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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 common hair dilemma for those of us with waves, curls and coils, right? Luckily, 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 help dry your hair, but they also define curls and reduce frizz in the process. Still not sure what the heck a diffuser is (or the point of one)? Here's everything you need to know.

RELATED: The 26 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Curly Hair

What is a hair diffuser?

A hair diffuser is an attachment that snaps or slides onto your blow dryer to manage the airflow. Instead of having heat pour 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 is prone to more tangles, breakage and an overall loss of 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 comes down to your curl type and/or texture.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Diffuser

As mentioned above, the shape, size and/or prong lengths will determine what diffuser works best 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 reach for a small head (or a sock) diffuser to give you a gentler dry. And if you have coily hair, look for a diffuser, so look that’s finger-shaped to get the job done.

But before adding an 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). Compare your hair dryer's diameter to the diffuser's diameter range before adding it to your cart. After you find that your attachment matches 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 20 of the best diffusers for curly hair to consider when upgrading your drying game, according to reviewers:

The Best Diffusers for Curly Hair At a Glance:

Amazon

1. Black Orchid Hair Diffuser

Best Overall

Why We Love It: Great for all hair types, 1.8 inches in diameter, 360 degree airflow

This diffuser has 7,000+ 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 dries your hair quickly from root to tip. 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

Ulta

2. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Universal Finger Diffuser

Best for Wavy Hair

Why We Love It: Great for loose and fine hair, 2.25 inches in diameter, 12 air outlets for fast drying

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.”

Buy It ($30)

Amazon

3. The Curly Co. Collapsible Hair Diffuser

Best for Traveling

Why We Love It: Great for curly hair, 2.5 inches in diameter, 5.25 inches in length

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,” shares one 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

Why We Love It: Great for fine and wavy hair, fits all hair dryers, extends 2 to 4 inches beyond the end of dryer

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.”

$6 at Amazon

Amazon

5. Segbeauty Professional Hair Diffuser Attachment

Best for Heat Distribution

Why We Love It: 6.18 inches in diameter, suitable for 1.73 to 1.77 nozzles, comes in five colors

The 114 air outlets and multiple teeth on this one help to distribute heat evenly throughout your curls, which prevents dryness. 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

Why We Love It: 5.31 inches in diameter, suitable for 1.579 to 1.986 inches nozzles, comes in four colors

This lightweight silicone diffuser makes 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.”

$14 at Amazon

Ulta

7. Dyson Supersonic Dryer

Best Splurge

Why We Love It: Great for all hair types, five attachments included, three shades in diffuser

If you’re going to pay $400 for a hair dryer, it has to be worth it, right? This quiet tool comes with five attachments, including a curly hair diffuser that reduces frizz and helps you style your hair with more 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 ($430)

Amazon

8. Conair Volumizing Diffuser

Best Budget Pick

Why We Love It: Fits over 13 Conair dryers, 5.8 inches in diameter

Looking to create curly or wavy styles without breaking the bank? This attachment helps to dry hair quickly and add volume to your locks for under $50. “I never really used a diffuser, but after buying this universal one, I love it! Definitely defines the curls!” says one happy reviewer.

$13 at Amazon

Amazon

9. BestTrendy Professional Hair Diffuser Attachment

Best Settings

Why We Love It: Suitable for 1.4 to 2.4 inches nozzles, flexible lock button for a nice fit, 2.6 inches in diameter

This diffuser evenly dries your hair, protects against heat damage and prevents frizz. Many 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

Ulta

10. Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser

Best for Volume

Why We Love It: Universal diffuser, 6.4 inches in diameter

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 that this 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)

Ulta

11. BIO IONIC Diffuser

Best Adjustable Diffuser

Why We Love It: 2.25 inches in diameter, 12 air outlets, extended fingers for even heat distribution

The lightweight tool’s 12 air outlets make for a faster dry time, while providing frizz-free results. You're able to control the vents to provide higher or lower airflow depending on the areas you are targeting. It fits over 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 ($30)

Ulta

12. DevaCurl DevaFuser Universal Hair Diffuser

Best for Short Hair

Why We Love It: 360 degree airflow, fits 2 to 2.5 inch nozzles

Not your average diffuser, this tool is designed to hug your curls at the roots to speed up the drying process, while enhancing their natural definition. The special applicator works great on all hair types, but especially for people with short, coily or protective styles. As 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)

Amazon

13. BedHead Curls in Check

Best Hair Dryer

Why We Love It: 3 heat settings, 2 speed settings, removable diffuser for easy cleaning

Never mind the attachment, this entire hair dryer is made for diffusing. The unique design adds texture, tames frizz and speeds up dry time 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!”

$30 at Amazon

Amazon

14. Reviving Lotus Hair Diffuser

Best for Long Hair

Why We Love It: 360 degree airflow, 1.8 inches in diameter, large design for long/thick hair

Those with long and/or thick hair will benefit from a diffuser that dries all your curls in half the time. This one has a large bowl that makes it easy to distribute heat, while adding volume and shine (with no frizz in sight BTW). One reviewer might have even found the solution to her long curls, stating, "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."

$22 at Amazon

Amazon

15. Karii Hair Dryer Diffuser Universal

Best for All Hair Types

Why We Love It: Suitable for 1.38 to 2.68 inch nozzles, 360 degree airflow, 6.5 inches in diameter

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 explains, the larger size can be beneficial: "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

Most Universal

Why We Love It: Suitable for 1.4 to 2.6 inch nozzles, adjustable attachment, 6.14 inches in diameter

FYI, no more worrying about whether your diffuser is going to fit your hairdryer. This attachment works with any size dryer thanks to the adjustable latch, so you can focus more on drying and defining your curls. 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!"

$12 at Amazon

Ulta

17. Chi 1875 Advanced Ionic Compact Dryer

Best Hair Dryer and Diffuser Duo

Why We Love It: Great for loose and fine hair, air nozzle concentrator and diffuser included

Forget spending more on both a hair dryer and a diffuser. This CHI 1875 gives you the best of both worlds. The hair dryer alone includes a built-in generator that reduces frizz, improves shine and cuts down on drying time. Once you add the diffuser attachment, it also helps lock-in moisture and volume. For one reviewer, the inital splurge was definitely worth it, "This is my first splurge on a hairdryer [and I] never thought a blow dryer made a difference. I was wrong. I have curly hair and don't like high heat so it usually takes forever to dry. This cut down my drying time and my curls look great. The diffuser gives me the volume I love. So glad I decided to splurge on this product, it's worth the money."

Buy It ($110)

Amazon

18. Revlon Infrared Hair Dryer

Fastest Dry Time

Why We Love It: Great for fine hair, two attachments included, 2 heat/speed settings

When you have long, thick, voluminous or all of the above curls, they take forever to dry (and listen, we don't have all day). Thankfully, this Revlon dryer cuts dry time in half, so you can go about the rest of your day in all your curly glory. The infrared technology maintains moisture in your hair, while the ceramic coating reduces any heat damage.

Don't believe us? Check out this one commenter's experience on using the dryer: "I wasn't expecting much for a hairdryer at this price, but I love it! It dries my hair THOROUGHLY and FAST. My hair is fine and thin, but the back of it is really hard to get completely dry. I always leave the salon with the end still damp despite getting a blow-out and then I get frizz. With this though, it gets dry with less effort and fewer passes than previous hair tools I've used. I highly recommend it."

$24 at Amazon

Amazon

19. Hairizone Universal Hair Diffuser

Best for Thick Hair

Why We Love It: Fits 1.7 to 2.6 inch nozzles, 6-inch large bowl, comes in seven colors

When it comes to thick hair, you're looking for three features: heat distribution, drying time and frizz reduction. Well, this universal hair diffuser checks all the boxes. The larger sized bowl disperses air evenly (and gently) without damaging locks or producing more frizz. Plus, the prongs hold thick hair in place, while maintaining your natural texture. "This diffuser fits my hairdryer snugly and has a nice curve to cover a large area of your head for efficient drying. I am very happy with this attachment," says one customer.

$25 at Amazon

Amazon

20. T3 Micro SoftTouch Diffuser

Best for Fine Hair

Why We Love It: 3.5 inches in diameter, compatible with the T3 hair dryers

With "soft touch" in the name, prepare for this diffuser to dry your hair and be super gentle on your scalp. It's designed with small finger extensions that distribute heat, improve volume and speed up drying time. While it's only compatible with T3 models, it still has a loyal fan base rallying behind it. "I love my T3 dryer, but this diffuser is a must have attachment for me. I have curly/wavy hair, and using this diffuser keeps my curl while allowing me to get some lift I miss with air drying," says one reviewer.

$30 at Amazon

How to use a diffuser on curly hair

Found a diffuser? Great! Now, here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it properly (and if you need a visual check out the helpful tutorial above to help 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 usual, then apply a leave-in conditioner before you start drying your curls. (FYI, make sure to detangle hair in the shower for more defined curls.)

2. Apply a heat-protectant. Whether it's a serum, a cream or a spray, applying it before drying your strands can reduce frizz, breakage and damage. Here are a few of our favorites: CHI ($12); Briogeo ($24); Olaplex ($28); Bumble & Bumble ($29)

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 because it creates more damage in the long run.

4. Flip your head upside down. Not only does this help dry hard-to-reach areas like the nape of your neck, but it provides more volume. (To avoid getting cramps, move your head from side to side as you dry.) You'll want to start by hovering the diffuser a couple inches away from your curls, spending 30 seconds or so in every area (i.e the crown, hairline, etc).

5. Shift your focus to the root and tips. After that initial hover-dry, divide your hair into equal parts. Then, cup each section of hair into the bowl of the diffuser and try to get the attachment as close to the scalp as possible. Next, twirl the diffuser in a circular motion (almost like you're giving yourself a mini massage). Spend time drying each area (aka root to tip) for about 30 seconds or so before moving on to the next section. The whole dry time will vary depending on your hair length, hair type or hair porosity.

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

One Last Thing:

For best results, only dry 80 to 90 percent of the way, then let it air dry to finish. The last thing you want to do is over-dry your strands and reduce the effectiveness of the moisturizing products you just applied (aka leave-in, styling cream and heat protectant). OK, now go and marvel at your beautiful, frizz-free curls.

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