A Definitive Guide for How to Blow-Dry Curly Hair

Learning how to blow dry curly hair is no easy feat—it takes a little bit of time and skill to master. Thankfully, achieving perfectly defined curls, volume, shine, and bounce all in one—without having to wait for your hair to air dry—is possible. For starters, you'll need the right hair dryer for your curl type and the right products to help you get the best blowout.

Your blow-drying method makes all the difference on your curls. We scouted out Carol’s Daughter lead hairstylist Stephanie McLemore and Diane C. Bailey, who is a celebrity stylist and SheaMoisture’s beauty ambassador, to break down exactly how to blow-dry curly hair. You’re going to want to screenshot this.

Blow dry curly hair

Follow These Steps to Blow-Dry Curly Hair

When blow-drying curly hair, both stylists highly recommend using a diffuser, which is a hot blow-drying tool specifically designed for textured curls. "My advice would be to keep the dryer heat on medium to low to help minimize frizz. This amazing Xiong Chao diffuser (currently out of stock) shaped like a hand would add a great value to achieving the best curl form. We also love this DevaCurl DevaFuser ($50)."

McLemore follows the below regimen to blow-dry curly hair (in this order):

  • Squeeze excess water out of the hair.
  • Apply product sparingly by using a scrunch method.
  • Lightly place curls on the claw of the diffuser.
  • Put the diffuser close to the scalp, and gently lift hair at the root to add volume.
  • Dry hair 80% of the way and allow 20% to air-dry. This will keep your hair from drying out and getting frizzy.
  • To finish, gently scrunch your hair to shape and form your style.

Bailey follows the below routine to blow dry curly hair (in this order):

  • Start by reducing moisture in hair after you shampoo by gently blotting hair dry with a micro-cotton towel or T-shirt.
  • Section hair into four equal parts.
  • Secure each section with a clip and dry with a diffusing blow-dryer on a cooler setting until each section is 50% dry.
  • Start in the back and dividing sections into smaller subsections.
  • To diminish frizz and help prevent thermal damage, apply a small pea-size amount of oil and your go-to blowout cream from roots to tip.
  • Dry each section with the diffuser, scrunching hair as you go.

Blow-Drying Methods Vary Depending on Your Curl Type

"The coilier the texture, the more product is needed to achieve the right moisture," says McLemore. "For maximum moisture and perfect curls, I recommend Pracaxi Nectar Curl Twisting Custard.. Not only does it keep your hair moist and soft, but it also enhances style definition and prevents frizz." [Ed. note: This product has been discontinued—we recommend Carol's Daughter Coco Creme Curl Shaping Gel ($12 instead]

Keep your dryer setting on medium to low heat to try to prevent breakage and heat damage.

Bailey notes that prepping the hair while it's still damp may vary based on different curl textures. "With tight coils, I recommend applying SheaMoisture Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler (above) to dampen hair to seal in moisture, starting at the ends and working toward the scalp." [Ed. note: This product is currently unavailable]

Add extra moisture to your hair with a leave-in treatment to soften hair and improve style manageability while it's damp.

Hairstylist-Approved Blow-Drying Products

It's essential to keep the right curly-girl products nearby to achieve the best blowout. McLemore relies on Carol's Daughter Hair Milk. "It's a lightweight formula that will assist in getting deep moisture and shine while defining and adding bounce to your curls," says McLemore.

Bailey depends on an oil and a cream made specifically for blow-drying. "My favorite blowout product for curly and kinky hair is the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil ($13) and the Strengthen & Restore Blow Dry Crème ($10), which is enriched with certified organic shea butter to intensely hydrate hair, reduce frizz, and improve manageability. Black castor oil aids in smoothing the cuticle, preventing split ends, and soothing scalp irritation." [Ed. note: SheaMoisture's Strengthen & Restore Blow Dry Créme is no longer available, but we recommend you try Briogeo's Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection and Heat Protectant Créme ($24) as an alternative.]

While we're talking curly hair, check out the best hair dryers for curly hair that celebrity stylists love.

Related Stories