For this dispatch on hair dryers, we spoke to celebrity hairstylists Andrew Fitzsimons and Adel Chabbi of Adel Atelier; Paris’s most famous hairstylist David Mallett; Rubi Jones, the Bumble and Bumble–trained stylist that we once dubbed “The Braid Whisperer”; Paul Labrecque, the stylist who owns two luxury salons in New York City; and blowout experts — RPZL lead trainer Stephanie Angelone, and Maria Tritto, the president of Soho blowout bar Haute Air. Each of them sent me a description of what makes for a good hair dryer, and sent a suggestion of which brands and models are the absolute best and why. We compiled their answers below — according to their descriptions of weight, performance, and dry time — and made a few alternative suggestions here and there. Take note that some of these superstar hair dryers occupy multiple categories, so we made sure to give them their due within each.
While most of our stylists were divided on the best hair dryer overall, two of them directed me to the Parlux models for their power and resilience. The brand was created in Italy, just celebrated its 40th birthday (mazel!), and has 13 different models that are — according to Parlux itself — known for their light bodies and powerful, but quiet, motors. Rubi Jones tells us that the Parlux Eco-Friendly 3800 model is her favorite because it ticks off all the boxes: “2,100 watts for speedier blowouts; a nozzle that is small and narrow, so it’s easier to direct the air, helps dry hair faster, smooths hair more easily, and reduces frizz; and multiple heat and airflow settings, including a cool shot setting for helping ‘set’ a style.” It also has a very compact body for fitting into small bags, and for traveling.
Another powerful hair dryer that came recommended by David Mallett is the Parlux 3200. Mallett likes that it’s “robust, strong, and easy to use,” and if you’re the butterfingered type, he says that it’s particularly resistant, too: “It’s basically impossible to break, extremely lightweight, and has heat controls that are easy to use.” His staff use it with a nozzle diffuser or open neck to perfect their signature, messy French blowout. It’s slightly less powerful at 1,900 watts, but more lightweight than this Parlux 3500 that writer Fiona Byrne recently praised for its ability to “deliver a powerful punch and its blow-dry strength that cut my drying time in half.”
Prevents Hair Damage
Of course, it’s hard to talk about the best hair dryers without mentioning the Dyson Supersonic. It’s become the most-talked-about new hair invention of recent years, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s partnered with Kardashian hairstylist Jen Atkin. Other celebrity stylists, like Adel Chabbi, use one in their salon; beauty veteran Linda Wells is a fan; and with a handful of accolades to its name, it’s definitely a top-of-the-line choice if you’re a professional or are just super gung ho about at-home blowouts.
Chabbi says this is because the Dyson is best in its class for speed, weight, and noise. She points out the fast dry time (around six minutes for long hair) and the super-quiet motor that’s located in the handle instead of the head for a more lightweight feel. “It’s great for all hair types, and even for women who wear extensions, leaving the hair smooth and shiny. On dyed hair, any other dryers will change the tone of the color through overheating the hair, but not the Dyson. (Editor’s note: It has an internal thermometer that prevents the dryer from exceeding 300 degrees)”
Across the board, when I asked what made for a good-quality hair dryer, everyone mentioned the word “lightweight.” If that’s your priority, you wouldn’t be wrong to reach for the 1.8-pound Dyson or Parlux 3200, but you’d probably be better off with Bio Ionic’s 10X Ultralight Speed Dryer, which the Cut last year also dubbed the fastest hair dryer of all. At under one pound, Andrew Fitzsimons says it’s remarkably lightweight for a person like him who has to use it for long periods of time, but also for the average person. “I can imagine women at home appreciate the lightness, too, as we all know that a self-blowout can feel like a Pilates class,” he says.
No one here called out the Harry Josh Ultra Light Hair Dryer specifically, but we thought it was worth mentioning as a Dermstore best seller and a very lightweight option. Kathleen Hou calls this the Bentley of hair dryers for its light weight — less than one pound — and speed. “It’s probably faster than the car you drove in high school, since it blows air at a consistent speed of 94 miles per hour. On top of all that, it’s so quiet that you can actually have full-on conversations while using it.”
Given that I only surveyed professionals, it’s not surprising that no one recommended a truly cheapo hair dryer. The most affordable option came our way from Maria Tritto, who mentioned that Elchim blow-dryers were the brand of choice in her salon for their practicality (they range from $85 to $250). “I prefer Elchim for its lightweight body, as well as its amazing lifetime warranty. They are priced fairly and deliver all the essentials I need: high heat settings, high power, and something that’s lightweight enough to be sufficiently used in a hair salon.”
She didn’t recommend a specific model, but when our own beauty guru Rio Viera-Newton asked her mother about how she maintains her enviable curls, she suggested this Elchim Classic 2001 hair dryer: “Typically I air-dry my hair, but if I have to go out in a hurry, I like to use my Elchim hair dryer on hot, low pressure, with the Elchim bi-diffuser attachment. It dries the hair while allowing it to maintain the curls.” This one has up to 2,000 watts of power for a faster dry time, but is not as lightweight as the others at 2.6 pounds.
Should you want something even more budget friendly that dips below $50, we highly recommend this Conair 1875 hair dryer that has over 2,000 mostly positive reviews, and great specs for such a cheap hair dryer: 1,875 watts of power (more than the Dyson, by the way), a 1.7-pound body, and good heat settings with a cooling shot. I’ve tried it personally, before I switched over to a professional one (this scented Hai one), and honestly don’t see that much of a difference.
Several Heat Settings
If a variety of heat settings are your thing, first of all, the Harry Josh Pro Tools hair dryer has a whopping 12, but another that Stephanie Angelone tipped us off to was the Sedu Revolution 4000i, which she says “has six different heat settings, ceramic ionic plates to protect the hair from damage and control static, a locked-in cooling button, and a lightweight body.”
And if you’re going to be holding a hair dryer for long periods of time, it’s also important that it feel comfortable in your hands, which is where this hair dryer from Italian brand Gamma Piu comes in. Paul Labrecque says that he values hair dryers like this that are gentle on hair, easy to use, and reliable — but also easy to grip: “With this dryer, the heat is always steady, and there’s a cooling button that’s perfectly positioned for styling, with a trigger finger to lock in the setting. It’s a lightweight model with a rounded handle that fits well in the hand, made for easy gripping, and this particular model infuses oxygen in the hair, helping to make hair look shiny as I style it.” We should mention that it could also round out categories of weight and power, too, since it runs up to 2,300 watts of power (more than any on this list) and weighs merely a pound.
Great for Travel
Or, if you want something that will help you avoid using an awful hotel hair dryer when you’re traveling, we would also recommend one of these super-reviewed foldable hair dryers. This T3 version (the brand that’s famous for its stylist-approved curling irons) is dual voltage, which makes it perfectly suited for travel, and comes with tourmaline and ceramic ion technology to keep your hair smooth, even in humid weather.
And this folding Baby Buttercup Blow Dryer from blowout brand Drybar is another great choice that’s dual voltage, has two heat settings, weighs merely 13 ounces, and is a Drybar best seller at Sephora (along with its full-size counterpart, the Buttercup).
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