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11 best hair dryers for beautiful blow-dries, sleek straight styles and big, bouncy curls

Our beauty editor discovered which blow-dryers were speedy, stylish and provided smooth results

Lauren Cunningham
Friday 09 February 2024 15:41
<p>We turned our bedroom into a hair salon, testing different products to find out which performed best </p>

We turned our bedroom into a hair salon, testing different products to find out which performed best

Our Top Picks

Few beauty tools can be counted as essential (depending on who you ask, of course), but hair dryers definitely make the cut. No matter what your length, style or colour, if you aren’t into air drying your hair, or prefer to play around with styles, you absolutely need a hair dryer in your personal grooming kit.

But, as with most beauty buys, there’s a whole host to choose from. So, we’re here to trim down the options to save you from making the wrong choice – we’ve even roped in an expert to give us a helping hand.

Turning to Anita Rice, co-founder of London-based hair salon Buller and Rice, we found there’s much more to this trusty tool than simply shooting out hot air. “Always opt for a hair dryer with multiple heat and motor-speed settings,” Rice says. She also stresses the importance of a cold setting that helps to set styles in place.

“When drying curly hair, it’s always best to use a low speed with a high heat setting, especially when diffusing, as you want to minimise the disruption to the natural movement while drying gently,” she explains. “When drying finer hair, using a slow speed and low heat setting allows you to minimise heat damage. While for thick hair that takes a long time to dry, you want to use a blow dryer that has a strong enough motor to circulate hot hair quickly to minimise the time it takes.”

Now we know the basics, let’s take a look at the best hair dryers reviewed by our experts, including Rice’s favourite, the Dyson supersonic hair dryer, and some more budget-friendly finds.

How we tested

Turning our bedroom into a hair salon, we chose a different hair dryer each and every time we washed our hair over a period of six weeks. Looking at size, weight, usability and the number of settings on each hair dryer, as well as how well it blow-dried our hair, we’ve put together a list of those that performed best.

The best hair dryers for 2024 are:

  • Best hair dryer overall – BaByliss 3Q hair dryer: £101.06, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best fast hair dryer – Nicky Clarke infrared pro hair dryer: £99.59, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best luxury hair dryer – Dyson supersonic hair dryer: £329.99, Dyson.co.uk
  • Best hair dryer for straight hair – ghd helios professional hair dryer: £179, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best hair dryer for fine hair – Bellissima creativity 4 you: £99.99, Amazon.co.uk

BaByliss 3Q hair dryer

BaByliss 3Q hair dryer.png
  • Best: Hair dryer overall
  • Number of attachments: One (ultra slim concentrator nozzle)
  • Speed settings: Three
  • Heat settings: Two
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Reduces frizz
  • Take note
    • No storage case or additional styling tools included

Fans of BaByliss, and those who haven’t yet tried the brand, are sure to be blown away by its latest hair dryer model. Said to be 40 per cent stronger and 20 per cent faster than the brand’s beloved diamond hair dryer, it’s an obvious upgrade with a super-sleek look. Easy to use, with three buttons on the handle, it combines two heat settings (plus a cold shot) with three speed settings, for a very powerful performance.

We found hair was less frizzy after using this machine, which has been designed with super-ionic technology. This means the tool actually produces negatively charged ions that break down the water molecules without opening up hair shafts, creating a smooth, sleek finish. Genius? Absolutely. Plus, it has a lower price than some other options, which helped it nick the top spot in this round-up. However, keep in mind that a storage case and additional styling tools are not included.

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Nicky Clarke infrared pro hair dryer

Nicky Clarke infrared pro hair dryer.png
  • Best: Fast hair dryer
  • Number of attachments: Two
  • Speed settings: Two
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Fast drying times
  • Take note
    • Only two attachments

The key purpose of a blow-dryer is to dry hair fast. So, when speed is of the essence, or you just can’t be bothered to keep your arm above your head for too long, you may want to reach for this Nicky Clarke infrared option. Strikingly different from the other hair dryers we tested, this one uses infrared light to help dry strands while minimising heat. Said to speed up drying times by up to 50 per cent, our blow-dry took around 15 minutes (cutting 10 minutes off our usual drying time). Plus, our strands were left smooth and shiny, thanks to that all-important ionic technology, making it a great pick for those with thick, curly strands.

Along with faster drying time, the infrared light also helps to heal damaged strands, with some people even noting a reduction in split ends and hair loss, although we’d have to use it for a little bit longer to be able to confirm this. Easy to use and sleek in style, we were incredibly impressed, just don’t be surprised to see the red glow as you go.

  1. £99 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Dyson supersonic hair dryer

Dyson supersonic hair dryer in topaz orange.png
  • Best: Luxury hair dryer
  • Number of attachments: Five (flyaway attachment, styling concentrator, diffuser, gentle air attachment, wide-tooth comb)
  • Speed settings: Four
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Lightweight
  • Take note
    • Pricey

The Dyson supersonic hair dryer needs little introduction, but it is on the expensive side. A fan favourite of many a beauty buff (Anita Rice included), it’s incredibly lightweight and cute, and its compact size has cemented it as a go-to for gold-standard styling.

Hollow in the centre, it’s a unique design, yet delivers a real punch of power for fast drying times, while being incredibly easy to use. Plus, we felt as though we could hold it up all day without any arm ache.

Coming in a handy storage box, with five additional attachments included, it’s easy to store (so long as you can fit all the fiddly pieces back in) and packs away neatly.

Sadly, the orange topaz colourway (pictured here) is now sold out but you can get your hands on a range of other shades.

Read our full review of the Dyson supersonic hair dryer

  1. £329 from Dyson.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Boots essentials travel dryer

Boots essentials travel dryer.png
  • Best: budget hairdryer
  • Number of attachments: One (slim concentrator nozzle)
  • Speed settings: Two
  • Heat settings: Two
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it: Great price
  • Why we love it
    • Great price

This handy hairdryer blew our tester away (pun fully intended). Not only is it an absolute bargain at less than £11, but it’s also impressively powerful – despite its smaller size, it dried our tester’s thick, long hair in around 20 minutes, which is very impressive. The dryer features two heat settings and creates a cool shot, and the handle folds down, so it doesn’t take up too much space if you’re storing it or taking it with you in a suitcase. While it doesn’t have any fancy additions such as ionic technology or a large number of attachments like some of the other options in this list, it’s a great everyday basic that’s sure to be a welcome addition for anyone just looking to get the job done, no fancy frills attached.

  1. £10 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Ghd helios professional hair dryer

Ghd helios professional hair dryer.png
  • Best: Hair dryer for straight hair
  • Number of attachments: One (styling concentrator)
  • Speed settings: Two
  • Heat settings: Two
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Powerful
  • Take note
    • A little large

Ghd is famous for its straighteners, and the helios hair dryer is designed with the same style in mind. With claims of giving your hair 30 per cent more shine, we were dubious at first but, so far, we can’t fault it.

Although larger than the Dyson, it is still lightweight, while being incredibly powerful, blowing at 120kph – a small air hole focuses the breeze for a more targeted, speedy blow-dry, too. Other attachments are available, as well as a wide range of blow-dryer colours, and a hook on the bottom allows for the hair dryer to be hung up, for easier storage. As an added bonus, you can pay £10 to personalise it too, truly making it your own trusty tool.

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Bellissima creativity 4 you

Bellissima creativity 4 you.png
  • Best: Hair dryer for fine hair
  • Number of attachments: Four
  • Speed settings: Two
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Heat protecting
  • Take note
    • A bit blingy

Heat is one of the most common ways to damage your hair, especially fine hair, and a huge number of us have been guilty of scorching our strands. If this sounds like you, but you still want to blow-dry your mane, this Belissima option may be your best bet. With four different attachments, you can create almost any style, without the need for additional heated styling tools.

Three heat settings and a cold shot allow you to tailor the temperature, and the small size makes it lightweight enough to hold up for longer when using a cooler setting. Making sure it never gets too hot, the tool measures the air temperature more than 50 times a second, to protect your strands from heat damage. Plus, ion care technology works to fight frizz while boosting hydration.

In a black and gold colourway, it is a little bit on the blingy side, while a handy storage case neatly holds all the accessories.

  1. £99 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Silk’n silky air pro

Silk’n silky air pro
  • Best: Hair dryer for thick hair
  • Number of attachments: Two (diffuser and concentrator nozzle) plus travel pouch and heat-resistant mat
  • Number of speed settings: Three
  • Number of heat settings: Six
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Lightweight
  • Take note
    • Only two attachments

For anyone with thick hair, blow-drying brings its own number of challenges – an achy arm, a hot head and a seemingly everlasting damp patch that sits at the back of your scalp. So, when it comes to picking a blow dryer, you need it to tick a lot of boxes, and this Silk’n option does exactly that. Lightweight, simple to use and with a wide variety of different settings, we fell in love with it. There’s even a lock button to keep the settings in place, to save your sweaty hands from slipping on the temperature dial. With an air speed of 76kph, it dried our hair in no time.

However, what truly sold us on this Silk’n option was the water ion technology, which takes water from the air and finely shoots it through the device, smoothing frizz and boosting hydration. Two magnetic attachments make for easy styling, while a storage pouch and heat-resistant mat were welcome extras.

  1. £119 from Silkn.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Shark flexstyle 5-in-1 air styler and hair dryer with storage case

Shark flexstyle 5-in-1 air styler and hair dryer with storage case.png
  • Best: Hair dryer for styling
  • Number of attachments: Five (auto-wrap curlers, paddle brush, oval brush, styling concentrator, curl-defining diffuser)
  • Speed settings: Three
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Everything in one
  • Take note
    • Slower drying time

For anyone who fancies themselves a bit of an at-home hairdresser, the Shark flexstyle is sure to be hard to beat. Transforming effortlessly with the flick of a switch into a curler, straightening brush, diffuser and more, it’s a one-stop shop for all your styling needs. We found it incredibly easy to chop and change between all the different attachments, although any non-styling gurus may need to read up on exactly how each one works.

Housed in a chic black leather storage box, it’s small yet mighty and makes light work of any hairstyle. However, for extremely thick hair, we did find it took a little bit longer than some other options to truly get things dry. Although, considering it can take care of everything in one handy tool, we can’t really hold this against it.

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The Pattern blow dryer

The Pattern blow dryer
  • Best: Hair dryer for curly and coily hair
  • Number of attachments: Four (wide-tooth comb, diffuser, brush and concentrator tool)
  • Number of speed settings: Three
  • Number of heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Great for coily hair
  • Take note
    • US shipping

Curly and coily hair takes more TLC than other types of locks, requiring more moisture, product and knowledge of how it best scrunches and styles. So, adding a hair dryer can often be a bit daunting, with the fear you’ll be left with a head full of frizz rather than tight, corkscrew curls. Luckily, curly and coily hair expert Pattern has come to the rescue, with a hair dryer designed specifically for tight textures.

Looking more like a very fancy beauty box, included is a shine spray, heat spray, four attachments and the blow dryer all in a chic terracotta tone. A wide-tooth comb, diffuser, brush and concentrator tool make for near-limitless styling opportunities, while three heat and air pressure settings tailor the device to all kinds of locks.

As there’s so much going on, it did take us a hot minute to work out exactly which attachments worked with our hair type, so be sure to have a play around before you jump into styling for a special occasion.

As this is an American brand, be sure to look at adaptor options and shipping costs before committing to buying.

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Drybar buttercup blow-dryer

Drybar buttercup blow-dryer.png
  • Best: Colourful hair dryer
  • Number of attachments: Two (narrow concentrator nozzle, wider concentrator nozzle)
  • Speed settings: Two
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Reduces frizz
  • Take note
    • Heavy

Breaking up the bulk of black colourways, this Drybar hair dryer is the perfect pick-me-up. In a buttercup-yellow colour, it’s cute, bright and bold and definitely stands out from the crowd.

Designed by the hair specialists at the Drybar salons, it’s been created with professional-quality blow-dries in mind, and styled our hair beautifully. Ionic technology left strands smooth and shiny, and the two styling tools certainly worked wonders when it came to creating a sleek, straight style.

However, it was a little bit heavier than some other options, and not quite as powerful. So, if you’re looking for a fabulously fast blow-dry, you may be best looking elsewhere, but for those bored of black, this is sure to brighten up even the dullest of days. It comes in a handy box for storing, too.

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Diva pro styling atmos atom hair dryer

Diva pro styling atmos atom hair dryer.png
  • Best: Small hair dryer
  • Number of attachments: Three (drying nozzle, brush styling nozzle, diffuser)
  • Speed settings: Three
  • Heat settings: Three
  • Cool shot: Yes
  • Why we love it
    • Small size
  • Take note
    • Few stockists

Small yet mighty, this tiny hair dryer really does pack a punch. Housed in a storage tin, the blow-dryer and three attachments can be stored away neatly. The hair dryer alone can also be packed easily into a suitcase or even a gym bag, thanks to its tiny size. But don’t let its proportions fool you, as it’s also one of the most powerful models we tested, and the three attachments magnetically clip on, to effortlessly transform it into a trusty styling tool of your choice.

Its tiny size means it’s also incredibly lightweight, so there are no aching arms, while a washable micro filter helps to keep your hair squeaky clean, too. So, if you’re tight on space, like to travel or are after a hair dryer to take to the gym or office, this is the one we’d recommend.

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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.

Style on the go with the best cordless hair straighteners for creating sleek locks

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