How To Diffuse Curly Hair

How To Diffuse Curly Hair

Curly hair is versatile, and just a small tweak to how you diffuse your hair can make a huge difference. Diffusing not only dries your hair faster compared to air drying but can alter the look of your curls and help you achieve your desired look. Depending on your hair type, you may want to create more volume, root lift, definition, shrinkage, or elongation. Let’s discuss some of the various diffusing techniques so you can determine the best one for your hair type.

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There are many ways to dry your hair including, air drying, using a hooded dryer, plopping, so what are the benefits of drying with a diffuser?

  • Dries the hair quickly
  • There are various techniques that give you different end results
  • Enhances your curl pattern 

3 Ways to Diffuse Curls, Waves & Coils 

Diffusing curly hair is not as simple as picking the dryer up and waving it around your head, hoping for the best, you need to think about your desired end result, do you want volume, elongation, more of a natural look, or a combination? Let's review the different styles of diffusing available. 

Pixie Diffusing

Curl types: All, wavy, curly

Goals: Curl definition, shrinkage, volume, root lift


Pixie diffusing is a method of diffusing where you use the diffuser to “scrunch” your hair. This method can be done upside down for more volume, or right side up. All hair types can benefit from pixie diffusing, especially those who are looking to enhance their curl pattern and create more shrinkage. The hair is pressed up towards the scalp, preventing gravity from stretching your curls as they dry so curls often turn out tighter. This technique can also help your curls to last longer because the heat “sets” the curl in a scrunched, tightened, position.

How to Pixie Diffuse

  1. Apply heat protectant and styling products to clean, soaking wet hair 
  2. Remove access water with a microfiber towel or T-shirt 
  3. Flip hair upside down or remain upright
  4. Gather the ends of the hair into the diffuser bowl and press the hair up towards the scalp
  5. Turn the hairdryer on low speed and low to medium heat
  6. Hold for a bit, then turn the dryer off and release the diffuser from the hair
  7. Continue steps #3-5 until hair is dry
  8. Finish with the cold setting if desired

How to Reduce Frizz with Pixie Diffusing

This method may create frizz because you’re touching the hair while it’s wet and the air is blowing up the hair shaft, so ensure you are using a firm hold gel and a heat protectant. Many people like to turn the hairdryer off as they move to each section to prevent the hair from blowing around too much as you’re drying it. You can also angle the diffuse perpendicular to your head instead of directing it straight up. Avoid holding the dryer too long in one spot, and once an area is dry, avoid diffusing it again too much. If your ends are already dry, focus the diffuser at your roots to avoid creating frizz on the ends.

Hover Diffusing

Curl types: All, curly, coily

Goals: Reduce frizz, elongation, volume


Hover diffusing is the simplest diffusing technique because it involves holding the dyer away from the hair and slowly hovering it around your head. Hovering is the healthiest way to diffuse curly hair because the hair is not getting direct heat against it which can cause damage to the cuticle. The heat is at a distance and with the continuous motion, it won’t cause stress to the hair’s cuticle. This mimics the drying effect of sitting under a hooded hairdryer. However, hover diffusing can create volume because it can be done with your head upside down or to the side.

This technique is great for all curl types but may be especially beneficial for those who want to either preserve their natural curl pattern or elongate it. Gravity naturally elongates our hair, so hovering the diffuser without cupping the hair into the diffuser bowl will dry your curls in their natural state without any manipulation. Hover diffusing creates less frizz compared to other methods because you’re not touching your hair while it’s drying and definition is maintained. 

Many people like to combine hover diffusing with other methods but first hover diffusing to “set” the gel cast to reduce frizz, then continue diffusing with the pixie method.

How to Hover Diffuse

  1. Apply heat protectant and styling products to clean, wet hair
  2. Remove excess water with a microfiber towel or T-shirt
  3. Flip hair upside down, or all to one side if root volume is desired
  4. Turn the hairdryer on low speed and low to medium heat
  5. Hold the dryer away from the hair and slowly move it around your hair
  6. Flip your head from side to side as you go to help dry the top section
  7. Finish with the cold setting it desired

How to Encourage Shrinkage with Hover Diffusing

If your goal is to encourage shrinkage and enhance your curl pattern, then you can try flipping upside down. Set the ends of your hair on a flat surface, then move your head down towards the surface, similarly to “plopping.” This keeps these curls pressed towards the scalp but does not result in frizz since the diffuser is not touching the curls. 

You can also try gently cupping the ends of your hair in your hand as you hover to encourage shrinkage, but keep in mind whenever you are touching your hair while it’s drying, it can result in some frizz.

If you’re someone who has trouble holding a hairdryer or has a limited range of motion, you can use this plop diffusing technique but set the hairdryer down so you don’t have to hold it. The Curlsmith Defrizzion Hairdryer has a stand on the back so you can prop the dryer up and not have to hold it the whole time. With this convenient prop, drying your curls can be done with your head upright position if you’re unable to flip your head upside down.

Stretch Diffusing

Curl types: Coily

Goals: Elongation, reduce shrinkage, reduce volume


The final common method of diffusing curly hair is the stretch approach, which is a technique that manipulates the curls to dry in a more stretched position. This reduces shrinkage and maintains length, which can oftentimes be the desired look for those with very tight, coily hair types. While your hair is drying, you can use the diffuser prongs or your hands to gently pull downward or outward on your hair to create elongation. If your goal is to reduce the volume and fullness of your hair, you can hold the hairdryer above your head, and stretch your curls in a downward direction. This method can be combined with other techniques as well.

How to Stretch Diffuse

  1. Apply heat protectant and styling products to clean, wet hair
  2. Turn the hairdryer on low speed and low to medium heat
  3. Place the diffuser prongs into the hair and gently move it downward, or use your hands to hold the ends of your hair as you hover around that section
  4. To stretch the curls at the root, place your fingers under the section, right at the scalp, clamp your fingers together to create light tension on the hair, and hold the diffuser for a bit before moving to another section. 
  5. Continue around to each section until your hair is dry
  6. Finish with the cold setting it desired

How to Create Volume while Maintaining Length

For those who want to create more elongation using the stretch diffusing technique, but still love volume and fullness, there are some tweaks you can make to the aforementioned steps. Diffuse in the upside-down position, while incorporating the stretching techniques on the lengths of your hair. When stretching the roots with your fingers, direct the hair upwards or out to the side so the hair is lifted off the scalp and dries away from it. You can also use the pick attachment that comes with the Curlsmith Defrizzion Hairdryer to lift the hair at the roots. 

There are so many great diffusing methods and various techniques that you can incorporate to adjust the look of your curls as they dry. The wonderful thing about diffusing over air drying is that you have more control over how your curls turn out. Remember that your natural curl pattern is beautiful as is, and does not need to be manipulated to look great. However, the diffusing techniques outlined here will help you achieve your desired look, whether you want to encourage curl definition, maximize volume, or maintain your length there are various stylers in the Curlsmith collection to assist. If you are not sure about the products to suit your needs try our curl quiz, designed to provide you with a personalized list of products to achieve amazing curls.