You've upgraded your jacket game, slipped on new pairs of shoes, added a new piece of jewelry to your game, but have you invested in a high-quality hair dryer? Everyone can benefit from a hair dryer (unless you've got a buzz cut or shorter, then there's not much use other than blowing hot air on your head).
The hair dryers of yore were loud, bulky and worst of all, bad for your hair. Today's dryers are different; for starters, many of them implement materials like ceramic, tourmaline or titanium, which minimize damage to your hair. The tech is better, too; for example, ionic dryers emit negative ion energy to mitigate static and frizz.
Our top picks are quieter, more compact and come in more varieties, including brushes that style and tame at the same time. If you've craving volume, shine and health for your hair, check out our selections below.
Best All-Around Hair DryerHot Tools 24K Gold One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Read More
Best Upgrade Hair DryerDyson Supersonic Hair Dryer Read More
Best Affordable Hair DryerInfinitipro SmoothWrap Hair Dryer Read More
Best Professional Hair DryerKristin Ess Compact Pro Hair Dryer Read More
BEST 2-IN-1 HAIR DRYERRevlon One-Step Hair Dryer Read More
What You Need to Know About Blow Drying Your Hair
Blow drying can actually be healthier for your hair than air drying when done properly, according to a 2011 study. You just need to make sure that you're not setting the temperature on your dryer too high as well as not holding the dryer too close to your head (the study advises holding it about 6 inches away). And once you do start the blow drying process, continuous motion is key.
Another hot tip is to let your hair dry a bit before putting it under the blow dryer. It may seem counterintuitive, but you shouldn't be hopping out of the shower and immediately styling your hair. You want your hair to be partially dry, lessening the time it has to spend under the heat, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Depending on your hair type, you may also want to hold off on combing your hair until its mostly dry, as some hair can be more prone to breakage.
How We Tested
Not only are hair dryers more high-tech these days, but they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We set out to test a few of the best from the tried and true Revlon One-Step with a cult following to the alluring Dyson Airwrap, taking note of the versatility, user-friendliness and effectiveness of the tools. Ultimately, the right hair dryer for you is up to personal preference, which is why we've included a range of styles and price ranges that will give you that perfect salon-quality blowout every time.
Hot Tools One-Step Volumizer And Hair Dryer
Settings: 3 heat/speed settings
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
While this is not your standard blow dryer, it still makes the cut for best overall for its attention to detail, ease of use and performance. For anyone that's in a hurry in the morning, is a frequent traveler or just an admirer of convenience, this drying brush is for you. The Hot Tools one-step dryer uses a proprietary ceramic coating to create even heat distribution and add shine to hair. A detachable head design means you can use different attachments depending on your hair length and desired style. Charcoal-infused boar bristles neutralize odors, absorb dirt and grime and reduce breakage. Considering all of the above is wrapped into a lightweight package that costs less than $100, it's no mystery why we think you should pick one up.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
- Settings: 3 speed settings and 4 heat settings
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
Rich materials, incredible performance, a whisper-quiet motor and a cult following. These attributes and more make Dyson's Supersonic dryer one of the most popular and highly-rated options on the market. By using direct heat to dry and control the hair, the Supersonic eliminates frizz, increases shine and improves texture. The Supersonic comes with five attachments including the new Flyaway, which uses the Coanda effect to lift longer hairs and hide flyaways. If you've got long, textured, wavy or curly hair, consider the Dyson — these hair types are dryer and therefore more susceptible to damage from heat styling tools. By cutting drying time and eliminating extreme heat, the Dyson protects and enhances your hair.
The Dyson is as attractive as it is powerful and comes in a special-edition carrying case for storage and travel. Buyer beware: if you've got a live-in partner that likes to style their hair, consider this thing already stolen. It's that good.
Infinitipro SmoothWrap Hair Dryer
- Settings: 3 heat and 2 speed
- Weight: 2.14 pounds
Conair is one of the most well-known names in hair care, and the brand leveraged its decades of experience and product development to develop a simple, streamlined dryer that won't break the bank. The classic design of the InfinitiPro by Conair may be the answer to your coif quandaries: Dual Ion Therapy uses positive and negative ions to control frizz and enhance shine, and ceramic tech protects strands from heat damage. Three heat settings and two speed settings allow you to customize to your comfort, and two attachments cater to different hair types.
Kristin Ess Compact Pro Dryer
- Settings: 2 speed and 4 heat settings
- Weight: 1 pound
A relative newcomer on the scene, Kristin Ess was founded in 2008 and has been steadily expanding its empire since. Easily recognizable on crowded shelves due to its minimal aesthetic. the brand is a mix of high-end design and affordable price points. We love the Space Saving Compact Pro — it's ideal for travel as well as everyday use. Ionic tech locks in moisture and reduces frizz, and a cool shot button allows you to set your style once you've got it down. Dual voltage and a folding handle mean you can stow this away in your carry-on for domestic and international travel without missing a beat.
Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer
- Settings: 3 heat/speed settings
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
Two-in-one is good for a few things: jackets, bottle openers and hair dryers. (Never, ever shampoos and conditioners.) That's why we love this dryer from Revlon — this name-brand wonder is affordable as far as heat tools go, and packs ergonomic, lightweight design, three heat settings, strategically-placed air flow vents and ionic tech into one small package.
I've owned this Revlon dryer for years and still love it because it's easy to travel with, dries and styles at the same time and you really just can't beat that price tag. Whether you've got long or short strands, this dryer is great for quick touch-ups, easy morning styling and on-the-go grooming.
Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler Complete Long
- Settings: 3 speed and 3 heat settings
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
While you might not immediately categorize this multifunctional hair styling tool as a hair dryer, we're here to tell you it is — but it's also so much more. Although I was initially put off by its $600 price tag, after testing the Airwrap I could see why it has such a strong following. Especially if you're someone who styles your hair every day, the Airwrap's six attachments make it the most versatile hair dryer you can own, including a 1.2 and 1.6-inch Airwrap Barrel for creating curls and waves, the Coanda Smoothing Dryer for taming flyaway hairs, a Soft and Firm Smoothing Brush and a Round Volumizing Brush for that salon blowout look.
I found that Dyson's Airwrap definitely has a learning curve, especially when curling your hair with the Airwrap barrels, but it's actually pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. The attachments are easy to swap out, and I was able to seamlessly operate the controls while using the styler after only a couple sessions. The Complete Long version of the tool is a game changer for someone with long hair like me, and the brand also has a version with shorter barrels and one for those with curly or coily hair — but both are currently sold out.
Shark FlexStyle Air Drying & Styling System
- Settings: 3 speed and 4 heat settings
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
The Shark Flexstyle is almost an exact replica of the Dyson Airwrap, but it's also a great product in its own right. It comes with five attachments that vary depending on whether you buy the bundle meant for those with straight and wavy hair or those with curly and coily hair. There's also an option to mix and match the three attachments you'd prefer. I have straight hair, so the Flexstyle I tested came with two Auto-Wrap Curlers, an Oval Brush, Paddle Brush and Concentrator. And of course the base of the Flexstyle itself can act as a basic hair dryer.
After testing both the Aiwrap and the Flexstyle I found the two tools to be comparable; they both come with a variety of attachments and their own version of the barrels that wrap and curl your hair. One thing the Shark has that the Dyson does not is the base is able to twist, creating a right angle that's more representative of the shape of a traditional hair dryer, which really makes a difference when you're handling a tool that's over a foot long for a significant period of time.
Drybar Reserve Ultralight Anti-Frizz Blow-Dryer
- Settings: 3 heat settings
- Weight: 1 pound
If you're not familiar with Drybar, it's an insanely popular chain of salons focused on one thing: the blowout. In 2018, Drybar had more than 100 locations and 3,000 employees and reportedly generates $100 million in revenue. (That's a lot of blowouts.) If you're looking to replicate the quality of Drybar's services without the price tag or you'd just rather skip the salon, consider investing in the Reserve Ultralight blow dryer for at-home use. Featuring proprietary Ionic Desiccant Technology, which reduces the relative humidity level by 87 percent, the dryer locks in moisture and reduces dry time, protecting your hair. At less than a pound, you won't get any shoulder tightness or stiffness, and the ergonomic design makes for comfort while styling.
T3 Fit Compact Hair Dryer
- Settings: 4 heat and 2 speed settings
- Weight: 0.71 pounds
Now that many of us are traveling again for work (and pleasure), it's time to reassess what we're bringing on the road. For the frequent flyers and weekend warriors out there, consider T3's travel-focused option, the Fit Compact. It's 30 percent smaller than traditional dryers, and T3 is known in the beauty and grooming industry to stand for reliability and quality. The T3 uses ionic tech to infuse negative ions into the airstream, drying hair gently and quickly. The quiet design, durable motor and nine-foot cord make it great for travel, especially for hotel rooms and Airbnbs with awkward outlets.