Blow Dryer Attachments 101: Proper Diffuser & Concentrator Use

Publish date:
March 31, 2015
air-drying, blow dryer, blow-out, blow dryer attachments, concentrator, diffuser

Often I see blow-out tutorials or tips and tricks on the web, and time after time they are just wrong! There are some basic principles to blow drying your hair, and when they are violated you can really do more harm than help.

You can check out a general blow-out technique tutorial here. Today I’m going to focus on the proper way to use your blow dryer attachments.

First thing’s first: get a heat protectant. It's extremely important that you protect your hair (especially your ends) from heat when using a blow dryer. Plus, heat protectants help lock in style and some formulas even help protect color from UV rays. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk attachments.

CONCENTRATOR NOZZLE: Keep the nozzle pointed downward at all times and never let it touch your hair.

This nozzle is the stairway to hair heaven. Without a concentrator nozzle, airflow is far less accurate, and what’s even worse, the heating elements are dangerously close to your hair. Never, I repeat, never let the end of a blow dryer touch your hair, whether it's coiled around a brush or not.

The concentrator nozzle also creates a more powerful flow of air, which is extremely important to avoid the other most common blow-out sin: directing heat up the hair shaft. The hair’s outermost layer, the cuticle, is like shingles on a roof. To blow hair up this strand will raise the cuticle, allowing it to grab onto other strands and form a tangle. Proper direction is also key to locking down the cuticle, which creates a shiny result that's more resistant to humidity, tangles, and frizz.

DIFFUSER NOZZLE: Working in sections, position the nozzle beneath the hair and push it toward the scalp.

Here I’m using a T3 Featherweight dryer and its diffuser nozzle, which is one of the better ones I've tried. Most universal attachments don’t fit on newer blow dryers and they tend to leak some of the air flow, or pop off, which is annoying.

Diffusers do exactly what their name implies: soften the flow of air from the blow dryer so as not to force the curl smooth, like the concentrator would. This softer air flow makes curls and waves dry faster and helps the bonds form in the right places, allowing for a springy effect that doesn’t happen easily when air-drying, since gravity is a cruel mistress.

To use a diffuser, simply place it beneath the hair you wish to dry--I like to do this in sections--and push the nozzle upward toward the scalp. Personally, I use the diffuser as an air-dry expeditor: I diffuse first and let the curls finish by air-drying.

Stay tuned for more advanced blow drying techniques! Here's to knowledge, one of the greatest superpowers there is.

  • How often do you use the attachments on your blow-dryer?
  • What's your HG blow-dryer?
  • What other blow dryer techniques and tips would you like to see on xoVain?

Photos: Darnell Scott