The best hair dryer should quickly and literally dry your hair, but that is exactly what a bad hair dryer does too. You need a device that gets rid of surface-level moisture without stripping back the cuticles and dehydrating the insides of each strand. (This is perhaps the fastest way to frizzing, breakage, and split ends.)
You’re going to want more than just hot air. Look for three specific, sometimes overlapping technologies: Ionic, ceramic, and tourmaline hair dryers.
Ionic hair dryers
Since water has positive ions, a device that generates negative ions will help disperse the water droplets quickly and evenly. An ionic hair dryer generates these negative ions and allows the device to dry your hair at both a lower temperature and a faster rate. Best of all, this means that the cuticle of the hair won’t open up as much as with a high-heat dryer. (Heat causes cuticles to open and to lose their moisture, and this moisture loss is what causes frizz.)
The Best Ionic Hair Dryer
Ok, yes: the price. But like most Dyson products, this one falls in the category of expensive but worth it. If you’re serious about this shit, so if this hair dryer. This motor is tucked into the dryer’s handle, (instead of at the rear of the head) which makes the Supersonic more ergonomic—not as top-heavy as the competition. A microprocessor in the dryer’s side regulates temperature and reduces heat damage to your hair, thus eliminating the biggest threat to its health. This dryer has more attachments than the rest of the field, too: along with the gentle air head, there are the standard-fare concentrator and diffuser, as well as a flyaway tamer and wide-tooth comb for shaping waves and curls.
Ceramic Hair Dryers
Ceramic hair dryers, on the other hand, incorporate a ceramic casing inside the dryer. This material allows the air to heat evenly, and in turn creates a hair-safe infrared heat that penetrates that helps dry the strands safely and expediently. If you have thin or fine hair, then a ceramic option is your best choice since it’s going to be gentler overall.
The Best Ceramic Hair Dryer
Compact, foldable, and travel-friendly, Conair’s dryer is like the Maker’s Mark of the bunch: It’s a brand you trust, at a price point you like, and nobody is going to second guess your taste. You’ll be familiar with its offerings: along with three heat options, it’s got a cool shot (to lock in the style after you apply product and comb it into place), and for the traveler, it has dual voltage so that you can carry it it internationally. (Many other dryers would blow the circuit. I’ve done that, and it’s embarrassing to tell everyone in your building that you, the schmuck in the Airbnb, blew out their power just so you could look good.) If you’re new to the game or are unsure of which dryer to buy, then start here. It’s a sure thing.
Tourmaline Hair Dryers
Tourmaline dryers have both the infrared functionality of ceramic dryers and the physicist-approved abilities of an ionic dryer. For this reason, tourmaline is more or less professional-grade stuff. (But there are ranges of options in terms of quality within each category, so a low-grade tourmaline doesn’t necessarily best a high-grade ionic.)
The Best Tourmaline Hair Dryer
You’ll feel like 007 with this tourmaline gun in hand. The Sedu Revolution is lightweight, sleek, and cuts drying time in half—which, as you know, means there’s less time spent with high heat blasting on the hair, meaning less damage done. This is the device we return to the most for its supreme lack of frizz, manageable volume, and a healthy shine (as in no brittle, parched hair). Those things are imperative, especially if you’re growing out your hair or maintaining long strands. That’s precisely why the Revolution is a grade-A tourmaline pick, and should be your first upgrade if you’re moving past first base.
Bonus: The Best Light Hair Dryer
Scratch everything we said about ions, ceramics, and tourmaline this-and-that: One of the year’s coolest launches is the Zuvi ‘Halo’ hair dryer, which uses light to dry hairs faster (just like how leaving your laundry to dry in the sun helps speed thing up). Zuvi is softer, quieter, faster, gentler than any of its competitors, though it remains without true contest in this light-powered category. That halo of light does the job while preserving healthy shine, body, and fullness. It’s got our full endorsement.