios 1875W Hair Dryer
- Special features: Designed to provide even airflow throughout the diffuser bowl
One of Courntey’s favorites is Ghd Professional’s Hair Dryer Diffuser. It has contoured prongs that help lift hair and keep curl patterns intact. Pro tip: Courtney says to make sure you hold the dryer at a 90-degree angle as you diffuse curls to give your curls body and movement.
What reviewers say: “Living in Minnesota, I didn’t always want to go out with wet hair. I decided to purchase the diffuser along with my new dryer so I could keep my curls but dry my hair faster. There’s no frizz, the air flow from the dryer is just right for curly hair, and I get a polished style when I dry my hair with the diffuser.”
Bio Ionic Universal Diffuser
Best Hair Diffuser For Thick Hair
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: All Bio Ionic hair dryers and some other commercial options
- Special features: Lightweight and includes volcanic minerals purported to help with hydration
Both Fitzsimons and Brown love the Bio Ionic Universal Diffuser for thicker hair textures. Fitzsimons says it’s important to look for a diffuser with longer prongs to allow air flow to reach the scalp without crushing the curls and disrupting the curl pattern. Brown agrees, adding that the diffuser’s prongs work extremely well for thicker curls. You can also adjust the airflow, which is always an added bonus.
What reviewers say: “I have a regular blow dryer and this fits perfectly. There are rubber pieces on the inside that allow for a snug fit. Perfect for what I need it for and enhances my curl volume.”
Conair Volumizing Diffuser
Best Budget Diffuser
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Hair dryers with nozzles ranging from 1.7 to 2.3 inches in diameter
- Special features: Shallow bowl shape and long prongs make it particularly well suited for shorter curly hair types
For those looking for a budget-friendly option, Fitzsimons suggests the Conair Volumizing Diffuser, which he says, “will give you stunning, sculpted curls for just under $10.” It’s great for all curl types and will help cut down on frizzy flyaways. Plus, it fits with most hair dryers.
What reviewers say: “I love the way it fits on my blow dryer! Easy to slide on & stays on great without falling off. Woks great with my curly hair.”
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Universal Finger Hair Diffuser
Best Universal Hair Diffuser
- Type: Bowl diffuser
- Compatible with: Most hair dryers with a 2.5 inch diameter
- Special features: Lightweight
Courtney picks the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Universal Finger Diffuser if you’re shopping on a budget. It contains nano titanium technology that allows infrared heat to dry the hair quickly while allowing natural ions to seal cuticles and keep curls frizz-free. It’s a universal attachment and can fit most dryers.
What reviewers say: “I have wavy with lots of frizz and I rarely ever used to leave it natural. I have been straightening my hair forever and even have a backup straightener because I never wanted to leave the house with my natural hair. Since I got this diffuser I have not used my straightening iron once because I now love my hair.”
Dyson Gentle Air Attachment
Best Splurge Diffuser
- Compatible with: Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
- Special features: Emits a cooler airflow than alternatives to prevent heat damage
Brown, Courtney, and Fitzsimons all agree: Dyson’s Supersonic Hair Dryer is the best splurge out there. The dryer itself is a favorite for many, and some varieties come with the Gentle Air diffuser attachment, which Fitzsimons says will get you salon-quality curls. Brown adds that the dryer diffuser is lightweight and extra quiet, making it ideal for anyone with lots of curls. While it‘s a pricey option if you don’t currently own a Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, Courtney says the powerful dryer and diffuser give a flow of concentrated heat that can set any curl in a matter of minutes, making it worth every single penny. Read our full review of the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer for more info on the tool.
What reviewers say: “I typical need to blow out my hair with a round brush but with this attachment I can use my hands to get a nice texture and hair isn’t frizzy or pouffy like it would be rough dried without attachment or even with concentrator. It looks so simple and not sure how it works but you can use max speed, heat but no burning.”
The Different Types of Hair Diffusers
Hair diffuser options abound, so you can choose the type of diffuser that aligns with your hair texture and how you prefer to style it. These three types are the most common.
- Bowl diffusers: These attachments are likely what comes to mind when you think of hair diffusers. They attach to the nozzle of your dryer to evenly distribute heat throughout the bowl. Shallow options are ideal for short hair and targeting your roots, while deep bowl diffusers can dry thick, long hair with ease.
- Hand diffusers: Rather than a bowl that cups your hair, hand diffusers spread heat throughout different finger-like prongs to set your curls naturally. DevaCurls’ Devafuser is the top option in this category.
- Hooded hair diffusers: These hands-free hair dryers diffuse heat throughout a bonnet. Because you don’t touch your hair while it dries, you’ll emerge with a full head of gravity-defying ringlets without an ounce of frizz.
What to Look for in the Best Hair Diffusers
Similar to the best curly hair dryers, hair diffusers come in several different sizes and which one you use depends on what type of hair you have. “A diffuser for each individual will be different,” says Brown. “I don’t believe all diffusers should have a certain amount of prongs or that size should be a certain way.” These factors will help you deduce what to seek out in a diffuser for your unique head of hair.
- Compatibility with a hair dryer: This is crucial, as a diffuser that’s not fitted to your hair dryer is moot. Double check the dryer and diffuser’s manufacturer’s website to determine whether or not a diffuser will fit your current go-to hair dryer.
- Prong size: Shorter prongs are ideal for lifting curls and adding volume near your root. Medium to longer prongs, on the other hand, help dry and add shape to your ends. Looser curl types, like type 2 or 3a, he adds, also benefit from longer prongs to add volume and shape to hair, according to Fitzsimons.
- Venting: Fitzsimons recommends looking for a diffuser with a lot of small holes or vents to allow the perfect amount of controlled airflow to dry hair without prolonging the drying time. This is particularly helpful for those with thicker, coarser hair (types 3 to 4).
How to Use a Hair Diffuser
How you use a diffuser depends on your hair length. Brown and Fitzsimons offer these guidelines for exactly how to use a hair diffuser for your hair length, type and texture.
- Short hair: Brown says the shorter your hair, the less likely you’re going to press a diffuser close to your roots.
- Long hair: For longer hair, Brown recommends focusing the diffuser head on the ends.
- Fine hair or loose curls: According to Fitzsimons, those with finer hair and looser curls may need to flip their hair over to add volume.
- Thick hair: Thicker hair will need to push the diffuser gently onto hair and you’ll need to divide hair into smaller sections to ensure consistent curl patterns.
Yet, according to Brown, there are specific steps that all curl types and patterns should follow to set themselves up for curly success. After using a hair diffuser, curls and waves should be light on frizz and heavy on the volume, shine and curl shape.
- Wash and detangle: After sudsing up with a shampoo for curly hair, apply a generous amount of conditioner for curly hair. While your hair is wet, use a hair brush for curly hair to detangle.
- Remove excess water: Next, you’ll want to define your hair with styling products, like mousses and foams for curly hair, and remove excess water with a microfiber towel or cotton T-shirt so that the diffuser works seamlessly.
- Section: Then you’ll section off your hair and start to blow dry with the hair diffuser attached to the end. Brown likes to hold the blow dryer with the diffuser attachment attached over the head, taking it around in a circle over the entire head.
- Dry: Once Brown does that, she’ll cup the bottoms of each section to diffuse the end, moving around section to section so that she’s not putting too much heat in one section. Her tip is to tilt your hair from side to side when diffusing each end so that your curls don’t get stuck together. It’s also a way to create movement and keep hair frizz-free and shiny.
Meet the Experts
Andrew Fitzsimons is the stylist that A-list celebs like Ashley Graham, Megan Fox and the Kardashians have on speed dial when they want a look that’s sleek and cutting edge.
Erinn Courtney is a legend within the world of natural hair. She’s tended to the locks of celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Future and Offset, and is considered one of the very best when it comes to braiding and protective styles.
Kamara Brown is a hairstylist with more than nine years of protective hairstyling under her belt. Brown is famed for her signature Crochet Braids Afro style and is currently developing a textured wig line for women who love big hair and curls.
Meet the Authors
Audrey Noble is an NYC-based reporter who has been specializing in beauty, culture, and entertainment topics for over six years. She was previously the beauty reporter at Allure and has held an editorial position at Vanity Fair and Refinery29. Her work can also be seen in Vogue, Harper’s BAZAAR, Bustle, Martha Stewart Living, and more. Noble wrote the original version of this hair diffusers story in 2022.
Claire Sullivan is the Senior Beauty and Lifestyle Commerce Editor for WWD and Footwear News. She’s spent over five years researching, reporting on, and writing about the beauty industry for publications like Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, and Byrdie. She’s tested hundreds of products during her time as a beauty editor, so she’s well-versed in selecting the products that make a meaningful difference in your hair. Sullivan contributed to the update of this hair diffusers story for 2023, adding the top new product picks and pertinent advice related to caring for curly hair.