When it comes to blow dryer diffusers, it's all in the name -- these cup-like nozzle attachments, well, diffuse hot air to spread it out over a larger area at a lower temperature. This makes for a gentler hair-drying experience compared to a non-diffused blow dryer, but it caters to specific hair styles and each calls for slightly different techniques.
Blow-dryer diffusers generally work best for wavy and curly hairstyles. Whether you've got long wavy locks, a curly bob or you're sporting the naturally curly look of African-American hair, the way this gizmo evenly disperses air prevents it from disturbing the hair's curls and wave patterns. Compared to regular blow-drying and finger-styling, you'll end up with a whole lot more body and more boldly defined curls with a diffuser.
While it's not the best choice for sleek or crunchy curls, a diffuser really highlights naturally textured looks. Likewise, the diffuser's low-temperature characteristics also cut back on the dreaded frizz factor.
For the best results, brush and then wash your hair, using a towel to squeeze it dry afterward -- press and scrunch your hair with the towel rather than rubbing or mussing it.
For extra-curly results, scrunch in a bit of curl-defining gel, cream or spray after towel drying your locks. For looser, softer curls, use a leave-in conditioner.
Diffusers, as a general rule, should always be used at low temperature and low speed settings -- you can even use your hair dryer's cool setting if you don't mind taking a little extra time. Once you've got your diffuser attached and your settings right, dry the hair in portions, pressing the diffuser gently against it so that chunks of hair end up in the cup or fingers of the nozzle. Keeping the dryer level -- rather than tilted upward, which causes flyaways; start at the ends of your hair and move upward toward your roots, repeating the process on either side. Keep the dryer moving throughout; if you let the diffuser rest on any one area, you won't reap the low-heat benefits of diffusion.
Once you reach your roots, gently press the fingers of the diffuser right up against your scalp, making smooth circular motions as you dry. If the diffuser doesn't have fingers, use your free hand to make circles near your roots instead. Otherwise, avoid the temptation, or habit, to scrunch or touch your hair with your fingers at all, which can disrupt the diffusion process.
Finish your hair by holding the diffuser at about half an arm's distance and giving your coif a once-over with cool air. If you want to really lock in the look, apply a misting of your favorite lightweight hairspray.
Diffusers come in a variety of different shapes -- ranging from flat, vented-styles to dense, multi-pronged cups -- and vary per manufacturer. Always read and follow any directions, warnings or tips provided by the manufacturer before drying your hair.