Saturday, May 18, 2024

How to Choose the Best Hair Dryer

Updated March 2014

Buying Advice: Hair Dryers

Hair dryers are categorized by the technology they use - ceramic, ionic and tourmaline. The least expensive hair dryers on the market use only ceramic technology, and more expensive ones will have some combination of ceramic technology with ionic and/or tourmaline technology. If you've ever wondered why you can't recreate a salon blow out at home, it's most likely your old hair dryer's fault. Hair dryer technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and, nowadays, a good hair dryer can actually help make your hair look and feel healthier. It prevents damage by providing a more even heat distribution and by shortening your drying time. Not only are newer hair dryers lighter and quieter, they can also have many different features such as various speed and heat settings, as well as a cool shot button that locks in your hairstyle with a quick burst of cold air. If you are sick of struggling with bad hair days and expensive trips to the salon for conditioning treatments, a new, high quality hair dryer may be just what you need.

What to Know Before You Buy

Types of Hair Dryers

If you are on a budget, a ceramic hair dryer can cost as little as $10 and will help protect your hair from heat damage. In ceramic hair dryers, ceramic materials may be used in the dryer body, in the heater or as a coating on internal parts like the coils. Hair dryers with ceramic parts are superior to old-fashioned ones because they produce an even distribution of heat without getting too hot. This saves your hair from heat damage, such as split ends and dry, brittle hair. As such, most hair dryers today have at least replaced metal coils with ceramic coils and may also have other ceramic elements, as well as another technology like ionic and tourmaline. Unfortunately, hair dryers that only have ceramic technology emit both positively and negatively charged ions, which can make your hair frizzy.

If you can afford to spend a little more, an ionic hair dryer will reduce drying time and enhance your hair's natural beauty. Ionic hair dryers have ceramic components to prevent heat damage, but they also emit negatively charged ions that neutralize hair's positive charge to eliminate frizz and seal the hair cuticle. The negative ions also break down water molecules, so they evaporate more quickly and your hair experiences less heat damage. This means that your hair will be more resistant to breakage and healthier in the long run. A good ionic hair dryer can cost around $100.

If you can afford the newest and most expensive hair dryer on the market, tourmaline hair dryers are supposedly the best you can buy. Tourmaline is a gemstone that, when heated, generates far infrared rays and magnifies the effects of ionic technology by producing even more negatively charged ions. It is said that tourmaline hair dryers will dry your hair even faster and leave it silkier and shinier than ionic technology alone. While a professional hair dryer like this is capable of producing salon-quality results, a tourmaline hair dryer can cost as much as $250, and so some consumers might not notice enough of a difference in their hair to justify the cost of buying one.


Wattage is an important consideration when buying a hair dryer. For those with short, fine, thin, or damaged hair, 1200-1500 watts is sufficient to help prevent damage. For medium or normal hair, 1300-1600 watts is enough power, but for longer, thicker, or more textured hair, around 1600-2000 watts is needed.

A dual voltage option is also important when buying a hair dryer, especially if you are traveling with it. A hair dryer with dual voltage will work in almost any country in the world. If your hair dryer doesn't have it, you will only be able to use your hair dryer in the US and Canada.

Hair dryers with adjustable speed and heat settings are also ideal because you have more control when styling your hair. Warmer air will dry your hair and create the style, while cooler air will seal the cuticle to set the style and add shine. Most hair dryers come equipped with a cool shot button for this purpose.

Hair dryers can be fitted with styling attachments that are designed to enhance the natural beauty of your hair. Combs help detangle and move heat throughout thick hair, concentrator nozzles allow you to more accurately focus the direction of the heat for more precise styles, and diffusers work with curly hair to maintain its shape without causing frizz.

Some ionic hair dryers have an ionic switch that allows you control over the release of negative ions to boost volume. Basically, you just turn it off while you are blowing your hair upside-down for additional volume, and then turn it on when you flip your hair back up to begin styling it.


A lot of manufacturers offer warranties with their mid-range to high-end hair dryers, but they may not honor them if you buy your product from an unofficial retailer. Look for an average warranty of one to four years and be prepared to pay shipping and handling and/or processing fees. Some manufacturers will also sell extended warranties not included in the original price of the product that may be worth buying if you are considering spending a lot of money on your hair dryer. To extend the life of your product, make sure to care for it properly. Keep the cord from getting worn or tangled, remove lint buildup every two weeks to prevent your hair dryer from clogging up and overheating, and try not to drop your hair dryer or get it wet.


Be sure to take your hair type, length, and style preference into consideration when buying a hair dryer, so you don't buy an expensive one with features that you don't necessarily need. The ergonomics of the hair dryer, its weight and the placement of its buttons are all important things to think about as well when researching different models. For a hair dryer that will last, look for one that has a swivel and/or retractable cord, and a removable lint filter for easy cleaning. You don't need to spend $250 on a hair dryer, but a quality ionic hair dryer for around $100 is a good investment in the health of your hair and will probably save you time and money in the long run. With the right combination of styling products and tools, anyone can get salon quality hair at home.