Best Alternatives to Drying Curly Hair Without a Diffuser

Megan Dominion

Many would think that having curly hair means easy maintenance, like waking up with gorgeous curls is a natural thing. Well one thing is for sure, this is far from the truth. The curly hair community was instantly head over heels with the introduction of the hair diffuser and how it significantly cuts drying time. If you don’t have one, or find it doesn’t give you the desired effect, are there alternatives to drying curly hair?

Drying Time

It is undeniable that one of the dreadful things when getting ready is drying your hair. The time it takes to dry your hair depends on its type, texture, and desired style. Longer and thicker hair, in general, requires more drying time and it can take around 2 to 4 hours for hair to completely air dry.

Here are some things to consider if your hair take forever to dry.

Best Alternatives to Dry Curly Hair

Many curly-haired girls would want to know how to diffuse hair without a diffuser. Especially if it is not available. A diffuser is a lifesaver for many curly-haired girls. It keeps the hair neat and curly without the strands flailing all over the place. But what if you don’t have one on hand? Here are some good alternatives:


1. Air Dry

Many curlies have discovered that air drying is the best option for maximum curl definition. If you don’t have a diffuser and have plenty of time, just let your hair be. After washing your hair, gently pat it dry with a microfiber towel or a cotton t-shirt to remove excess moisture. Scrunch a good styling product into your curls from the ends to the roots after applying your leave-in conditioner. Allow your hair to dry completely. Scrunch out any crunch from products such as gel or mousse.

2. Plopping

Plopping is another strong contender. As the name suggest: simply ‘plop’ wet hair onto a cotton t-shirt or similar, wrap it up, and let it dry for exceptional curls every time.

Plopping is a technique that involves drying your wet curls in a self-contained pile on top of your head with a cotton T-shirt, pillowcase, or microfiber towel, which helps to increase definition and reduce frizz. It is essentially the curly-approved alternative to wrapping a towel around your head. Read through the most common hair plopping mistakes for some additional tips.


This technique has long been used by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. All you need is a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel, as well as some time. Start by placing a long-sleeved shirt or towel on a chair or counter with the sleeves closest to you. Flip your head forward and place your curls in the center of the towel, then fold the bottom of the shirt or towel over your curls to the base of your neck and tie the sleeves in a knot to keep it in place.

Wait about an hour before unraveling the towel, and voila! Your hair will likely still be damp but air drying will take a lot quicker and your curls should be well defined.

3. Braids

While drying, stretch your natural texture by styling your wet hair into stretched styles like braids, twists, or bands. This is a heatless method for temporarily changing your curl pattern.

For this one, just make tight French braids after washing your hair, the more braids the more volume. If you want nice, neat waves, just two braids will be enough. Blow-dry the braids on medium heat for about 15 minutes before unbraiding. Inside, the hair may be slightly damp and if this is the case, dry it with cool airflow. Many curly girls wear their hair in these styles to avoid tangles and breakage.

4. Hooded Dryers

A hooded dryer is a dome-shaped tool that quickly and evenly dries hair, and has long been a salon staple. It evenly distributes hot air, causing heat to be diffused and thus less damaging than, say, a hair dryer.

While most women do not have hooded dryers in their homes, they can, however, be found in gyms and hair salons. It is another tool that can help you save time when drying your hairstyles, and while they are a hefty investment, aside from being a time saver for your hairstyles, they can also be used to improve your deep conditioning regime as it enhances the penetration of conditioning treatments into your hair.

woman with braided hair

5. Use Your Car

Scrunched for time? Simply hop in your car and let it do the work for you. Many curlies discover that the heater or air conditioning in their cars creates a small, hooded dryer environment that is ideal for curls. Your car’s air conditioning and heater can both function as hooded dryers. Simply close the windows and turn on either the heater or air conditioner at the highest speed. For more volume, you can keep those windows open.

Experiment with Your Hair

So next time your diffuser is nowhere in sight, how to blow dry curly hair without a diffuser should not be a problem. Finally, the decision is yours! Remember that having curly hair is all about experimenting. Don’t be afraid to try something new, even without your handy-dandy diffuser.


Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.