How much should you spend on a hair dryer? With prices from reputable brands starting at just over £20 and going up to £300/ $400 for a Dyson Supersonic, it can be hard to figure out what’s a reasonable sum to spend. But the place you should start looking for an answer isn’t in the tech: it’s on your head.
The condition of your hair (damaged, treated or healthy), your hair type (curly, thin, straight) and how much effort it takes you to go from bedhead to ready to face the world should help you to decide.
If you colour your hair, it’s likely to need a little more TLC. Look for a dryer with at least a low and a high power setting, as well as options for temperature. Use a high power, hotter setting for a quick blast to get most of the water out of your hair and then switch to a lower, cooler setting to protect your locks as you finish off.
A hair dryer with ionic technology will dry hair more quickly, allowing you to use lower heat. It’ll help to protect damaged hair and restore a bit of shine. Ionic hairdryers are also good for curly hair, as they’ll protect the curl and cut down on flyaway frizz.
Ceramic hair dryers are another great option for coloured or damaged hair as they dry quickly and require less heat to do so.
If you straighten your hair, you might want to look for a dryer with tourmaline technology. This will help to smooth and de-frizz your hair as it dries.
Once you’ve decided on the right approach for your hair, check out the wattage of the device you’re looking at. More power means it’ll get the job done more quickly. If you’ve ever spent a frustrating 45 minutes with a dinky hotel hairdryer and still ended up with wet hair, you’ll understand how much difference wattage makes. Your hair dryer should be at least 1,800 watts but professional hair dryers can be twice as powerful.
Also look for a cool button, which will help you set your look at the end.
Finally, there are attachments: a diffuser will help you maintain your curls and a flat-headed nozzle will help you to smooth.
Here are the top hair dryers we’ve tested. If you’re upgrading your styling kit, have a look at our guide to the best hair straighteners as well.
Best hair dryer reviews
1. Dyson Supersonic – Best luxury buy
The Dyson Supersonic is a technological wonder (dare we call it “cutting edge”?), which promises to be kinder to your hair, more comfortable on previously weighed down arms, quieter, and faster at drying and styling.
Our testers were impressed with the Supersonic but initially aghast at the high price tag, although we think it’s not that much when compared to the price of a quality haircut.
It’s very fast at drying (some may find it a little too fast when drying at low speed), super quiet, simple and comfortable to use, and with some neat design features such as the magnetic attachments. There are certainly cheaper, quality hair dryers available but we think the hair-friendly Dyson Supersonic is smart enough to justify the comparatively high price tag.
Read our full Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer review
2. Revlon One-Step – Best styling hair dryer
The Revlon One-Step is a drying and volumising brush that lets you do two jobs at once. Many people who use it will be able to avoid using a separate hair dryer and straightener – and will get the kind of swingy, (close to) salon hair that only pros can otherwise manage at home. It’s fast to use as well.
Still, its effectiveness might vary depending on your hair type, and if you have long, thick hair, you may have to dry it first – which makes it slightly less appealing.
Like other styling tools, it could damage your hair if you use it too often, and ethical beauty shoppers will be disappointed to learn that it features genuine boar bristles.
Read our full Revlon One-Step (RVDR5222UK1) review
3. Revamp Progloss 4000 – Best for protecting hair
Revamp’s Progloss 4000 has three heat settings (plus a cool button), two speed settings and an oscillation function that’ll allow you to cover more hair as you use it.
As it’s a 2100W appliance, it has the power to get the job done quickly. It also uses ionic technology to speed dry and de-frizz your locks, which means you can use a lower heat.
We were impressed during testing and would recommend it to people who want to invest a bit more in a hair dryer that’ll help protect their hair.
Read our full Revamp Progloss 4000 hair dryer review
4. GHD Air – Best mid-range hair dryer
The GHD Air isn’t a cheap hair dryer by any means (although it is a third of the price of Dyson’s Supersonic). It feels like a luxury and we’ve definitely enjoyed using it. It’s speedy, efficient and overall a joy to use.
We’ll struggle to go back to a less expensive hair dryer now that we’ve had it for a few weeks. But we’ve been perfectly happy with hair dryers in the past that have come in at half the price of this, so it’s not a necessity by any means. Still, it would make the perfect gift for a hair-conscious loved one.
Read our full GHD Air Hair Dryer review
5. Braun Style&Go – Best travel hair dryer
Variously called the Braun Style&Go, the Satin Hair 1, or the HD130, this dryer might be a little confusingly named, but it’s very simple when it comes to what counts: drying your hair.
There aren’t many bells and whistles here, but at this price, you wouldn’t expect too many. You get a choice of two heat and power settings, and a removable styling head. Most importantly though, the dryer is small, light and foldable, which makes it even more compact. So, it’s the ideal hair dryer to take when you travel.
Braun has planned for that, making sure it’s compatible with voltages from 100-240V. As long as you have a travel adapter, you can trust that it will work just about wherever you are, without worrying that the voltage will be too low to power it, or too high and break it.
Despite that portability, it packs a decent punch for its size, so you won’t be standing around for hours waiting for your hair to dry. This is unlikely to be your main dryer, but for a budget back-up or a travel-friendly spare, you could do a lot worse.
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