Sacrificing hours to get your hair looking just right isn’t the way to go; certainly not when the right styling tools are in your possession. A great hair dryer can speed up the getting ready process and leave you with stylish results that complement your cut. Nowadays, the best hair dryers are more than just a stream of heat with a cold shot button; they are often equipped with additional features like specialty attachments, portability options, sensitive heat settings, and more. You can use them to tame flyaways quickly, maintain curl definition, or achieve a professional-looking blowout from the comfort of your home.
It’s important to carefully consider which make and model dryer is right for you. Using a hair dryer regularly can lead to heat damage, breakage, and generally weak strands; thankfully, this can all be avoided by investing in a top-quality product designed with your hair type in mind. We’ve created this guide to help you identify the best hair dryer for your hair type, along with some styling tips and product suggestions. Say goodbye to showing up with wet hair, and get ready to start feeling cool and confident whenever you leave the house.
Things to consider when shopping for the best hair dryer
It’s important to understand how hair dryers work and what features to look for before embarking on a shopping trip. You’ll want to know the various heating types and how they’ll affect your hair texture before purchasing. You’ll also want to consider any additional attachments, heat settings, and build qualities that will add up to the best hair dryer (and hair day!).
How does the dryer heat up?
Hair dryers utilize different materials, methods, and processes to safely create the right amount of force and heat needed to dry hair—usually, dryers can be classified as ionic, ceramic, or titanium.
Ionic hair dryers are very popular and work by electronically generating and shooting out negatively charged ions to combat the positive ions that make up the moisture in damp hair. This attack on moisture is powerful and speedily removes excess water, closes hair follicles, and tames unwanted frizz. Ionic heat can be too intense for some hair types, but it’s great for thick or curly hair. Some blow dryers provide a switch so you can toggle between ionic and non-ionic modes. Tourmaline dryers are essentially ionic with an added boost. Tourmaline is a semi-precious metal and, when used as a coating, can non-electronically create additional negative ions for an even faster drying process.
Porcelain or ceramic hair dryers are non-ionic and use these materials to generate steady heat. Ceramic and porcelain retain and regulate heat particularly well without getting too hot or wavering between temperatures. Using this method is a gentler process than using ion heat, a much-needed feature for already damaged hair. Ceramic dryers can increase volume and reduce dryness in thin, fine hair, but might leave something to be desired for those with fuller locks.
Titanium dryers are also typically non-ionic, and when added to the internal components of a hair dryer, can improve consistency and heat distribution. It’s a lightweight material, great for travel dryers or those with a lot of hair. Holding up a heavy hair dryer can be taxing on your arm muscles, especially if your long hair takes a while to dry. Keep in mind that though high-end titanium dryers are great for regulating heat and preventing damage, they increase the temperature more than other elements. Lower-end options risk blasting high temperatures resulting in further damage to fine, brittle hair.
Regardless of the heating method, you’ll want a dryer with a wattage of 1600 or higher. High wattage means more power and airflow as opposed to unnecessary high heat for a quick blow-dry.
Best ionic hair dryer: Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000
One of our favorite hair dryers to hit the market is the Pro Dryer 2000 from Harry Josh. You can easily switch between ionic and non-ionic settings, supported by a 1,875-watt motor. In total, it has eight speed, heat, and ion settings with a 9-foot cord, and weighs just about 2 pounds. This dryer comes with a narrow and wide nozzle concentrator and a comprehensive online product guide to help you achieve silky, smooth hair every time you blow-dry.
What is the best hair dryer for curls?
Now that we’ve covered the heating methods available to you, we want to dive further into what works best for specific hair types.
Most people with curly hair are constantly working to combat frizz, maintain curl pattern, and mitigate extra-long drying times. Ionic dryers are a great option for additional volume and targeted moisture reduction. Traditional dryers with direct nozzles can cause more frizz because targeted blasts of hot air break up the natural curl pattern. But a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment will evenly distribute air in a 360-degree pattern, thus boosting your curls rather than breaking them up.
However, if you are working with tight coils that take a while to dry, it’s important not to expose the hair to too much direct heat. Natural, tight curls might suffer if ionic heat is used to dry the entirety of the head. Instead, look for a dryer that has non-ionic and ionic options, so you can utilize both features for a perfectly preserved curl.
It’s also a good idea to look for a dryer with multiple heat settings; when in doubt, go low (heat) and slow (diffuser) for the healthiest drying option, especially if you have a little extra time set aside. The best hair dryer overall for curly hair will be equipped with ionic capabilities, multiple heat settings, diffuser attachment, and a cold shot button to seal in shine after hair has dried.
Best hair dryer for curly hair: DevaCurl DevaDryer with Diffuser
The DevaDryer from DevaCurl is, of course, specifically designed with curly hair in mind. It has three temperature settings, two speed settings, and a diffuser attachment shaped like a hand to lift from the roots and evenly disperse air. The ionic motor ensures a frizz-free blowout in record time, making it the best hair dryer for curly hair.
What about for fine strands?
Though we know curly hair can also be fine, this hair type is often looking for other features; volume, depth, and hydration without being weighed down. It’s a type that can struggle to hold a style and is particularly susceptible to heat damage. We suggest reaching for a ceramic, porcelain, or infrared dryer, which will gently dry your hair without sucking up healthy moisture. Fine hair tends to dry quickly, which means you don’t need the most powerful airflow at the highest temperature. In fact, multiple heat settings are essential for a fine hair dryer. If you’re running late, you can use a higher setting to get your hair done quickly, but in general, we recommend using the low setting on this hair type to prevent breakage.
Keep your eye out for high wattage: 1800 or higher. This is particularly important for fine hair because an overcompensation for lack of power with increased heat won’t do much to boost volume and can quickly cause damage.
If your fine hair is feeling healthy and hasn’t been overly treated with bleach or other moisture-stripping agents, you might want to experiment with a tourmaline hair dryer. Though regular ionic dryers aren’t going to do you much good, tourmaline naturally creates negatively charged ions and subsequent heat. This natural output is significantly more gentle and less damaging; it can even add some shine to fine hair.
Best hair dryer for fine hair: John Paul Mitchell Neuro Tourmaline Hair Dryer
If you’re feeling confident and want to try out a tourmaline hair dryer for a boost of volume and shine, we suggest the Neuro by John Paul Mitchell. It has a 1,875-watt motor, four heat settings, a concentrator nozzle, and a collapsible silicone diffuser, making it certainly the best hair dryer for fine hair. All power and heat settings are displayed on an LED screen and easily controllable. This model also comes in a light option, weighing just over a pound, for those who are always on the go.
Consider whether you have thin or thick hair
Curly hair can be thin and fine follicles can be plentiful, which is why it’s also important to consider the best hair dryers for thin or thick hair. Of course, hair type can be described in many ways, so you’ll have to decide which feature of your hair is a top priority and go from there.
Thin hair should certainly stay away from ionic dryers and focus on high-wattage ceramic or porcelain options. Multiple attachments are great for thin hair; diffusers can add a little extra volume at the end of a drying process, concentrator nozzles can powerfully direct the hair when paired with the appropriate brush, and combs can provide immediate sleekness.
Blow drying thick hair is always a race against the clock. A full head of coarse strands can take over an hour to dry, and we’re betting that doesn’t sound ideal for your regular routine. A titanium hair dryer, despite high heat, can work wonders on healthy thick hair. As stated, the material is light, it won’t weigh you down, and a powerful heat flow makes for a speedier drying time. Some titanium dryers are equipped with ionic technology—this makes a great match to get you out of the house on time.
Finally, if you have any of the above hair types, but it’s suffered in the past either from heat, over-styling, or bleach, you want to put all your attention on preservation and repair, especially when it comes to styling tools. Just like with fine, thin hair, high wattage with multiple heat settings is key—but you should also investigate an infrared hair dryer. The heat produced by infrared light is less damaging than heat produced by coils because it dries the hair from the inside out, protecting the layers that have accrued the most damage.
Best hair dryer for thin hair: CHI Touch 2
The CHI Touch 2 ceramic hair dryer has a touch screen to control heat, temperature, and ionic output, giving you almost unlimited options for customization. It reduces damage from thermal heat and has a powerful 1,875 wattage. The Touch 2 comes with a concentrated nozzle and diffuser with an option for hands-free use; the back of the dryer can be used as a stand on a flat surface.
Best hair dryer for thick hair: ghd Helios Hair Dryer
The Helios hair dryer is quite honestly a great product for most hair types, but it is generally the best hair dryer for think hair. This ionic, 1,875-watt hair dryer has three temperature and two speed settings, with a quiet sound and sleek exterior. The Helios promises 30 percent more shine and an airflow of 75 miles per hour. Though this model doesn’t come with a diffuser, they are available as an additional purchase so our thick, curly-haired folks can also feel the power.
Best blow dryer for damaged hair: Elchim 3900 Healthy Ionic Hair Dryer
This hair dryer combines the best of ceramic, ionic, and infrared heat to provide a healthy blow dry for damaged hair. At 2,000 watts with two airspeeds and three temperatures, this dryer uses infrared technology to preserve the hair cuticle while speedily drying. It’s great for thin to medium hair and promises a gentle dry for damaged strands.
Special hair dryer features to look for
Once you’ve narrowed down the type of hair dryer you want, take a look at any additional attachments or special features available. Most hair dryers will come with a cool shot button, delivering a powerful stream of cold air to seal in shine and finish off nearly dry hair. Many will also come with a diffuser attachment or concentrator nozzle, but there is definitely room to expand. Some of our favorite dryers are equipped with nozzle and afro combs, styling tools like curlers, hot paddle brushes, or comb straighteners, and style dryers including boar bristle brushes, wide-tooth styling picks, and more.
When it comes to heat settings, the more the merrier. Look for a model that has at least two speed and heat settings, though you’ll certainly be able to find models with more. Many of our favorite models have between three and six different available temperatures, so make sure you don’t settle. Being able to cycle through speed and heat will keep hair healthy without slowing down the drying process.
Finally, if you are a frequent traveler, but don’t trust the hotel room hair dryer to take care of your locks, look for one with a retractable cord, foldable handle, and compact design.
Best accessory-packed hair dryer: Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler
The Dyson Airwrap is the Porsche of hair dryers. It’s designed for all hair types, with three speed settings and four heat settings. With intelligent heat control that self-regulates up to 40 times per second and an aerodynamic phenomenon called the Coanda effect that pulls hair toward the dryer, this tool uses curved air to dry and style hair without excessive heat. It also comes with many attachments: 1.2 and 1.6-inch barrels for curls or waves, a round volumizing brush, a firm smoothing brush, a soft smoothing brush, and a pre-styling dryer. There’s no look you can’t accomplish with this dryer.
Best budget hair dryer: Remington D3190 Damage Protection
While you can certainly reach for a hair dryer under $50, you might have a harder time protecting your hair against damage over time. These models are generally not as equipped with special settings nor do they come with many attachments. Some boast style features but aren’t equipped with preventive damage options. If that’s the case, we suggest you forgo style for substance, stick with a budget-friendly dryer designed to preserve hair integrity, and stock up on other tools for styling. Our favorite budget pick is the Remington D3190 Damage Protection dryer, which combines ceramic, ionic, and titanium heat technology to dry hair fast and minimize frizz. Perhaps the best reason to upgrade, however, is the likelihood you’ll spend more money over time. Cheaper hair dryers accrue damage faster and begin to break down at or around the two-year mark. Higher-end dryers, typically starting at a minimum around $100, are built to last up to 10 years, while mid-range models starting at $50 will also stick around longer, offering additional styling options as well as heat protection.
FAQ: Everything else you’ve always wanted to know about hair dryers
What are the best hair dryer brands?
It’s difficult to select the absolute best hair dryer brands, but our favorites include CHI, GHD, and Dyson. These companies have revolutionized appliance engineering, leading to high-end products that promise precision.
Can I find a battery-powered hair dryer?
Honestly? No. While there are a few models out there that provide battery-powered hair drying, we can’t confidently recommend any of them. Battery-powered blow dryers have low wattage, weak airflow, and no customizable settings. You can’t find one created by a reputable brand and most only last a short while.
How else can you protect hair from heat damage?
Aside from investing in a high-end hair dryer, there are a few other things you can incorporate into your hair care routine. First, find a heat styling spray for a protective shield. Keep concentrator nozzles a healthy distance away from strands and scalp, allow your hair to air dry a little before adding heat, and try to use high speeds with low heat when possible.
The best hair dryer for you is…
You should now be well on your way to finding the best hair dryer to add to your hair products. The most important thing to consider when looking for a hair dryer is your specific hair type; what works for one does not work for all, so, be specific about your hair’s needs. Pay attention to any specs available and look for models that throw in extra attachments. Be aware of over-styling and give your hair a heat break every once in a while—that way you can keep your blowouts looking fresh.