Hair Dryer Buying Guide

In the past hair dryers just dried hair, often damaging it while drying it, but today many hair dryers actually improve your hair's health while drying it, adding shine, volume and moisture. Hair dryers range in price from $20 to several hundred dollars, and are made of a variety of different materials and have a variety of different features. Those looking to purchase a hair dryer should take the time and do a little research first and find one that matches their needs, budget and hair type best. Here are the ten most important things you should consider when deciding what hair dryer to buy:

1. Hair Type

There are three major hair types: thick/coarse hair, curly hair, and fine/thin hair. Different hair types require different care. For thick/coarse hair look for a dryer that offers high air flow and multiple heat settings. Coarse/thick hair is best dried on a high temperature and styled on a low temperature setting. For thin/fine hair, it is best to dry hair at a lower heat and speed, so look for a dryer that has the appropriate settings. When using a dryer with ionic technology, it is best to turn it off if you'd like extra volume; those with fine/thin hair should look for a dryer that allows them to turn the ionic feature on and off.  Curly hair is best dried with a diffuser, so look for a hair dryer that comes with one if you have curly hair.

2. Hair Drying Technology

Over the years hair dryers have really progressed in technology. Where once hair dryers damaged hair, many of today's hair dryers actually make it healthier. Today's most advanced hair dryer technology is tourmaline, ceramic, ionic, and infrared. Some hair dryers have one, some have several, some have all, and some have none of the newest technologies. Depending on your hair type, certain technology is more important than other types are.

Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that helps hair dry quicker by splitting large water droplets into smaller ones so they evaporate quickly. It helps to seal in moisture and shine, and speed the drying process. Ceramic helps to distribute heat evenly thus drying hair evenly and preventing sections from drying out and being damaged. Ionic technology creates negative ions that neutralize static and help to seal hair's cuticles locking in moisture. Ionic dryers help to reduce frizziness, eliminate static and give hair extra bounce, shine and smoothness. Ionic technology also helps reduce drying time significantly. Infrared or far-infrared technology does much of what ceramic does - it helps to distribute heat evenly, drying hair quickly and consistently, without over drying areas.

3. Watts

Generally the more watts a hair dryer is the more powerful it is. People with thin, fine, short or damaged hair do not require a lot of wattage and are best to stick with a dryer that has 1500 watts and under. Those with medium, straight or wavy hair should look for a dryer 1300-1800 watts. Those with very thick, coarse or curly hair should look for a dryer that is 1600 watts and above. There are some dryers available that offer two different watt outputs - these are great for families with different hair types, and are great for energy saving.

4. Accessories

Some hair dryers come with accessories and some do not. Some hair dryers that do not come with accessories sell them separately to fit the dryer, while some simply do not have any accessories for their hair dryer at all. Some people never use accessories, while other people, especially those who style their hair while drying, use them all the time. Common hair dryer accessories are concentrators, diffusers, nozzles, and dryer brushes. Concentrators are great for precision drying and styling. Diffusers are a must have for curly hair and help to prevent frizz; they are great for drying a style without disrupting it. Nozzles help to give the air flow more control and are helpful for styling, and a dryer brush is great for those who have a hard time using both a hair brush and a dryer at the same time. Those who simply dry their hair probably won't use attachments much, but for those who style their hair while drying, attachments are well worth the extra money.

5. Dual Voltage

If you just plan to use your hair dryer at home, than having one with dual voltage is not that important. However, if you plan to take it travelling out of the country, than dual voltage is very important. Dual voltage allows for the dryer to be used for both 110/120 voltage and 220/240 voltage. Dual voltage is commonly available on small compact travel hair dryers.

6. Size

Hair dryers range in weight from a little less than one pound to three pounds. For those who spend a lot of time drying and styling their hair, a lighter hair dryer can be very beneficial. There are some exceptionally lightweight compact design hair dryers which are perfect for travelling as they won't weigh down luggage as much as the larger models will. When considering weight, think about how much you'll be using the hair dryer and if you will be travelling with it or not - too heavy of a dryer can make drying your hair a chore. Smaller hair dryers take up less room and are generally lighter in weight, however, they often have less power and less features. Try to choose a dryer that offer a lightweight and smaller size without sacrificing performance.

7. Noise Level

Many hair dryers say they are quiet, but few truly are. Today, the average hair dryer runs at about 50-60 decibels, which is a huge improvement over ten years ago when they were about 80 decibels. However, 50-60 decibels is still fairly loud and not enjoyable for many people. There are a few high end models that have such advanced technology that the run at 10-30 decibels. If you are really noise sensitive, look for a blow dryer that produces 40 decibels or less.

8. Removable Filter

Hair dryers tend to suck in a lot of hair, lint and other small debris. Hairdryers that cannot be cleaned tend to overheat and burn out faster than hair dryers that can be cleaned. To maintain the effectiveness of a hair dryer and to increase its longevity, it should be cleaned regularly. Look for a hair dryer that offers an easy to remove and clean filter.

9. Temperature

All hair dryers comes with at least two heat temperature settings, and some come with a “cool or cold shot feature. The heat dries hair and helps with styling, while the cool or cold air helps to set it in place. The cool air also helps to add extra shine to your hair.  If you just dry your hair and don't style it, then you probably will not use a cool shot feature much. However, if you style your hair while drying, then you'll probably love a cool shot feature and use it all the time.

10. Warranty

Hair dryers come with anywhere from a 90 day to a five year warranty, depending on brand and model. Like anything else, the longer the warranty, the better. Look for a dryer that offers at least a year warranty, preferably more. The majority of customer complaints about hair dryers dying prematurely, said they stopped working after 10-12 months of use - having a longer warranty will give you a way to replace the dryer if it breaks down prematurely. When buying a high end hair dryer, a two year or higher warranty is recommended.  Watch out for warranties that are void if the dryer is not purchase by a certified vendor and make sure you send in any warranty card that comes with it.

Below you'll find a list of what we have found to be the best rated hair dryers overall. These are the best all around hair dryers. Further below you will find a discussion of various hair dryer types. We have also rated the best hair dryers according to the category they fall in.

Best Rated Hair Dryers

#1 Best Overall Hair Dryer - Turbo Power 3200 Twin Turbo Hair Dryer

The Turbo Power 3200 is one of the best hair dryers on the market today. It is powerful; it has a high performance AC motor, 1900 watts of power, a reinforced heat element and produces 79 cubic meters of air per hour. It is easy to keep clean, with its removable stainless steel filter, and offers comfort and convenience with its 3 meter long cord, lightweight, and  anatomic handle. It also has tons of great features such as four temperature and two speed settings, two concentrator nozzles, one wide and one extra wide, and instant cold air. Perfect for using at home or in a hair salon, this excellent hair dryer is built to last and does a professional job every time. It is available in four colors and comes with a year warranty, and retails for around $100.

Turbo Power 3200 Full Review

#2 Best Overall Hair Dryer - T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i Hair Dryer

Why use a hair dryer that damages your hair, when you can use one that improves its overall health? The Luxe 2i doesn't use hot air to dry hair the way an average hair dryer does, it uses infrared heat and ionized air that gently dries hair while locking in natural moisture so hair doesn't dry out and get frizzy. The ion infused air helps to add extra shine and volume to hair, and makes it easy to comb through and style. This excellent hair dryer has two speed settings and three temperature settings, plus it has a cold shot button that works great for finalizing styles. The T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i hair dryer is perfect to use at home or professionally in a hair salon.  It is lightweight, quiet and stylish. It retails for around $250; however, it can be purchased for half its normal retail price at some online retail outlets.

T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i Full Review

#3 Best Overall Hair Dryer - Onei MK-II Air Ionique Hair Dryer with Ionic Generator

With its infrared heat, ionized air, 1800 watts of power, and vast temperature range, the Onei MK-II Air Ionique is the perfect hair dryer for a busy household or hair salon. It dries hair in considerably less time than a traditional hair dryer does, and makes styling easier, leaving you more time in your day. In addition to drying hair quickly, this superb hair dryer actually helps to lock in hair's natural moisture, leaving it shiner, more manageable and giving it more volume. The MK-II has multiple settings for speed and temperature, and has a cool shot feature. It is lightweight, much quieter than the average blow dryer, and comes with two attachments, a diffuser and a concentrator. It is has numerous safety features, is built to last and comes with a four year warranty. This excellent professional quality hair dryer retails for around $130.

Onei MK-II Full Review


Types of Hair Dryers


Travel dryers are small dryers that are great for consumers on the go. As a rule, these dryers don’t pack the power of their full-size cousins. As a result, it can take longer to dry very thick or long hair with a travel hair dryer. Designed for portability, travel hair dryers can be traditional, ionic or ceramic or a combination of the two. This type of dryer has built in wiring that makes it adaptable when traveling abroad.

Travel Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


Most hair dryers that are considered to be “professional” hair dryers are higher wattage. The results are softer, shinier, and smoother hair. Initially, only qualified stylists had access to these blow dryers. The top-of-the-line in dryers, professional hair dryers have ionic, tourmaline or ceramic versions. Professional dryers are larger and tend to run higher in price than economy versions - about $100 more. Blow dryer reviews suggest this type of hair dryer is the best option for a wide variety and types of styling and drying.

Professional Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


For these hair dryers, the coils are coated or made of ceramic. Here, consumers get evenly distributed heating. This allows for a sleeker and smoother look with more control. And, like their ionic cousins, there’s less heat damage on hair.

Ceramic Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


Tourmaline is a variation on ionic dryers. Tourmaline is a type of gemstone. The tourmaline gemstone generates more particles than what is found in standard ionic hair dryers. The greater number of particles means faster drying. The addition of tourmaline in a blow dryer means a smoother and sleeker hair style.

Tourmaline Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


Ionic hair dryers give off negatively charged particles. These particles in turn shrink the positively charged water molecules on wet hair. Ionic particles make the water evaporate faster. The faster evaporation results in smoother and shinier hair with minimal or no heat.

Ionic Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


A brush hair dryer combines two long standing styling tools. It replaces the need to use a brush while blow drying hair. With a brush dryer there is no more need to coordinate or become adept at using two styling tools. It is made for building in great body, shine and styling control. Some home stylists complain that using both tools at once makes the hair styling experience tiring. As a result, the brush hair dryer is a good option for consumers who want near-professional quality results with one styling device.

Brush Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


Bonnet dryers give consumers salon powered drying and styling in a home setting. Bonnet dryers allow for roller sets, conditioning treatments, and a number of salon services not available with a blow dryer. Although replaced by hand-held dryers for the majority of home styling needs, bonnet dryers remain popular and useful. Some are relatively portable but they still have more bulk than regular blow dryers.

Bonnet Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


You can’t avoid noise in any dryer. All dryers take in air, heat or treat the air to warm it, and then use that air to dry the hair. Salon or professional dryers tend to be the quietest. Being made with lightweight materials, having low wattage, and having the latest hair dryer innovations are some of the features of quiet hair dryers.

Quiet Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List

Wall Mounted

You can’t avoid noise in any dryer. All dryers take in air, heat or treat the air to warm it, and then use that air to dry the hair. Salon or professional dryers tend to be the quietest. Being made with lightweight materials, having low wattage, and having the latest hair dryer innovations are some of the features of quiet hair dryers.

Wall Mounted Hair Dryer Reviews And Best Of List


What Hair Dryer Do Hairdressers Recommend?

Blow dryers are one of the standard tools of beauty professionals. Any beauty expert knows that when a customer leaves his or her salon, he or she may need help with home styling. Helping a customer find a dryer that fits his or her needs the best can be challenging. Without a good blow dryer, many cannot achieve that salon “look” at home. Helping a client choose the best hair dryer, though challenging, requires a little research to make good recommendations.

With a myriad of choices, what makes a good hair dryer? The truth is that it doesn’t have to be a daunting encounter. Looking over product reviews and talking with clients will allow any beauty expert to recommend a good quality hair dryer. And, this standard hair styling device has evolved. So, how does a hairdresser help a client decide, “What is the best hair dryer?”

There are four basic types of dryers to choose from: standard, ionic, tourmaline, and ceramic. So, which type is best? Any hairdresser will tell you that first and foremost you'll l want to consider your budget followed closely by your power needs. Many of the dryers we're going to go over have an economy or a professional version. Once you decide on what hair dryer to buy, then it’s a matter of use. You may need help in finding dryers that fit a heavy travel schedule or fit a very active daily schedule. The latter means you wash your hair repeatedly. So, you'll need a dryer that can handle frequent use.

For your reference, below we've listed last year's top rated hair dryers.

2013 Best Rated Hair Dryers

#1 Best Overall Hair Dryer - BabylissPRO Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer

Ranked highly among consumers, the BabylissPRO Nano Titanium, Portofino Dryer is our best rated professional dryer. It is also ranked as one of the best ionic dryers currently on the market. As a professional dryer, it can handle constant and heavy use. It’s very well suited to drying long and thick hair. Its Italian AC motor powers the BabylissPRO and its performance. This model is noted for its results: conditioning the hair and building in shine. The BablylissPRO combines ionic technology with titanium to deliver more ions. This boosts the model’s conditioning effectiveness. It enjoys high ratings based on hair dryer reviews and owner comments.

BabylissPRO Nano Full Review

#2 Best Overall Hair Dryer - Super Solano Professional Hair Dryer

Solano is popular and ranked as one of the best consumer level professional dryers currently available. For professional stylists and home users alike, it’s a favorite for its results and handling. The model has both ionic and tourmaline components. Both features condition the hair and both reduce static. The nano aspect gives this Solano antibacterial capability. Solano uses infrared technology to dry hair faster while keeping the hair healthy. It’s rated among the best in blow dryers. With it being an expert-level dryer, it’s built for heavy use. And, it can handle very long or very thick hair with ease. Most owners give the Solano 4+ stars in their hair dryer reviews.

Super Solano Full Review

#3 Best Overall Hair Dryer - Andis 1875 Ionic Ceramic Folding Dryer

The Andis Ceramic Folding Dryer with its 1875 watts power dries hair fast. It also sports three heat settings including a cool shot for setting hair. The folding handle on the Andis is one of the reasons for its popularity. And, it can handle thick and long hair. This model has ceramic with ionic technology. For users it means less heat damage. According to user reviews, the company’s customer service and its 5 year warranty set it apart from others in its class. Most users rate it at 4 stars or better. Its most frequent complaint is for not being dual voltage.

Andis 1875 Full Review


In Conclusion

To compare hair dryers can be overwhelming at first. There is no end to the type of blow dryers you can purchase. New technology gives consumers greater control and styling. The newest dryers can increase shine, smooth frizzy hair and impart more body to hair. You have the option of choosing from standard, ionic, tourmaline, and ceramic dryers. How to choose a hair dryer that’s best for you? Choosing a hair dryer depends on your budget, your lifestyle and your needs. Keep in mind that your choice of the best hair dryer for your particular needs will be as unique as your styling needs.