Hair dryer FAQs
What’s the best hair dryer for my hair type?
Not all hair dryers are made equal, and finding one that works best for you will depend on your hair type. Fine, straighter hair types will benefit from ion technology to increase volume, and variable heat settings will help you control the amount of heat damage to hair.
If frizziness is your bugbear, a cool shot button – which delivers a burst or ongoing stream of cold air – will seal the hair cuticle and help reduce the effects of humidity on your locks, while wavy and curly hair will benefit from the use of a diffuser, which is an attachment tool that allows for heat to be evenly distributed. For thick hair, a higher wattage will ensure a faster drying time, though you can be more susceptible to heat damage, so always use a heat protection spray beforehand.
When drying afro hair that has dense curls and texture, too much continuous high heat can cause breakage, so look for varying heat settings that allow you to control this and minimise damage.
What should I consider when buying a hair dryer?
Size and weight
Hair dryers have slimmed down in recent years, making bulky devices a thing of the past. However, it’s still important to consider the size and weight of the product. Thicker, curlier hair will take longer to dry, which means heftier hair dryers will take their toll on your arms after extensive styling. More complex, cutting-edge technologies tend to lead to heavier hair dryers, with lightweight travel dryers offering a more basic hair-drying experience.
Power and temperature
If you’re looking to dry your hair as quickly as possible, look at the wattage, not the temperature. Nowadays, you can buy hair dryers operating at 3,600W, but a high-quality device only requires around 1,800W. For those with curlier hair that only needs setting or drying with a diffuser, high speeds aren’t as important.
The opposite is true for temperatures. While it’s normally advisable to keep to as low a temperature as possible, to minimise damage, thicker, curlier hair requires more heat. No matter your hair type, everyone should look for a variety of temperature settings. The more options, the more control over your styling.
Ceramic vs metal
The key difference between ceramic and metal hair dryers is that ceramic heats evenly and metal unevenly. As a result, ceramic dryers are less damaging to your hair, even if they take longer to heat up. Metal dryers are best suited to thicker hair, which requires stronger heat blasts to dry quickly. They also tend to be lighter than their ceramic counterparts.
What are ionic and ceramic technologies?
The word “ionic” is often thrown around when it comes to high-tech hair gadgets, but is very rarely explained. The name comes from its use of negatively charged ions. While your hair features both negative and positively charged ions, the water on wet hair is positive. Ionic hair dryers blast negative ions to help break down the particles which, in turn, helps hair dry faster than when it’s left to its own devices. Because the negative ions help close the hair cuticle, it also leaves it smoother, sleeker and frizz-free. This is particularly helpful for protecting the definition and pattern of your curls, but as it removes moisture, fine hair can be left looking limp.
Meanwhile, ceramic technology is designed to evenly distribute heat. This works by coating the inside of the dryer with ceramic (or sometimes porcelain) and covering the metal or plastic components, which conduct more extreme, uneven temperatures. Hair dryers with this technology also take extra measures to protect your hair from heat damage, repeatedly checking the temperature and adjusting accordingly. Temperatures will be hotter at the start of your blow-dry, cooling gradually. While some hair dryers combine both technologies, most ceramic hair dryers are already equipped with negative ions to help control frizz – just not to the extent of an ionic hair dryer.
The verdict: Hair dryers
It’s not often you have to buy a new hair dryer, with most models lasting anywhere between three to 10 years, if you’re lucky. So, when you do decide it’s time for a new one, you need to make sure it’s the best blow-dryer for you, as you could be stuck with it for a very long time.
While we’d happily take any of these options, the BaByliss 3Q hair dryer just nicked the top spot with its shiny, smooth styling results and more reasonable price point. A close second was the Nicky Clarke infrared pro hair dryer, designed to cut drying time in half, using infrared technology, while not relying as much on heat. The Dyson supersonic hair dryer also deserves a special mention for its unique design and impressive results. Plus, if searching for a bargain buy, the Boots essentials travel dryer truly impressed our tester.
For those who like to create different styles, the Shark flexstyle 5-in-1 air styler and hair dryer is designed for just that, with five different attachments. While the ghd helios professional hair dryer leaves you with a silky straight blow-dry every time. Just remember to always use a heat protection spray and take care not to scorch your strands when styling.
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