best in class

The 6 Very Best Hair Dryers

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

While there’s nothing wrong with letting your hair air-dry to its natural texture, if you’re looking to achieve a salon-quality blowout at home, you’re going to need a hair dryer (and a good one at that). “You want something sturdy, powerful, and the right size,” notes Ryan Trygstad, celebrity stylist and co-founder of New York’s Mark Ryan Salon. A truly excellent blow dryer will work on many hair types and textures whether that’s fine, curly, coarse, straight or any combination of the above. So we turned our hair-drying inquiries over to Trygstad and eight other experts to find the best, hardest working blow dryers for all hair types.

Best overall | Best less-expensive | Best for minimizing heat damage | Best high-speed | Best for traveling | Best hair-dryer brush 

What we’re looking for

Weight: Anyone who has felt their arms start to ache halfway through a blow-dry knows how strenuous styling your hair can be. Obviously, the more lightweight the dryer, the better, so I’ve noted the weights of each below. Dryers that weigh less than one pound would be considered lightweight.

Heat and speed settings: The more heat and speed settings, the better you can customize the dryer to your hair’s needs. Lower heat and speed are great if you have fine, fragile, or damage-prone hair, while higher setting options are best if your hair is thicker.

Power: The dryer’s wattage measures how powerful the motor is, which in turn will determine how fast the dryer will work. If you have a thicker, curlier, or coarser hair type that takes longer to dry (or if you are really tight on time), a higher-watt dryer is a good investment. Many professional, high-powered blow-dryers clock in at 1,800 watts and above (less powerful dryers will be below 1,800 watts).

Best overall hair dryer

1.1 pounds | 4 heat, 2 speed settings| 2,100 watts 

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, the Bumble and Bumble–trained stylist who we once dubbed the “Braid Whisperer,” 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; and multiple heat and airflow settings, including a cool-shot setting for helping ‘set’ a style.”

Best (less expensive) hair dryer

1.98 pounds | 3 heat, 2 speed settings | 1,875 watts

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, this hair dryer from Remington is extremely popular with Strategist readers. Hairstylist and owner of Fiona Hair NYC Fiona Guidice notes that it’s “amazing” that you can get a dryer with a diffuser and a concentrator nozzle for less than $25 when “many diffusers on their own cost more than that.” She says it’s “impressive” that, at that price, the dryer also has plenty of heat settings, high wattage, and a cool shot, “which is key for setting your style, locking in volume, and reducing frizz.”

Best hair dryer for minimizing heat damage

Photo: Courtesy of the vendors

1.8 pounds | 4 heat, 3 speed settings | 1,600 watts 

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 plenty 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. “The accessories are what set this apart,” adds Trygstad, noting that he finds the diffuser to be the “best” available on the market right now.

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. Plus, it has an internal thermometer that prevents the dryer from exceeding 300 degrees, to make sure you aren’t applying excessive heat to your hair.”

Editor’s Note: While we were able to find a special edition Supersonic gift set available at Sephora and some models in stock at Dyson at the time of publication , their stock has been fluctuating a lot the last few months. We suggest acting fast if you find one or signing up for the restock notifications on Dyson’s site.

Best high-speed hair dryer

.9 pounds | Adjustable temperature and speed settings | 1,800 watts

Last year, the Cut dubbed this the fastest hair dryer of all, with beauty editor Ashley Weatherford noting it “straightens hair at warp speed” and cuts her typical drying time by a third due to the dryer’s extremely powerful motor and ionic technology that “emits a negative charge that clasps onto water molecules in wet hair. In turn, these molecules evaporate at a quicker rate, which lessens drying time.” Plus, weighing in at under one pound, it’s remarkably light and, across the board, when I asked our experts what made for a good-quality hair dryer, everyone mentioned the word lightweight. According to hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, “I can imagine women at home appreciate the lightness too, as we all know that a self-blowout can feel like a Pilates class.”

Best hair dryer for travel

Photo: Luke Pidgeon/(c)Luke Pidgeon 2016

.86 pounds | 2 heat, 2 speed settings | 1,200 watts

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 the super-reviewed foldable hair dryers. This T3 version (the brand that’s famous for its stylist- and Strategist-approved curling irons and flat 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. “I’ve been a longtime fan of T3,” says beauty writer Jessica Prince Erlich, who has loyally used its hair dyers for “many years.”

Best hair-dryer brush

2.6 pounds | 3 heat settings | Not available 

Drybar’s Double Shot Blow-Dryer Brush took the top spot in our post dedicated to the best hair-dryer brushes. “It takes the crown,” says Maria Elizabeth, founder of Salon deZEN, meaning it both figuratively and literally. Not only is it best in class, but “it creates lift starting at the crown,” she explains. She especially likes the combination of tufted and nylon bristles, which “allows for the coveted tension and control that you need for that exceptional blowout look.” Stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, whose celebrity clients include Kerry Washington and Renee Elise Goldsberry, agrees. She says it’s important to “find a fast-drying and robust blow-dryer brush,” and this one fits the bill.

This one has three heat settings so you can adjust it according to your hair type: cool, medium, and high. Elizabeth says 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.)

Some more hair styling tools we've written about

Our experts

• Adel Chabbi, hairstylist
Maria Elizabeth, founder of Salon deZEN
• Jessica Prince Erlich, beauty writer
• Fiona Guidice, hairstylist and owner of Fiona Hair NYC
Andrew Fitzsimons, hairstylist and founder of Andrew Fitzsimons Hair
Rubi Jones, hairstylist
David Mallett, hairstylist
Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, hairstylist
• Ryan Trygstad, co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon and celebrity stylist

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The 6 Very Best Hair Dryers