Best Infrared Hair Dryers

Updated October 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best infrared hair dryers

Infrared hair dryers emit longer energy waves than conventional dryers and are able to penetrate the hair cuticle, drying hair from the inside out. Not only is this gentler and less damaging to the surface of the hair, but it decreases drying time by 50%. Who couldn’t benefit from having their hair routine cut in half?

While infrared hair dryers are usually more expensive than regular hair dryers, their deep-penetrating heat is safer for your hair, which can be a godsend if you have color-treated, dry, or damaged hair. They are also brilliant at eliminating frizz and adding shine, especially when paired with negative ion technology. Because infrared heat actually feels cooler, there is less risk of scalp and skin burns, too.

If you’re sold on the perks of these powerful, time-saving hair tools, check out our top five products above. If you need a little more info before making an investment, keep reading our shopping guide.

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Infrared saunas are popular for their health benefits, including improving circulation. There may be some evidence that infrared heat from a hair dryer can also benefit your scalp health.

What is infrared heat?

Infrared radiation is simply defined by the length of the wavelength the heater emits: 780 micrometers (nm) to 1 millimeter (mm). Infrared hair dryers use the longer end of that spectrum, called “far infrared” (FIR), which emits a wavelength of 15 nm to 1 mm. Unlike conventional styling tools, which utilize shorter wavelengths that only warm up the air around an object, far infrared heat can penetrate objects and heats them from the inside out. In case you’re worried, this form of radiation is perfectly safe. So safe that it’s actually used in infrared saunas for its therapeutic effects.

Benefits of infrared hair dryers

One of the benefits of an infrared hair dryer is that it provides even, consistent heat. Another is that it uses lower heat to get the job done, causing less damage to the hair than piping hot styling tools.

Because far infrared heat penetrates the hair shaft down to the cortex of the hair cuticle, it dries hair faster, which also cuts down on heat exposure. This heating from the inside out relaxes and softens hair. Some manufacturers claim that moisture is locked in by this process as well.

The convective heat used by a regular hair dryer overexposes the outside of the hair shaft to heat in order to dry it completely. Because this hot air cannot penetrate the shaft, the hair is heated by conduction on the surface only, which causes frizz and dry, damaged hair.

Some manufacturers also claim that infrared hair dryers aid scalp health by increasing blood flow, stimulating hair growth, and even detoxing the scalp.

Key considerations

Wattage

Hair dryers with a higher wattage have more power. They are also less likely to burn out than dryers with a lower wattage. Most hair dryers are between 1,300 and 2,000 watts. The thicker or coarser your hair, the more powerful a motor you’ll need.

Weight

Lightweight infrared hair dryers weigh in around one pound. It’s best to select a hair dryer that doesn’t feel like holding up an anvil, especially if you have longer or thicker hair that takes more time to dry. However, some heavier, professional-grade hair dryers are more balanced, with their weight evenly distributed, and more comfortable to hold, so don’t write off a hair dryer just due to how much it weighs.

Handle

Select a hair dryer with a comfortable, ergonomic handle for easy maneuvering. If you know that you’ll be traveling with your dryer, choose one with a handle that folds for a compact fit in your suitcase.

Settings

The more heat and speed settings a dryer has, the more control you have. Usually dryers come with high and low settings for both heat and speed. For versatility, it’s helpful to have a third setting for medium heat or even more options.

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Did you know?
The sun also emits far infrared rays. While they warm us up, they don’t burn our skin like ultraviolet rays. Far infrared radiation is safe for the body, and FIR hair dryers are associated with fewer burns than conventional hair dryers.
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Features

Cool shot

With the press of a button, the cool shot feature will blast your head with cold air when your hair is almost dry. This will seal the cuticle, add shine, and also help lock in curls.

Negative ion technology

Ionic features on infrared hair dryers emit negative ions that break apart positively charged water molecules, drying hair faster and also keeping water from saturating your hair and causing frizz. This feature makes for sleeker hairstyles and adds shine. Tourmaline, a semi-precious gemstone used in hair dryers, naturally produces negative ions.

Attachments

Attachments like a concentrator and diffuser are big bonuses, depending on your hairstyle or hair type. Just be sure they fit snugly to your infrared hair dryer.

A concentrator attaches to the nozzle of the hair dryer and focuses and directs airflow. This is an essential accessory for straightening hair. A diffuser, on the other hand, spreads out airflow broadly through holes in the attachment. This is an essential accessory if you have curly or wavy hair to maintain the natural texture of your hair.

Infrared hair dryer prices

Infrared hair dryers range in price from $22 to $200.

A budget infrared hair dryer costs $22 to $49. These usually come with attachments and a negative ion setting. They may not last very long, however.

A mid-range infrared hair dryer starts at $50 and goes up to $99. Dryers in this range offer a lot of features and solid power. You can find some real gems in this price range.

A professional-grade dryer starts at $100 and can cost upward of $200. While you probably don’t need an infrared hair dryer at the higher end of this range (unless you’re a professional stylist), it’s a worthy investment to purchase a high-end hair dryer that will last for years, especially if you use it daily.

Tips

  • Whether you’re using an infrared hair dryer or a convective one, always apply a heat protectant to your hair first. There are a plethora of protective serums, sprays, and creams available to protect your hair from heat exposure.

  • A higher heat setting is best used on thick, coarse, or sopping wet hair. If your hair is thin or damp, switch to a lower heat setting to avoid over-drying your hair. You can also start with high heat to remove excess moisture, then switch to a lower heat.

  • If you have frizzy hair, select an infrared hair dryer with an ion feature. In combination with infrared’s gentle heat, the negative ion technology will further enhance smoothness.

  • When blow drying hair with a diffuser, use a low heat setting, which will provide lift and keep curls from getting frizzy or losing definition.

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Infrared hair dryers use far infrared wavelengths, which penetrate hair shafts with heat down to their cortex. Convection hair dryers can only dry the outside of the shaft.

FAQ

Q. Why do some infrared hair dryers use ceramic and/or tourmaline materials?

A. Ceramic and tourmaline are natural materials used to coat heating elements in hair dryers. Both are used because they emit infrared wavelengths. Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone that naturally emits negative ions. Ceramic does not.

Q. How long do infrared hair dryers last?
A. This varies widely by model, brand, and use. Low-quality hair dryers will last a year or two, though some have been known to break within months of purchase. This is why we recommend selecting hair dryers with decent warranties. A higher-end model can last five to seven years and even longer if you only use it a couple times a week versus daily.

Q. How do I clean my infrared hair dryer?

A. The most important maintenance is to clean the hair dryer’s vents once a week. Lint can move into the heating elements or motor and damage the unit. Select a hair dryer with a removable filter on its back end, which makes lint removal a whole lot easier.

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