Let us guess: When you dry your hair (with direct heat on your scalp), you get frizzy curls and breakage. And when you opt to air-dry instead, it takes hours for your hair to be completely dry. It’s a major hair dilemma for waves, curls and coils right? But it’s one that can easily be solved with a good ole diffuser. This handy attachment is a curly gal’s secret weapon. Not only do they dry hair, but they also define curls and reduce frizz. Still not sure what the heck a diffuser is (or the point)? Here's everything you need to know and why you should get your hands on one.

RELATED: The 26 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Curly Hair

What is a hair diffuser?

A hair diffuser is an attachment (or nozzle) that can snap/slide onto your blow dryer. Instead of heat pouring out directly onto your hair, the diffuser disperses the air around the curls to improve definition, reduce frizz and create volume. Without a diffuser, curly hair can resort to more tangles, breakage and overall a loss of its shape. But how do we know if it's a diffuser? The nozzles are usually plastic, bowl-shaped and feature prongs inside the attachment. However, some can look like "fingers" (like the DevaCurl DeFuser) or a sock (like the Hot Sock Diffuser). Finding the right diffuser for you all depends on your curl type and/or texture.

The best hair diffuser for your curl hair

As mentioned before, the shape, size and/or prong lengths can determine what diffuser work for your waves, curls or coils. If you have thick and/or long hair, you want to pick a diffuser with a large head and a lot of prongs to let the airflow move across your hair (and cut drying time by half). If you have frizzy, fine or short hair, you should reach for a small head (or a sock) diffuser to give you a gentler experience. And if you have coily hair, shape definitely matters when looking for a diffuser, so look for one that’s finger-shaped to get the job done.

But before adding any attachment to your shopping cart, check to see if your hair dryer is compatible with your nozzle of choice. Some diffusers are not universal (even if they have universal in the name). After you find that your attachment is a match with your dryer, you can begin to dry your hair without any issues. Now that you’re up to speed on what a diffuser is and which type might work best for you, here are 16 of the best diffusers for curly hair to consider when upgrading your drying game, according to reviewers:

Amazon

1. Black Orchid Hair Diffuser

Best Overall

This diffuser has 4,000+ five-star ratings, so we’re not surprised by its benefits. One Amazon reviewer says, “I love this diffuser! It has completely changed my curls for the better. It also has cut down on drying time because it holds so much of my hair at a time. Will always have this product on hand for life.”

The 360-degree design works to dry your hair quickly from roots to tips. Whether your hair is thick, long or curly, the diffuser enhances your natural strands, minimizes frizz and boosts volume. And thanks to the silicone grip, it won’t fall off the nozzle as you’re drying.

$22 at Amazon

Amazon

2. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Universal Finger Diffuser

Best for Wavy Hair

This diffuser provides soft, bouncy curls to wavy or permed hair. It gently dries large areas while leaving curls frizz-free—not to mention it’s a pretty universal fit for all hair dryers. One reviewer raves, “[It’s] the best dryer I have ever used on my thick and curly hair. The large diffuser and the light weight of the dryer make drying my hair quick and easy.”

$15 at Amazon

Amazon

3. The Curly Co. Collapsible Hair Diffuser

Best for Traveling

The last thing you want to do is buy a diffuser only to realize it doesn’t fit your hair dryer. This silicone tool is built to stretch or shrink to fit any nozzle, which also makes it super portable. “I love this product! I travel often, and I’m always freaking out that the plastic diffuser that came with my dryer will get broken during transit, leaving me to deal with bad hair for my entire trip,” expresses an Amazon reviewer. “This diffuser fits snugly on my dryer, even with my dryer’s somewhat oddly shaped end.”

$16 at Amazon

Amazon

4. Hot Sock Diffuser

Best Alternative Diffuser

Yup, this weird but useful tool is great for a quick dry, especially if you’re using roller sets. It fits on every size blow-dryer and won’t take up too much room in your bag when traveling. One reviewer has a great tip: “This diffuser sock is great for attaching to the mini blow-dryers supplied in hotel rooms. I used it on low heat and it gradually dried my wavy/curly hair without causing frizz.”

$7 at Amazon

Amazon

5. Segbeauty Professional Hair Diffuser Attachment

Best for Heat Distribution

The 114 air outlets and multiple teeth on this one help to distribute heat evenly throughout your curls, which prevents dryness. The attachment also has eco-friendly material while ensuring salon-quality results.

One Amazon reviewer enthuses how it completely changed her curls, saying, “This is the best diffuser I have used. My curls are bouncier and fuller than they have been in a long time. I am a curly hair expert! I have used many diffusers that break, fall off the hair dryer and melt. This is awesome! It covers a large part of your head, which is key and keeps frizz down. Worth every penny!”

$19 at Amazon

Amazon

6. KingKam Collapsible Silicone Hair Dryer Diffuser

Best Compact Diffuser

This lightweight silicone diffuser wants to make traveling easier with its foldable design. For one reviewer, it was the diffuser she’d been searching for. “This is a lifesaver! I [put] this in my carry-on every flight I take. It’s small and lightweight. It gets the job done and pairs well with a travel hair dryer.”

$13 at Amazon

Ulta

7. Dyson Supersonic Dryer

Best Splurge

OK, so if you’re down to pay $400 for a hair dryer, it has to be worth it, right? This quiet tool comes with three attachments, including a curly hair diffuser. It stimulates the natural drying process to reduce frizz and help you style your hair with control.

If the features alone don’t persuade you, know that this dryer has 2,000+ five-star ratings like this one: “I LOVE this dryer. I couldn’t be more impressed with how quickly and easily my hair dries to a smooth finish. I have a lot of gray hair that tends to frizz and my hair is delicate and easily prone to heat damage. I waited a long time due to the high cost, but it is worth the money. Especially since it is my go-to styling tool for touch-ups as well. Go ahead and treat yourself, you won’t regret it!”

BUY IT ($399)

Amazon

8. Conair Volumizing Diffuser

Best Budget Pick

Looking to create curly or wavy styles? This attachment helps to dry hair quickly and add volume to your locks. “I never really used a diffuser, but after buying this universal one, I love it! Definitely defines the curls!” says one happy reviewer.

$11 at Amazon

Amazon

9. BestTrendy Professional Universal Hair Diffuser Attachment

Best for Settings Options

This diffuser evenly dries your hair, protects from heat damage and prevents frizz. Many reviews rave about how easy it is to travel with, including this five-star review: “I like that this dryer has cool, warm and hot settings as well as low and high speeds. The dual voltage and electrical adapters make it ideal for overseas travel.”

$20 at Amazon

Sephora

10. Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser

Best for Volume

The salon known for its blowouts created a diffuser with the curly gal in mind. One Amazon reviewer states, “Love my new Drybar diffuser. Super useful, helps my curls fluff and dry nicely, fits on my blow-dryer, great size and teeth for drying, good price, etc. No complaints. Thanks, Drybar!” (It’s important to note it is specifically designed for the brand’s popular Buttercup blow-dryers, but it can work on nozzle sizes up to two inches.)

Buy It ($34)

Sephora

11. BIO IONIC Diffuser

Best for Bio Ionic Fans

The lightweight tool’s 12 air outlets make for fast dry time while providing frizz-free results. It fits on most Bio Ionic dryers (except for the Power Diva model). One Amazon reviewer calls it “The absolute best diffuser I’ve ever had. I recommend this to everyone who likes to use them. I like the way it’s made [so you can open or close the vents].”

Buy It ($24)

Ulta

12. DevaCurl DevaFuser Universal Hair Diffuser

Best Applicator

Not your average diffuser, this tool is designed to surround curls (basically hugging them) at the roots to speed up the drying process and enhance the natural definition. One reviewer raves, “I would recommend this product for [everyone with] curly hair. Lightweight, easy to use and dries my hair like no other tool. I spend 20 minutes maximum drying my hair with DevaFuser. Not to forget the gorgeous curls it creates!”

Buy It ($50)

Walmart

13. BedHead Curls in Check

Best Hair Dryer

Never mind the attachment, this entire hair dryer is made for diffusing. The unique design adds texture, tames frizz and aims for fast drying with just one tool. One reviewer says, “This dryer is great for curly/wavy hair, easier to use than a traditional dryer with a diffuser attachment, not as bulky. I love it!”

BUY IT ($35)

Amazon

14. Reviving Lotus Hair Diffuser

Best for Long Hair

Curl gals with long and/or thick hair can benefit from a diffuser that drys all your curls in half the time. The large bowl structure makes it easy to distribute heat while adding volume and shine (with no frizz in sight BTW). One reviewer might've found the solution to her long curls, "I never used to have luck diffusing my hair because my old one was too small. I have very long hair but luckily this diffuser is HUGE. It actually fits the full length of large sections in there (rather than just the last six inches of my hair) while maintaining the shape of the curl. It disperses heat evenly and I got much better results than my traditional diffuser."

$25 at Amazon

Amazon

15. Karii Hair Dryer Diffuser Universal

Best for All Hair Types

Whether you have curly, wavy or straight hair, this universal diffuser can get the job done. Yes, it's big, but the large nozzle secures tightly to your dryer and one reviewer defended the size for how well it dried her curls, saying: "OK, yes, like all the other reviews, I agree that this product is HUGE. But, it works better than any diffuser I’ve ever had before and it was so reasonably priced! I love it! My hair is super curly and hangs down to my waist. Drying used to take forever. Now I scrunch and diffuse in under twenty minutes. It’s literally a life changer."

$16 at Amazon

Amazon

16. UuColor Universal Hair Diffuser

Best for Any Dryer

FYI, no more worrying about if your diffuser is going to fit on your hairdryer or not. This attachment works with any size dryer—thanks to their adjustable latch—so you can focus more on drying and defining your curls. With over 2,000+ 5-star reviews, many curly gals have praised the nozzle features. One in particular said, "This is one of the bulkier of diffuser heads. However, it does its job very well! It fits pretty tightly onto my blowdryer (standard size) and doesn't fall off or anything like that. Using this diffuser lets my curls stay defined and bouncy after a two-strand twist out!"

$16 at Amazon

How to use a diffuser on curly hair

Found a diffuser? Perfect! Now, here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it on your curls (and if you need a visual check out the helpful video above to get you started).

1. Wash your hair as normal. You’ll get the best results when your hair is clean. Wash and style it as normal, then apply a leave-in conditioner before you start drying your curls. (FYI, make sure to detangle hair beforehand in the shower for defined curls.)

2. Apply a heat-protectant. Whether it's a serum, cream or spray, applying it directly onto the sections before starting the dryer can reduce frizz, breakage or damage. Here are a few of our favorites: CHI ($6); Briogeo ($24); Bumble & Bumble ($28); Olaplex ($28)

3. Add the attachment to the end of your blow-dryer. Once it's snapped (or slid) on, place your dryer on a low to medium setting. Using the dryer on high heat is a big no-no for curly gals. It'll just create more damage in the long run.

4. Flip your head upside down. Not only does this help dry hard-to-reach areas, but it provides more volume. (Tip to avoid neck cramps, try moving your head to the sides and continue to dry too.) You'll want to first hover the diffuser inches away from your curls. You're focusing on the roots without messing up the curl definition. Once it's been a few minutes, begin to move the diffuser closer to the scalp and move it in a circular motion (almost like a mini massage). Only spend 30 seconds or so on each area to avoid frizz.

5. Focus on the ends. After spending time on your root, take a section and cup it into the diffuser. Focus on that section’s ends for about 30 seconds before moving to the other sections.

6. Finally, shake out your curls. If you want even more volume, use your fingers or a hair pick to fluff up the roots.

It’s important to remember that the time it takes for your hair to dry depends on the length, thickness and/or texture of your curls. You should also only dry 80 to 90 percent of your hair, then let it air dry the rest of the way. Of course, a diffuser is meant to dry your hair, but you don't want to over-dry and take away from the products you just applied (aka leave-in, styling cream and heat protectant). Now, the only thing left to do is marvel at your beautiful, frizz-free curls.

RELATED: How to Sleep with Curly Hair & Wake Up Without Frizz

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