Does A Diffuser Actually Make A Difference?

I did a highly scientific experiment to find out if using a diffuser encourages more defined curls than just blow-drying alone.
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Publish date:
August 12, 2014
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curly hair, diffusers, blow dryers, hair dryer, defined curls, ghd, Good Hair Day Hair

I’ve always thought diffusers--those pronged, circular attachments for the nozzle of your blow-dryer--were kind of a racket.

My sister, who has naturally corkscrew-curly hair, used them back in the ‘80s, which is probably not the fairest way to judge them considering the look back then (especially in New Jersey) was all about the crunchy frizz. I even remember them looking much different than today’s models; one of the attachments we had in our bathroom featured a flat top with a crosshatch design in which the air would squeeze through, and another was just a weird, lollipop-esque blow-dryer-diffuser hybrid called the Curl Dazzler. (I don’t recall it being particularly dazzling.)

Diffuser designs have definitely evolved, with most now having a concave shape and little “fingers” to help separate and define curls. But I still wasn’t convinced that blow-drying my hair with one would make my hair look much different than blowdrying it without one.

Obviously, I had to do a super-scientific experiment.

I did my normal washing and conditioning and applied some cheap-ass mousse, from root to tip, to my damp (not soaking wet) hair. My hair is naturally wavy, but it can usually be coaxed into something resembling curliness by twirling sections and wrapping them around my fingers.

For my first go, I used the ghd AIR blow-dryer sans diffuser, turning my head upside-down for optimum volume and dizziness. I set it on medium heat and a low speed, doing the whole scrunching thing to encourage curl.

The result:

My hair came out voluminous, if a bit dry-looking, but not what anyone in their right mind would call curly. I actually get more wave when I let it air dry.

I couldn’t bear getting right back into my tiny, suffocating shower, so I took my puffy, non-diffused hair to get a large Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Latte Lite. Have you seen those things?! Holy crap, you guys, they are gigantic. Definitely worth walking a few extra blocks for that value. But I digress, and no, this post is not sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.

After enjoying an iced coffee that made me feel like Edith Ann (sorry for the old-person reference), I reluctantly stuck my head under the water and did everything all over again: shampoo, conditioner, towel-drying, mousse on damp hair, finger twists. You know the deal.

This time, however, I attached the ghd AIR Diffuser and used it in the way ever so many online tutorials recommend using diffusers: placing chunks of hair in the bowl and putting it up against my head in order to decrease frizz. I did this both right-side-up and upside-down, occasionally using my hand to scrunch along the way. I also kept the speed and temperature low, because ghd’s directions make it seem like the world will implode if you don’t do that.

The result:

That’s a noticeable difference! My hair is much curlier and much less frizzy than when I blow-dried without the diffuser.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to see any variance, but I’m pleasantly surprised enough that I think I’m actually going to work the diffuser into my routine more often. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more slighty-curly Marci in future articles!

Do you use a diffuser? Do you see a difference when you use it? Do you find inexpensive ones work as well as pricier ones like the ghd?