Having a long mane of unruly, tumbling curls is both a blessing and a curse. Some days, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world; others, you look like a rat drowning in a garbage bin. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish that I had more consistent hair. I just want to wake up and go, or at least spend less than an hour styling it, without worrying that it will still look bad when I’m done.
Unfortunately, I can’t rave about a miracle product that turned my wiry hair silky smooth. But this bonnet hair dryer attachment is a life-changing tool that makes going from wet to dry curls a manageable experience. It works similarly to the dryers you might sit under at a hair salon, but it folds down to fit in a drawer, you can move around while using it, and it costs less than $20.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Like most people with curly hair, I have several types throughout my head. The underside is very coarse with tight curls, above that is a little softer with nice spirals, and the top layer is a damaged mess that hardly curls. It’s also very thick and frizzy. Once I’ve washed and styled, I can’t get my hair completely dry, roots and all, in less than an hour and a half, even on the highest heat setting. I hardly ever make it that long. The dead ends dry quickly, but the roots and middle layer will stay wet forever. The end result is also usually puffy and frizzy.
Several hair dryers have cut down my diffusing time, but nothing has given me curls quite like this simple tool. The bonnet has a long hose that attaches to a blow dryer. The hot air from your dryer goes up the hose and inflates the outer layer, evenly dispersing air through ventilation holes all over the inside of the cap. It dries your entire head at once, which helps cut time dramatically. Since hair is contained, you don’t have to worry about it flying around, causing frizz and puffiness.
Most standard hair dryers should fit the hose, and there’s a Velcro strap to tighten it, but ones that have wider mouths, like the Dyson Supersonic ($430) or Shark HyperAir ($200), won’t. If that’s what you have, you can attach the dryer’s concentrator to it and then attach the hose that way. It might take longer to dry your hair, but you won’t have to purchase an entirely new device.
Amazon is full of options. I went for this $19 one from the brand Tepenar, but there are several that look the same. I like the shape of it, which lets my long hair lie naturally instead of being scrunched up inside. I’m after stretched-out styles and am not looking to add volume to my already huge hair. If you have short hair or need something that is wider rather than longer, there are tons of options that sit on top of your head the way a standard sleep bonnet does. You’ll likely find them at your local beauty supply too. If you frequently deep condition your hair, these also help heat those up for better penetration and, hopefully, better results.
When I put this hood on, my hair is nearly dry in 30 minutes, and the roots are totally dry within an hour or so. That’s on a medium or low setting, as the highest heat is typically too hot for my scalp. Thinner hair will have even faster results.
I also love that I don’t have to hold up a dryer that long. Every gym bro who can shoulder press 150 pounds should try doing it while standing up in a bathroom for an hour straight and staring into a mirror. It’s hard. Now I can plug my dryer in and do my makeup, or sit at my desk and write. The former is a little harder, since a stretchy band comes down across your forehead, but I just leave that part for last.
It looks a little silly when inflated, since it sticks out like an appendage. A coworker remarked that I resembled a Twi’lek from Star Wars, with just one lek instead of two. The first time I used it, my husband came into the bathroom to show me something but completely forgot what he was doing. Instead, we just stared at each other in silence for a few seconds.
I’m not the first person to discover a bonnet attachment, but I’m just a curly-headed girl who is always a few seconds away from shaving her head out of frustration. But my curls have never looked better, so for now, the clippers will stay in the drawer.