Yes, $400 can buy a lot of things, but should a hair dryer be one of them? The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer costs as much as what some people pay for monthly rent — but it claims to "increase smoothness by 75%, increase shine by up to 132%, and decrease frizz and flyaways by up to 61%," all while actually protecting hair from damage and drying hair faster than any other dryer out there.
I'm someone with the type of curly hair that can take up to two days to fully air dry, and on a humid day (without the right hair products), my aesthetic falls somewhere between Standard Poodle and Bob Ross. My blowouts take twice as long as my friends', and my hair stylists need to have saint-like patience. Understandably, the promise of shiny, smooth, frizz-free hair is basically a siren song to me. But as a product reviewer by trade, these hefty claims also make me arch an eyebrow.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute, we couldn't wait to put the Dyson Supersonic through our Beauty Lab tests for speed of drying, air volume flow, weight, noise, air and surface temperatures, and cord length. We also sent the hair dryer home with a panel of consumer testers to see how the hair dryer performs outside the lab in everyday life. Here's everything you need to know about the Dyson Supersonic.
How does the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer work?
The technology used on the Supersonic is as innovative as it looks. Dyson dropped $71 million on creating the hair dryer, working with over 100 engineers to completely redesign the idea of what a hair dryer looks like. For starters, as an homage to its best-selling fans, the Dyson hair dryer has a hole at the center.
It uses a novel, brushless digital motor that's much smaller and much lighter than traditional a hair dryer motor, meaning a quieter — but not weaker — airflow that's amplified up to three times, thanks to Dyson's Air Multiplier technology. "Call me crazy, but I felt like it dried my hair faster," said one tester. In fact, in our Lab tests, the motor on the Supersonic produced the best airflow compared to any other hair dryer tested, and it dried hair the fastest.
Though it earned the highest consumer satisfaction score of all the hair dryers we've tested, some consumers thought the Supersonic was almost too good, and said, "The air was so strong, even on low, that the attachment felt necessary for any kind of control." I agree: If you're not careful with how you use the hair dryer, the airflow is so strong that it can cause more harm (e.g. frizz, tangles) than good sometimes.
What is so special about the Dyson hair dryer?
The motor is lighter, smaller, and lives in the handle. Unlike most hair dryers, the tiny motor is located at the handle of the dryer rather than the end of the dryer's head. Air is brought in through a filter at the bottom of the dryer's handle, and expelled through thin vents that surround the circular head of the hair dryer. One drawback is that the filter's placement poses a learning curve: "If you hold [the handle] toward the end, it closes the vent and restricts airflow," said one tester.
It's easier to hold. The motor placement makes for a more comfortable drying experience. After a few minutes of holding the hair dryer overhead, my shoulders don't burn the same way they do with other hair dryers, since the heaviest part of the hair dryer is in my hand, not balanced in a top-heavy nozzle.
Your hair won't get caught in the dryer. Since Dyson moved the vent to the bottom of the handle, our testers loved that they didn't have to be afraid of getting their hair caught on a back vent. That means no more burnt hair smell or cutting tangled strands out of the dryer's motor (can I get a hallelujah, fellow long-haired ladies?).
It comes with innovative accessories. Included in the set are two concentrators and a diffuser, which all attach to the hair dryer's head magnetically yet securely, so you will never have to struggle to clip attachments into place. The dryer also comes with a non-slip mat and storage hanger, which are two accessories you really appreciate after spending $400 on a hair dryer.
Does the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer damage hair?
Dyson claims that the Supersonic hair dryer is actually better for your hair, "engineered to protect hair from extreme heat damage." The thermal sensor on the Supersonic measures the exit flow temperature of the air over 40 times a second, so it's constantly regulating the air temperature to keep your hair safer from heat damage than it otherwise might be with any other hair dryer.
“Heat exposure is only one of the factors in causing hair damage," says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., director of the GH Beauty Lab. Our 2016 Lab test showed that the Dyson's max heat production was "about 10°F lower than the average temperature of the 18 hair dryers in our test," she explains. "Based on this, we can say that the Supersonic has the potential of being less damaging to hair than an average dryer.”
Is the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer worth it?
It really depends on your hair. If you have thin, smooth, or otherwise "easy" hair, you can (and probably should) spend your money more wisely elsewhere, like on our best value hair dryer, the Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer. But if you have frizz-prone hair that takes forever to dry, or if you find yourself springing for blowouts to avoid detangling your own mane, the Dyson Supersonic might be a game-changer for you.
Testers thought it made their hair "smoother and straighter in less time than any other hair dryer they used." They were impressed by the hair dryer's sleek and "cool" design, and liked that it was lightweight and nozzle-less.
While the hair dryer is undoubtedly innovative and effective, it's not perfect — which matters at this price point. Here are some things to consider before you splurge:
The buttons: Testers noted that the controls on the hair dryer are out of reach and a bit inconvenient to press. They live on the head of the hair dryer behind the nozzle, and take a few presses to change settings instead of the easily discernible buttons on traditional hair dryers. The trade-off is that you won't accidentally switch settings as you're drying your hair, and its self-locking cool mode is also super convenient instead of squeezing it in place the whole time.
The cord: The extra-long cord is great if you don't have an outlet close by, but it's significantly heavier and bulkier than an average hair dryer's. It doesn't retract, and it lacks a tie for easy storage.
The noisiness: It's a hair dryer, so don't expect it to be quiet. While Dyson has claimed that the Supersonic hair dryer is quieter than the competition (keep in mind that "supersonic" means "greater than the speed of sound"), both our Lab tests and consumer tests found that the hair dryer is about as noisy as other hair dryers. On its highest setting, I can't even hear someone buzzing my front door.
The comfort of use: The hair dryer weighs less than one pound, but the sleek design means the handle isn't as contoured or ergonomic as other hair dryers, so it's a little bulky to hold, in my opinion.
The bottom line: The Dyson Supersonic blew away (heh) the competition when it came to drying speed, strongest airflow, and consumer satisfaction in our extensive testing. If you're in the market for a new hair dryer — and have some savings built up — it's proven to be the best hair dryer you can buy.
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