Air-drying your hair is great and all, but sometimes you just want a good blowout. To find the best hair dryer out there, I spent months testing them on my frizz-prone hair. I tracked everything from the sleekness of the outer packaging to the positioning of the switches, taking note of how much they strained my arm and how long it took me to dry my hair from start to finish. Read on for my 18 favorites.
The Best Affordable Hair Dryer
For an all-around classic under $20, you can’t beat this one. It has excellent reviews on Amazon, with people praising how well it performs basic tasks. And it’s light — only 1.2 pounds. True, it isn’t as famous or beloved as the Amazon favorite Revlon One-Step, but it’s a lot cheaper.
The Best Affordable Hair Dryer for Shiny Hair
Many cheap blow-dryers don’t come with cool settings, which are essential for sealing the hair shaft. A closing blast of cold hair after a blowout helps hair to look especially shiny and smooth. This one does both hot and cold air especially well for a very reasonable price.
The Best Affordable Hair Dryer for Natural Hair
“Curly” is a word that comes up a lot in reviews of this dryer. As the Strategist mentioned, it has more power wattage than the Dyson, making it a great option for those with natural hair who praise its three strong-but-not-too-strong heat settings. And it only weighs about 1.7 pounds — less than a barre-class weight.
The One With a Cult Following
This hair dryer is an internet phenomenon thanks to Amazon. It’s currently the No. 1 best seller in its Beauty & Personal Care section, with over 32,000 five-star reviews. And the rumors are true: Because it styles and dries hair at the same time, it works very well at delivering salonlike blowouts (particularly for people with especially curly or thick hair). Average dry times range from eight to 12 minutes. Many reviewers call it a “game changer.”
The Best Hair Dryer If Your Arms Get Tired Easily
Weighing in at 13.5 ounces, this option from InStyler felt the lightest of the bunch. It works quickly, but it’s light enough that if you do want to spend a lot of time perfecting your blowout, your arm isn’t going to get tired. The packaging is super-sleek, with high-gloss white facets and a glowing blue light. Other features include a cool-shot button, two heat settings, and an ionic switch. Perhaps the best one, though, is the airflow dial, which allows you to control the amount you’re using by scrolling up or down with your finger.
The Fastest Cheap Hair Dryer
Many of the nearly 4,000 Amazon reviews of this dryer include the phrase “half the time” — as in, “I blow-dried my hair in half the time!” Reviewers love how quickly this dryer works to dry hair. At only 2.2 pounds, it’s pretty lightweight, too.
The Fastest Fancy Hair Dryer
This weighs less than a pound and gives you a frizzless, easy blowout very quickly. The Cut’s former beauty editor Ashley Weatherford once wrote an ode to it in which she said, “It cuts my typical drying time by a third.” Multiple reviewers claim that it works so well that it’s replaced their flat iron. It also comes with a nice ten-year warranty.
The Best Hair Dryer for Frizzy Hair
This dryer comes with a feature called “Nanoe™ Moisture Infusion,” which allegedly infuses your hair and scalp with 1,000 times more moisture while drying. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it’s meant to make hair smoother and less frizzy. The proof is in the Amazon reviews, where people rave about getting smooth blowouts that hold up even in humid, rainy weather.
The One You Can Use Forever
The Brand All the Professionals Love
Parlux might not be super-popular Stateside, but I often see the brand backstage during Fashion Week. It’s superlight, compact, and durable, and because it’s made in Italy, it will work across countries (you just need the right converter).
The Best Hair Dryer If You Hate Flat Irons
To hold this one-pound, handleless dryer, you actually grip the barrel itself. Don’t worry, a protective rubber coating keeps it from getting too hot to touch. It does take some getting used to, but once you adjust, the control you achieve is a godsend for taming unruly roots.
After going to bed with wet hair (including four inches of root regrowth from my last keratin treatment), I woke up with a curly, frizzy crown that would normally require the attention of a flat iron.
The Best Hair Dryer for Travel
If you want a blow-dryer you can take abroad, look for one that’s dual voltage. The Amazon reviews (3,000 of them) are full of moms who gift this to their kids prior to backpacking adventures because it’s foldable, durable, and performs the basic functions well enough. You still obviously need to bring an adapter.
The Best Fancy Hair Dryer for Travel
Sephora and Ulta reviewers love this dryer because it’s foldable and dual voltage, making it perfect for travel. Even though it’s small and lacks a temperature setting, it doesn’t get superhot, won’t dry out your hair, and isn’t very loud. It’s also bright yellow, if you like that sort of thing. Compared to the other travel blow-dryers, it doesn’t feel flimsy, and works well enough to continue using at home, too.
The Hair Dryer Gisele Uses
Celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh’s line of mint-green pro tools has a cult following as big as Harry Josh himself (think Gisele Bündchen and Karlie Kloss). The newest version of his dryer has been upgraded to work faster (drying hair up to 94 miles per hour), feel lighter (it weighs less than a pound), and be quieter (you’ll be able to hear your playlist if you wish). With 12 heat levels and speeds to choose from, along with what they call “double-ion technology,” this dryer works efficiently on all hair types. The ionic feature is meant to smooth away frizz, but if you’re battling fine flat hair, you can click it off for more volume.
The Beautiful Snow-White Hair Dryer
I’ve been a longtime fan of T3, and the Cura provided a chic upgrade to an older T3 dryer I’ve been using for many years. It comes equipped with a diffuser, two nozzle options, five heat settings, and two speed settings. It even has an automatic shutoff when you put it down. When I used it on both wet and dry hair on the hottest heat and strongest airflow, it took about 20 minutes to dry my hair and about ten minutes to create a bouncy, frizz-free dry style. My only issue: All switch buttons (the power, heat, and speed) are located on the front of the dryer, so I found it awkward to click back and forth between drying sections of my hair.
The Investment Hair Dryer
Yes, this dryer is expensive, but here’s why it’s worth it: First, if you’re not one to frequent blow-dry bars and prefer a DIY style at home, this tool will completely dry your head three times as fast. If you are a regular salongoer, this machine will pay for itself after ten blowouts. With my usual dryer, it takes me 30 minutes to dry my hair from start to finish. With the Dyson, I’m done in ten — and it looks good, too. My hair appears glossy and smooth, and my frizz-prone roots look as if they had been run over with a flat iron.
The dryer is powerful yet quiet, and remains cool to the touch courtesy of what the company calls “heat-shield technology.” Even on the hottest power setting, I never burn my scalp. I found myself reaching for this one again and again throughout the testing process. It also has magnetic attachments and a sleek carrying case for travel. Dyson has successfully turned a dreadful chore into a task I don’t mind doing.
The One That Truly Does It All
This is like a fancy version of the Revlon Amazon dryer. It can dry, style, straighten, and give you waves. It can be used on wet hair — without danger of sizzling — to give you either a straight waterfall or nice, voluminous whorls of curls. Despite all the attachments, including a dryer nozzler, three different brushes, and multiple barrel sizes, it’s light and and fairly intuitive to use. Thanks to something called the “Coanda effect,” you don’t even have to physically wrap your hair around the “barrel.” When you place your hair near the barrel, air gently pulls it in and, like magic, it wraps around the barrel itself. When you pull away and release, you get one big, fat curl. It’s entirely unique.
This article was originally published June 1, 2018. It has been updated throughout. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.