My Hair Is Fine and Only Slightly Wavy—Here’s Why a Diffuser Is My New Best Friend

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how to use a diffuser mobile
Dasha Burobina/Rachel Bowie

Got fine hair? I bet you have a similar blow dryer unboxing story to mine: I opened my beloved Dyson Supersonic (a tool that truly is worth the investment, btw), then proceeded to chuck the diffuser attachment out of sight within my bathroom vanity. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t ready to part with it, but my hair is fine—thin even—which meant I prioritized the other attachments. Mainly, the concentrator, which allowed me to smooth and straighten, which was the only thing I felt my locks were capable of…until now.

After an inspiring visit to the salon, I’m all about the diffuser for my fine and slightly wavy hair. Perfect for summer, here’s how to make it work for your mane, too.

how to diffuse hair ryan trygstad mark ryan salon
Mark Ryan Salon

Meet the Expert

Ryan Trygstad is an in-demand precision stylist and one half of the duo behind the Mark Ryan Salon in Manhattan (he co-owns it with renowned hair colorist Mark DeBolt). Trygstad is the go-to for celebs ranging from Kelly Ripa to Kim Cattrall to Laura Dern, but also for me. I found Trygstad (and DeBolt!) during the pandemic in late 2020 when their salon first opened its doors and they’ve been revitalizing my strands ever since.

1. About the Diffuser & Why I Tested It on My Fine, Wavy Hair

Credit to Trygstad: During my last cut and color appointment, when it came time for the blow dry, he suggested, “Let’s try something different.” Next thing I knew, the diffuser was out, my head was flipped over and I was in disbelief that this particular hair attachment was even being considered for my type of hair. But that’s just it: “For decades, women have been trained to fight their natural curl and waves,” Trygstad explains. It’s the tension we place on our front strands with a hairbrush; our efforts to fight our waves with straightening tools. “The more we get to know our natural hair textures and curl patterns, the more fun we can have,” he adds.

Back to the diffuser: It’s well-known as a trusty companion for anyone with curly hair. (In fact, when I was beginning work on this story, many a curly-haired friend DMed me to say just how much they rely on it for their hair care routine.) But, surprise, surprise—and according to Trygstad—it should be a go-to for those with fine and wavy hair, too. “It helps to add natural volume and lift,” he explains.

2. Where to Start: A Step-by-Step Guide for Diffusing Fine Hair

First and foremost, product matters. So does moisture because it’s actually the only way to truly generate curls.

how to diffuse hair products

The Product Lineup

According to Trygstad, you need both a curl cream and something for hold to get the best results. He swears by the lineup from R+Co, specifically the Turntable Curl Defining Cream ($34) and the Chiffon Styling Mousse ($36).

There’s more: While you can use water to wet fine hair types before diffusing, Trygstad suggests doubling down with an anti-humidity spray like ColorWow’s Dream Coat for Curly Hair ($24), which will also help reduce frizz. To seal everything in, he says a finishing spray—for example, Oribe’s Superfine Hair Spray ($23)—is a must and helps reduce flyaways.

The Step-by-Step

The very first step is to wash your hair, then spritz a generous amount of ColorWow’s Dream Coat all over your locks. Trygstad’s method is to then use a comb to gently and evenly distribute the product throughout your hair. (One time through your strands should be enough.)

Next, use an old T-shirt or microfiber cloth to wring out any excess water while maintaining moisture and reducing frizz. But don’t pull down. “It’s more about cupping and scrunching as you delicately lift your hair,” Trygstad says. “This motion also helps to push the product deeper into strands and help create your curls.”

Now, it’s time to diffuse. Set your natural part, then place your strands atop the diffuser one section at a time until your hair is 20 to 30 percent dry. “You almost want to baby your hair,” Trygstad says. “You can massage the root a little as your hair dries but keep the lifting motion delicate.” Once your hair is most of the way dry, you can flip your head back upright and continue drying the way you started.

The end result should be beachy and cool—think Blake Lively or Sarah Jessica Parker in the early days of Sex and the City.

The Finishing Touches

Trygstad relies on one final (and optional) step to elevate your natural curls: A wand. (We like this one from ghd.)

“You don’t need to emphasize every curl, but after diffusing, you can pick and choose pieces of your hair that could use a bit of definition.” Keep in mind there’s no “pattern” to follow here. “I follow the direction of your natural curl,” he explains. For summer, the goal should be wild and crazy girl hair, he describes.

The best part is the number of ways to style fine hair that’s been diffused. “It looks great down, but it also is stunning and glamorous in a ponytail,” Trygstad says. “It’s up, but it looks like a ton of effort was made.”

My final take: After trying it a couple of times at home, I’ll admit it takes a bit of practice, but that’s more about familiarizing myself with how to angle the diffuser itself. Still, what I love about this look is its range. I can diffuse my curls to softly accentuate my natural waves or I can go full-tilt, bust out the wand (as Trygstad suggests) and create a head of voluminous curls.

More than anything, I’m floored at the beachy waves my fine and wavy hair is capable of—and just in time for summer.