Cosmopolitan February 19, 2024



The best diffusers for curly hair, tested and reviewed


Major volume, definition, and shine—ya know, the holy trinity

There’s curly hair, and then there’s curly hair after you diffuse it. Hair diffusers are (typically) bowl-shaped attachments that disperse the flow of air from your blow dryer, helping to dry your curls more evenly and gently while encouraging definition and creating major volume. So rather than your hair blowing wildly into the wind (which = tangles/knots/nightmares), a diffuser cups and nestles your hair in one place while it dries. Hair diffusers can also be used to dry and set short hairstyles and updos without disturbing the look, says hairstylist Leigh Hardges. So if you want to wet-set your curls, waves, or even a slicked-back and gel-coated bun, you can also use a diffuser to help fully set the style.

If you don't have the time to air-dry, or you want more voluminous curls, then a diffuser is absolutely worth trying. Not only will you be able to walk away with those big and defined curls (if properly diffused), but you'll also be able to minimise heat damage or breakage by making the switch.

To help you choose the best diffuser, Cosmo chatted with hairstylist Leigh Hardges, who explained that you'll get the best results if you pick a diffuser that's right for your hair type and length. We get into the details at the end of this piece, but in summation: a wider bowl and longer prongs for long hair, or a shallow bowl with shorter prongs for short hair.

And whether you're looking to try out diffusing, or are after a new model, we've rounded up some of the beauty team and curly community's favourite hair diffusers, below (sneak peek incoming):

Scroll for the breakdown of the best of the best hair diffusers (some universal, and some specific to hair-dryer brands) and what to look for in a diffuser. Keep reading, pls, and get ready for some extremely good hair days.

Xtava Black Orchid Hair Diffuser

This diffuser is truly magical (like, 11,000 Amazon reviews-level magical) for drying and defining long and/or thick curls, thanks to the fact that its bowl is ultra-wide and its prongs are super-long and staggered. Not sure what that means? Basically, this attachment has more surface area to cup and hold your hair to help it dry more evenly, so you’re not stuck with half-damp, half-dry clumps of curls.

Size: Fits ~1.8-inch hair-dryer nozzles

DevaCurl DevaCurl DevaFuser Universal Diffuser

Don’t be thrown by this wacky-looking diffuser—it’s basically a holy-grail tool in curly-hair communities. The slime-green “claw” streams air from all sides of its branches, helping dry your curls with significantly less frizz/flyaways while protecting your hair from heat damage. Rather than piling your hair in a classic diffuser cup, slide this DevaCurl diffuser along your roots and hang out while it dries your curls.

Size: Fits almost all standard, full-size hair dryers (really)

John Lewis Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer Diffuser Attatchment

When we reached out to our curly community (content creators, experts and pros) for their favourite diffusers, we should have guessed almost every one of them would say the Dyson. It wasn't helpful for round-up purposes, but certainly was for expressing just how good this hairdryer and diffuser combo is. (The diffuser is currently only available with the Supersonic.)

Michelle: "The only one I use now is Dyson’s. As a wash-and-go babe, I use diffuse often. I love using my Dyson as I know the hairdryer is strictly temperature-controlled and isn’t putting my hair through excessive heat"

Savannah: "Mine would be the Dyson supersonic. It does an amazing job of actually distributing airflow across the attachment and towards the edges even on high settings. Others I’ve tried often still feel like most of the air and heat is focused in the centre which means more frizz

Ava:"It’s quite a small and flat diffuser compared to some of the more bowl-shaped ones, which is perfect as I can hover-diffuse more easily (I never scrunch), plus the pronged bits are a slightly softer plastic so I can massage my scalp a little for volume. The airflow technology is also unrivalled so there’s less frizz and flyaways."

Lesley: "I only use one and it’s the Dyson Supersonic with the diffuser attachment. It dries my hair really fast but gently. The diffuser dries my hair evenly and with less frizz so that’s why I love it."

Honestly, we couldn't even include them all... but you get the picture.

Hairizone Universal Diffuser

This universal hair diffuser fits on virtually all blow dryers (unless you’ve got some wonky dryer whose nozzle is smaller than 1.7 inches or wider than 2.6 inches, but, like, why?), so you won’t need to buy a new blow dryer just for the attachment option. If you’re into ~aesthetics~, it comes in six different pastel and vibrant colors and, most importantly, has a wide bowl to scoop up and dry even super-long curls.

Size: Fits hair-dryer nozzles between 1.7 to 2.6 inches

Parlux Parlux Magic Sense Diffuser

Curly Community Pick: London-based curly hair stylist Trina loves this brand-specific diffuser. "The Parlux magic sense diffuser is probably the one I use most as a curl specialist! It speeds up drying time but also isn’t harsh due to its technology. It has really good heat and airflow. I love it!"

Size: It isn't universal so can only be used on Parlux dryers.

Drybar The Bouncer Diffuser

Although this diffuser is technically designed for Drybar’s iconic Buttercup blow dryer, it can actually fit any blow dryer that has a nozzle diameter of 2 inches (a common nozzle size). Its staggered prongs also make it easy to catch and dry curls of any length without them slipping. Pro tip: Gather a clump of your damp curls with your hand and gently place the entire bundle on top of the bowl—rather than mashing the diffuser to your head—to help define your pattern.

Size: Fits most 2 inch hair-dryer nozzles

Shark STYLE iQ Diffuser

Curly community pick: Zeena says: "I am obsessed. I’ve had mine for over 2 years now and it has consistently given me amazing frizz-free beautiful curl. It has reduced my drying time by almost half. Taking my drying. Time from 65 mins to 20 mins, And is reasonably weighted so not too heavy to manage. There are 3 heat settings and 3 fan settings, which help to get my hair dry even when it's not on the hottest setting, and minimize heat damage."

Trina also praised Shark for their extendable function: "It’s great because you can change the length on the prongs meaning you can get right in at the root and get great volume as well as cupping quite a lot of the curls."

Size: Compatible with the Style IQ Hairdryer, which comes with the attachment included.

Shark FlexStyle Diffuser

Curly Community Pick: With another Shark option, Beulah says: "It dries my hair so quickly and the diffuser attachment distributes the heat evenly keeping my curls defined. The flex style tool itself is my favourite drying tool because it’s lightweight and I can take it anywhere I used to dread drying/diffusing my hair but I genuinely don’t anymore."

Size: Compatible with the Shark Flex Style which comes with the attachment included.

Revlon Infrared Hair Dryer

As you already know, your curly hair is naturally dry, which means you'll want a blow dryer that can do it all with a minimal amount of heat damage. Enter this lightweight hair dryer that uses infrared heat to help mitigate moisture loss. It comes with two attachments, including a huge diffuser attachment and a targeted blow-out attachment, along with three duckbill hair clips to help with parting and sectioning while drying.

Size: Really only fits the included hair dryer

How to choose the best hair diffuser

A diffuser might be universal when it comes to fitting around your blow-dryer nozzle, but as far as finding the right hair diffuser to suit your specific needs, you'll want something a little more personalized. According to hairstylist Leigh Hardges, there are three key features you want to check out when shopping for hair diffusers:

Figure out the right size

First of all, you have to make sure the attachment is compatible with the size of your blow dryer, but you'll also want to pay special attention to the diameter of the bowl: "The size or diameter of the diffuser determines how much surface area of the head will be covered," Hardges says. "The cup size of the diffuser is an indicator of how much hair it can hold while drying." In other words, the longer your hair, the bigger, wider, or deeper the bowl you'll need.

Determine how much airflow you need

The holes or vents in the bowl of a hair diffuser control how much air will flow through the device. "The airflow is determined by the placement and number of holes on the diffuser, which determines how quickly your hair dries," says Hardges. If your hair is very thick and slow to dry, you'll want a diffuser with a high number of holes and vents, while thinner hair may do better with fewer holes or customizable vents.

Consider the prong length

For long and/or dense curls, look for a diffuser with longer prongs, which will help you better dry your scalp and also keep your curls clumped while sitting in the diffuser bowl. For shorter or thinner hair, you can get away with a diffuser that has short or nubby prongs.

Meet the expert

Leigh Hardges is a top hairstylist at the Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL. She specializes in colouring, cutting, and styling all curl types, from types 3a to 4c, and is considered an expert in type-4 hair.