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The 9 Very Best Blow-dryer Brushes

This ’90s tool is making a comeback.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

While blow-dryer brushes may seem like a new invention, the gadget has been around for ages. Henry De La Paz, a stylist and global ambassador for Warren Tricomi salons, remembers a Revlon version under his mom’s sink in the 1980s, and Drew Schaefering, a master stylist and senior educator at Rob Peetoom Salon in Williamsburg, recalls the ’90s versions as “‘As Seen on TV’–type things.”

Today’s iterations are more sophisticated, combining the process of blow-drying with a round brush into one easy-to-use tool. “Blow-dryer brushes take away the shoulder fatigue and allow more mobility and ease,” says Schaefering. And just as a blowout with a round brush creates a voluminous style, these blow-dryer brushes act as an all-in-one styling tool. To determine if it’s the right buy for you, Jessica Lee, a stylist at Hawthorne Studio, recommends considering your hair goals: “Is it to create a more natural style, to stretch out the root, or to cut out the need to flatiron? If you answered yes to these, then a blow-dryer brush will be great for your tool kit.” I usually blow-dry my hair two to three times a week and consider myself a low-maintenance type of blow-dryer (I want to get my hair done quickly and efficiently), so I tested four of the seven dryers below for speediness and styling results.

What we’re looking for

Heat settings

Blow-dryer brushes exist in different sizes, shapes, and strengths to suit all sorts of hair lengths and textures, but generally our experts prefer blow-dryer brushes with multiple heat settings. The more heat settings the brush has, the better you can customize the dryer to your hair’s needs. Lower heat settings are a must if you have fine, fragile, or damage-prone hair so you don’t cause unwanted heat damage, while higher setting options are best if your hair is thicker.

Bristle type

You’ll also want to pay attention to the type of bristles the brush has. Our experts generally preferr brushes with a combination of nylon and tufted bristles, which they say help create the best tension and control for styling most hair types. Ceramic bristles are also a good option as they help distribute heat evenly to prevent excess heat damage to hair.

Cool setting versus no cool setting

Ideally your brush will have a cool-shot button or cool setting, which can help to set and lock your style.

Best overall blow-dryer brush

Heat settings: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

Half of the stylists we spoke to recommended Drybar’s Double Shot Blow-Dryer Brush. Not surprising for a brand known for its blowout salons. Maria Elizabeth, the founder of Salon deZEN in Alexandria, Virginia, highlighted that the brush’s ionic technology helps seal the cuticle giving hair less frizz and more shine. Elizabeth especially likes the combination of tufted and nylon bristles, which allows for both tension and control so you can achieve that. As I mentioned in the criteria above, temperature control lets you tailor your blow-dry to your hair type. The Double Shot has three — cool, medium, and high. I used the medium and cool settings only, which gave my fine hair shine and bounce without it feeling fried. (As stylist Jessica O’Keeffe reminds us: “Fine hair doesn’t need the oomph of high heat.”) While I usually find blow-drying to be a slightly strenuous activity, the Double Shot clocks in at just 2.6 pounds, something my wimpy wrists appreciated. I also noticed that the strategically placed vents on the brush allowed for greater airflow, which resulted in a speedy blowout. And it’s powerful enough to be fast, confirms stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, whose celebrity clients include Kerry Washington and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Elizabeth thinks this one would work on a variety of hair types and particularly well for those with longer hair. (Though if you have shorter, thinner hair, consider Drybar’s smaller model: The Single Shot.)

Best (less expensive) blow-dryer brush

Heat settings: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

We’ve written about the older version of the Revlon One-Step, which features a paddle-brush design instead of a round brush. It’s been widely praised by Amazon reviewers with natural hair, and a writer for Strategist U.K. was thrilled that it dried her natural hair efficiently and quickly while requiring the use of only one hand. “With my other hand free to help section as I went, my hair was left fantastically blown-out, without a hint of dampness to be found,” she wrote. The old model racked up more than 5,000 reviews after going viral, but this newer version is even more popular, with more than 170,000 reviews on Amazon. It also comes recommended by the professionals we spoke to.

Lee thinks that blow-dryer brushes are particularly helpful for people with coarse and curly hair who typically have to use two hot tools to style their hair, she explains. A blow-dryer brush can be a “great two-in-one,” while also cutting down the amount of heat that is applied to the hair, preventing heat damage caused by excessive styling. A tool like the Revlon One-Step “will dry your hair while giving tension at the root to help smooth out a coarse or very curly texture, all in the blowout phase,” she says, noting that it’s the dual-bristle brush that provides that tension. A word of caution, though, to my fellow fine-haired folks: I tried out the Revlon One-Step when a well-meaning, curly-haired cousin offered to let me borrow her beloved blow-dryer brush, and it was way too hot for my hair to handle. As Sturdivant-Drew, who is also a fan, notes, the blow-dryer is best for those with thick and curly hair types looking to achieve “a smooth, no-frizz, polished look.”

Best blow-dryer brush with multiple attachments

Heat settings: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Ceramic bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

Earlier this month, Dyson released a new model of its Airwrap called the Airwrap Complete. While a majority of our experts praise Drybar’s brush, many noted that its single barrel is a big downside, limiting the hair lengths the brush works for and styles it can create. For someone looking for versatility, the Dyson Airwrap Styler is “an all-around Swiss Army knife for blowing out hair,” says Schaefering. Another reason to splurge on the updated Dyson: It comes with a whole slew of attachments so you can style your hair in a variety of ways. The biggest difference I found when testing is the curling barrels: With the original model, you had to swap the barrels out mid-style. Now you can change the airflow from clockwise to counterclockwise, which makes the process much easier and faster. Another fan, Lee, admires the versatility and high-powered airflow, but she points out that, at almost four times the price of Drybar’s version, it’s quite an investment. Still, Schaefering says, the cost is justified. “One of the main points of difference between a high-end machine like the Dyson Airwrap and a less expensive brand is the quality of heat and the control of the temperature,” he says. While any blow-dryer brush can get the job done in drying the hair, machines like the Dyson measure the air’s heat hundreds of times per second to make sure you aren’t getting more than your hair can handle, which ultimately means less heat damage, he explains. In addition to the regular Airwrap Complete, Dyson has released a new kit designed specifically for curly/coily hair, which includes a wide-tooth comb attachment, as well as a kit for long hair, which includes longer curling barrels.

Best (less-expensive) blow-dryer brush with multiple attachments

Heat settings: 4 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

Launched last fall, the FlexStyle is Shark’s answer to Dyson’s Airwrap. Clocking in at $300, it is half the price of the Airwrap and utilizes the same high-speed airflow technology and variety of attachments. The FlexStyle for straight and wavy hair comes with five attachments: A round brush, a paddle brush, a concentrator nozzle, and two curling barrels. For curly hair, there’s a bundle that swaps out one of the brushes for a diffuser. I appreciated that the FlexStyle has a rotating handle that swivels down to turn it from a styler into a more traditional hair dryer. Plus, the base of the wand works as a dryer without any attachments. The main difference comes down to curling. The FlexStyle has two barrels: one that curls hair to the right and one that curls hair to the left, which is how the original version of the Airwrap worked until Dyson improved its tech. The latest Airwrap has barrels that can blow air in both directions, which I find makes styling much easier. So while I will still opt for my Airwrap, if you don’t want to drop $600 on the original, the FlexStyle offers a similar experience for half the price.

Best blow-dryer brush for short hair

JINRI Hot Air Brush

Heat settings: 2 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: No cool setting

This little round blow-dryer brush has a 1.25-inch barrel, making it ideal for shorter hair. And while it’s small, it’s also mighty. Lee says it adds lots of volume while smoothing out your curls. Like the above, it has two types of bristles to smooth out the root, and it has two heat settings and a tourmaline barrel to help with frizz.

Best blow-dryer brush for medium-length hair

Heat settings: 4 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

Revlon has released an updated version of its original One Step, which features a more compact size and a thinner barrel. While it does work for all hair lengths, the smaller brush head is specifically designed for those with medium-length lobs and shorter bobs. It features the same power the original is known for, but now with one extra heat and speed setting. But as I’ve noted before, Revlon’s brushes get very hot, so people with damage-prone or fine-textured hair should steer clear. However, if you have a thicker hair type and need that extra heat and power to achieve a silky, frizz-free blowout, this is a great, affordable option.

Best blow-dryer brush for dry styling

Heat settings: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: No cool setting

While all of the dryers on this list can be used for wet-to-dry styling, this one included, De La Paz prefers using the Tease Blowout Brush on dry hair. It’s perfect for that person who wakes up with dry hair and wants a more polished look or needs to do touch-ups, he says. He loves the combination of nylon and tufted bristles, which “get deep under roots to lift hair for maximum volume.” It also has a tourmaline-coated barrel, which is what you should look for if you want a blow-dryer brush that heats up quickly and omits frizz-fighting negative ions.

Best blow-dryer brush for all textures

Heat setting: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted | Cool setting versus no cool setting: No cool setting

Like most of the brushes on this list, this one, from Amika, has more of an oval-shaped barrel than a round one, which Cassadi Currier, a hairstylist and extension specialist at Pembly Joon, appreciates because it gives more lift and has more smoothing power. She uses this tourmaline-coated brush on herself and her clients and says it works on the straightest to the curliest textures. If you, like Currier and her clients, only wash your hair once or twice a week, this can help extend your style.

Best lightweight blow-dryer brush

Heat settings: 3 heat settings | Bristle type: Nylon and tufted bristles | Cool setting versus no cool setting: Cool setting

The main appeal of a blow-dryer brush is that you no longer have to use two tools to style your hair, which can be tedious (not to mention exhausting for your arms). With that in mind, it’s important that your two-in-one tool doesn’t weigh too much, defeating the entire purpose of a blow-dryer brush. De La Paz likes this one because of how lightweight it is. “I highly recommend this for elders or anyone being mindful of injuries,” he says. At a mere 1.25 pounds, it’s among the lightest on this list. (Drybar’s model is a touch lighter, but it’s also $50 more.) Beyond size, it has lots of other appealing features: multiple heat settings; ionic technology, which tackles frizz; and a mix of nylon and tufted bristles, just like the Tease, which helps with volume and detangling.

Some more hair-styling tools we’ve written about

Our experts

Cassadi Currier, hairstylist and extension specialist
Henry De La Paz, hairstylist
Maria Elizabeth, founder of Salon deZen
Jessica Lee, hairstylist at Hawthorne Studio
Drew Schaefering, master stylist and senior educator at Rob Peetoom Salon
Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, hairstylist

Additional reporting by Jenna Milliner-Waddell

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The 9 Very Best Blow-dryer Brushes