Best Hair Dryers

Updated October 2021
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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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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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How we decided

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

51 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
170 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 hair dryers

While hair dryers may seem like pretty straightforward “they’re all basically the same” type of product, anyone with unruly hair knows the truth: A good hair dryer is worth its weight in gold.

Hair dryers aren’t just full of hot air anymore: The right one can help you achieve new styles, get rid of split ends, and even leave your hair silky and shiny. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, too — the wrong hair dryer can be a giant hassle that leaves you with a bad hair day.

If you’re ready to find your perfect hair dryer, or you just need one that’s going to last more than a year or two, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our best advice on untangling your hair dryer confusion and making your purchase smooth and easy to manage.

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The first handheld hair dryer for home use only had a wattage of 100, so it took a very long time to dry the hair.

Along with our field and expert research, our reviews can help you narrow down your hair dryer options so you can find the perfect model for your needs.

We’ll also help you identify the key things to look for in any hair dryer so you can be sure that you’re getting the best deal and minimize the chance of future bad hair days.

What are the benefits of a hair dryer?

Most people purchase a hair dryer because they want to be able to dry their hair quickly after they’ve washed it. With a quality hair dryer, you can dry your hair in as little as 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick and long your hair is.

If you have curly, wavy, or frizzy hair, a hair dryer can also help straighten your hair. Using it with a round brush can help smooth your locks and boost its shine for a sleek, attractive style.

On the other hand, if you have fine hair that lacks volume, you can use a hair dryer to add body. Flip your head upside down as you dry your hair and focus the dryer at your roots to help lift your hair and give it more volume.

How long does a hair dryer last?

Heat styling tools such as a hair dryer typically last between two and seven years. However, the life of your dryer will depend on its quality.

Inexpensive dryers that are made with inferior materials may only last a year or two. If you invest in a higher end model, you’re more likely to get five to seven years out of it – possibly more.

Don’t forget to factor in how often you use your hair dryer, though. If you only dry your hair a couple times of week, your hair dryer will last longer than if you use it everyday. Most hair dryers typically have a lifespan of 800 hours.

If you want your hair dryer to last as long as possible, upkeep is also important. You should clean the vents once a week so the lint doesn’t migrate inside toward the heating element where it can do damage.

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Did you know?
The average woman will spend approximately 1.5 years brushing, washing, drying, and styling her hair over the course of her lifetime.

Considerations for hair dryers


The more wattage a hair dryer has, the more powerful it is – and the more powerful it is, the less time it will take to dry your hair. Dryers with a higher wattage are also less likely to burn out than models with smaller motors.

If you have fine hair, a dryer with about 1,800 watts is usually the best option.

If you have thick or coarse hair, you should get a dryer between 2,000 and 3,600 watts.


In addition to multiple heat settings, most hair dryers come with variable speed settings. That allows you to adjust the heat and airflow levels separately for the most control over the dryer.

Look for a dryer that has at least two speed settings: low and high. For the most versatility, though, it helps to have a third speed setting, medium, as well.

Heating settings

Almost every hair dryer comes equipped with at least two heat settings: low and high. In most cases, it’s best to choose a dryer that’s equipped with more heat settings, such as low, medium, and high, so you have better control over how much heat your hair is exposed to.

It’s also a good idea to look for a dryer with a cool shot setting. That allows you to switch to cool air when your hair is mostly dry to seal the hair’s cuticle for added shine. The cool shot setting can also help lock in curls and waves.

We used FLIR technology to test the hair dryer's temperature output and heat concentration.


The heating element in a hair dryer can be coated with a variety of materials that affect its performance.

Choosing the right dryer material for your hair type is key if you want to banish bad hair days.

Ceramic dryers work well for most types of hair. The ceramic helps keep moisture in your hair and distributes heat as evenly as possible. That makes it an especially good fit for fine or dry hair.

Tourmaline dryers feature heating elements coated with the semi-precious gemstone, which helps trap moisture and shoots negative ions to prevent the positively charged ions in water from saturating your hair and causing frizz. That makes a tourmaline dryer a good choice for frizzy, thick, curly, and hard-to-dry hair.

Titanium dryers distribute heat evenly and steadily, which makes it hotter than other options. As a result, it’s not the best choice for damage-prone hair, such as dry or color-treated tresses. However, if you have a lot of hair or extremely thick hair, it’s an effective option because it can dry your hair more quickly.

While tourmaline dryers naturally produce negative ions to fight frizz, you can find ionic ceramic or titanium dryers as well.

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Did you know?
Hair dryer sales make up 31% of the retail market for hair care appliances.

Weight and ergonomics

You want to choose a hair dryer that’s comfortable to hold, especially if you have long, thick, or any type of hair that takes a long time to dry. It’s also important if you use your hair dryer with a round brush for styling. Look for a lightweight dryer with an ergonomic grip, so your arm and hand don’t get tired when you’re drying your hair.

Keep in mind that professional grade dryers often weigh more, though many users find that they’re more comfortable to hold because the weight is more evenly distributed throughout the dryer than lighter models.


For the most versatility, consider what accessories come with a hair dryer before purchasing it.

A diffuser is an important tool if you have curly or wavy hair because it helps distribute the heat over a broader area to help maintain the natural texture in your hair.

A concentrator nozzle focuses the heat in specific areas so it helps control frizz. It’s also an ideal accessory if you use your hair dryer to straighten your hair.

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How much should you pay for a hair dryer?

You can find hair dryers at a variety of price points. Generally, they range from $20 to $400.

If you’re concerned about heat damage, you’ll want to buy a higher end dryer that features higher quality materials and distributes the heat more evenly. Expect to spend at least $50.

Keep in mind that higher end dryers also tend to last longer than budget-friendly options. A dryer that costs around $100 typically lasts five to ten years, while a model that’s only $30 may only make it two years.

Tips and tricks

  • To minimize damage when you’re blow drying your hair, allow your hair to dry about halfway before picking up your dryer.

  • Always apply a heat protectant product before using your blow dryer, too. It coats your hair with extra moisture so the dryer won’t damage your locks while it dries them.

  • Remember to use the lowest heat setting possible to dry your hair efficiently. For example, if you have fine hair, use the low setting. For thick, coarse hair, you may need to use the high setting.

  • If you have a lot of hair or thick hair, dividing your hair into sections before you dry it can reduce frizz.

  • Clip the sections that you’re not working with out of the way so it doesn’t blow around as you move the dryer.

  • For added volume, focus the hair dryer at your roots. Use your hand or a round brush to lift your hair at the roots or bend over so gravity does the work for you to boost volume as you’re drying.

  • To finish off your hair after you dry, always give it a blast with the cool shot feature. That will seal the cuticle so your style is locked in place and it also boosts shine.

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While thousands of patents have been issued for hair dryers since they were first developed, the only real changes have been to the dryer’s exterior. The operating system inside the dryer hasn’t changed much since the 1920s.

Hair dryers FAQ

Q. What features can make a hair dryer easier to maintain?

A. A hair dryer is easier to clean if it has a removable filter on the back. That makes it extremely easy to remove the lint from the vents so it doesn’t damage the heating element or motor.

Q. What type of dryer should I purchase if I’m concerned about noise?

A. All hair dryers make some noise. However, some models are louder than others. While it may seem like more powerful, professional grade dryers would be louder, they actually tend to be quieter than budget-friendly options.

Q. What does it mean if a hair dryer features infrared heat?

A. Infrared heat utilizes longer heat waves than other heating elements. That allows the heat to penetrate the hair shaft and dry it from the inside out. It provides extremely even, consistent heat, so it’s gentler on your hair.

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