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How to dry & diffuse afro curly hair: a complete guide

Afro curly hair is wonderful, but certainly isn’t a wash-and-go hair type. To get the best results from styling it with a diffuser, you need to understand its likes and dislikes. The tightly coiled shape of afro hair means it’s naturally prone to breakage, and also dryness, as the natural oils from our scalp aren’t able to travel easily down the spiral strands. To counteract this, extra consideration needs to be taken during the diffusing and styling process, so that it’s left shiny and springy, with minimal damage. Coils tend to dislike being washed too often, styled with extreme heat or being played with too much. What they do like is plenty of added moisture, gentle styling techniques and being treated with care. We’ve rounded up everything you need to properly dry afro curly hair with a diffuser, plus the mistakes to avoid, so you can enjoy the bounciest, healthiest finish possible. 

How to properly dry afro hair

Whether you like to wear your afro curly hair in defined coils, these are the tips and tricks to keep in mind when drying

Choose the right products 

wash routine afro hair

Afro curly hair is naturally low on moisture, so you want to add as much hydration as possible before you move on to diffusing. In the shower, treat your hair to a nourishing conditioner or hair mask, and post-shower, be sure to slather on products that will quench the thirst of parched strands to maintain elasticity. There’s often a focus on oil-based products for afro hair, but using too much oil without hydrating your strands first will create a shield that stops prevents them from absorbing water and ultimately leads to brittleness and breakage. 

Prep properly 

Detangle when wet using a wide-tooth comb or a brush with spaced-out, flexible bristles and work gently from the bottom of your hair upwards, rather than from the root down. You may also want to spend time spiralling individual curls around your fingers to maximise definition when you move on to styling. 

Looking for a way to make your curls last longer between washes? Discover "The ultimate guide to keeping your curls looking great between washes".



Consider air drying or plopping first 

Afro hair is dainty by nature, and too much exposure to heat can quickly lead to snapping and breakage. To minimise this, you may want to initially allow your hair to dry naturally for a while. You can either leave it down to do this or use a technique called plopping, where the hair is bundled into a microfibre towel or cotton t-shirt to absorb the excess of water without disrupting your curl pattern. 

Choose the right settings

Do not be tempted to raise the temperature or speed of the diffuser: ideally, both should be as low as possible. The speed should be low so that you have more control over the styling process and prevent the curls from being pushed in all directions, while the heat should be kept to a minimum to reduce potential thermal damage.

Master your diffuser techniques 

Afro hair can range from curl types 4A to 4C, which covers ‘S’ shaped curls through to ‘Z’ shaped bends so tightly wound that you can’t really see their pattern at all. These will need varying approaches when it comes to diffusing, and how you choose to style will also depend on how you like to wear your hair. For example, if you want to encourage the spring of shrinkage to preserve and show off your hair’s elasticity, you might want to hover diffuse with the tool an inch or so away from your strands. Alternatively, to elongate your coils, try stretch diffusing, where you wiggle and tease the finger-like nodules on the tool through your hair to persuade them downwards. Practice makes perfect, so take time to play around with different techniques and find the right one for your coils

How to diffuse 4c hair

Drying and styling 4C hair can be a challenge, but with the right tools and techniques, you can enhance your natural curls and minimise frizz. The Diffon Supreme is specifically designed to handle the unique needs of 4C hair, offering gentle airflow and adjustable heat settings to protect and define your curls.

To diffuse 4C hair, start by applying a leave-in conditioner and your favourite styling products to wet hair. Use the Diffon Supreme on a low speed and temperature setting, focusing on the roots first and then the lengths. Finish with the Ultra Gentle function to set your style and add shine.

Mistakes to avoid when diffusing afro hair

Learning from and avoiding these commonly made mistakes will make diffusing your afro curly hair a doddle. 

spray afro hair

Skipping the prep steps

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – the key to gorgeous coils and kinks is good prep, and that starts the moment you’ve stepped out of the shower. Commit to applying hydrating products that thirsty strands can drink up, styling products like gels and creams to help with definition and always detangle just after applying these so your comb or brush can glide easily through the hair without catching. 

Turning up the heat too high

Exposing afro hair to scorching temperatures might seem like the best way to speed up the styling process, but won’t do your hair any favours in both the short or the long term. High heat will damage the strands, leading to frizz, a lack of definition and breakage that’ll only worsen over time, distorting your natural curl pattern and making your hair harder to manage. 

Not considering your curl pattern

Afro hair is not the same as curly or wavy hair, so don’t assume that following the same advice will give you the same results. Trial and test different diffuser techniques, like the hover and stretch diffusing approaches we chatted about earlier, to find the right one to give your coils as much bounce, spring and volume as you want. 

Playing with your hair too much 

Fiddling with our strands is a common habit, and some of us do it so absent-mindedly that we don’t even realise it. The problem is, that playing with our hair when styling or between washes can encourage fluffiness and frizz, lead to breakage and also loosen the shape of your curls so that they lose definition – none of which are ideal. You’re also potentially transferring grease and grime onto your hair, which is something you really want to avoid, as afro hair is best washed just once a week. 

Master the art of diffusing afro hair with Bellissima Diffon

If you’re keen to avoid the mistakes we’ve just mentioned when diffusing afro curly hair, one of the most fool-proof ways is by investing in a dedicated diffuser tool like the Bellissima Italia Diffon, which has been designed especially with this hair type in mind.

Diffon Supreme has a gentle power system, which works to protect fragile coils from overheating and becoming damaged. Thanks to an ergonomic, lightweight hand-held design, they’re also easy and intuitive to use, allowing you to experiment and find the right diffuser technique for your specific curl pattern without getting arm-ache. In addition to this, carefully balanced airflow and kind-to-hair coatings also ensure a shiny, defined finish. Beautiful.


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