hair tools

The Best At-Home Hood Dryers, According to Professionals

Illustration: Jordan Moss; Photos: Retailers

The hood dryer — a dome-shaped tool that dries hair quickly and evenly — has long been a salon staple. It distributes hot air evenly so the heat is diffused and thus less damaging than, say, a hair dryer. Hood dryers also enhance the ability of conditioning treatments to penetrate deeply into your hair. And though when you hear hood dryer you may picture a salon-size behemoth, there are plenty of smaller, compact versions available for home use. According to celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, who has worked with everyone from Issa Rae to Ava DuVernay, these can actually work quite well — and for a wide variety of hair types, from curly to color-treated to kinky to coil-y. We spoke with three industry professionals about which hood dryers — and their more storage-friendly (though, according to Leatherwood, not quite as scalp-friendly) alternative, the bonnet — they recommend to their clients for at-home use.

This hard-top hood dryer has three heat options, an adjustable column for height, and can stand upright on any hard surface. Leatherwood says she prefers hard-top options like this one to their bonnet alternatives. “In my opinion, the bonnet dryers blow a lot of heat but don’t reach the scalp as well. That means you’re going to have your hair under the dryer for a longer period of time, which can be dehydrating.” She recommends sitting under the dryer with a plastic cap on rather than putting your hair directly under the heat. “It works better with the plastic cap because the steam comes from the scalp and creates a kind of greenhouse effect that helps to keep it moisturized and hydrated,” she explains. Leatherwood often recommends this particular dryer to her clients as it’s mid-priced (around $50), does an excellent job at distributing heat to the whole scalp, and is durable enough to be a worthwhile investment (some reviewers claim they have loyally used this dryer for around ten years).

Shelby Samaria, a hairstylist based in Manhattan and Paris, says this Mifine bonnet dryer is a staple in her Fashion Week kit. It’s convenient, durable, and efficient — all important when you’re rushing from client to client. “From my bedroom on wash day to backstage, these babies are reliable. All you have to do is attach your personal hair dryer to the end of the adjustable drawstring at the hose and bam — you’re good to dry,” she says. The Mifine bonnet dryer has a stretchable four-inch-wide hose collar that works with all types of hair dryers and comes with a pouch for easy storage.

According to hairstylist and colorist Illeisha Lussiano, known as the Hair Artiste on Instagram, there are two things to take into consideration when recommending her clients hood dryers: size and budget. “When selecting a hooded dryer, it’s important to be mindful of how much hair you have and buy one with the right hood size for you,” she says. She also says there’s a wide price range depending on your budget and how frequently you’ll be using it. If you’re planning on using the dryer on a weekly basis, Lussiano suggests investing in something on the pricier side, like this one from Belson. This hood dryer has four different styling settings to select from in terms of how hot you want it, a fairly large hood (which makes it a suitable choice for most hairstyles), and it’s kind of in between a portable and a standing dryer (it’s a lot easier than most standing dryers to disassemble and store in a closet). Another perk: It’s on wheels, which makes it easy to move around in the event that you need to relocate from your living room to your bathroom.

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The Best At-Home Hood Dryers, According to Professionals