Best Hair Dryers

Our picks for the best hair dryers under $30 include blow dryers with tourmaline, ceramic, and ionic technology to fight frizz, plus a travel hair dryer with dual voltage, a model for curly hair, and a couple with infrared heat. We also found a professional hair dryer worth a splurge.

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.  

We Looked At

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.

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.

Our Top Pick

Conair Infiniti Pro Salon Performance Dryer
Our Picks
Conair Infiniti Pro Salon Performance Dryer

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.

  • 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.

  • Weighs 2.55 pounds.

  • 6-foot cord seems short to some users.

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.

  • 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.

  • Short 5.5-foot cord.

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

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.

  • 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.

  • Some reports of electrical failures.

Andis Ceramic Ionic Styler

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • Some reviewers say it feels heavy in the hand (the weight is not specified).

  • Power and heat seem a bit weak to some users.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Other Products We Reviewed

lg revlon rv544 tourmaline ionic large

Revlon RV544 Review

Ease of use, fast drying, and smooth results are just some of the things users note in Revlon RV544 reviews on Amazon. That overall assessment is echoed in reviews on the Walmart website, where all but one of the reviewers give this hair dryer four or five stars. One reviewer comments that she loves the way the included diffuser attachment works on her fine and curly hair.

The Revlon RV544 incorporates both ionic and tourmaline technologies, which supposedly produce a lot of negative ions that dry hair more effectively; that is, they leave hair looking soft, smooth, and devoid of frizz. The Revlon RV544 also has two heat settings, two speed settings, and a cold-shot button for more user control. It's powered with a standard 1,875-watt motor. Plus, it comes with two attachments -- the diffuser and a concentrator.

For a cheap price tag, this hair dryer is well worth it. There are virtually no negative Revlon RV544 reviews, and most consumers rave about its drying speed, easy handling, and sleek results. This low-cost hair dryer comes with a two-year limited warranty and wins high praise for overall quality and affordability.

Many users like the Andis Ceramic/Ionic RC-2 because it works at home or on the road, with a "Fold-N-Go" design and retractable cord. One user posting a review on Drugstore.com comments that she bought the Andis Ceramic/Ionic RC-2 specifically for travel but likes it so much that she now uses it at home instead of the pricey model she also owns. A majority of users posting reviews on Amazon give the Andis Ceramic/Ionic RC-2 a four- or five-star rating. Several call it a good quality hair dryer, while several more go a step further and say it's the best hair dryer they've ever bought. Users on the site note the silky-smooth feeling of their hair after blow-drying with this model.

The Andis RC-2 offers two innovative hair-drying technologies: ionic and ceramic. Ionic technology uses negative ions to leave hair smooth and sleek, while ceramic components help to heat evenly and keep the air from getting too hot. The Andis Ceramic/Ionic RC-2 also features three heat settings, three speed settings, a cold-shot button, and a concentrator attachment. Moreover, it's lightweight and it folds up nicely for travel, although a few users grumble that it's too heavy and bulky to pack for trips.

What's not to like about the Andis Ceramic/Ionic RC-2? Not much, according to reviews. Hair looks healthy, smooth, and sleek, and the dryer makes a convenient travel companion. It also comes with a five-year warranty.

Sheer drying power may be the thing users like most about the Babyliss Pro Ceramix Xtreme BAB2000. On multiple sites, Babyliss Pro Ceramix Xtreme reviews comment on this model's fast drying, quiet operation, and seemingly miraculous ability to leave hair frizz-free, although several users complain that it is too heavy to hold for long. That said, speed seems to be the hair dryer's standout quality. Reviews on Folica.com report that it dries even thick hair fast -- in half the time of other dryers, say some -- and leaves hair looking healthy. On the downside, some consumers posting on this site grumble about the weight and a few report that the sliding controls are oddly located on the handle, making them hard to adjust with one hand. Overall, though, reviews are positive, and one posting on Amazon simply says its quality is noticeable immediately.

The Babyliss Pro Ceramix Xtreme BAB2000 boasts more power than the other cheap hair dryers we researched -- 2,000 watts compared with the typical 1,875. Indeed, power is one feature that differentiates higher-end hair dryers from low-priced models. With the Babyliss Pro Ceramix Xtreme BAB2000, you get upmarket power for downmarket cost. This cheap hair dryer also features ceramic technology for even heat and six speed/heat settings, as well as a cold-shot button for more drying control. It comes with a concentrator attachment and sports a 9-foot cord.

With professional features, such as the higher wattage and longer cord, and good consumer reviews, we think this hair dryer is a solid buy even if it's a little hefty and a little pricey.

Comments that it's heavy and bulky are actually some of the milder barbs thrown at the Revlon RV484. Although some consumers are satisfied with this cheap hair dryer, scathing comments about it sparking and shorting out and singeing, frying, or otherwise damaging hair often appear in Revlon RV484 reviews on Amazon. Consumers posting reviews on the Target website report similar problems, ranging from buttons breaking to the cord melting and causing sparks to fly. One user explicitly labels the Revlon RV484 a safety hazard.

On paper, the Revlon RV484 seems like a good, affordable choice. It has ionic technology that is said to reduce frizz, three heat settings, two speed settings, and a cold-shot option. It even comes with a concentrator and a diffuser, and it's all wrapped up in a very cheap price.

However, Revlon RV484 reviews by consumers questioning its safety, as well as its performance, give us pause. Although more recent reviews seem less negative, we think you should pass this one by despite its appealing price and reputable brand name.

Users can't seem to agree about the virtues or the flaws of this travel hair dryer. Hot Tools Anti-Static Ionic Travel Hair Dryer reviews are quite mixed. Consumers posting reviews at Folica.com are split in their assessment of this cheap hair dryer: some say they use it for travel and home and appreciate its fast drying capabilities and low price; others report it's heavy and bulky, and stopped working within a couple of months or never worked at all. Reviews are similarly uneven on Amazon, where some users praise its light weight and fold-up design (all the better for travel, but also useful at home) while others complain that it died shortly after they opened the box.

As an anti-static hair dryer, the Hot Tools Travel Hair Dryer uses ionic technology which releases negative charges to reduce fly-aways and static. What's unique about this hair dryer is that the ionic technology can be turned off with the flip of a switch for users who don't like the negative ions or deem them unnecessary. This cheap hair dryer has two heat and speed settings, plus a cold shot button. And, as noted above, it folds up for easy packing.

Although this hair dryer has some appealing features, we think this hair dryer is a bit of a dud. The technology sounds great, but there are enough reports of early blow-outs (or never working at all) to make us skeptical. But if you're willing to take a chance, go for it.

BaBylissPRO TT Tourmaline Titanium Travel Dryer

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Conair Curl Fusion Ionic Ceramic Styler

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

DevaCurl DevaDryer and DevaFuser

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • Comes with a concentrator nozzle but no diffuser, and some reviewers say the concentrator keeps falling off.

  • Some users complain about excessive heat.

Drybar Buttercup

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.

  • 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.

  • Some users say it feels heavy in the hand.

  • Scattered reports of electrical malfunctions and limited durability.

  • Diffuser not included (optional $34 purchase).

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.

Features Comparison

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Review Score:
Product Title
Drying Technology
Power
Settings
Attachments
Product Title
Drying Technology
Power
Settings
Attachments

Conair Infiniti Pro...

$23
Ionic, ceramic
1,875 watts (AC motor)
3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
Diffuser, concentrator

Conair Tourmaline...

$28
Ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
1,875 watts
3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Diffuser, concentrator

Revlon Pro Collection...

$17
Infrared, ionic, ceramic, tourmaline
1,875 watts
2 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Diffuser, concentrator

Remington Pro with...

$30
Ionic, ceramic
1,875 watts (AC motor)
3 heat, 2 speed; cool shot
Diffuser, concentrator

Andis Ceramic Ionic Styler

$17
Ionic, ceramic
1,875 watts, dual voltage
3 heat/speed; cool shot
Brush, 2 styling combs

Revlon Pro Collection...

$25
Ionic, ceramic
1,875 watts
3 heat, 2 speed; cold shot
None

BabylissPro TT...

$30
Tourmaline, infrared
1,000 watts, dual voltage
2 heat/speed
Concentrator

Conair Curl Fusion Ionic...

$30
Ionic, ceramic
1,800 watts
2 heat/speed; cool shot
Diffuser