Not happy with how your hair looks? There’s a good chance it’s your hair dryer’s fault, with poor ones leaving your hair with static and/or frizz, as well as being noisy, slow and cumbersome to use. According to top hair stylists, a good dryer should have a minimum wattage of 1800 and have different heat settings and a cold shot button to set shape and volume.
Consider whether you mind using a heavier dryer (this can depend on how long it takes you to dry your hair) and frizzy hair sufferers should look out for narrow nozzles so your hair doesn’t blow around too much. Sliding switches can be tricky to use if they stick, while rocker switches are easier to use but can be accidentally turned on as you hold the handle. If you want to create a range of styles or if you have complex hair, professional-style dryers are better.
For best results, point the airflow down the shaft of the hair and use a nozzle, particularly if you have fine hair, so you can add lift at the roots to give it volume. Never over dry your hair, instead drying it slowly and carefully. Consider a dryer with ionic technology, which conditions hair, reduces frizz and improves shine using negatively charged ions, which are produced by passing air over an electric current.
1. Parlux Advance Light: £98, Amazon
This Italian brand has been favoured by professional hairdressers since the 1970s, having won multiple awards for quality and design of build during the decades since. This dryer, which comes in various colours, has a heat-proof body, ergonomic design and a long-lasting motor, as well as a wide range of easy-to-reach temperature controls. It’s one of the quietest and lightest dryers we’ve ever used and great for quick and gentle drying.
2. Dyson Supersonic: £300, John Lewis
This has an eye-watering price tag, but it’s the Dom Pérignon of hair dryers, drying hair in half the usual time and leaving it so shiny and smooth that many people who use straighteners will find they have no need. Like its fancy hand-dryers, Dyson combines ultra-powerful, directed airflow with a heat-protection sensor, which is good news for the longevity of your hair. It’s simple to use and quiet too.
3. John Frieda Luxurious Volume: £35, Boots
This is a bargain for a lightweight machine that dries even long locks relatively quickly, but without damaging hair by overheating it. Indeed, even on the highest setting, it’s not quite as hot as other hair dryers even on their mid-range setting. It’s got a long cord and comes with handy diffusers and curlers for boosting naturally flat hair, but it doesn’t have quite the blast of some others in this roundup.
4. Panasonic EH-NA65-K Smooth and Shiny Hairdryer: £74, Amazon
This claims to infuse 1,000 times more moisture into hair than typical ion hair dryers, as well as adding volume, minimising frizz and reducing damage. We found it lives up to all these claims, with dry hair looking less brittle and greasy hair looking less oily, to leave a glossy look which lasts longer than with other hair dryers. It’s by no means the lightest in our roundup, though.
5. Label.m Tournamline Black Dryer: £48, Label.m
This only just falls short of salon standard, with its 2200W motor and lightweight body. It’s got more power and heat than most, which is good for taming frizz and for a sleeker, straighter look. It’s comfortable to hold too, with anti-slip and anti-burn strips. And the cold shot button – pretty standard nowadays – is nice and easy to reach for those final fixing moments. Available in black or white.
6. Toni and Guy Daily Conditioning Dryer: £19, Amazon
Hair dryers in this price range often get too hot and lack power, leaving your hair looking constantly frazzled, particularly if you wash and dry your hair daily. This one is an exception by being kinder to locks without taking an age to do the job. The soft-touch rubberised grip works well and it’s light. A good one for taking on holiday.
7. ghd Aura Hairdryer: £145, John Lewis
It can take an age to dry hair if you want a just-stepped-out-of-the-salon look, but this allows you to dry strands in record time. Plus, the focused air stream means that when you’re working with one section of hair, the other sections remain undisturbed, which ultimately gives more precision and control. We found it a godsend for frizzy, flyaway locks, and the best dryer for bobs.
8. Babyliss 3Q Dryer: £120, Amazon
The fast airflow, thin nozzle and brushless motor all combine to give silky-smooth hair after drying – and you don’t need to worry about having wrist ache as you dry your hair as this is lightweight and comfortable to hold, even for long stretches. Nor do you need to fret about sweating to death as you dry your hair as the heat remains focused. It’s quiet too, so no need to wake your bed partner when you get up early to wash your hair.
9. T3 Featherweight Dryer Lux: £195, SpaceNK
This is expensive, but noticeably different to cheaper dryers. Drying hair in a fraction of the time of normal dryers, it also adds shine to hair, even when you rough-dry. As its name suggests, it’s easy on the wrists as it’s so lightweight and it should last you years, even if you use it daily. It comes with a ceramic styling brush and it’s quiet. Expect salon results, even on fine hair.
10. Remington Shine Therapy: £23, Amazon
Remington has always had a good name for the cheaper end of the hair dryer market and we like this one because it packs a punch when it comes to power, drying even thick hair quickly, leaving it nice and soft – much more so than most dryers in this range. It doesn’t come laden with bells and whistles, but it’s a good all-rounder. And although it’s quite bulky and front heavy, there are far more cumbersome and unwieldy dryers for the same price.
11. Nicky Clarke Supershine Dryer: £55, Argos
This does everything a good dryer should, preventing frizz and static hair and leaving a conditioned, healthy look. In fact, it looks and feels like a salon dryer, although be warned it’s quite heavy, so if you have long or thick hair, you’ll need to be prepared to do some swapping of hands during drying. A particularly good one for the big hair look.
12. Barnum Magnesium Hairdryer: £126, Amazon
This high performer is regularly used by hairdressers, who praise its quietness, along with the precision air flow. It doesn’t get too hot, which is good news for your hair, but it’s powerful and fast, leaving nice shiny hair. We found it particularly good for wavy and curly hair, especially when used with the diffuser that’s included, and although it’s lightweight, it feels well-made and substantial.
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