Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To Diffuse, or NOT to Diffuse?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 9:09 AM
Today's blog was SUPPOSED to be about co-washing (or NOT co-washing), but that's on the back burner until next time, because today I want to tackle a little thing called a Diffuser.

Diffusers. There's much debate in the curly world about whether or not they should be used at all, and if so, how much. If you are unsure, a diffuser is an attachment added to the end of a blow-dryer that looks like this: 
In fact, this is the exact diffuser I use. It fits most basic level hair dryers and for me it works remarkably well.

Diffusers work by diffusing the air in multiple directions instead of giving your hair a straight shot of heat. You wouldn't think this would amount to a hill of beans, but it does. It allows the hair to be "cupped" into the base and the heat to gently move around the curls, creating defined waves. If you thought your hair was incapable of curling while using a hair dryer, think again! In my arsenal of curl tools, this little device sits firmly at the top of my list.

The debate over diffusers goes back to heat styling, which is frowned upon on the curly world. Heat is a dehydrator, and curls need moisture. In a perfect world, all curly girls could just air-dry everyday, but we have jobs, kids, and if you live anywhere where it actually gets cold in the winter? FUGGEDABOUDIT. 

Heat styling isn't the best, but it's sometimes a necessary evil. If you have to do it, I have found my diffuser to be the best way. In fact, if I DON'T use a diffuser, my curls don't form very well and are very flat. Here are some diffuser tips I've found to be useful:

1) Diffuse when WET, not damp. I'm one of those towel nazis that only uses a microfiber towel to squeeze water out of my hair. If you MUST use a regular terrycloth towel, BLOT, do not SCRUB and PUH-LEEZE do not wrap your hair in  that little turban thingy that you do if you're planning to flat iron. Your hair should be almost dripping wet, with your styling product applied, when you start to diffuse. 

2) Don't diffuse for more than 10-15 mins at a time, even if your hair isn't dry. In fact, it shouldn't be dry. It should be moderately dry. If you want it to be fairly dry when you walk out the door, hit the diffuser for 10 mins, do the rest of your morning routine, then go another 10-15 and leave. Diffusers work great in small doses but WILL make your hair frizzy if you go beyond that time frame. Also, depending on the heat of your dryer, they can melt your diffuser. Not good.

3) Diffuse while your hair dryer is on the LOW setting. You CAN use a higher heat setting, but you should NOT have your dryer on HIGH when diffusing. Too much air and too much heat will leave you a frizzy, hot mess. 

4) Should you flip your head upside down? I do. It's the only way to get volume at my roots. BUT... before you finish your style, you want to diffuse with your head upright and you may need a cool shot of air at the roots to prevent frizz. Medium to short haired curly girls may find diffusing upright to be a better approach.

5) When you're done, TRY not to touch your hair much during the day. If it's still a little damp, let it dry completely before touching it, and keep touching to a minimum. I use gel in my hair (gotta love that high-density!) and I try not to touch my hair AT ALL when I'm done diffusing until it's completely dry, and even then only to scrunch out the gel cast and give myself soft curls. After that, it's hands-off for the most part.

If you're like me and wash your hair in the evening instead of the morning, follow this approach and when you wake up, don't panic when your hair looks like a flat disaster. Simply spray water all over your hair, scrunch, and hit with a diffuser/dryer for a few minutes. Your curls will bounce back like new! Depending on your styling product, you may be able to do this for 2nd or even 3rd day curls without having to co-wash. And THAT leads me to my next blog on Co-washing. Coming soon!



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