I have a shameful secret. For nearly 10 years, I used one of the cheapest hair dryers you could ever find, purchased from CVS when I was a naive high schooler who didn’t really know anything about styling hair. It was what I could afford at the time and it seemed to get the job done. I mean, my hair was certainly dry after using it. So in my defense, I really didn’t know any better.
Of course, there would be those occasions when I’d borrow a friend’s dryer or use the one supplied in a four-star hotel room on vacation and wonder why my hair always seemed to look a little better, but I never really made the connection. Then, my old cheapie hair dryer died (I’ve got to give it props for lasting 10 years, though. It may have been cheap but I got my money’s worth, for sure) and I decided that it was time to get a grown up model.
And immediately I noticed in a difference in how smooth, silky and just plain healthy my hair looked after drying it. Because the truth is, the right hair dryer really can make all difference – not just in how quickly it dries your hair, but in how good it makes your hair look (and how little damage it does to your tresses).
But the right hair dryer doesn’t have to be the most expensive model you can find. If you look for a few key features, you can find a good hair dryer at any price point and wind up with healthy, shiny hair every time you dry.
The first thing to consider when purchasing a hair dryer is its heating element. Most inexpensive dryers have a plastic or metal element that gets super hot to rid your hair of moisture. Because of the intense heat, your hair usually becomes dry and weak after repeated usage, leading to frizz, spilt ends, and breakage.
To keep your hair healthy and smooth, look for a dryer that uses a ceramic or tourmaline heating element. A ceramic dryer produces radiant heat, so it’s gentler on your hair. Its heat is also much more even, which means sections of hair don’t get burned or dried out.
Tourmaline is another natural material that dries your hair more gently, but actually works more quickly than metal or plastic heating elements. A tourmaline dryer also helps lock moisture in your hair so it’s shiny and frizz free.
Next, make sure your dryer has multiple heat settings, so you can control how hot it gets. You only want to use as much heat as is necessary to dry your hair efficiently. So if you’ve got fine or short hair, a low setting works best. If you’ve got long, thick hair, you’ll need a higher heat setting if you don’t want to be drying your hair for hours. A cool setting also comes in handy for finishing off a hair style to lock it in place.
Consider wattage too – a good dryer should have at least 1300 watts if you want to dry your hair quickly. It’s also a good idea to choose a hair dryer with multiple speeds, so you can control how fast the heat comes at your hair depending on your hair type and how wet it is.
If you’re on a budget, the Conair 225R Comfort Touch Tourmaline Ceramic Hair Dryer is a great option. It has 1875 watts and 3 heat and 2 speed settings. The tourmaline ceramic heating element helps cut down on frizz and leaves your hair shiny and healthy. If you want to splurge on a professional style dryer, try the T3 Featherweight 2. With a tourmaline heating element to reduce drying time and frizz, it also offers 3 heat setting and 2 speeds for easy control. It’s extremely lightweight too, so it’s easy and comfortable to use.