• Bio Ionic GrapheneMX Professional Dryer

  • Revlon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Hair Dryers

  • Other Hair Dryers We Tested

  • More Articles You May Enjoy

Our Favorite Hair Dryers of 2019

Bio Ionic
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser
Best Overall
Bio Ionic GrapheneMX Professional Dryer

My hair is medium in texture, naturally wavy-curly, and falls about six inches below my shoulders. The Bio Ionic took it from curly and wet to straight and dry in less than 30 minutes. In general, I struggle to get my hair straight using only a dryer, which is why I always follow up with a flat iron, but that step wasn’t needed with the Bio Ionic. It is certainly an investment, but for that kind of quality, the price tag is worth it. If you only want to zap excess moisture to avoid sleeping on or leaving the house with wet hair, this dryer can do that in less than five minutes. Yes, it’s that powerful. Don’t just take my word for it, though: When our lab experts tested the dryers’ strength by balancing ping-pong balls above each nozzle and turning on the highest airflow options, the Bio Ionic surpassed most other dryers, with only one out-blowing it. During my tests, I mostly used the high setting, which is the most powerful option, but the low setting shouldn’t be written off, as it is quite mighty compared to the lower settings on other dryers.

The Bio Ionic, which is among the lightest weight at 0.8 pounds (only one is lighter), is incredibly intuitive to use, and I say that as someone who has been using the same hair dryer for the last five years. The ‘off’ setting is at the bottom of the toggle switch—rather than the middle, like on other dryers—so you go from off to low to high, rather than low to off to high. It’s a small but meaningful detail that kept me from accidentally switching to another speed when I really just wanted to turn the dryer off quickly mid-drying session to section my hair.

In addition to the two power settings, the dryer has three heat settings (high, medium, and cool) one “cool down” button, and two nozzle accessories to help control airflow. In my tests, medium was my preferred setting and plenty hot enough to style my hair.

One other small but important detail for me is that this dryer is not high-pitched in sound frequency. Other dryers left my ears ringing because of how they squealed throughout the blowout. This one has a low hum that’s just as loud as other dryers but significantly less bothersome in pitch.

Lee Hair Dryer
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best Value
Revlon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer

At a fraction of the price of the Bio Ionic, the Revlon dryer has a cheapish appearance that looks like you’re getting what you pay for, but don’t judge a book by its cover, er, light-up nozzle.

While it’s not as powerful as the Bio Ionic or many others on this list, the Revlon gives a great blowout in about the same amount of time. In fact, the comparatively weaker airflow made it easier to control how I styled my hair. Other dryers cause my hair to fly around and poof up, but this one allowed me to get in close to my roots without causing a bird’s nest hairdo.

The control panel rests on the back of the handle and has a toggle switch for warm and hot temperatures and another for low and high speeds (with “off” located in the middle of the toggle). Though I prefer the controls to be at the front of the handle so I can rest my thumb on the speed for an easier transition while using, these switches are easy to maneuver.

This dryer weighs the same as our top pick and, to my ear, it has a lowish pitch (or frequency) that makes it sound like a hum, rather than a piercing screech, to the ear. (The Bio Ionic is still my “favorite” for this attribute, for whatever that’s worth.)

When it comes down to it, the Revlon 1875W Infrared gets the job done just fine, at a fraction of the price of the high-end tools on this list.

How We Tested

The Testers

I’m Jessica Kasparian, the lifestyle writer at Reviewed. I write about everything from beauty to health and sleep. I have medium-textured, wavy-curly hair that’s been bleached from brown to blond. At the time of testing, my hair was very dry on the ends (thanks, bleach) and measured about six inches past my shoulders. When I use a hair dryer, I’m hoping to get it completely dry and somewhat straight, in preparation for going over it with a flat iron. If I want to wear my hair naturally curly, I don’t use any tools to style it.

Prior to my update of this test, Reviewed called on Jessica Teich, the now-former health and beauty editor, to test each dryer on her long, curly locks. Teich looked to her dryer more for style than utility—she was in pursuit of a great blowout while testing.

While Jess and I have different hair and goals, we agree that blow-drying is a much longer and more complex process than just aiming air at your head: “I can’t just flip my head upside down and blast my hair with air until it’s dry like someone with fine hair can,” Teich wrote. “To avoid looking like a human pompom, I need at least 20 minutes, a round brush, and a very good hair dryer with velocity to dry my hair into a sleek style. Or 15 minutes, lots of hair product, and still, a very good hair dryer with varying speed and heat settings and a diffuser attachment for non-frizzy curls.”

Don’t worry: For those of you who have the blast-your-head-and-go type of hair, our data on hair dryers is relevant for you just the same. That's because, regardless of how you plan to use your dryer, a controlled blowout on crazy hair tells you everything you need to know, from speed of styling to comfort of use. Here’s what we found.

The Tests

To help demystify the daunting task of finding the top hair dryer out there, we considered best-of lists, top-sellers at major retailers, and cult favorites of bloggers and reviewers, then narrowed our test field to the best of the best.

After we settled on 13 hair dryers at a wide range of costs, $12 to $400, we pitted them against each other in a hair drying battle royale, from everyday usability to the technical stuff few people think of when drying their hair. Our goal? To see if a pricier dryer is really better, or if those hefty price tags are just from brand notoriety.

First, I tested each one at home to test how quickly I could achieve a smooth blowout and wrote down my impressions on the resulting style and my experience using and maneuvering the dryer. I also took notes on the weight and balance of each dryer in my hand, and how loud each seemed.

As professional testers, science nerds, and beauty geeks, we also scientifically tested the claims and technology of each dryer in our testing labs. Our technicians put each appliance through a gamut of tests to measure airflow speed, temperature settings, weights of the appliances, and sound.

And most importantly, we compared the scientific and subjective results to find out if any of these aspects actually has an impact on what makes a hair dryer perform well.

What You Should Know About Hair Dryers

Airflow Power

Ping Pong
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

To test the strength of each dryer, we placed ping pong balls over the barrel and turned each to their highest air setting.

Strong hair dryer = good hair dryer? Not quite. To test each dryer's wind current in the labs, we balanced a ping-pong ball on the ends of the nozzles. We then turned each dryer on its highest speed and heat setting, and recorded how high it projected the ping-pong ball, using the lab’s brick wall as the measuring stick.

The Bio Ionic and the Dyson aced these tests, sending ping-pong balls soaring far above the rest. But inIn our at-home testing, we found that the strength of the wind current doesn't necessarily dictate the best or fastest dry. Our Best Value pick, the Revlon, had the weakest air stream of all but dried my hair just as fast as many others. On the other hand, the Bio Ionic’s current on high was so strong that I used it on a lower speed setting (“medium”) to keep my hair from wildly whipping around.

Temperature Settings

Temperature
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jeremy Stamas

Testing the Conair Infiniti's heat output with thermocouples.

Is hotter always better? Short answer: no. For this test, we pointed each dryer at thermocouples (temperature sensors) adhered to cardboard and simulated the back-and-forth motion of blow drying from 8 inches away to see how much heat each dryer would throw onto hair.

Here's why you should look for a hair dryer with adjustable heat settings, though: The Devacurl was the hottest dryer we tested, and it sometimes felt burny on my scalp on its hottest setting and may even cause your hair to feel too dry.

Weight and ergonomics

A good hair dryer is only a great one if it’s not exhausting to hold and maneuver above your head for upwards of 20 minutes at a time. For this reason, and because many hair dryers claim to be lighter-weight than the competition, we weighed each dryer. In reality, they all came in between 0.8 and 1.2 pounds. One dryer even claims to be “featherweight,” and it was one of the heaviest that we tested—that speaks to the mistruths in beauty marketing.

It turns out that a hair dryer is comfortable (or not) to use more because of how its weight is distributed. The Harry Josh, despite being our heaviest dryer, has a very compact design that doesn't fatigue your arm. Another example: The Dyson's heaviest piece is in the handle, which makes maneuvering the dryer a little easier than say, the Conair Infiniti, which has a long head that houses a heavy motor that will quickly tire out your arm.

The final attribute I considered while using the hair dryers was the location and usability of the controls. If the buttons or switches controlling the airflow or heat were in placed in a way that wasn’t easily accessible while I was drying my hair, or if they were in the way and caused me to accidentally switch modes, I noted this.

Loudness

Look at any blow dryer at the store and its box will say it's "quieter than the competition." To test that noise claim, we brought the dryers into our soundproof headphone lab and measured the volume of each hair dryer on its loudest setting. To our surprise, all of the dryers hovered around the same volume, between 7.7 and 8.0 dbA—about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.

However, the hair dryers all sound markedly different from each other due to the pitch and speed of the motor. Even so, none of the dryers were quiet enough to have a conversation over: Don't believe the hype when you hear that a new hair dryer is near silent, or even quieter than the competition.


Other Hair Dryers We Tested

Devacurl Dryer & Diffuser Combo For All Curl Kind

Like the Bio Ionic, the Devacurl dryer is the heaviest at 1.2 pounds (tying with the Harry Josh), but easy to hold, and produces a low humming noise that is loud but not unpleasant. As you may be able to tell by now, those physical features are all highly important to me when it comes to choosing the best hair dryer, so it’s no surprise that the Devacurl ranked second place when all of my testing results were scored. The placement of the controls (on the inside of the barrel where my thumb instinctively lands) and the order that the switches are labeled in (ascending from coolest to hottest or lowest to highest) makes this dryer especially appealing to me. In terms of intuitiveness, it even beats out the Bio Ionic, which has the controls on the opposite side of the barrel—not prime real estate, in my opinion.

In terms of power, this one is among the top half of the dryers in our ping pong test, with Kristin Ess and Harry Josh. It dried my hair quickly and left it feeling soft to the touch. Its Achilles heel that bumped it to our second spot: it reached 107.9°F (the hottest), which can be drying on the hair and feel too hot to the touch. However, you may find the lower heat setting fine if the highest one is too hot.

Amika The Immortal Power-life Dryer

The most appealing thing about the Amika dryer is its long, narrow barrel, which gave me more control than any other dryer I tested. I could get really close to my roots without having my hair blown around everywhere and, ultimately, tangled. My hair dried as straight and smooth as it did with the Bio Ionic, too.

We deducted points because of the control settings. This dryer has two heat settings (cool and hot) and two power settings (low and high), each controlled by two respective buttons, rather than the toggle switches used by most dryers. If the dryer is blowing cool hair, you click the “hot/cool” button to change to hot; the same idea goes for the power settings. Unfortunately, you can’t see what setting they’re on, as you can with the usual switches. Yes, you’ll notice by how hot the air is or how forceful the air is blowing out, but I found it odd that the controls weren’t labeled to reflect this

At 106.6°F, this dryer reached among the hottest temperatures we measured, and I wished that there was a medium heat setting, as can be found on the similarly ultra-hot Devacurl.

Am I being too picky? Maybe. But the Amika also was not a top performer in our lab tests, either. It was in the bottom half of contenders when we tested its strength in the ping-pong ball test.

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Dryer

This dryer sits at a mid-level price, making it rather appealing upon first glance. It’s designed well, with a narrow head and nozzle that’s easy to control and makes for a comfortable hold—it weighs 0.9 pounds, a titch more than some others, but we didn’t find it too tiring to use.

Unfortunately, this dryer also gets very hot. It was the hottest dryer Jess Teich tested and she worried it would damage her hair. “With three heat settings and two speeds, this dryer blasted my hair straight. However, the resulting style looked roughened and a bit fried, not sleek and smooth like the more expensive dryers achieved.” During heat testing, this dryer clocked in at 104.4°F, which isn’t the highest (Devacurl topped the charts at 107.9°F, though Teich didn’t test this one), but not as mild as the Bio Ionic (our lowest recorded “high” temperature, at 96.3°F) or the Revlon (96.4°F).

Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000

In the previous round of testing, the Harry Josh was crowned the best hair dryer, as it scored well and was very loved by our previous tester. Several people at Reviewed even bought the dryer after testing and still love it. However, my experience was a poor one, which makes sense, as we realized our test model showed signs of deterioration during our new round of testing.

For background: I tested the Harry Josh dryer that we’d kept in storage at our office for at least two years since our last test. When that unit underperformed, I tested the same model that one of our editors has owned for a year. When I found the performance of the second Harry Josh anecdotally better, we tested that unit in our labs and found it performed just as the original tester dryer had. The thing is, I tested four new models, including our new overall pick from Bio Ionic, that weren’t on the market at the time of the last test. And while I found the (second) Harry Josh I tested to be just fine, other brand’s simply performed better.

At 1.2 pounds, the Harry Josh is tied with two other models for the heaviest dryer we tested. This is surprising, considering it has the most compact design—it’s small enough to act as a travel-sized dryer. That small size can take a little bit of getting used to as the weight is distributed differently, but it’s comfortable to hold.

One upside to this dryer is its 9.7-foot cord, which is great if your outlet isn’t right next to your mirror. It comes with two concentrator nozzles and has a “negative ion” setting switch that claims smoother styling. Without a nozzle accessory, I struggled to control the dryer’s airflow, which caused my hair to poof up more than any other blow dryer. The nozzle attachment corrects this problem, but that accessory gets burning-hot to the touch, so there’s no taking it off mid-drying session without waiting for it to cool. Another big deterrent for me was the high pitch squeal of this dryer—after I finished, my ears were ringing for about the same amount of time it took to dry my hair—20 minutes.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

No hair dryer list would be complete without mention of the cult-favorite Dyson. What's so innovative about it? It's much-smaller motor lives inside the handle instead of the head, with the intention of creating a lighter-weight and balanced dryer. At a middle-of-the-road weight of 0.9 pounds, its design does make it feel a little lighter than the competition. The trade-off, though, is a thick, non-contoured handle that looks sleek but feels bulky to hold.

This dryer has been billed as "silent," which is simply untrue. It sounds somewhat quieter than other hair dryers, but not by a remarkable margin—and our lab sound tests confirmed this, with its 79.5-dbA volume landing in the middle of the dryers we tested. It has a bit of a high-pitched whine to it, much like Dyson's vacuums.

Something unique is that the buttons are on the head of the dryer, which keeps you from accidentally switching modes while you’re drying, which can happen with on-the-handle controls. It has a cool mode to “set your blowout” that locks into place, so you don’t have to keep squeezing the button down.

It comes with three magnetic styling attachments (two smoothing nozzles and a diffuser). However, the cord is ridiculously bulky, like an extension cable, with a half-pound adapter that makes the dryer heavy and difficult to store. The fact this dryer also comes with a non-slip mat speaks to its price: You don't notice or care how often your dryer crashes to the ground until you’ve invested this much money on it.

At the end of the day, this Dyson is, without a doubt, a great hair dryer, but we don’t see the value in its category-topping high price—particularly as we found comparable and better results in less-expensive dryers.

Drybar Buttercup

If you’re a fan of Drybar, the chain of salons known exclusively for blowouts, you’re probably curious about this tool.

This dryer’s claim to fame is that it’s ultralight to keep stylists from becoming body-builders, but we found it heavier than expected—at 1.1 pounds, it’s actually only 0.1 pounds less than our heaviest dryers. The Buttercup has three speed settings and two heat settings on the front of the handle and comes with two smoothing nozzles.

Even on high, the airspeed didn’t feel strong to Teich’s but it dried her long hair a bit faster than the ultra-powerful Dyson, just without the ultra shiny, soft feel. It didn’t perform badly, but the Buttercup wasn’t a standout.

Kristin Ess Iconic Style Professional Blow Dryer

A newcomer to the test, I wanted this dryer—branded by the celebrity stylist who coifs Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale—to be a stunner, as it’s easily accessible at Target and comes in sleek white-and-gold packaging. Unfortunately, the box it comes in is about the best thing it has going for it. The Kristin Ess dryer fell flat in the lab testing and in my own experience with it. Most notably, the dryer sounded loud, despite being about the same volume as the rest, because of its higher-pitched tone and that made the whole experience offputting.

In terms of power, this dryer performed well in our ping-pong test, tying with the Harry Josh and Devacurl, and right behind the Bio Ionic (the top performer in our test). Similar to the Buttercup, this dryer didn’t stand out for its performance while I was using it, and the one thing that did, the pitchy sound, was negative.

Conair Infiniti Pro

The brand Conair is synonymous with hair dryers, This is a classic at a reasonable price, but upgraded enough to appeal to a shopper searching for a dryer with a little more power.

However, this Conair is emblematic of the difference between a high-end dryer and a budget one. It was noticeably heavier, seemed louder, and had a weaker air stream than the competition. Its concentrator nozzle is too wide to effectively concentrate the air, with side vents that muss up already-styled hair.

This Conair offers three heat settings and two speeds, but none of them were powerful enough to tame Teich’s hair and the result was a frizzy style. Finally, Teich had to switch hands while drying because her arm was fatigued, which has to do more with the balance of its design than its 1.1-pound weight.

T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i

The T3 dryer’s unique acute angle design helps distribute its 1.1 pound weight. It feels light and ergonomic to use, although you might smack yourself in the head a couple times while you get used to its shape. It comes with a concentrated nozzle and was the only dryer to come with a round brush, which seems like a great add-on, but the quality doesn’t stack up to one you may purchase separately.

After nearly 30 minutes of styling, Teich said the dryer still couldn’t tame her waves and the drier caused the whole room to heat up quite a bit in the process of trying.

The T3 dryer’s price rings in at the top end of the category, but the resulting style was comparable to the cheaper dryers in the bunch, the two inexpensive Conairs.

Conair 1875-Watt Mid-Size Styler

This blow dryer is as barebones as it gets, which is reflected in its low price (at the time of publication, it was the cheapest on this list). There are only two settings, high and low, but no cool shot and no adjustable temperatures. On high, the dryer produces very hot air—over 100º in our testing—but the air power isn’t strong enough to get through thick hair—it left Teich’s scalp hot and damp from sweat, which led to greasy-looking roots.

This Conair is by far the lightest dryer we tested at 0.5 pounds. But as easy it is to wield this dryer, the end of the nozzle is wide and, as it doesn’t come with an air concentrator nozzle (or any other attachments), you will get quite hot during your blowout as hot, unregulated air blows all around you. Teich’s resulting hairstyle was a bit fried and a lot frizzier. Only reach for this in a pinch.

Meet the testers

Jessica Teich

Jessica Teich

Former Editor

@jessicarteich

Jessica covered lifestyle and beyond at Reviewed. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

See all of Jessica Teich's reviews
Jessica Kasparian

Jessica Kasparian

Staff Writer, Lifestyle

@jkasparian_

Jessica writes about beauty, health, and sleep for Reviewed's lifestyle section. She enjoys singing, brunching, and obsessing over her Yorkshire Terrier.

Jessica holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, and she's written for 7News, Boston.com, Citizine, and Boston Common Magazine.

See all of Jessica Kasparian's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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