Best Bonnet Hair Dryers

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
213 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bonnet hair dryers

Last Updated July 2020

What’s more glamorous than a big, bouncy hairstyle? High-volume hair is desirable, but you might think it takes concerted effort to achieve big curls and height. Believe it or not, it doesn’t involve much effort at all if you have the right tools. Invest in a bonnet hair dryer and you can have the volume and glamour you desire in an hour or less.

The bonnet hair dryer isn’t just that big plastic dome you see at hair salons. As a matter of fact, it’s not even a new invention. Celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga have used bonnet hair dryers to create bouncy, glamorous styles. It’s simple: set your slightly damp hair in curlers, put the bonnet over your hair, and let the dryer work its magic. Bonnet hair dryers aren’t just for drying hair either. You can also use one to treat your hair with a deep conditioner.

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to incorporate a bonnet hair dryer into your hairstyling tools, keep reading to learn more about this simple yet ingenious product, and check out a few of our favorites.

It’s worth taking the time to learn how to properly arrange curlers in your hair or you could end up with an uneven set and lopsided hairstyle. Ask your stylist for tips or watch online tutorials to boost your skills.

Key considerations

Your hair

Type and length: Like with any hair product or heated styling tool, each person has a different experience when using a bonnet hair dryer. This is usually due to differences in hair thickness and texture: some types of hair simply take longer to dry and set than others. People with shorter hair, for example, can have their hairstyle set in 20 minutes or less, whereas those with longer hair require longer heat exposure, closer to an hour, to set their curls.

Damp vs. dry: Any experienced user of a bonnet hair dryer will tell you that the secret to getting the look you want is setting your hair correctly. You need to arrange the curlers evenly, and your hair needs to be just damp enough to set. While you could use the bonnet with wet hair straight from the shower, you’ll get far better results with slightly damp hair. In fact, many users mist their dry hair with just enough water to enable the curls to set as they dry.

Tools and products

Another crucial part of successfully using a bonnet hair dryer is choosing the right tools and hair products.

Curlers: For one, it’s recommended that you invest in an assortment of curlers of different sizes. Smaller ones are better for shorter hair or tight curls, while larger ones are better for creating looser curls on longer hair or curling bangs.

Hair products: Choosing the right hair products is also important because they help to set your hair as well as protect it. Any kind of heat styling can make hair dry and susceptible to damage, so you need products that coat and protect strands from the heat. If you’re using the bonnet hair dryer for deep-conditioning treatments, make sure the product you choose is activated by heat. Some treatments shouldn’t be warmed because it can change the way they affect your hair.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

If your scalp begins to feel irritated or hot, remove your bonnet hair dryer immediately and let your scalp cool down. In the future, set aside more time to allow your hair to dry on a lower heat setting.

Features

Soft vs. hard bonnet hair dryers

Soft: Soft bonnet hair dryers include a hood that fits over your head like a shower cap, with a hose that simply attaches to the hair dryer.

These bonnet hair dryers are the more affordable option, not to mention much easier to store and transport. They provide a comfortable, flexible fit around your head to evenly distribute heat from crown to hairline to nape. Soft bonnet hair dryers are often available in several sizes to accommodate hairstyles of all sizes.

On the downside, some people don’t think these hair dryers are very comfortable, especially if the band around the cap is tight. And while many designs advertise that they fit any hair dryer, they may not work with travel-size hair dryers.

Hard: Hard shell, or hard hood, bonnet hair dryers resemble those seen in hair salons. These are either mounted on a stand that can be affixed to a wall or table or are freestanding. Freestanding hoods are attached to an adjustable pole on a rolling base.

Using a hard bonnet dryer offers a salon-like experience and is often considered more comfortable to use than a soft bonnet hair dryer. Since this type doesn’t have to be attached to a blow dryer, many are equipped with a timer and up to a dozen heat settings.

On the downside, because hard bonnet dryers allow more air to escape at the sides of the head, some people feel that hair sets unevenly. Also, people with thick hair or stacked curlers may feel there isn’t enough room in a smaller hard bonnet dryer.

DID YOU KNOW?

Not all soft bonnet hair dryers attach to blow dryers. Some include a dedicated device that pumps heat into the hood.

Accessories

Deep conditioner: Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask
Give your hair some love with this heat-activated mask. Simply slather it on your hair and let it work its way into the shafts and down to the roots while using your bonnet hairdryer on a low setting.

Curlers: Tifara Beauty Flexible Curling Rods
It’s easy to customize your curls with this diverse assortment of 42 rods in seven sizes. Soft and easy to secure without pins or clips, they’re comfortable to wear while you use your bonnet hairdryer.

Thermal protection: OGX Protecting + Silk Quick Drying Thermal Spray
Not only does this spray protect your hair, but it also expedites drying time. Made from a blend of hydrolyzed silk and quinoa, it leaves hair soft, shiny, and full of bounce.

Bonnet hair dryer prices

Just like other heated styling tools, bonnet hair dryers vary widely in price, costing anywhere from $12 to $200 and sometimes more. The more complex and high-tech the design, the pricier the bonnet hair dryer.

Inexpensive: If you’re on a budget or new to using a bonnet hair dryer, you’ll find several models for $25 or less. These get the job done, but they won’t have many comfort features around the hood, nor will the sleeves fit every hair dryer.

Mid-range: You’ll find better-quality soft bonnet dryers for $30 to $60, many of which are available in large and jumbo sizes to accommodate larger curlers. There are some hard dryers in this range, but the hood sizes tend to be on the smaller side.

Expensive: If you’re willing to spend $100 to $200, you can find a variety of freestanding hard bonnet hair dryers. These distribute heat more evenly and come with the largest range of heat settings and timers.

If you’re concerned about a soft bonnet hair dryer staying on your head, consider buying one with an adjustable chin strap for a more secure fit.

Tips

  • Two hoods are better than one. If you intend to use your dryer to set your hair and condition it, it’s a good idea to invest in separate hoods. Otherwise, you’ll need to deep clean your hood before each use.
  • Bring a bonnet hair dryer with you on the road. If you’d like to set your hair in curls for a special event when you’re traveling, a soft bonnet hair dryer is your best bet. It’s small, and it won’t take up much space in your carry-on or luggage.
  • Clean the hair dryer’s vent. To maximize heat flow into the hood, make sure your blow dryer’s vent is cleared of any buildup of dust and particles. Simply use a cotton swab to dislodge any stuck dust but be sure not to push it deeper into the blow dryer.
Take special care when unrolling your curlers. If you yank them out, you could end up with tangles and flyaway hair.

FAQ

Q. How high should I adjust the heat settings on my bonnet hair dryer?
A.
It depends on how much time you have and how much heat you can tolerate. Some users prefer low or medium heat and sit under the bonnet for a longer period of time. Not only do some people find this relaxing, but it may also minimize heat damage to your hair. If you can tolerate the heat, you can turn it up and set your hair in less time.
 

Q. Should I get a tabletop or freestanding hard bonnet hair dryer?
A.
You’ll save money if you get a tabletop design, but you might find it difficult to adjust to a comfortable height. While freestanding designs are up to four times more expensive, their adjustability and easy portability make their price well worth the investment to some users.
 

Q. What other hairstyles can I set in my bonnet hair dryer besides curly or voluminous ones?
A.
You’re in luck if you’re a fan of loose or beachy waves. Instead of using curlers or other setting tools, you can simply braid your hair or twist it around a piece of cloth or cotton towel and sit under your bonnet hair dryer. The tighter you braid or twist your hair, the tighter your waves will be. This also means they’ll take a little longer to dry.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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