How to Choose the Best Professional Hair Dryer
Is a $200 hair dryer really better than a $20 hair dryer? The answer may surprise you. While most hair dryers today boast numerous “features” that look appealing to consumers, salon quality dryers really are different.
Do you really need a better quality hair dryer? Well, it depends – do you really need healthy, strong hair that isn’t brittle or frayed? We think paying a little more for a quality hair dryer is a reasonable investment.
Let’s break down some of the features you should look for in a quality hair dryer – and more importantly, why.
The Heating Element:
Cheap hair dryers normally use metal or plastic heating elements that burn with intense and uneven heat. Essentially, they dry your hair by cooking the water out of it – literally boiling it off.
If you don’t take great pains to protect your hair, prolonged blow drying will make it grow brittle and eventually break, as your hair can’t stand up to being flash-fried on a regular basis. Even products that protect against heat damage can’t hold up to this kind of heat for long.
With high-end hair dryers, ceramic heating is the standard. Ceramic has remarkable properties of heat conduction – which you may know, because modern space heaters and similar home technology tend to use ceramic.
This is because ceramic produces “far infrared heat” which is radiant – it penetrates the hair shaft safely, instead of heating from the outside in. This also explains why ceramic flat irons & curling irons are the choice of professionals.
Ceramic, which can be infused with tourmaline or other elements, produces a gentle heat that means ceramic heating is safer – ceramic space heaters won’t catch things on fire the way metal ones are prone to do, and ceramic hair dryers won’t blast your hair with harmful energy.
Cheap hair dryers that use metal or plastic elements diffuse positive ions that cause the (normally neutral) cuticle covering of the hair shaft to open, causing frizz and dull appearance.
Ionic hair dryers produce negatively charged ions, which cause the cuticle to remain flat, “trapping” moisture, eliminating frizz and giving hair more body.
Plus, they dry hair faster than regular dryers and leave it shinier and smoother. This is because they don’t “cook” your hair dry like the old metal or plastic coils did – they actually break down water molecules in your hair instead. Ionic dryers also banish the static electricity that results in a flyaway mess of hair.
Ceramic charges ions negatively – to an extent – but combining it with other elements can boost that charge.
Tourmaline was recently introduced to the hair science for its incredible capability to generate negative ions. With more negative ions, a hair dryer can dry faster (up to 70%) for unbelievably sleeker, shiny hair. We carry a number of high performance tourmaline dryers.
Tourmaline hair dryers can be combined with tourmaline treated brushes or other heat styling tools like tourmaline flat irons to add to the shiny, sleek effect.
While wattage varies among hair dryers, we always recommend something 1300 watts or above (unless a travel hair dryer). All of our professional hair dryers fit this category. Wattage directly affects how fast your hair dries (higher watts = more time to snooze in the morning).
We recommend a hair dryer with multiple speed settings (standard on professional hair dryers).
Separate heat settings are also a plus; if your hair is only damp, use cooler settings.
Cool Shot options available on most hair dryers create a blast of cool air which is useful when setting finished styles – you can use it to dry finishing sprays or similar setting products.
Most professional hair dryers are designed for use by a hair stylist who has to hold it all day, so they tend to be much lighter than cheaper hair dryers, weighing around 1 pound or less. Not only is this more comfortable to use, it gives you greater flexibility in terms of targeting your whole head evenly, and easily maneuvering however needed.
Our lightest hair dryers weigh 12-13 oz, like the T3 Tourmaline Featherweight Dryer which weighs in around 13 ounces.
If you want something even lighter, we recommend going for a powerful travel dryer such as the T3 Travel Dryer so you don’t have to sacrifice quality for weight.
Diffusers & Attachments:
To create more volume or waves, be sure to pick up a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment; many of ours come with them.
A concentrator attachment directs air from the dryer to a targeted space, useful for better control if you like to blow dry your hair straight using a brush.
Many people look for hair dryers that say they produce “low EMFs”, or electromagnetic fields. The old traditional dryers produce EMFs at levels considered potentially dangerous for prolonged use, while today’s professional quality dryers generally produce very low amounts – this is safer for you and also friendlier to the environment.
Let us Help!
If you still can’t decide, see what our staff thinks – our list of best professional dryers includes some of our most popular models as well as world-renowned performers like Italian-made Elchim & Solano, or domestic favorites Chi Rocket Hair Dryer and the T3 Featherweight Hair Dryer
We’ve also added a Hair Dryer Comparison Chart so you can quickly compare features and prices on the professional dryers that interest you!