Hi, my name is Joanna and I have a lot of hair. As far back as I can remember, my hair has been a struggle to style and admittedly, up until now, I had no clue what to do with it. Needless to say, I was super excited when gap intelligence launched our newest category, Hair Dryers, on October 8, 2019. This was my chance to not only learn something new about a product I use daily, but to also make smarter purchasing decisions in the future. Turns out, choosing the right hair dryer is more important than I previously thought.
It’s no secret that heat styling products can damage hair, especially with daily use and lack of heat protection such as oils or serums. Similar to flat irons and curling wands, hair dryers can contribute to dry/brittle hair, split ends, hair loss, and discoloration. Although it’s common for consumers to invest in higher quality flat irons and curling wands, hair dryers don’t typically get the same amount of consideration.
Due to the high costs of heat styling products, consumers may pick and choose which product to invest in. For example, I have a high quality flat iron which comes with all the bells and whistles, however I also own a $20 hair dryer. Because my cheaper hair dryer is not very effective, it actually ends up doing more harm than good and forces my flat iron to work twice as hard, essentially frying my hair.
Friends, don’t be like me. Invest in all of your heat styling tools because they are equally important! For those of you that are guilty of this… don’t panic! It’s never too late for an upgrade. Check out the important features to search for when you are looking to buy a new hair dryer. Some very common yet confusing buzz words we see used in marketing for hair dryers are tourmaline, ionic, and ceramic. These technologies can be combined or featured individually within a wide array of products, ranging from low to high-end.
Ionic hair dryers use charged ionic particles to break up water molecules, ultimately resulting in a “quicker” dry time using less power and heat. Regular hair dryers often create frizz and static, whereas ions produced by an ionic hair dryer, help reduce static electricity– resulting in a smooth and sleeker look. A study done by goodhousekeeping, reveals that ionic hair dryers do not save much time compared to an ordinary dryer, but it was “helpful in adding sheen”.
Tourmaline is a semi-precious mineral that emits negative ions and healthy infrared heat when crushed and heated. goodhousekeeping claims tourmaline helps dry hair up to 40% faster than a standard ion dryer, creating more shine and less frizz. Due to the rarity of this gemstone, hair dryers with tourmaline will cost more than an average dryer, however, keep an eye for terms such as “coating” as this is temporary and not as effective.
Ceramic is a non-metallic material which produces negative ions in order to distribute heat quickly and evenly. Ceramic hair dryers do not produce as many negative ions as ionic dryers, thus may not create as much shine, but will be less expensive in the short run.
Adjustable Heat and Speed settings are extremely important, depending on hair types. Dryers with multiple heat settings will be more compatible with most hair types.
Attachments– although underrated– can do wonders for all hair types. Some common attachments are the concentrator nozzle which directs all airflow to one area (great for thick hair) and the diffuser which spreads heat evenly, allowing for faster drying and less damage (best for curly hair).
Lightweight and Low Noise features may not be as crucial in regards to healthier hair, but the added benefits are worthwhile. Lighter weight hair dryers can significantly help reduce arm/shoulder strain, especially if you have a lot of hair and blow dry often. Quieter dryers are a plus– ’cause who wouldn’t prefer listening to music or a podcast while styling?
Increased competition and consumers’ willingness to spend time doing research, has led more brands to offer better quality products by infusing multiple technologies within a single device. Brands are also including several attachments, accessories, and gift sets in order to appeal more to the buyer.
In the past, these salon-grade blow dryers were typically very costly and had minimal availability in stores. However, thanks to stores such as Ulta, Sephora, and Sally’s Beauty Supply– higher quality dryers are making their way in front of the consumer at more accessible prices.
In the chart below, I emphasized the average net price of full sized hair dryers available in-store at Ulta, Sephora, and Sally’s Beauty Supply. Notice there are a ton of brands to choose from at a wide array of prices ranging from $29 (Conair) to $399 (Dyson). Note this chart only includes products with ionic technology and at least one attachment, as I recommended below.
Money Well Spent
Here are my recommendations of hair dryers that will give you the most bang for your buck and hair:
Dyson – Supersonic: At a steep $399, the Supersonic is recommended mostly for salon professionals because of how surprisingly powerful it is for such a light-weight dryer, at only 28 oz. Features ionic technology, attachments, and multiple accessories including a place mat.
BaBylissPRO – Nano Titanium: Another salon-grade dryer with attainable prices ranging from $29-$199. Features a 2000 watt motor, made in Italy, and Nano Titanium technology– which heats up must faster with a higher ionic charge making hair sleeker in less time– excellent for thick hair!
Conair – InfinitiPRO: If you’re looking for a simple hair dryer that will protect hair at a low cost, Conair’s large line of InfinitiPRO dryers range from $19-$69, with multiple colors to choose from. Most will feature 1875 watts and ionic technology as well as a concentrator and/or diffuser– great for most hair types!
All in all, there is no one perfect hair dryer for everyone. The feature combinations I listed above will differ based on hair type. For example: if you have thin, brittle hair I highly recommend a product with ceramic technology infused (not coated) thus gaining all the health benefits for longer period of time. For thick, coarser hair, I recommend a higher wattage (1800+) with at least ionic and/or tourmaline technology infused. For the “in-betweens”, it’s safe to say as long as your dryer contains protectant technology such as ionic and an attachment for styling needs, you’re good to go! Finally, ALWAYS use a heat protectant serum or spray before and after applying heat…this could make or break your hair, literally!
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