A Definitive Guide for How to Blow-Dry Curly Hair

Updated 04/25/19
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Blow drying takes a little bit of time to master. For starters, you need the right hair dryer around for your curl type and good products to accompany you to achieve the best blowout. Curly girls know what's up—you want those perfectly defined curls, volume, shine, and bounce all in one, but you don't have time to wait hours for your curls to dry. Wash 'n' go approaches don't work all the time, so this is where blow-drying curly hair comes in.

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.


Exactly How 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 diffuser ($21) shaped like a hand that 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.
  • Appy product sparingly by using a scrunch method.
  • Diffusers are really great to help keep your curl form.
  • 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.
  • Only dry 80% of your air, 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 sections.
  • Secure each with a clip, and dry sections with a blow-dryer on a cooler setting with a diffuser until each section is 50% dry.
  • Follow by starting 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 (try SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Caster Oil) and your go-to blowout cream (Bailey suggests SheaMoisture Strengthen & Restore Blow Out Crème from roots to tip).
  • Dry each section with the diffuser, scrunching hair as you go.

Blow-Drying Methods Vary Depending on Your Curl Type

Carol's Daughter Pracaxi Nectar Curl Twisting Custard $20

"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 (above). Not only does it keep your hair moist and soft, but it also enhances style definition and prevents frizz."

As blow drying your hair can lead to breakage and heat damage, we suggest keeping your dryer setting on medium to low heat.

SheaMoisture Low Porosity Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler $9

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 damp hair to seal in moisture, starting at the ends and working toward the scalp.

Another way to add extra moisture to your hair is to add a leave-in treatment to soften hair and improve style manageability while it is 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 ($12). "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 ($11) 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."

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