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- With so many different hair dryers to choose from, it’s hard to know which ones won’t lead to dried out hair, sore muscles, and buyer’s remorse.
- The Rusk CTC Lite is our top pick because it dries hair quickly without damaging it while still being lightweight and easy to hold. It also has seven different heat and speed settings to ensure that your hair looks like it’s in a commercial.
- But we have other options as well from Remington, Panasonic Nanoe Hair Dryer, BaByliss, and Dyson.
No matter how many curling wands or straighteners you have in your arsenal, you need to have a quality blow dryer in the mix as well. It dries hair quickly, can tamp down frizz better than any styling product, and depending on your dexterity, can also help straighten or curl your hair. Hair styling aside, we bet it can also probably make a grilled cheese pretty quickly.
However, finding a good hair dryer can be easier said than done – especially with all the beauty buzzwords surrounding it. If you’re searching for a new hair dryer, you’re likely running into words like “ionic,” “infrared,” and “tourmaline,” and you may be wondering if you’re participating in a scientific discovery rather than finding a simple beauty tool that’ll just dry your hair in a few minutes.
Before you throw up your hands in frustration, we’ve picked out five of our favorite hair dryers so you don’t have to worry about making the wrong choice. We’ve also broken down some terms that are helpful to know along with all the things you should really be looking for in a hair dryer that go beyond the buzzwords on the packaging.
Hair dryer terminology
You’ll come across a lot of different words when it comes to the marketing of a hair dryer. The trick is to know which ones are legit, which are marketing buzzwords, and which are up for debate when it comes to effective hair styling.
An ionic hair dryer shoots out negative ions that break up the positive ions in water more quickly, preventing frizz and speeding up drying time. Tourmaline is a semi-precious mineral that also produces negative ions, though it’s n normally used to coat the interior of a hair dryer barrel or grills. This one is potentially tricky – The Wirecutter found little difference in their tester’s hair when testing hair dryers that claimed to be “ionic.” However, some hair stylists swear by this feature, saying that an ionic dryer does reduce frizz and even makes the hair shinier.
If a hair dryer is called “infrared,” it means that it uses long energy wavelengths to penetrate the hair deeply, making for a faster drying time compared to non-infared dryers. Similarly, ceramic and porcelain dryers are designed to do the same, but these materials can also result in more even heating for a more consistent temperature to protect your hair from damage.
And what about fancy terms like “conditioning beads” and “silk proteins” that claim to be housed in the barrel of some dryers? Some things really are too good to be true. The more outrageous the terms, the more likely they are to be marketing hype.
The features that matter
All the marketing mumbo jumbo aside, there are features that you’ll want in a hair dryer, especially if you plan on using it often.
- Design and weight: You want a dryer that’s comfortable to hold, avoiding awkwardly placed buttons if possible. A lightweight dryer is best – especially if you have thick hair that may take a little more time to dry. No one wants to feel like they’ve just gotten done with a strength training routine after blow drying their hair.
- Multiple speed and heat settings: These are a must because they’ll give you more control over the style of your hair as well as help to protect your hair from heat damage (though you should definitely use a heat protectant every time you use a heat tool). While not a necessity, a hair dryer that also has a cool air feature is also a plus, as it helps seal your hair cuticle once your hair is dry, giving your desired style a smooth finish.
- High wattage: A higher wattage motor will have more power and can cut down on the time that you’re exposing your hair to heat, which can be damaging over time. That being said, most hair dryers hover around 1,875 watts, so this is a good ballpark number.
- Cord length: To power up your hair dryer, a longer cord length anywhere from 6 to 9 feet is is ideal. You want it to be able to reach from the outlet to wherever you dry your hair whether it’s in your bathroom or in front of your vanity. A cord that’s too short will restrict your movement, and it’s even worse if the cord isn’t long enough to reach where you’re standing.
- Attachments: Hair dryers that come with extras like a concentrator attachment or a diffuser are especially useful for achieving different looks and styles.
- Warranty: As with any product that you’re paying a little more for, a hair dryer with a good warranty will provide you with peace of mind that if something breaks. The manufacturer will be able to fix the issue, or if the brand is really nice, even replace lost or broken attachments. Once you find your favorite hair dryer, you’ll definitely want to be able to use it for as long as possible.
The stress of finding the right hair dryer may make the price of beauty seem like a real beast, but not to worry – we’ve done the research for you. After combing through tons of reviews, we’ve found five notable hair dryers that stand apart from the rest, so you can choose the hair dryer that best fits your needs and budget.
Here are our top picks for the best hair dryers in 2019:
- Best hair dryer overall: Rusk CTC Lite
- Best affordable hair dryer: Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer with Ceramic + Ionic + Tourmaline Technology
- Best hair dryer for thick hair: Panasonic Nanoe Hair Dryer
- Best hair dryer for fine hair: BaByliss Porcelain Ceramic Carrera2 Dryer
- Best high-tech hair dryer: Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
Updated on 5/16/2019 by Jada Wong: Updated formatting, prices, and links.
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best hair dryer overall
- Rusk/ Business Insider
The Rusk CTC Lite is a lightweight hair dryer that works on all hair types and dries quickly, leaving you with salon quality results.
If you want to save money with a salon quality blowout at home, or you just want an all-around reliable hair dryer to get the job done, the Rusk CTC Lite is for you.
It can tackle all different hair types. It especially excels at drying thick hair quickly, and its titanium and ceramic coating allows for even heating, drastically cutting down on drying time. If you consider yourself a bit of a control freak, you’ll definitely appreciate the seven different heat and speed settings.
Having multiple settings not only gives you control over how you want to style your hair, but you can also choose how much heat you’re using. Using the lower settings can help prevent heat damage, especially if you use your hair dryer often. The hair dryer also comes with a diffuser, which is great for drying curly hair, and a concentrator if you’re going for a super sleek look.
At 1,900 watts, this hair dryer packs a lot of power. Because it does have more power than the average, some reviewers did find it almost too strong for short hair styles. If you have short hair or fine hair that dries quickly, you may want to lower both the heat and speed settings.
Another reviewer loves how the dryer works overall and found the handle extremely comfortable, but did find the button placement to be slightly awkward if they’re switching settings – it’s actually possible to accidentally turn off the dryer while you’re using it. If you’re used to a different type of button, it may take some getting used to.
The Wirecutter put the Rusk CTC Lite to the test and especially appreciated the thought that was put into its design. Out of all the hair dryers the reviewer tested, the Rusk CTC Lite had one of the most comfortable handles. Its comfortable design and light weight are important features too, especially in an appliance that you’ll be using often.
While styling your hair should be optional after a workout, it should never be the workout. A hair dryer that gets the job done quickly without leaving you feeling like you’ve been lifting weights instead of styling your hair is a definite plus.
It’s moderately priced and has a decent two-year warranty. Many reviewers found this hair dryer to be worth every penny, and a big step above the typical “drug store” hair dryer. One particular reviewer loved how quickly it dried their hair compared to other hair dryers they’ve used in the past, as well as the 8.5-foot cord and lightweight design, which is ideal for travel.
Pros: Lightweight, long cord length, ergonomically designed for comfort, seven heat and speed settings, fast drying time, comes with additional attachments
Cons: Some reviewers found it to be too powerful for short hair, slightly awkward button placement
The best affordable hair dryer
The Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer with Ceramic + Ionic + Tourmaline Technology costs less than $20, but it boasts a ton of features, including a high-end ceramic and tourmaline interior.
While there are many cheap hair dryers out there that are likely to break long before their more expensive salon-quality counterparts, there’s a sector of hair dryers that’ll give you a decent blowout without sucking your bank account dry. The Remington D3190 is one of those excellent budget hair dryers.
It has a decent amount of power at 1,875 watts, which is nearly as high as our top pick. The ceramic coating on its grill allows for more efficient heating, so your hair will dry quicker and won’t have to be exposed to heat for long. It also has a negative ion design, which helps reduce frizz. While the true effectiveness of negative ions in a hair dryer can be debatable, many reviewers have noticed less frizz since they’ve started using it.
Aside from the damage control features, it also comes with a diffuser attachment for curly or wavy hair textures, as well as a concentrator if you want a straight style. Additionally, the cool shot feature will help seal your style in place after your hair is dried, and the filter is removable for easy cleaning.
Even though the dryer is super affordable, it also comes with a two-year warranty. But because it is a lower price, there are some noticeable differences between this hair dryer and some of the more expensive ones that are available. The cord is on the shorter side at about five feet long. There are also fewer heat and speed settings than you might find on a more expensive hair dryer.
However, most reviewers on Amazon were extremely happy with their purchase, saying the Remington Damage Control hair dryer is an excellent product for the price.
Pros: Infused with ceramic for even heating, reduces frizz, quick drying, comes with diffuser and concentrator attachments, many features for the low price
Cons: Shorter cord, limited heat and speed settings
Buy the Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer with Ceramic + Ionic + Tourmaline Technology on Amazon for $17.47 (originally $19.84)
The best hair dryer for thick hair
The Panasonic Nanoe Hair Dryer uses a unique technology to keep more moisture in your hair, reducing heat damage and frizz.
While it may look like a strange weapon from a bad sci-fi movie, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer shouldn’t be overlooked – especially if you have thick hair that seems to take eons to dry.
The nanoe technology in the name refers to this hair dryer’s ability to take the moisture in the air and turn it into particles small enough to penetrate the shaft of your hair. These particles prevent your hair from drying out and help prevent the heat damage that many hair dryers can cause. While we’re not sure about the science behind all of this, the reviews speak for themselves. Most users have found that this hair dryer does exactly as promised, making thick hair feel silkier and shinier.
High-tech features aside, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer comes with plenty of other perks that make it worth the price. It comes with three different nozzle attachments – one for quick drying, a concentrator for precision styling, and a diffuser for curly and wavy hair. It also has a removable filter for easy cleaning, and a cool-shot button to set your style.
While it doesn’t have as many settings as other more high-end hair dryers, it still gives you some control with three heat settings and two different speed settings. While it’s great for drying thick hair quickly, those with fine hair also liked this dryer, appreciating the volume and shine it added.
Some reviewers didn’t like the awkward shape and found the hair dryer on the heavier side. At a little over one pound, it’s slightly heavier than some of the lighter weight hair dryers out there. However, its efficient drying time means you won’t have to be holding it for long.
Its long nine-foot rotating cord also ensures that it will reach wherever you need it to and it won’t get tangled. At 1,875 watts, you won’t be lacking for power, and the two-year warranty is also a plus.
If you don’t mind a little futuristic-looking addition to the rest of your bathroom appliances, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer is a worthy purchase for anyone blessed with a thick mane of hair.
Pros: Moisture-infusing technology, fast drying, tames frizz and adds shine, comes with three nozzle attachments, long cord length
Cons: Awkwardly shaped, on the heavier side, not as many heat or speed settings as higher end hair dryers
The best hair dryer for fine hair
- Babybliss/Business Insider
With six different heat and speed settings, and infrared heat provided by ceramic coils, the BaByliss Porcelain Ceramic Carrera2 Dryer reduces heat damage and pumps up thin hair.
The BaByliss name is well-known in the world of professional hair stylists, but compared to many professional hair dryers, it’s still affordable for most.
Despite its popularity at salons, there’s no beauty school needed to learn how to use the BaByliss Porcelain Ceramic Carrera2 Dryer in the comfort of your own home. This model features a soft-touch rubberized housing for maximum grip, as well as a super long 10-foot cord so you can dry your hair with ease.
While it works well on thick hair, this hair dryer is especially great if you have fine hair that is prone to damage. The infrared technology and ceramic interior make for efficient and even heating, so you won’t have to expose your hair to heat for a long time to get a sleek, frizz-free style. The Pro Carerra2 also utilizes negative ion technology with some reviewers saying that their hair did seem to have less static and frizz after switching to this hair dryer.
The Pro Carerra2 comes with a concentrator attachment for precision styling, as well as a cool-shot button to set your style. It also has a lengthy three-year warranty. Some reviewers have had trouble with the concentrator attachment coming off too easily, which can be annoying and dangerous if it pops off during styling.
This is a 1,900-watt professional hair dryer that packs a lot of power, and as a result, the nozzle can become hot to the touch very quickly, so use caution if you are utilizing the highest heat setting.
Between the ceramic and infrared technologies, it doesn’t come as a surprise that The Straight Hair Club has dubbed this hair dryer one of the least damaging hair dryers. The site’s experts note how it excels at giving you sleek and straight hair that also has bounce.
If you have fine hair – especially straight fine hair – you’re likely familiar with the daily battle of trying to give your hair a little extra “oomph” in the volume department. Think of the Pro Carrera2 as an ally that will have bad hair days waving the white flag of surrender.
Pros: Ceramic and infrared technology for even and efficient heating, multiple heat and speed settings, long cord length, three-year warranty
Cons: Concentrator attachment comes off easily, the nozzle of the hair dryer can become very hot
The best high-tech hair dryer
It may be pricey, but if you’re looking for a high-tech hair dryer that actually lives up to the hype, the Dyson Super Sonic may be for you.
It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that Dyson – the company best known for its vacuum cleaners – has come close to creating the perfect hair dryer. The price is steep, and there are plenty of hair dryers out there that are effective enough for a fraction of the price, but it’s worth taking a step back and admiring all the thought and engineering that went into the creation of the Dyson Supersonic.
Those who have taken the plunge have found this dryer worth the high price. For starters, you won’t be in danger of exposing your locks to any heat damage. While you’re drying your hair, there’s a lot taking place inside this futuristic-looking styling tool. The air temperature is measured 20 times every second to keep the temperature under control, and the high-velocity air flow also makes it possible to dry your hair in a fraction of the time.
Gizmodo put the Dyson Supersonic to the test to see if it was worth the money. The tester was impressed not only with how quickly their hair dried but also with how quiet the hair dryer was, thanks to the motor being housed in the noise-silencing handle.
With more weight in the handle, the hair dryer becomes less top heavy and more ergonomic so there won’t be any more aching arms as you’re drying your hair. In addition to the high-tech specs, the Dyson Supersonic has four heat settings and three air flow settings.
It also comes with three different attachments – a smoothing nozzle, concentrator, and diffuser. There’s no danger of any attachments falling off as these attachments connect magnetically and the connection is quite powerful. For the high price, it would be a major miss if this hair dryer lacked a long cord or a cool shot button but luckily it has both, along with a two-year warranty.
Pros: Dries hair quickly, light weight, quiet, comes with three attachments, long cord length, good warranty
Cons: High price point