Got Curly Hair? These Are the Best Diffusers for Smooth, Defined Coils (2024)

For curly hair, there's often a love/hate relationship with hair dryers. Sure, they can speed up your drying time—but the fast, hot winds can leave your curls feeling dry and looking less than defined. Enter diffusers: a curly girl's hero accessory to blow dryers. These handy, bowl-shaped attachments distribute the air throughout your hair so that your curls can dry more evenly, resulting in more defined curls. According to Aeleise Ollarvia, the cofounder of Black Girl Curls, a diffuser makes all the difference. "A diffuser is a great, portable way to take curls from wet to dry with minimal flyaways," she explains. "It can also enhance volume during the drying process if desired."

We conducted hours of research on the best diffusers for curly hair, evaluating each model by its design, benefits offered, and what type of hair it works best on. After consulting with a haircare expert and considering dozens of options, we landed on the following best in show.

Our Top Picks

What We Like

  • Unique design

  • Smoothes hairs

  • Ceramic lining

What to Consider

  • Not compatible with all hair dryers

Type: Diffuser

You’re probably familiar with the curl innovation of DevaCurl, so it’s no surprise that the brand would have a one-of-a-kind diffuser made with curly hair in mind. The ceramic inner core preserves moisture to ensure shinier, sleeker-looking curls. Plus, the wide, hand-like head delivers 360 degrees of airflow to shorten your drying time. Just keep in mind that it takes longer to dry hair.

What We Like

  • Affordable

  • Travel-friendly

  • Compatible with a variety of dryers

What to Consider

  • May collapse while using

Type: Diffuser

You don’t have to break the bank to get a quality diffuser. This collapsible travel-friendly blow-dryer attachment offers easy storage, funneling and softening the airflow of your hairdryer while also collapsing to a convenient size.

What We Like

  • Adds volume

  • Dries bigger sections

  • Lightweight

What to Consider

  • Reviewers note diffuser can fall off

Type: Diffuser

This convenient diffuser gets major points for its large shape that’s able to dry big sections at a time. The circular shape cups your hair to distribute heat from roots to tips for great shape and volume. It’s also surprisingly lightweight so that every wash day doesn’t also have to be an arm workout.

What We Like

  • Travel-friendly

  • Lightweight

  • Compatible with a variety of dryers

What to Consider

  • Not as much control as traditional diffusers

Type: Diffuser

No room for your standard diffuser in your carry-on bag? This Hot Sock diffuser is the next best thing. While it doesn’t feature fancy prongs, it conveniently glides over the nozzle of your blow-dryer to reduce heat damage, limit flyways, and promote more defined curls.

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Three heat settings

  • Includes diffuser

What to Consider

  • Pricier than other options

Type: Dryer + diffuser

When you want all of the bang of a quality hair dryer with less of the bulk, this compact ionic dryer is a great solution—and of course, it comes with a handy diffuser attachment. With three heat settings and two speed settings, you can control the amount of heat you subject your hair to while diffusing the airflow for a more precise drying experience. This is pricier than other options on our list—but you're getting a whole drying system, not just an attachment.

What We Like

  • Unmatched styling capabilities

  • Reduces damage

  • Includes diffuser

What to Consider

  • Pricier than other options

Type: Dryer + diffuser

This Supersonic hairdryer is quite the splurge, but users who love it say it’s worth every penny. Aeleise says that this dryer “has power and heat but doesn't displace the hair even on the highest air setting. It's game-changing because the hair can dry in half of the time.” Its technology takes blow-drying one step further by doing the work of your favorite heat protectant and guarding your hair against damage for 75% increased smoothness and 132% decreased flyaways—no matter the humidity. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also won over fans who swear by its results, so we think it's worth the spend.

What We Like

  • Lightweight

  • Includes diffuser

  • Three heat settings

What to Consider

  • Noisy

Type: Dryer + diffuser

There’s a reason why Conair is celebrated for making quality hair tools—they just get it right, and this classic hairdryer is no exception. The ceramic technology makes for safer drying, and you can also use the cold shot when you want to avoid heat. The diffuser also has prongs with multiple lengths so it can evenly distribute air through thick hair.

What We Like

  • Minimizes flyaways

  • Adds shine

  • Includes diffuser

What to Consider

  • Reviewers note diffuser can fall off

Type: Dryer + diffuser

This blow-dryer and diffuser set was made with humidity in mind. With infrared heat technology and a diffuser with widespread prongs, you reduce your risk of over-drying your hair. The results? Smoother curls and enhanced shine.

What We Like

  • Compatible with a variety of dryers

  • Comes in various colors

What to Consider

  • Can break easily

Type: Diffuser

When you buy a diffuser that doesn’t come with your blow-dryer you can run the risk of it not fitting—but not with this adaptable head. With a quick squeeze, it can adjust in size to fit 90% of blow-dryers on the market. Use the diffuser for a sleek finish.

What We Like

  • Longer prongs than other options

  • Lightweight

  • Three heat settings

What to Consider

  • Noisy

Type: Dryer + diffuser

Having a diffuser sounds like a great curly-haired solution unless your hair is too thick for tiny prongs to penetrate. That’s why this diffuser is such a standout. It has extra-long prongs that can reach the roots of thick hair, and the convenient, lightweight dryer is ergonomic for comfortable styling. For tighter curls, Aeleise offers her advice for maximum definition and flyaway-free diffusing, “When using a diffuser on tighter curls do not put it into the hair. Hover it over the hair 4 to 6 inches like a portable hood dryer. Move it in the direction the hair grows, root to end, not end to root, to reduce the possibility of frizz. Don't put your hand in your hair either till the hair is 60% to 75% dry.”

What We Like

  • Includes diffuser, detangling brush, and two combs

  • Reduces damage

  • Affordable

What to Consider

  • May collapse while using

Type: Diffuser + combs

If you’re ready to give your entire wash day styling routine an upgrade, this set of hair tools is a great place to start. It comes with a collapsible silicone diffuser, detangling brush, plus fine-tooth and wide tooth combs to reduce breakage.

What We Like

  • Adds volume

  • Affordable

  • Three heat settings

What to Consider

  • Hair can get sucked into dryer

Type: Diffuser + dryer

This diffuser sets itself apart from the pack for its unique design that has a large surface area—making for quick drying and faster results. The removable diffuser is evenly spaced for added definition, texture, and increased volume.

What We Like

  • Even heat distribution

  • Compatible with a variety of dryers

  • Affordable

What to Consider

  • Testers note its not comfortable to wear

Type: Hood attachment

Now, this isn’t exactly a diffuser, but the even distribution of the air gives you all of the benefits of a hairdryer with the convenience of an attachment. It’s great for setting roller styles or twist-outs, but it can also be used on wash-and-go styles for easy, effortless drying. Plus, the flexible material fits virtually any blow-dryer.

What We Like

  • Volumizes and enhances

  • Affordable

What to Consider

  • Only compatible with a T3 blow-dryer

Type: Diffuser

This do-it-all diffuser works for both curly and coily textures, and for all hair types. However, it’s especially choice for those with finer strands. The vented extensions evenly disperse heat, helping to add volume, all while defining your spirals in the process.

What We Like

  • All-in-one tool that’s great for creating a variety of styles

  • Minimizes heat damage to hair

What to Consider

  • It's an investment

Type: Diffuser + dryer + attachments

This isn’t a diffuser, it’s not a dryer, and it’s certainly not your run-of-the-mill hot tool. There are not one, not two, but three different attachments included: a blow-dryer head, two different size curling wraps, a round brush, and a unique, flower-shaped diffuser. The diffuser is noteworthy in and of itself, with retractable and extendable prongs that help shape your curls to perfection. Plus, this also gives you the option of wearing your hair smooth if you want to blow it out, or adding back waves with the curl wraps. Not to mention that it measures and regulates the air temperature a whopping 1,000 times per second, helping to drastically cut down on the likelihood of heat damage.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Diffuser for Curly Hair

  • Size and Shape: When you’re buying a blow-dryer that already comes with a diffuser attachment, you’re in the clear. But if you are searching for an attachment, Aeleise says, “make sure the one you purchase fits securely on your preferred handled dryer. This will reduce fumbling and possible frizzing of the hair.”
  • Your Hair's Thickness: Thick hair obviously needs a bit of assistance to dry quickly, so those with thick hair should choose a diffuser with longer prongs that can penetrate your curls and coils to dry your hair at the root.

FAQ

  • What are the benefits of using a diffuser for curly hair?

    A diffuser helps to control the air coming out of your hair dryer so that your curls can remain more intact and defined.

  • How do you use a diffuser for curly hair?

    Gently comb through your hair with a brush and dry softly with a towel after showering. Apply your styling products and a heat protectant. Then, divide your hair into sections. Put individual sections of your hair into the bowl-like part of the diffuser, pushing up from tip to root so that the prongs touch your scalp. From there, massage the diffuser into your hair by moving your dryer upward in a slow circular motion. Set the dryer to low heat and speed settings to prevent your hair from becoming tangled and difficult to handle. It’s best to not fully dry your hair when using a diffuser.

    "If you can expose your hand to the airstream from the diffuser without much discomfort for the same time you would hover over a section of your hair, then it's fine," notes Aeleise. "Indirect heat use is like walking down the street in central Florida in July. Hot and uncomfortable but not dangerous."

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Kindra Moné has been creating fashion and beauty content since 2013. Whether contributing to some of the top women’s lifestyle magazines or working in-house with global brands, Kindra has collaborated with some of the industry’s most knowledgeable beauty professionals. When she isn’t writing or trying out Instagram recipes, she’s giving wellness tips and sharing fashion news on The StylingSOUL Podcast. For this story she tapped the following expert for more in-depth insights:

  • Aeleise Ollarvia is a tight curl educator, licensed cosmetologist, and the cofounder of Black Girl Curls and Cut It Kinky.

According to ourDiversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough diffusers for curly hair from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.comand we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Got Curly Hair? These Are the Best Diffusers for Smooth, Defined Coils (2024)

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