A hair dryer is a very important part of your hair styling and hair care routine. You will use this tool nearly every single day and there are many important factors to consider before purchasing one. If you’re a hair stylist, there are even more things to be aware of because you will use this tool on almost every client. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the options available, just remember to consider the following: Heating element, settings, wattage, weight, attachments and warranty. There are multiple styles in each category but the best one for you depends on your needs.
The single most important factor to consider is the heating element. It’s no secret that heat can be dangerous and damaging when applied to hair day after day. Even if you use a thermal protecting product, it’s still important to use a high quality hair dryer to prevent any damage. Not all hair dryers dry hair in the same way and knowing the difference can really save your hair.
The least expensive hair dryers tent to use a metal or plastic heating element and this leads to a very intense, very uneven heat. It essentially “cooks” the hair by boiling the water out of it. This is the most dangerous way to dry your hair and should be avoided whenever possible. Higher standard dryers are typically made with a ceramic drying element; similar to what is used in space heaters or other home heating technology. Ceramic produces a far-infared head that enters the core of the strand of hair and dries it from the inside out.
You may have seen a hair drying boasting that it is an “ionic dryer.” On a cheap hair dryer (that’s not ionic), the heat will diffuse positive ions, and because hair cuticles are naturally neutral, this causes them to open and result in frizzy and poofy hair. A high quality ionic dryer will produce negative ions which “flatten” the neutral cuticle and trap moisture in so the hair stay sleek and shiny. This also works a lot faster because it breaks down each water molecule with a negative charge.
Ceramic heating elements can accomplish these negatives ions to an extent, but it’s much more effective to combine it with another material, like tourmaline. It reportedly dries and styles hair up to 70 percent faster than tools made with other materials. Overall, the very best hair dryer will be ionic and made from a ceramic and tourmaline blend.
Another important factor to consider is the wattage on your hair dryer. The exact wattage varies from dryer to dryer but it should always be greater than 1300 watts, unless it is a travel dryer. The average is probably around 1750 watts and some stylists recommend up to 1900 to 2000 watts for long and thick hair.
Just like in straightening irons, the settings on a hair dryer can be very beneficial. Many come with a “high” or “low” option but it is also important to look for a “hot” or “cool” setting. Because heat is so potentially damaging to hair, it’s best to use the lowest and coolest settings whenever possible. It’s best to have a dryer that provides several settings to choose from.
If you only use a hair dryer for personal use, the weight may not be very important. But if you use a dryer day after day on client after client, you will certainly notice the difference a couple of ounces can make. The lightest hair dryers available are 12 oz to 13 oz. Because these are usually higher end and more expensive, consider whether you really need your dryer to be this light.
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A recent addition to hair dryers are all of the attachment options. A person with thick, curly hair can avoid and hint of frizz with a diffuser. This attachment diffuses hair between the ringlets to dry it faster, but more gently. And using a nozzle or air stream tool is great for those who dry their hair with a brush. You can comb out sections of your hair and easily focus the stream of air right on that part for quick and efficient drying. Also, these nozzle tools allow you to focus the air on the roots or on the underside of your hair: two places that are often forgotten.
The last important factor when buying hair dryer is the warranty. Just like everything else, the warranty sometimes comes from the manufacturer and sometimes from the retailer. The more expensive brands tend to have the better return, refund and repair options available so be sure to check it out before you invest in a dryer.