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.