What constitutes the best hair dryer depends on who you ask—everyone has an opinion, and there’s no shortage of impassioned reviews across the internet. “All blow dryers are not equal,” says Matrix artist director Michelle O’Connor. “Each provides a benefit that you want to align with your hair’s characteristics and needs.” Naturally, your hair type matters, along other factors like your styling preferences and frequency of use. It’s also important to consider features on the tool itself, like wattage, settings, materials and attachments.
Sure, most of these hot tools will take your hair from wet to dry, but if you want an option that will also protect it and hold up over time, you may want to invest in one with more tech upgrades, such as heat-adjusting smart sensors or magnetic attachments (like our top blow dryer pick, the Dyson Supersonic). “As with any other industry, ingenuity and innovation are going to give improved performance, as well as better results,” says O’Connor. To help us whittle down the top options out there, we consulted O’Connor and other professionals who use the gadgets regularly. Ahead, find the best hair dryers on the market, according to experts and hairstylists.
Best Hair Dryer Overall
A High-Tech Tool That Lives Up To The Hype
Best Ionic Hair Dryer
The Zippy Sports Car Of Blow Dryers
Best Hair Dryer For Fine Hair
A Small But Mighty Option
Best Hair Dryer For Frizzy Hair
The Smooth Operator
Best Hair Dryer Brush
A Pro-Favorite Styling Brush
Best Hair Dryer For Thick Hair
A Superior Design
Best Hair Dryer For Travel
A Compact Option With A Foldable Handle
Best Affordable Hair Dryer
A Top-Rated Blow Dryer With A Salon-Worthy Performance
Best Hair Dryer For Curly Hair
A Hair Tool That Quickly Delivers An Air Dry Effect
How We Chose The Best Hair Dryers Of 2022
We’ve done extensive research, poring over reviews from consumers and professional testers alike. We’ve also tested many of these hair dryers ourselves and polled our editors and contributors for their favorites that have held up over time.
This story is routinely updated so that availability, prices and reviewer ratings and quotes remain up-to-date. We also re-evaluate our blow dryer picks to ensure that they’re still some of the best choices in their categories. This story was last updated in July 2022.
What To Consider When Buying A Hair Dryer
Looking to upgrade your hair dryer? There are a few subjective but worthy considerations to keep in mind for separating the just-ok blow dryers from the truly great options.
A hair dryer that gets too hot could cause damage to the scalp or hair, especially when it’s thin. “Think about [your hair type] and choose accordingly,” says O’Connor. “If your hair is fine, you can use a blow dryer with less wattage or turn down the heat setting and power. If you have thick or curly hair, look for a more powerful dryer.”
This refers to the motor speed and intensity of the heat; the greater the power, the hotter it gets. If you want a blow dryer that will do its job without causing heat damage, experts suggest selecting an option with 1500-1800 watts of power—a safe and effective output for thick and thin hair.
There’s one setting that tends to stand out when it comes to hair dryers: the cool button. While it’s useful for setting hair, some don’t get cold enough. The ideal option allows you to flick through multiple heat settings including a true cool temperature.
“Thanks to constantly improving technology, certain features—heat-perfecting ceramic coils, frizz-defeating ionic generators and shine-enhancing tourmaline coatings—now come standard with most models,” says O’Connor. When it comes to materials, it’s worth knowing the basics. “Ceramic hair dryers distribute heat evenly and tend to be gentle on the hair. Titanium also distributes evenly but gets hotter,” she says, so it’s great for smoothing out thick curly hair quickly. There are also tourmaline dryers that use an electrical charge to keep water molecules out, making them a good option for smoothing frizz.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to attachment options for hair dryers, so it’s best to match them to your hair needs. Some examples include a diffuser for defining curls or a wide-tooth comb for straightening hair as it dries.
While it may seem like a minor detail, cord length matters. You want one that’s long enough to allow you to move the dryer around your hair without limiting you, but some might be too long for your preferences. You also want the cord to be thick enough to feel safe and sturdy as you use the product.
Are Hair Dryers Good For Hair?
When it comes to using any type of heat tool, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution. But blow dryers, when selected and used correctly, can be great styling tools. “It’s only damaging if you are overdoing it, have the temperature too high (depending on your texture) or are using it on dry hair,” says Matrix ambassador Takisha Sturdivant-Drew. And prepping hair with a protectant can also prevent the heat from blow dryers from damaging your hair since it seals in moisture and creates a barrier between your strands and heat stylers.
How Do You Blow Dry Hair Like A Professional?
“Make sure the hair is damp, meaning towel-dried,” says Sturdivant-Drew, who recommends massaging a lightweight oil from roots to the ends of hair. “Then you can section off your hair or blow it dry (at medium or high temperature) until it’s completely dry. If you’re using a blow dry brush try not to hit the scalp directly, and if using a comb attachment, take your time doing it so the hair is evenly dried. Once it’s dried, not only will it feel soft and manageable, it will have a beautiful shine.”
Is It Okay To Blow Dry Hair Every Day?
Ideally, you want to give your hair some breaks from this styling tool. “If you want to [avoid] heat damage, don’t blow it dry every day,” says Sturdivant-Drew. And if you have coarse or curly hair, she suggests using a hair dryer every two to four days.
Which Is Better: Tourmaline Or Ceramic?
Tourmaline generates more negative ions when heated, so blow dryers made with the material do a better job at smoothing down frizz and flyaways and keeping hair straighter longer. On the other hand, ceramic blow dyers are less likely to singe your strands since they disperse heat more evenly.
Are Expensive Hair Dryers Worth It?
High price tags don’t necessarily equate to better quality. There are affordable options that perform just great as high-end models and last just as long, too. But more expensive blow dryers may feature additional technology and specs that users deem worth the money, such as an ergonomic design, efficient power and smart sensors.
Are Ionic Hair Dryers Better?
This depends on the look you’re going for. If the goal is to achieve a sleek, silky straight blowout, an ionic hair dryer is the best tool for the job, since it repels moisture that could lead to flyaways and frizzy hair. It also speeds up drying time. But if you want a more bouncy, voluminous blowout, a regular hair dryer is your best bet.