cnet June 26, 2020


Health and Wellness

The best hair dryers in 2020


Tired of your less-than-stellar hair dryer? Here are the pros' picks.

Your hair dryer can make or (literally) break your hair. Finding one that dries your hair quickly, doesn't damage your strands and leaves your hair perfectly soft and shiny is a game-changer. But all too often we resort to using hair dryers that leave hair frizzy, fried or make our arms tired from having to hold them for so long. 

Enter hair stylists to save the day. These are the people who spend hours and hours every day drying people's hair, so they know a thing or two about efficient, quality hair dryers. And the good news is there are plenty of great hair dryers out there that anyone can buy -- you don't need to have access to hair stylist-only suppliers. 

Keep reading to find out what we thought when we tested five of the top hair dryers stylists swear by.

Best hair dryer for budget shoppers and short hair

Remington Hair Dryer with Ionic + Ceramic + Tourmaline Technology

The Remington Hair dryer is a great option for a basic hair dryer that performs well, protects your hair and won't break the bank. The dryer has a damage-protecting coating and three different heat settings. It also comes with two attachments, a diffuser and a concentrated nozzle for two styling preferences. "This is a decent lower priced dryer that features current technology to help keep hair healthy," says Shelly Aguirre, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.

Personally, I prefer a more powerful hair dryer since I have thick, coarse, curly hair and it needs a lot of power and heat to get it into a sleek blowout. But for a budget dryer, this one is lightweight and gets pretty hot, which is great for smoothing strands. 

The Remington blow dryer is the best option overall for someone who is on a budget, or seldom uses a hair dryer. Someone who has short, fine hair or does not use a blow dryer very much would be happy with this value hair dryer. 

Best hair dryer for thick, coarse hair

BaBylissPro BAB2000 Ceramix Xtreme Dryer

The BaBylissPro dryer is a midpriced option that performs similarly to its $100-plus counterparts. When I tried the dryer myself, I was impressed by the drying power in such a sleek and relatively compact design. The dryer comes with one concentrated nozzle attachment (no diffuser) which is something to keep in mind. You get a standard hot, warm and cool setting and two different speed settings.

"This is another lower priced dryer, but it still performs well making it a good bang for your buck," Aguirre says. For $60, you get a great blow dryer -- stylist approved! -- and you can feel confident that the ceramic technology isn't doing more harm to your hair than necessary. 

Best hair dryer for: Fans of blow-out salons

DryBar Buttercup Blow Dryer

DryBar is known for making salon blow-outs into an entire experience (complete with rom-coms and wine) and you can bring some of that experience home with its professional-quality blow dryer. 

The Buttercup blow dryer is the same dryer that DryBar stylists use in the salon, and it features an ultrapowerful motor and wave heater to help distribute heat evenly and dry your hair faster. The brand promises that the dryer, priced at $199, will get you a frizz-free blowout 20% faster than other professional hair dryers.

When I tried the Buttercup Blow Dryer I was impressed by how comfortable the dryer was to hold and style my hair -- it's not ergonomically awkward, bulky or too heavy. I have a lot of hair, so I need something relatively lightweight. 

The dryer definitely delivers on power and heat. I was able to get my hair smooth and dry fast when I used the dryer with the concentrator nozzle and a round brush. 

If you've ever had a blowout at DryBar and loved the results, and want to try your hand at getting the same result at home, you'll be a fan of this hair dryer.

Best quiet hair dryer that protects strands

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Dyson's Supersonic hair dryer goes above and beyond when it comes to style and function. When I first turned on the dryer I was amazed -- this is unlike any hair dryer I've ever used before. The motor is super powerful and blows an intense jet of air that dries hair fast. 

I used it without an attachment at first to rough dry my hair and then I attached one of the nozzles to concentrate the heat with a round brush. The attachments (there are a variety of nozzles and a diffuser) are super easy to use and attach to the nozzle via a magnet almost instantly. 

Besides the fact that it looks (and sounds) super cool, this dryer delivers when it comes to hair styling and function. There are four heat settings and three speeds. The high heat and speed setting will likely dry your hair faster than anything you've tried before -- it's worth the splurge if you have hair that takes forever to dry (like mine) and use a hair dryer every day. This could be a real game-changer for your morning routine.

Dyson claims that the dryer can prevent damage since it contains technology that controls overheating the hair. It's also celebrity-stylist approved. "My favorite hair dryer is the Dyson dryer because it gives just the right amount of heat with the least amount of damage," Justin Anderson, celebrity hair stylist and co-founder of DPHue, tells CNET.

Best for: Curly Hair

DevaCurl Hair Dryer

One of the toughest things about having curly hair is taming unruly frizz and getting definition in your curls. It takes a combination of good products to help style curls -- and the DevaCurl dryer is one addition for those with curly hair that want to use a dryer made specifically for their hair. Many people with curly hair can air-dry and go -- but sometimes you need to dry your hair quickly or you want some extra definition and volume, which a diffuser can help you get.

Although the dryer itself is designed to use ionic technology that doesn't fry your hair, the star of the DevaCurl hair dryer is really the diffuser. You can buy a universal dryer attachment for other dryers, although the one that comes with the DevaCurl dryer only fits on that specific dryer. 

I have to admit that I all but gave up on being happy with my natural curls until I tried this diffuser. I don't love air drying my hair because it holds so much water and takes forever. But when I tried the DevaCurl diffuser, it really helped tame my curls and dry them without making my hair huge. 

It's a bit tricky to learn to use the diffuser -- but since it's shaped like a hand you get the hang of it pretty quickly. Depending on the result you want, you can either rake the diffuser through your hair to calm curls or use it to "cup" them from the bottom, which gives them some volume. The hand-shape also makes it easy to reach your roots without messing up your curls, which is nearly impossible with most diffusers.

For someone who uses a diffuser or wants to try one soon, the DevaCurl dryer set is a good investment in the essentials you need (you also get a concentrator nozzle for when you dry your hair straight). If you already have a blow dryer you love but are interested in the diffuser, save some money and order the diffuser attachment for your current dryer.

Dyson's Airwrap hair styler could be better

How to buy a hair dryer

Since technology has ushered in even more benefits and features in hair dryers, there are a few things to keep in mind when you're shopping for one, according to Aguirre. "I blow dry up to 15 people a day, so the ergonomics mean a lot to me in addition to the technology behind the dryer," she says. "Today, most dryers offer ceramic, tourmaline and ionic benefits."

Here's how each compares, according to Aguirre:

Ionic hair dryer: Negative ions break up the positive ions in water more quickly, preventing frizz and speeding up drying time.

Ceramic: Creates infrared heat that penetrates the hair shaft, preserving hair's natural moisture and luster. The benefit of ceramic is that it heats up quickly and evenly across its surface.

Tourmaline: A mineral that produces negative ions when heated, so this closes the cuticle, creating smooth hair.

"The nozzle on the dryer is also very important -- don't remove it (as most people do)," Aguirre says. "Your cuticle lays like shingles on a roof and you want to make sure to lay the cuticle down on top of itself. You can achieve this by pointing the nozzle down towards the ends of the hair. This will increase shine and body and make the hair look super glossy. This may seem a little awkward at first, but get those arms up and you will definitely notice a difference right away."

How much should you spend on a hair dryer?

How much you spend on a hair dryer depends on what kind of dryer you want, how much power you need and any other special features important to you. If you have very short hair, you may not need to invest in a dryer as much as someone who has very long, thick hair that needs a lot more power to dry quickly. Also, if you have very straight hair you won't need the same dryer as someone who has curly hair and wants to get it straight. 

"The reason prices vary so much is because some dryers may have a 'coating' of ceramic versus a more expensive version that is actually 100% ceramic," Aguirre says. "I inform my clients that if the dryer they are using at home was purchased more than five years ago, it's time to invest in a new one as the technology will be greatly improved from the prior. With that being said, the investment in this tool will last you years to come."