Best Hair Dryers

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For healthy, strong hair, it's best to avoid cheap, high-heat hair dryers. Check out: 12 Personal Care Products to Use – and 12 to Skip

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Our Picks

Conair Infiniti Pro Salon Performance Dryer
Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Styler
Revlon Pro Collection Salon Infrared Styler
Andis Ceramic Ionic Styler
Remington Pro With Thermaluxe
Revlon Pro Collection Salon 360 Surround Styler
BaBylissPRO TT Tourmaline Titanium Travel Dryer
Conair Curl Fusion Ionic Ceramic Styler
DevaCurl DevaDryer and DevaFuser
RUSK W8less
Drybar Buttercup

Conair Infiniti Pro Salon Performance Dryer Review

From $23 Best

Best Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer Under $30

Pros:

  • Quiet, fast, and long-lasting, reviews say, with ceramic ionic technology for frizz-free results on thick and thin hair.
  • AC motor with 1,875 watts.
  • Recommended by Elle and Allure magazines for powerful heat on a budget.
  • 3 heat settings, 2 speed settings, cold shot.
  • Comes with a diffuser and a concentrator.
  • Removable filter and hanging hook.
  • 4-year warranty.
  • Recommended by Wirecutter as a great budget option.
  • Recommended by Good Housekeeping for everyday use.

Cons:

  • Weighs 2.55 pounds.
  • 6-foot cord seems short to some users.

Takeaway: A favorite entry-level hair dryer of many beauty editors, the Conair Infiniti Pro Salon Performance AC Motor Styling Tool (model 259Y) also exceeds users' expectations. It ranks high for efficiency and power at a reasonable price, and does the job without leaving telltale signs of excessive heat. The relatively hefty weight and short-ish cord make this Conair Infiniti Pro hair dryer hard for some users to maneuver with ease. Still, reviewers marvel at the silky, smooth results when stacked against other dryers and say the "cold" shot really does the trick. The Conair brand enjoys a loyal following for dryers that last years.

Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Styler Review

From $28 Best

Best Tourmaline Hair Dryer Under $30

Pros:

  • Dries hair quickly without scorching and leaves it shiny, according to users.
  • Triple play of ionic, ceramic, and tourmaline technologies.
  • Relatively light, at 1.8 pounds.
  • Soft surface makes for a comfortable grip.
  • 3 heat and 2 speed settings, plus cool shot.
  • Comes with a diffuser and a concentrator.
  • Hinged filter and hanging ring.
  • Wirecutter's budget pick.

Cons:

  • Short 5.5-foot cord.
  • Side-by-side slider switches can be hard to activate, some reviews say.

Takeaway: Along with testers at Wirecutter, scores of users consider the Conair 1875-Watt Tourmaline Ceramic Styler (model 225NP) a 5-star buy. The dryer generates enough heat and speed to avoid the "hot" setting, some reviewers write, which minimizes the chances of fried hair. On the down side, the relatively short cord may hinder maneuverability and the DC motor may not prove as long-lasting as the AC motors found in competing models. But, overall, reviewers like the high-shine and frizz-free results, light weight, included attachments, and value price of this Conair hair dryer.

Revlon Pro Collection Salon Infrared Styler Review

From $17 Best

Best Infrared Hair Dryer Under $30

Pros:

  • Fast drying without frizz or static, reviewers say.
  • Infrared heat plus ceramic coating and ionic tourmaline technologies dry evenly and gently.
  • 2 heat and 2 speed settings, plus cool shot.
  • Comes with a concentrator and diffuser.
  • 4-year warranty.

Cons:

  • Some reports of electrical failures.

Takeaway: Although some consider the infrared technology little more than a gimmick, most users say the 1,875-watt Revlon Pro Collection Salon Infrared Styler (model RVDR5105N4) makes quick work of drying and does so with a surprisingly gentle touch. The low price shocks some reviewers given the impressive performance of this Revlon hair dryer, which reportedly holds for all types of hair.

Andis Ceramic Ionic Styler Review

From $17 Good

Best Blow Dryer With Comb Attachments Under $30

Pros:

  • Particularly effective for thick and/or curly hair.
  • Hair comes out smooth, soft, and full, users report.
  • Ionic and ceramic technologies for quick drying and even heat.
  • Lightweight, at 1.3 pounds.
  • Comes with 1 brush and 2 styling comb attachments.
  • Dual voltage -- suitable for overseas travel -- and 1,875 watts.
  • Longer-than-usual 5-year warranty.

Cons:

  • 3 combined low, medium, and high settings limit styling options (other dryers have separate heat and speed settings).
  • Some reviewers grouse that the comb attachments are flimsy.

Takeaway: The unusual vertical drying shaft of the Andis Ceramic Ionic Styler (model HS-2) might not work for everyone, but users with curly and/or thick locks sing its praises. The inability to choose separate speed and heat settings barely warrants a mention in reviews, which otherwise focus on the overall effectiveness of this Andis hair dryer. Some say the styling tools seem fragile, but others note they stay firmly in place and the rounded tips on one of the combs are gentle on the scalp.

Remington Pro with Thermaluxe Review

From $30 Good

Good Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer Under $30

Pros:

  • Ionic ceramic technology dries hair quickly and keeps it feeling soft, users report.
  • 3 heat and 2 speed settings, plus cool shot.
  • AC motor with 1,875 watts.
  • Comes with a diffuser and a concentrator.
  • Tangle-free fabric cord, removable filter, and hanging loop.
  • 4-year warranty.
  • Recommended by Good Housekeeping for everyday use.

Cons:

  • Some reviewers say it feels heavy in the hand (the weight is not specified).
  • Power and heat seem a bit weak to some users.

Takeaway: Proprietary technology coupled with ionic and ceramic properties blast out enough hot air to dry hair in a relative flash, according to testers at Good Housekeeping and the vast majority of users reviewing the Remington Pro with Thermaluxe (model AC9140). Some reviewers quibble about the heat and speed. Others consider the dryer a bit loud and the weight somewhat unwieldy. Overall, though, this Remington hair dryer scores high on the performance scale -- beating out pricier models, some say -- and wins extra points for a sleek design and a durable, tangle-free cord.

Revlon Pro Collection Salon 360 Surround Styler Review

From $25 Think Twice

Pros:

  • Open-barrel design dries hair on all sides, section by section.
  • 3 heat and 2 speed settings, plus cold shot.
  • Built-in concentrator and contoured outlet direct air flow.
  • AC motor with 1,875 watts.
  • Recommended by Good Housekeeping.
  • Singled out by a beauty editor at Glamour magazine for making thin, color-treated hair shiny and silky.

Cons:

  • Many users find the design awkward.
  • Drying takes way too long, some reviewers say: 25 to 30 minutes compared with 10 minutes with a typical dryer in Glamour's testing.
  • Not ideal for curly hair.

Takeaway: Revlon takes a different tack with the new Salon 360 Surround Styler (model RVDR5206N1). You can use it like a regular hand-held dryer, or twist the barrel open and move it up and down with one section of hair at a time dangling in the middle. There's quite a learning curve here, and even many users who received a freebie in exchange for a review balk at the open-barrel setup, describing the drying process as time-consuming and unwieldy, in part because the dryer feels heavy. Some consider it a novel idea that would benefit from a bit of tweaking.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Hair Dryer

Recreating the look and feel of a salon blowout at home is doable without spending megabucks. These days it's easy to find a high-quality hair dryer for $30 or less that's equipped with some of the same features demanded by professional stylists. The challenge in seeking out the best cheap hair dryer is wading through a market flooded with budget brands and models, all claiming to produce lustrous results. Cheapism.com combed through scores of expert and user reviews to find several that hit the mark, along with a few blow dryers that serve specialized needs.

Brands.

Conair is by far the dominant brand in the budget and mid-price segment. It also owns the Babyliss and Rusk brands. Other household names include Revlon and Remington, with additional offerings from the likes of Andis, Berta, Wazor, and more. At the top end are professional hair dryers with lesser-known labels sometimes seen in salons and touted by celebrity stylists, such as Harry Josh, Paul Mitchell, Ghd, Croc, T3, Sedu, Solano, and Drybar. Dyson, known for uber-expensive household appliances with unusual engineering and aesthetics, makes a splash with a $400 "supersonic" hair dryer.

Pricey vs. Cheap Hair Dryers.

The price range on hair dryers for home use is wide, starting at about $10. But aside from the labels, the differences between budget models and their pricey counterparts have begun to fade. High-end models may be quieter, include more heat and speed options, blow hot air at a higher velocity, come with a longer cord, and feature a more ergonomic design and perhaps even touchscreen controls. The best entry-level blow dryers have plenty to offer, as well, including the latest in drying technologies, multiple heat and speed settings, ease of use, and, according to reviews, a finished 'do that's shiny, silky, and soft.

Ionic Technology.

The secret sauce of modern hair dryers, regardless of price, is the use of ionic technology. Almost all new-model hair dryers feature ionic technology, which emits negatively charged ions. These ions supposedly break apart water molecules, so that hair dries faster, and seal the hair cuticle, which reduces frizz and static and arguably creates more shine. Negative ions also may give a boost to styling products, with their positively charged ions. The real benefit here is less exposure to intense heat, which means less damage to the hair.

Ionic hair dryers increasingly feature ceramic and tourmaline technologies, as well. According to marketing claims, each of these advancements further cuts down on drying time and helps minimize heat damage.

Tourmaline Technology.

Hair dryers labeled "tourmaline" incorporate fragments from the tourmaline gemstone into components of the hair dryer. When subjected to heat, the tourmaline lets loose more of those negative ions that close up hair cuticles and speed drying. Tourmaline technology is found most often in upmarket hair dryers but makes a limited appearance in the budget price range.

Ceramic Technology.

In high-end hair dryers and a growing number of less expensive models, the heating element, grill, or nozzle is coated with a ceramic compound that mitigates the harshness of the heat. Ceramic hair dryers also disperse heat more gently and more evenly, and cut down on drying time. Some ceramic dryers also give off infrared heat, which helps seal in moisture by drying from the inside out, thus protecting the hair's natural oils and making it more manageable.

Travel Hair Dryers.

Travel hair dryers tend to be compact and lightweight, and often have a handle that folds. Many also feature dual voltage, meaning they can be used in the United States with its 120-volt electricity or in countries with 220-volt outlets. Some users are so pleased with these compact models that they remain on duty even when stationed at home base.

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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $23.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts (AC motor)
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $28.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $17.00)
Drying Technology Infrared, ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 2 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts (AC motor)
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $17.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts, dual voltage
Settings 3 heat/speed; cool shot
Attachments Brush, 2 styling combs
(from $25.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Attachments None
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Tourmaline, infrared
Power 1,000 watts, dual voltage
Settings 2 heat/speed
Attachments Concentrator
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,800 watts
Settings 2 heat/speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser
(from $159.00)
Drying Technology Ionic
Power 1,600 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Hand-shaped diffuser
(from $80.00)
Drying Technology Ceramic, tourmaline, infrared
Power 2,000 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Attachments Concentrator
(from $156.00)
Drying Technology Ionic
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments 2 concentrators
(from $23.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts (AC motor)
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $28.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $17.00)
Drying Technology Infrared, ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 2 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts (AC motor)
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser, concentrator
(from $17.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts, dual voltage
Settings 3 heat/speed; cool shot
Attachments Brush, 2 styling combs
(from $25.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,875 watts
Settings 3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Attachments None
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Tourmaline, infrared
Power 1,000 watts, dual voltage
Settings 2 heat/speed
Attachments Concentrator
(from $30.00)
Drying Technology Ionic, ceramic
Power 1,800 watts
Settings 2 heat/speed; cool shot
Attachments Diffuser

Hair Dryer Reviews: What We Considered

To assemble our list of the best hair dryers for $30 or less, we scrutinized product specifications and online reviews posted by beauty editors, product testing sites, and consumers. Although few experts weigh in on low-cost hair dryers, one or two models inevitably show up on "best" lists. We consulted women's magazines, such as Allure, Elle, Glamour, and Good Housekeeping, as well as consumer product review sites, such as Top Ten Reviews and Wirecutter, for expert opinions. Consumers also have plenty to say about budget dryers, and we considered their comments on the websites of retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Walgreens, Target, Ulta, and Sephora.

Features and performance matter to experts and consumers alike. In particular, they care about hair health, frizz control, speed, and user-friendliness. Consumers also write about durability and the included attachments, which offer styling versatility. All the models on our list earn very strong support -- an average of at least 4 stars -- from reviewers.

Power.

The most common wattage for hand-held hair dryers is 1,875 watts. Professional hair dryers can reach beyond 2,000 watts, which theoretically means faster drying. Some compact and travel dryers feature wattage as low as 1,000.

Many of the best entry-level hair dryers are powered by AC motors, which marketing copy claims can dry hair in half the time of a blow dryer with a DC motor. AC motors may last longer, as well, and generally are more cost effective. Manufacturer specifications often don't indicate the type of motor, however.

Heat and Speed Settings. Professionals and consumers want options when styling hair, which means a choice of heat and speed. A simple on/off button doesn't cut it. Even budget hair dryers now offer two or three heat settings and two speed settings, which lets users mix and match these two variables. Almost all now include a cool (or cold) shot button for a blast of air that helps set a finished style. Specialized dryers -- for travel, say, or curly hair -- may combine the heat and speed options as simply "high" and "low." Our research indicates that users seem just as happy with two heat settings as with three, as long as hair dries quickly, looks silky at the end, and doesn't wind up damaged.

Attachments.

Many blow dryers, even in the Cheapism price range, come with styling tools that attach to the end of the nozzle. The most common are a concentrator, which focuses hot air on a specific section of hair for precise styling, and a diffuser with prongs that disperse the stream of hot air and build volume, encouraging natural waves instead of blowing the hair straight.

Ease of Use.

Professional stylists and home users look for hair dryers that are easy to handle. Typically that means a model that's lightweight and feels comfortable in the hand. Some hair dryers stand out for their minimal poundage (less than 1 pound), but most are closer to the 2-pound (and sometimes more) mark. The models on our list generally earn points for being lightweight, although a couple are dinged for their heft.

Buttons or switches for heat and speed get a bit of notice in reviews. Some users prefer a rocker-type switch and others prefer a slider arrangement. Occasionally a reviewer gripes about the placement of the switches, saying it's possible to unintentionally hit a button while styling and interrupt the process or noting that the space below the buttons isn't large enough for a sturdy grip.

Hair dryers collect lint, so it's important that the filter be accessible for cleaning. Most models come with a removable or hinged filter. Regular cleaning can improve a hair dryer's longevity.

Durability.

Regardless of budget, reviewers expect a certain level of quality and a life span of at least several years. Reports about dryers that spark, smoke, or just plain conk out after a few uses or a few months show up here and there for all the models we researched. That said, we read many more extolling the longevity of a hair dryer bought years ago. Among users disappointed by a dryer that failed, some seem to take it in stride, saying the cost of a replacement is sufficiently modest.

The warranty on inexpensive hair dryers is typically two, three, or four years; a smattering are backed by a one-year or a five-year guarantee. Reviewers caution that the cost of postage to return a bum dryer in exchange for a new one may exceed the cost of just buying another.

Additional Products We Considered

BabylissPro TT Tourmaline Titanium Travel Dryer Review

From $30

Bonus: Best Travel Hair Dryer Under $30

Pros:

  • More powerful than its 1,000 watts would suggest, according to users.
  • Infrared heat dries quickly and gently.
  • Tourmaline technology minimizes static.
  • Compact size and folding handle.
  • Lightweight, at about 7 ounces.
  • Removable filter cover.

Cons:

  • Combined heat/speed settings for high and low and no cool shot, which limits styling options.
  • May not be robust enough for everyday use.
  • 1-year warranty.

Takeaway: This well-liked Babyliss travel hair dryer (model BABTT053T) is right-sized for travel and meets users' expectations for drying performance. Some reviewers rely on the Babyliss Pro TT when not on the road or keep one stashed in a gym bag. It may take a while longer than a full-size model to dry long, thick hair, but the job gets done without fuss.

Conair Curl Fusion Ionic Ceramic Styler Review

From $30

Bonus: Best Hair Dryer for Curly Hair Under $30

Pros:

  • User-friendly dryer that gives curls bounce and dries hair quickly, most reviewers say.
  • Ionic and ceramic technologies for a smoother finish and less heat damage.
  • Cool shot button.
  • Comes with a "volume-lift" attachment.

Cons:

  • Combined heat/speed settings (high and low) may limit styling options.
  • Scattered complaints about frizzy results.
  • Some users say the 1,800-watt motor lacks sufficient power.

Takeaway: The round, flat head and many-pronged diffuser attachment on this Conair dryer (model 222NP) are meant for curly or wavy hair. Users report that it's most effective on shorter hair, and curls and waves hold for several days. A few consider the heat a bit excessive, the cord a bit short, and the results a bit frizzy, but a majority of reviewers laud the shape, the price, and the impressive results.

DevaCurl DevaDryer and DevaFuser Review

From $159

Worth a Splurge for Curly Hair

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for curly and wavy hair.
  • Ergonomic diffuser delivers 360-degree airflow.
  • Ionic technology works quickly, dries evenly, and reduces frizz, reviews say.
  • 3 heat settings and 2 speed settings, plus cool shot.
  • Cord storage.
  • Recommended by Elle and Allure magazines.

Cons:

  • Scattered reports of limited longevity and the diffuser popping off.
  • Some griping about frizzy results.
  • 1,600-watt motor is less powerful than the standard 1,875, and some reviewers complain of inadequate heat.

Takeaway: The hand-shaped DevaFuser flits comfortably over the scalp while working its way through wet curls. A favorite of beauty editors for its ability to bring out the best in wavy and curly hair, the DevaCurl DevaDryer and DevaFuser wins over many users, even as some scoff at the relatively high price and what they consider disappointing results.

Rusk W8less Review

From $80

Bonus: Lightweight Infrared Hair Dryer

Pros:

  • Dries even long, thick hair quickly with minimal frizz, reviewers say.
  • Gentle far-infrared heat backed by ceramic and tourmaline technology.
  • Feather-light, at less than 1 pound.
  • Powerful 2,000-watt motor with three heat and two speed settings, plus cold shot.
  • 8-foot cord.
  • Wirecutter's pick for best hair dryer.

Cons:

  • Comes with a concentrator nozzle but no diffuser, and some reviewers say the concentrator keeps falling off.
  • Some users complain about excessive heat.

Takeaway: The Rusk Engineering W8less Professional 2000-Watt Dryer (model IREW8LSBD) saves time, but at a price. Some users consider the cost of this Rusk hair dryer excessive from the get-go, and others simply are dissatisfied with its performance. A vast majority, however, value the ease of use and efficiency of this infrared hair dryer.

Drybar Buttercup Review

From $156

Bonus: Professional Hair Dryer

Pros:

  • Reviewers say ionic technology dries quickly and leaves hair shiny and soft.
  • 1,875-watt motor with 3 temperature settings and 2 speed settings, plus cool shot.
  • Comes with wide and narrow concentrator nozzles.
  • Recommended by Allure for light weight (1 pound, 2 ounces) and a long cord (9 feet).
  • Recommended by Elle for salon results at home.
  • Recommended for a bouncy blowout in testing by Glamour.
  • Worth the investment, according to Good Housekeeping.

Cons:

  • Some users say it feels heavy in the hand.
  • Scattered reports of electrical malfunctions and limited durability.
  • Diffuser not included (optional $34 purchase).

Takeaway: Deployed by stylists in Drybar blowout salons, the Drybar Buttercup might be a splurge worthy of consideration. Beauty editors and dozens of thrilled users extol the silky, soft, and frizz-free results of a lickety-split drying session. Although a smattering of reviewers consider this Drybar hair dryer heavy and over-hyped, most say the ease of handling and long-lasting effect easily justify the outlay.

Where to buy

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