The Best Hair Dryers - Your Buying Guide for 2021

Written by : Stephanie Sanchez; in :
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So you’re shopping for a NEW hair dryer? Too many choices, right?

We’re here to help you make heads or tales of your many options, so you can find the best hair dryer that suits your needs and budget.

How do I choose a good hair dryer?

How to buy a hair dryer -

1.    Price: set your budget.

Since not everyone can afford top-of-the-line products, have in mind how much you want to spend. That means compromise, and you may not get all the great features you want.

How much should you spend on a hair dryer?

You can find suitable dryers for under 50$ for household use.

Elaborate features have a higher price tag. Professional hand-held dryers start at $79.

2.    Features: Focus on your must-have features, and make a list.

Ask yourself who will use this dryer? How often will it be used? The answers will help you in your decision-making process.

3.    Hair type:

If you have fine or damaged hair, your blowdryer choice may differ from someone with coarse, thick hair.

If several people use the same dryer and all have different hair types, you should choose a middle-of-the-road hairdryer.

What should I look for when buying a hair dryer?

 Frizzy HairCurly HairThick hairFine and damaged hairLimp HairFaster Drying TimeTravel Dryer
IonicXXX
Ionic or on/off switchX
Concentrator attachmentXX
Diffuser AttachmentX
Higher heatXX
Higher wind speedXX
Lower wattageXX
More heat control settingsXX
Cool ShotX
LightweightX
Small sizeX
Dual VoltageX
Heat settings

Heat damage comes from excessive direct heat for your hair type. More heat settings are necessary to control the heat for fine, chemically treated, or previously damaged hair.

And don’t forget, always apply a heat protectant product to your hair before your blowout.

Standard dryers come with 2 or 3 heat settings. However, some models have more options like the Parlux Alyon or the T3 Luxe.

  • Heat options
    • infrared or far-infrared heat.
      Infrared helps to evenly heat the hair so you can use less direct heat and reduce drying time, which is best for fine, thin, damaged hair
    • non-ionic heat
      Classic blow dryers force air over a heating element. They don’t generally have ceramic, tourmaline, or other negative ion-producing materials, nor do they have a Negative Ion generator. Non-Ionic dryers are great for fine or limp hair if you want to add volume. But will not give you the sleekest results.

Speed settings

  • Airspeed and airflow control is essential. A more powerful airflow can speed up drying time, especially if you have thick or lengthy hair. You can rough dry your hair at a high wind speed with medium heat. When your hair is 60-75% dry, switch to a lower airflow speed to smooth and finish.

Buttons

  • The Cool shot button
    • This feature is fundamental if you're trying to avoid excess heat damage. It cools and closes the cuticle, which locks in your style. It allows you to build volume and air-dry your hair quickly.
  • Button placement
    • Button and switches can be on the top, side, front, or back. The button placement is critical if you’re a lefty.
  • Toggle vs. sliding buttons
    • Toggle buttons are easier to use one-handed; the downside is they can turn off/on accidentally.
    • Sliding switches are much more deliberate and are best if you have small children around.

Attachments

  • concentrator nozzle attachment
    • Just like it sounds, they concentrate or focus the air and heat to a narrow area.
    • These attachments come in different sizes.
    • The wider mouth one helps keep the heat directed away from your scalp
    • A smoothing concentrator nozzle is very narrow and gives super smooth professional blowouts
      • Use caution so you don’t damage your hair.

Drybar Buttercup Blow-Dryer built for the Professional blowouts

  • Ionic for smooth, sleek blowouts
  • 2 concentrators included, Diffuser sold separately
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
Drybar Beach Bombshell Styling Bundle Set
  • diffuser attachment
    • Diffusers can help you define curls and add volume. Great for wavy, natural, textured, and curly hair. Diffusers break up the direct, forceful wind and enable gentle air and heat distribution to dry your hair quickly; it is also great to prevent frizz.

Dyson is the only dryer with magnetic attachments, making them very easy to use and switch out.

technology

  • ionic technology
    • Negative ions seal in moisture, close the cuticle and eliminate frizz by reducing static electricity.

Some hair dryers have an on/off switch for ion production. Turning on the ion production makes hair smoother, and turning it off gives more volume.

    • The touchscreen allows for more precise control, and this control is lockable, so you don’t accidentally change the settings. 
      (The touchscreen has a learning curve)

CHI Touch 2 - Touch Screen

  • Concentrator and diffuser included.
  • Adjustable heat and speed settings with speedometer
  • Controls are on top except for the cool shot button in front
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What is the least damaging hair dryer?

What is the best temperature for drying hair?

It depends on your hair type and hairstyle.

  • Thick coarse hair is much more resistant naturally to heat
  • Fine or damaged hair requires low heat.
  • If you have Curly Hair, you need to take great care how you blow dry; otherwise, it will become frizzy and dry.

The less heat you use to dry your hair, the better. Over time too much direct heat can burn and damage your hair. Once you burn your hair, you can’t repair it with treatments. This damage can result in split ends that only hair cutting can remove.

Some heat can relax the natural hair texture, straighten and smooth the hair. So if you dry your hair frequently, use the least amount of heat you can to get the results you want.

What is a good hair dryer wattage?

Usually, a hair dryer’s maximum output range is 800w to 2200w. The higher the wattage, the more heat and wind speed potential your dryer has.

Wattage alone is not a good indicator of hair safety. Also take into consideration the number of heat and airspeed settings.

Higher wattage is potentially more damaging to your hair, when you use it on the maximum settings over a long period.

For home use, 1600w-1850w is plenty of power.

Which hair dryer is least damaging?

RevAir, and here’s why:

  • It uses suction rather than blowing air across your tresses
  • It also uses less heat than any other hair dryer I have found
    • HIGH heat uses 800 watts, and LOW  uses 400 watts
    • Maximum temperatures of 140 - 195 degrees Fahrenheit
  • No tension from brushes means less hair fall
  • Great for long hair and a nice blowout look
REVAIR Reverse-Air Hair Dryer | Easily Dry and Straighten Hair
Is leaving your hair to air dry bad? - Is a hair dryer harmful for your hair?
  • The answer to both of these questions is: No, not necessarily.

FACT: Heat can cause permanent damage to your hair.

  • Air drying will eliminate heat damage.
  • However, Blow Drying your hair can help smooth frizz, add lock in shine, but don't abuse your hair by overusing heat.

Some people with thick or textured hair can have a problem air-drying their hair. It may take them 2-3 days to completely air dry their hair. Extended drying time is not only uncomfortable; it can lead to hygral fatigue—permanent cuticle damage caused by too much moisture.

The Takeaway; Air Drying your hair is excellent, but it’s not for everyone.

Hair Dryers are NOT EVIL; it’s all about how you use them.

How do I pick a hair dryer for thin hair?

The best dryer for fine hair is also suitable for thin hair and should include:

  • Lower wattage = less heat damage potential
  • Choose a dryer with more Heat control settings
  • Ion on/off switch for volume and smoothness
  • Cool shot for volume

Can a hair dryer make your hair fall out?

NO,

  1. Repeated use of uncontrolled Excessive Heat can cause permanent damage to your hair which leads to split ends and breakage (aka hair fall)
  2. Hair pulling from detangling and forceful tension from round brushes during a blowout strain the hair follicle and cause extra hair shedding (aka hair fall)
What hair dryers do professionals use?

Since I was in beauty school way back when most of my colleagues and I prefer Italian-made Hair Dryers because of their fame for durability, there are some exceptions. 

Here are some PRO picks from a recent online discussion.

The Top 10 Pro favorites

  • 3 heat settings; 3 speeds
  • 2 Concentrators and diffuser included
  • under 1LB
  • 1700 Watt Brushless motor
  • Memory function recalls chosen setting among 18 possible configurations,
  • Lock button for settings
  • auto-diagnosis to discover any operating problems
  • 2,250 WATTS
  • 2 SPEEDS - 4 TEMPERATURES
  • IONIC TECHNOLOGY
  • 2 CONCENTRATOR NOZZLES included
  • 6 colors
  • GETS HOT & STAYS HOT
  • Cheapest Pro hair dryer
  • Concentrator included
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • Ionic
  • 2000 watts
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  • It comes in 7 colors
  • 2 Concentrators included
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • 1875W
  • Brushless motor for reduced noise and longer lifespan
  • 3 concentrators included, Diffuser sold separately
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • 1875W
  • Toggle switches on the back for one-handed control
  • You can only buy this one direct from Dyson
  • License verification required.
  • 4 colors
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • 2 concentrators included
  • Auto pause sensor - release the handle, then airflow stops
  • Temperature regulating smart sensor. Digitally regulates the temperature so that you don’t accidentally damage your hair from excessive uncontrolled heat.
  • Buttons on the back for thumb touch control
  • 5 Heat Settings & 2 Speed Settings
  • Ion on/off for volume or sleek finish
  • Classic High quality and very durable - you can easily get 10 to 25 years out of this dryer
  • 2-speed controls and 3 temperature settings
  • 2 precision concentrator nozzles, Diffuser sold separately
  • 1600W, 1750W or 2000W
  • Ionic and Nonionic models available

Why choose a professional Hair dryer?

Professional products are built for daily use because durability is important for professional hairdressers. We don’t want to struggle or injure our bodies, so they’re loaded with features, ergonomic, lightweight, and easy-to-use hair dryers and coloful.

The power cord on professional hair dryers is usually about 9ft; household models come with a short power cord approximately 6ft in length.

Are expensive hair dryers worth it?

  • Usually, less expensive dryers have:
    • Fewer features
    • Fewer attachments
    • Fewer heat or speed control options
    • Shorter cords
    • Lower wattage
    • Made for Home use and not professional durability
    • I find that the concentrator nozzles don’t work well for smooth blowouts.

So, While not bad, inexpensive hair dryers are great for traveling or no-frills drying only. If any of the aforementioned items are important to you, it’s best to upgrade.

What is the best affordable hair dryer?

  • Concentrator and diffuser included
  • Ionic
  • 3 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • 1875 watt
  • Budget-friendly
  • High consumer rating

FAQ

Do ionic hair dryers work?
    • According to UCSB Science Line’s research, Negative ions do smooth your hair, but the effect is only temporary.
    • However, Ionic technology, if used in combination with hair products that lock in your style the results can have a longer-lasting effect.
Are Dyson Supersonic hair dryers worth the money?

People usually love Dyson or hate it. There just doesn't seem to be a middle ground on the topic.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

    • Come with magnetic attachments, making them very easy to use and switch out.
    • Include a Smoothing nozzle, concentrator, and diffuser.
    • 4 heat settings; 3 speeds
    • Temperature regulating smart sensor. Electronically regulates the temperature so that you protect your hair from excessive uncontrolled heat.
      • Engineered to increase smoothness, increase shine, and decrease frizz
      • Ergonomic design
What about the Dyson Airwrap and the Revlon One-Step?

Dyson Airwrap and Revlon one-step are very convenient and style and dry your hair in one tool.

The Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer

Revlon combines a hair dryer and round brush for a small and convenient hair tool.

  • 1100-Watt
  • 2 heat settings; 2 speeds
  • Reaches high temps
  • inexpensive

Dyson Airwrap has more options than Revlon one step hair dryer. You can straighten, give volume or curls as you dry your hair.

Airwrap Set Includes:

  • 2-inch barrels (2)
  • 6-inch barrels (2)
  • Firm smoothing brush ( for frizz-prone hair.)
  • Soft smoothing brush ( gentle on the scalp.)
  • Round volumizing brush (NOT a SPINNING brush)
  • Pre-styling dryer (mini blow dryer)
  • Also included: Storage case, non-slip mat, and filter cleaning brush.
  • 1300W

We hope we’re able to answer your concerns about buying a hair dryer. Comment below if you have any more questions we didn’t directly answer.

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