Best diffusers for curly hair—the top tools to create definition, volume and bounce

We’ve picked the best diffusers for curly hair to suit a variety of budgets, plus the experts reveal their top diffusing tips for beginners

collage of three of the best diffusers for curly hair ghd, Drybar and Diva Pro diffusers
(Image credit: Future)

Embracing your natural curls? Investing in one of the best diffusers for curly hair is a great place to start when perfecting your styling regime. 

When paired with the best hair dryer, these usually megaphone-shaped tools are a one-way ticket to bouncy and more defined curls. They disperse the air generated by your dryer across a much wider surface area, which distributes it more evenly through sections of your hair and makes the drying process much gentler on your strands. This in turn helps to maintain curly hairstyles' shape and keeps excess frizz to a minimum, so they really are a worthwhile investment. 

“A diffuser is a brilliant tool to use for those looking to add definition to their curls, even out their curl pattern, and add volume," says top hairstylist, salon owner, and ghd ambassador Charlotte Mensah. "Using one ensures that the air doesn't disrupt your curl pattern or cause breakage. Diffusers can be used on a variety of different hair textures and patterns, it’s just about finding the right accessory attachment and technique for you.”

How to choose the best diffusers for curly hair

OK, we’ve convinced you that your dryer needs a diffuser to bring out the best in your curl pattern. The next question concerns what you actually need to look for in an attachment to make sure it’s right for both your hair and your dryer. 

  • Make sure it’s well designed. “A good diffuser should have a large surface area to rest the hair in when drying, as some can be too small and don’t give ample frizz-free drying space," says Jonny Eagland, senior stylist at John Frieda Salons. "The holes in the diffuser should be smaller to allow for even and more gentle airflow, as the less disruptive the flow, the better the curl definition and reduction in frizz." There are 'sock' diffusers and other shaped designs on the market, but the most common form is a cup or bowl-shaped design.
  • Think about your existing dryer. At the risk of stating the obvious, the diffuser will either need to be compatible with your current hair dryer or work with your new model, if you’re replacing your current tool. The safest bet is usually to buy from the same brand if they offer a matching diffuser, though there are universal models out there too. If you opt for the latter, check if you’ll be able to return it if it doesn’t fit your dryer—this is especially important if you’re shopping online.
  • Consider your hair’s individual needs. If you have long curls or a lot of hair (or both!) you may need a larger diffuser bowl. Although most of these attachments will work on all curl types, curly hair is a huge umbrella term for lots of different patterns, spanning tighter coils all the way down to looser ringlets and waves. "The best thing to look for is how the diffuser works on your texture—use reviews to understand the results in that person’s hair [compared to yours]," says Nià Pettitt, founder of The Curl Bar London.

The best diffusers for curly hair, chosen by our beauty team

Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser

(Image credit: Drybar)

1. Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser

Best diffuser for curly hair overall

Specifications

RRP: $34/£29
Width : 5.5 in/14 cm
Fits other brand dryers: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustable air flow 
+
Bowl has some depth to it
+
Works with non-Drybar dryers

Reasons to avoid

-
Attachment end is quite narrow

To help you create a salon-worthy style at home, US blow dry bar chain Drybar has its own range of tools and hair styling products including a great diffuser, The Bouncer. Inside there’s an adjustable ceramic layer that allows you to reduce the airflow for an even gentler dry, which is a nice personalized touch. About half of the prongs of the diffuser extend well past the bowl, meaning you’re able to lift sections easily if you want to create more of a volumized look. 

Plus it really lives up to its name: bouncy is exactly how it left our curls when used with Drybar’s Buttercup Dryer. The Bouncer also works with the travel Baby Buttercup as well as some non-Drybar dryers, but the nozzle is quite a narrow one, which is something to bear in mind if you’re hoping to use it on your existing dryer. It's a good all-rounder and reasonably priced, which is why we chose it as our overall top pick of the best diffusers for curly hair.  


ghd Diffuser

(Image credit: ghd )

2. ghd Professional Hair Dryer Diffuser

The best luxury diffuser for curly hair

Specifications

RRP : $30/£29
Width : 5.7 in/14.5 cm
Fits other brand dryers: No

Reasons to buy

+
Very sturdy
+
Long fingers 
+
Loved by hairdressers

Reasons to avoid

-
Only works with ghd Air and Helios dryers

Most people know about the best ghd straighteners, but the brand’s hair dryers and attachments are also loved by industry experts all over the world. Compatible with both the ghd Helios hair dryer and Air hair dryers, the prongs of this diffuser are nice and long, allowing you to separate and move around sections of your hair while you style, and it feels very well-made and durable. 

It is on the larger size as diffusers go, so fits a good amount of hair in one go and is great for creating a nice bit of volume. It’s also a flatter diffuser rather than a slightly concave bowl shape, and Mensah says it’s “perfect for those who want to keep their settings on low heat and just add a smaller lift to curls”. If you’re a ghd dryer owner we think you’ll be pleased with the results you can achieve with this. 


Diva Pro Styling XXL Diffuser

(Image credit: Diva Pro Styling)

3. Diva Pro Styling XXL Diffuser

The best universal diffuser for curly hair

Specifications

RRP : £24.99 (UK only)
Width : 6.9 in/17.5 cm
Fits other brand dryers : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Very wide and deep bowl
+
Fits on many different hair dryers
+
Larger than average

Reasons to avoid

-
Prongs are quite thin

Of all of the diffusers we tested out, this one truly lives up to its universal credentials as it fitted on all the non-Diva Pro dryers we used to test it. This is mainly for two design reasons: firstly, the end of the XXL Diffuser is really big, which allows it to fit right over the nozzles of most hair dryers. Secondly, the inside also features flexible padding that adjusts around your dryer of choice, ensuring a really secure fit that helps to stop it from sliding off mid-dry. 

The cup itself is nice and wide and more than an inch or so deep, lending itself well to those with very long hairstyles and/or lots of curls, and it dries nicely. We found that the prongs, although flexible, are a little thin, which could be an issue for those with denser hair. But overall this is a great universal diffuser that'll work with most dryer models. 


DevaCurl DevaFuser diffuser

(Image credit: DevaCurl)

4. DevaCurl Devafuser

The best diffuser for curly hair with 360 drying

Specifications

RRP : $50/£48
Width: N/A
Fits other brand dryers : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Unique design
+
Wide elastic band to help secure on to non-Deva dryers
+
Dries from multiple angles

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared with others on the list

Don’t be put off by this diffuser’s unique and unusual shape, as it’s easier to use than it might look. It’s extremely light, features a ceramic core to boost shine and moisture retention, and the fingers can dry your hair from multiple angles. The shape also lends itself to different desired results: the fingers can get into the roots to boost volume, as well as feed through the lengths and dry at a downward angle.

The hand shape can also be used to cup the hair in a similar way to a regular-shaped diffuser (the "palm" side has more holes). We love that, thanks to the thick elastic band around the attachable end, the DevaFuser can fit onto lots of hair dryers by other brands as well as the DevaDryer. Alhough if your hair dryer’s nozzle is particularly wide it will obviously be more of a strain and you may need to hold it in place while you dry, which isn't ideal. 


Bellissima Italia Diffon Ceramic Dryer

(Image credit: Bellissima Italia )

5. Bellissima Italia Diffon Ceramic Diffuser

The best all-in-one dryer and diffuser for curly hair

Specifications

RRP: $99/£59.99
Width: 5.3 in/13.5 cm
Works with other brand dryers: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Combines a dryer and diffuser in one tool
+
Compact and lightweight
+
Great for travel 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one heat setting

If you know you’re going to diffuse your hair after every wash because you wear it curly most or all of the time, then you could just buy a dryer that’s always got a diffuser attached to it. As its name suggests, Bellissima Italia’s Diffon Ceramic Diffuser features ceramic technology for a gentler heat, two speed settings, and nice long fingers. But perhaps more importantly we found it really easy to use, surprisingly light at just over 700g (about 1.6lbs), and gives curly hair a nice bounce boost. 

If you’re going to the gym or on a trip and you’re only planning wash-and-go curls, this is also much more space-friendly than packing a bigger hair dryer and separate diffuser. The downsides are that you can't adjust the heat and speed separately, there's just one switch, and there's no cool shot function. But although there are more advanced models out there, when you consider the technology of this compact model versus its price tag it's a pretty great deal.


Dyson Supersonice Diffuser

(Image credit: Dyson)

6. Dyson Supersonic Diffuser

The best high end diffuser for curly hair

Specifications

RRP: $39.99/£30
Width: 5.3 in/13.5 cm
Works with other brand dryers: No

Reasons to buy

+
Magnetic attachment
+
Excellent even and gentle air flow
+
Nice bowl shape

Reasons to avoid

-
Only works with the Dyson Supersonic dryer

With its diffuser, the Dyson Supersonic is many hairdresser's go-to for drying curly hair, including Eagland, so his advice would be to go for it if your budget allows. “The airflow is so gentle and it has three different heat and speed settings, but it’s also super lightweight, so it won’t stress your shoulders when holding for a fair amount of time,” he says.

On testing, we found the tiny holes and Dyson’s advanced technology made for really gentle, frizz-free drying, but do bear in mind that the bespoke magnetic design will not work with other dryers, so you have to own the Supersonic to get the benefits. Although it's always come in the box, the diffuser has been re-engineered since the Supersonic first launched for more even drying. If you're not yet a Dyson owner, you can afford it and you’ve been on the fence about it until now, it really is that good for curly hair—read our full Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer review for a more in-depth analysis (and keep an eye on our Dyson Hair Dryer deals to save yourself some money).  


T3 SoftCurl Diffuser

(Image credit: T3)

7. T3 Soft Curl Diffuser

The best diffuser for low-frizz curly hair

Specifications

RRP: $30/£25
Width : 5.3 in/13.5 cm
Works with other brand dryers : No

Reasons to buy

+
Covered with smaller holes for truly even drying
+
Comes in two colours to match your dryer
+
Really keeps frizz to a minimum

Reasons to avoid

-
Only works with T3's Cura and Cura Luxe dryers

If your main hope for your new diffuser is to reduce frizz in your hair, the T3 Cura or Cura Luxe dryer paired with the Soft Curl Diffuser is a brilliant styling choice. The base of the diffuser is covered with small holes to really evenly distribute the air for gentler drying, and it clips onto the dryer securely so that there's very little chance of it coming off while you diffuse. 

This is another diffuser that's been designed to only work with its brand's dryers, and it's actually only compatible with two specific models, so unfortunately it's not a universal buy. But we do rate the combination of the two for nice soft curls—especially if your hair is prone to frizzing while drying as it really does keep that to a minimum. Our experience is that it leaves your curls looking soft and healthy after using it. 


Cloud Nine The Airshot Diffuser

(Image credit: Cloud Nine )

8. Cloud Nine The Airshot Diffuser

The best diffuser for thick curly hair

Specifications

RRP : £25
Width : 5.9 in/15 cm
Works with other brand dryers : No

Reasons to buy

+
Long fingers
+
Nice domed bowl
+
Very sturdy 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only compatible with Cloud Nine Airshot dryer 

Cloud Nine is another hairdresser-founded brand that makes great, quality tools, including some of the best hair straighteners on the market. So if you like the look of The Airshot dryer (or you already own one) then you’ll be pleased to hear that the brand also offers a matching diffuser. It is, as you’d expect from Cloud Nine, very sturdy and well made and, because the bowl is a nice dome shape and the prongs of the diffuser are very long, it would work well on somebody with a lot of thick curly hair. Because it doesn’t clip on to the dryer, sliding over the nozzle instead, so it's important to push the diffuser on as tightly as possible to secure it in place. But all in all, it’s a very good quality attachment and a great addition to The Airshot dryer. 

Pro hair diffusing tips for beginners

It'll take a little experimenting to find the best way to use a diffuser on your own hair, as it'll depend on how your individual hair behaves and your preferred finish. Below are a few of our experts' top tips to get you started then, for an in-depth step-by-step, read our full guide on how to use a diffuser on curly hair next.

  • Prep, prep, prep: The first step before you even pick up your hair dryer is to apply your styling products to wet hair. “After washing thoroughly using the best shampoo for curly hair or a co-wash, gently squeeze excess moisture out of the hair so that it’s damp but still has moisture within it, as this will help the styling products you use to apply more easily,” Jonny says. 
  • Use heat protection: As Charlotte points out, "Using a diffuser is still using [a form of] heat, so ensure hair is well conditioned and protected." Use one of the best heat protection for hair options to ensure your strands are shielded from damage. 
  • Put your dryer on low speed, low heat: All of our experts agreed that the best method for drying curls is using the lowest speed and heat settings. "If you don’t have time, a medium speed if you have it or a hotter heat setting will help you speed up the process, however this can cause a little more frizz," Jonny says.
  • Decide if your priority is to boost volume... Some curl types have a lot of natural volume, so if your hair doesn't need any help in that department. "If you lift the curls up and away from the head and flip your head upside down you will create more volume and body, but if you diffuse the hair whilst upright it will cause less volume at the root area," Jonny says.
  • ...Or definition: "If you want definition then you will want to be very gentle and let the air travel through without disrupting the curl pattern," Nià says. "We suggest using a hooded dryer for coily hair types as they can take longer to dry, and this ensures that the definition lasts longer."
  • Be patient: The more time you spend diffusing, the better definition you'll achieve. “A top tip to create a more even curl pattern is to make sure the ends of the hair are in the diffuser first and slowly move the hair dryer up towards the roots," says Charlotte. "Keep moving the diffuser slowly around your head in sections until you have created the desired look."

woman&home thanks Charlotte Mensah, Jonny Eagland and Nià Pettitt for their time and expertise

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week. During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists.