If technology has brought us one blessing, it’s that neither a salon nor a stylist is necessary to achieve the perfect blow dry.
We’re spoiled for choice with hair dryers that promise to defrizz, volumise and protect our hair, with varying results.
To find the perfect hair dryer, we took a few things into account. With so many options, anything that might remotely damage our hair was out.
Everybody’s hair is unique, requiring different temperatures and nozzles, so variety is a must. Ionic technology is also the new normal nowadays, neutralising any frizz-inducing atoms.
But at the same time as boasting powerful motors and multiple features, we wanted something that was portable, light and easy to use.
With all this in mind, we also needed our styles to hold their own against the autumn weather.
Cold weather is the enemy of frizzy hair and rain doesn’t help. Our tester tried out a variety of hairstyles – from slick blow dries to big, bouncy curls – to get to grips with each hair dryer’s full capabilities.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Remington keratin protect hair dryer: £36.65, Amazon
Big, bouncy blow dries don’t need to empty your pockets. Remington’s keratin protect hair dryer combines damage-defensive ceramic grilles with keratin and almond oil, both of which are common ingredients in hair strengthening products. It also uses 90 per cent more ions than your average hair dryer, which diffuses the frizz at the scalp. Our tester was pleasantly surprised by how much healthier her hair felt after just one use.
ghd flight travel hair dryer: £59, ghd
Ghd is synonymous with great hair, so we had no doubts over the capability of this hairdryer. Small but mighty, it doesn’t compromise on safety – it still uses the brand’s trademark safeguard technology, which switches off the hair dryer if it comes too close to your hair so as to prevent overheating. It also has several speed and temperature settings to give you more control. What’s even more impressive is that it weighs just 422g, making it perfect for travelling.
Mark Hill salon professional hair dryer: £90.98, Amazon
Our tester is a big fan of Mark Hill’s haircare range so was happy to discover that the brand’s technology is more than its match. The dryer is infused with argan oil and keratin protein, reducing any potential damage, and has five different airflow and heat combinations to suit varying hair thickness. We were particularly impressed by the super-slim concentrator, which easily boosts the lift at the roots of your hair for the rest of the day.
Dyson supersonic hair dryer: £299.99, Dyson
The celebrity of the hair technology world, Dyson’s hair dryer is the result of years of combined efforts from hair stylists and engineers alike. It’s the only hair dryer to place the motor inside the handle, meaning no arm ache a few minutes into your styling routine (a blessing you only appreciate once you have it). It exceeded all of our expectations, drying hair quickly and leaving our tester with significantly less frizz. It comes with three different nozzles, designed for diffusion, volume and precise drying. As sleek in technology as it is in appearance, it also regulates its temperature 40 times per second to prevent heat damage. While it will set you back a hefty amount, those who take their pampering routine seriously will see this as an investment.
Phil Smith lightweight travel hair dryer: £10.99, Argos
You never know when to expect a hair emergency (particularly in the colder, wetter months), but Phil Smith has you covered with their uber-lightweight dryer. Coming up at just over 300g, it folds up to slip into your handbag, luggage or gym bag with no inconvenience. While it doesn’t dry your hair at an overly fast rate, it’s quicker than average and well worth the price. It also includes international voltage, meaning you can use it anywhere in the world (a surprisingly rare feature).
BaByliss rose blush 2200 hair dryer: £45, John Lewis
If its cuteness alone doesn’t draw you in, the BaByliss hair dryer was one of the easiest to use on this list. Straightforward and fuss-free, our hair dried quickly and felt bouncy and smooth thanks to its super ionic frizz-control feature. A lot of hair dryers can let you down with their cool shot button, which either shoots too gently or too warm to actually be useful. However, we were really impressed by its power and ability to set every style tried out by our tester.
Panasonic nanoe + double mineral advanced hair dryer: £129.99, Boots
We were definitely unprepared for the amount of features on this hair dryer. Not only does it offer the usual variety of temperatures, but it utilises double mineral technology and electrostatically atomised water molecules to infuse your hair with moisture. If that’s not enough, it also has four different modes to tackle your hair, scalp and even your skin – those with dry complexions can put the nano technology to use for up to a minute after your drying session. Despite the complex features, it’s easy to use and feels like a salon treatment every time.
Cloud Nine the airshot: £109, Very
A cult classic in the beauty community, the Airshot boasts the best anti-static technology around. By reducing the amount of negatively charged particles in your hair, frizz is lessened (if not completely eradicated). As the name suggests, it’s extremely powerful but somehow also gentle on your hair, which soon feels silky smooth. It also looks very professional and was one of the quietest dryers we tried.
Joseâ Eber HST professional ionic hair dryer: £74.99, Selfridges
Despite using less heat, this product promises to dry your hair in half the time. We were dubious at first but soon impressed – the AC motor is powerful without splitting your hair and has four different adjustable speeds. One feature we never considered before was the length of the power cord, but this hair dryer’s three-metre wire surprised us with the newfound ease of use and ability to plug it in anywhere around the house.
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 3600W, but a high-quality device only requires around 1800W. 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
As an all-rounder in everything from power to cost, we loved the Remington keratin protect hair dryer. However, for those looking to invest in a speedy, luxurious haircare routine, you can’t go wrong with the Dyson supersonic hair dryer.