If you’re like me, you may notice something odd every time you pay a stylist to wash and blow-dry your hair: It looks amazing. Sleek, shiny, and voluminous with seemingly no heat damage—all achievable at the hands of someone else. But with the right hair styling tools, an easy, breezy style should be attainable at home.
We at Reviewed tested a variety of hair dryers to find one that quickly blow-dries hair and leaves it soft and sleek, not frizzy or fried-looking, whether you have hair that's fine, thick, straight, curly or anything in between.
In the end, we named the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Dryer (available at Amazon) our Best Overall winner because of its intuitive design and powerful heat and speed settings to get the job done fast. And the drugstore-sold Revlon 1875W Infrared Dryer(available on Amazon) is a steal for what it offers—it's lightweight, inexpensive, and dries hair in a snap—making it our long-standing Best Value pick.
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Dryer
My hair is medium in texture, naturally wavy-curly, and falls about 10 inches below my shoulders. So when I say the BaBylissPro took my hair from wet and untidy to dry and styled in 20 minutes, know that it outdid itself. Before testing the dryer, I sopped up excess water from my shower with my microfiber towel for about 10 minutes until my strands were damp. I began drying on the medium heat and high power settings, circling my head and paying attention to my roots.
After about three minutes, my roots felt dry to the touch and the length of my hair was semi-damp—optimal for styling. I used a round brush to pull my hair taut and slipped the concentrator nozzle (something all dryers included) onto the barrel to dry and straighten my hair from roots to ends. Twenty minutes later, I had voluminous, straight strands that exceeded my expectations. (Read: Most dryers on this list couldn’t deliver the same results.)
In addition, I appreciated the tool’s lighter weight (0.9 pounds) and button placement, both of which contributed to its comfortability. The weight felt evenly distributed in the barrel and handle, making the blow dryer easy to maneuver with no undue stress on the wrist.
The controls consisted of a cool shot button and two switches, each with three settings to toggle between—off, medium, and high for airflow as well as low, medium, and high for heat. Without looking, I could flip between settings while styling but also never accidentally pushed the switches without meaning to.
If you want a tool that dries your hair fast, this one has the power to do it. And if you’re like me and also use a hair dryer to straighten your locks, you’ll be impressed with BaBylissPro.
At a fraction of the price of the BaBylissPro and other professional and high-end hair dryers, 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.
The Revlon gives a great blowout in a similar amount of time with its infrared heat settings, despite not being as powerful as our Best Overall or many others on this list. But surprisingly, the comparatively weaker airflow made it easier to control how I styled my hair. Other dryers cause my locks to fly around and poof up, but this one allowed me to get in close to my roots without resulting in a bird’s nest hairdo.
The Revlon’s 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 manage.
This dryer claims to reduce frizz and add shine with ionic technology, which means it neutralizes ions that otherwise cause static. Indeed, I was pleased with the smooth results, though I can’t say they were any better than many other dryers I tested with similar technology.
When it comes down to it, the Revlon 1875W Infrared gets the job done well, at a fraction of the price of the high-end hair tools on this list.
The Bio Ionic is a top-notch dryer that exceeded my expectations. It’s a great choice that’ll satisfy you whether you want to blast your hair dry (but not styled) rather quickly, or take the time to make it look like a professional blowout.
Where this can’t compete with Best Overall BaBylissPro is in price: Despite discounts you may find on the Bio Ionic, the price of our top pick is consistently a fraction of this one’s while offering a similarly salon-like finish.
In addition to the two power settings, the dryer has three heat settings (high, medium, and cool) one cool shot button, and two nozzle accessories to help control airflow. In my tests, medium heat was my preferred setting and plenty hot enough to style my hair. With these different heat and intensity settings in tow, this hair dryer will work for all different hair types.
The GHD Helios gave our winners a run for their money, receiving a perfect score for its stellar drying performance. I got my hair from soaking wet to damp, though not at all styled, in about 5 minutes toggling between the medium heat and high power settings. In another 15 minutes, I was able to get my hair straight enough to wear out of the house. I’d want to touch up a few of the front pieces with a flat iron, but I was still impressed.
I tested the GHD dryer before the BaBylissPro and was very impressed. The main reason GHD gave me pause is how much more it costs. Ultimately, our Best Overall pick offers a perfect-score-performance for a better price, but I can’t deny that the GHD dryer is a fantastic option for drying and styling.
As for details, this dryer contains switches on the back of the handle, like the Revlon. One toggles between off, low, and high power settings and the other contains low, medium, and high heat settings with a cool shot located just below the barrel.
DevaCurl’s hair dryer landed toward the top of our list because it’s comfortable to hold and features a narrow barrel that makes it easier to hone in specific areas of the hair, like the roots.
Like the BaBylissPro, the buttons lay on the inside of the handle, where my thumb instinctively lands, which makes it easier to toggle between the ascending heat and airflow settings while styling. This detail makes it more intuitive to use than other top choices, like the Bio Ionic and Revlon.
This dryer is a fine pick, but did not deliver the same smooth results as our top pick despite performing similarly when it came to air and heat—the maximum temperature this reached is only 1°F cooler than BaBylissPro, for reference.
Drybar is a salon known for its amazing blowouts, so I was curious knowing how its dryer would fare amongst others on this list. My hair was damp but nowhere near soaking when I began drying, as I left it in my microfiber towel for about 15 minutes after my shower.
In just a couple minutes, I dried my hair enough to break out a round brush and start styling it straight with the concentrator nozzle. The click-in nozzle took a few attempts to get in place—more effort than I needed with any other dryer—but ultimately locked in fine. In about 20 minutes, I was able to get my hair looking straight enough to wear out, though not as smooth as I’d prefer.
Something that stood out to me with this dryer was that I could touch the dryer barrel and nozzle within a minute of finishing my hair, whereas other dryers feel burning hot and I have to be careful to let it cool before taking off the nozzle and stowing it away.
The Drybar Buttercup has two switches on the inside of the handle—one with three heat options and one with two power settings—giving the same intuitive design as the BaBylissPro and DevaCurl.
Panasonic Nanoe Salon Hair Dryer with Oscillating Quick-Dry Nozzle
Panasonic created its Nanoe Hair Dryer with an attachment that oscillates to give your arms some relief. While testing this dryer, I evaluated this feature in addition to its regular drying abilities.
The oscillating attachment presented some challenges. First, it took me several attempts to figure out how to activate the attachment, despite reading the instructions (it turned out I was over-complicating it). Then, the attachment caused my hair to tangle while in motion, though you may not notice this as much if you have silkier hair unlike my textured hair that binds together easily.
It took me a total of 15 minutes to dry my hair on the low setting—high felt too hot, and heat and airflow can’t be controlled independently here. I chose not to style my hair with this dryer, as I wanted to test its claim of cutting down on drying time using the oscillating nozzle, but I noted that my hair looked “crazy” after the 15 minutes and would require a pass through with a straightener if I wanted to wear it down.
Still, I would expect that result with any of these dryers if I didn’t specifically pull my hair taut and try to straighten it, so I don’t fault the dryer. However, it didn’t really help to cut my drying time down.
Aside from the snags, I liked this dryer fine. It didn’t wow me, but I appreciated the innovative idea that indeed kept my arm from feeling as tired throughout the drying process. All of the controls are also very intuitive, albeit less customizable, with a single switch that toggles among off, low, and high.
Includes innovative oscillating nozzle
Speed and heat settings can't be controlled independently
Shark HyperAIR Hair Dryer with IQ 2-in-1 Concentrator and Styling Brush
The Shark Hyperair looks like a dupe for the double-the-price Dyson Supersonic. It forgoes a long barrel and instead opts for a short, wide one that, like the Dyson, acts as the control center with three buttons for air and three for heat. Both sets of buttons even light up white and red, respectively, like the Dyson.
This landed higher than the Dyson on our list because it felt more comfortable to hold, thanks to its better weight distribution, but I have similar criticisms for both tools. The medium heat and air settings dried my hair in 20 minutes, with the finished ‘do looking semi-straight but poofy. But the higher airflow, even on medium heat, was intense and whipped my hair around at times.
Would I use this again? Sure. But I could get my hair to look sleeker with other, more affordable options on this list.
The Harry Josh 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 20 minutes, which coincidentally was about the same amount of time it took to dry my hair.
No hair dryer list would be complete without the super-pricey Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer. Its diminutive but powerful motor lives inside the Supersonic's handle instead of the head, differentiating it from the other models we've tested.
The design lends itself to being more balanced and, in theory, more ergonomically pleasant to use. However, placing the motor inside of the handle means an ultra-light barrel that leads to an awkward weight imbalance, most noticeable when I was maneuvering it around my head to dry my roots before moving onto styling.
I liked that the Supersonic's control buttons are located on the head of the dryer as opposed to in its handle, and that they light up to show which of the three heat or air settings I’m using. Their placement keeps them from accidentally engaging while the hair dryer is in use—an issue that some hair dryers suffer from.
Its “cool mode” button locks into place so that you don’t have to keep squeezing it to keep it on—a nice touch if you like to use the function to “set” your hair after styling with hot air. The Supersonic comes with two smoothing nozzles and a diffuser, all of which attach to the hair dryer magnetically in a snap.
I saw poofy but fully dry results after 30 minutes of using the Dyson and a round brush—a little longer than some. While the Supersonic works well enough, there are far less expensive hair dryers that you can invest in that will yield similar, if not better, results.
Conair InfinitiPRO by Conair Quick Styling Salon Hair Dryer
This low-priced Conair embodies the differences between a high-end dryer and a budget one. It was noticeably heavier, seemed louder, and had a weaker air stream than its competition.
Like most of the blow dryers, it has two speed and three heat settings, but the low speed setting isn’t powerful enough while the high one feels uncontrollable, which led to my hair getting tossed around and looking poofy instead of smooth and straightened. Sure, it’ll dry your hair at a fraction of the price of others, but so will our Best Value pick, which works way better.
I wanted this beautiful dryer to be a star performer like the celebrity hair stylist who branded it, as it’s easily accessible at Target and comes in sleek white-and-gold packaging. Unfortunately, looks are 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 measuring at about the same volume as the rest, because of its higher-pitched tone, and that made the whole experience offputting. It performed fine in terms of its power, but the thing that made it stand out from the pack was its pitchy tone—in a bad way.
The first thing that stood out about this blow dryer was its lightweight build—it’s a perfect travel hair dryer. It’s similar in size and shape to the Shark Hyperair, but feels even lighter and looks sleeker with its white and gold exterior. That positive aside, its airflow isn’t powerful enough to stack up with the others on this list.
It gently tossed my hair around even at the highest speed and it took me about 28 minutes to get my hair to look semi-straight, but it was still damp in some spots and puffier than I’d prefer. I tried it on medium and high heat settings and found the former sufficed but the latter felt too hot. I’d use this again in a pinch, but its lightweight, attractive design is the most appealing thing about it.
The budget-minded Remington was another dryer that hurt my ears with its high-pitched hum—something I could look past if the performance was superior to others on this list. But it wasn’t: This dried my hair in about 25 minutes with the results straight but not sleek enough, even after I switched both the heat and speed settings from medium to high.
Its humdrum performance was not for a lack of heat, either—I felt a big difference between the heat settings, with the medium being about right and the hot one feeling too intense.
The primary positive to this dryer is that it was comfortable to wield. It didn’t feel too heavy and the weight was evenly distributed in the head and the handle. Aside from that one aspect, this dryer was only passable.
Hot Tools Pro Signature Ionic Ceramic Salon Hair Dryer
This dryer from Hot Tools isn’t bad—it’s just not great, either. It dried my hair in 25 minutes with semi-straight results. Like a few of the ones above it, I’d use it in a pinch, but nothing about its performance, build, or buttons stood out from the pack.
I’m Jessica Kasparian, the beauty editor at Reviewed, and I test everything from makeup to skincare to hair care. I have medium-textured, wavy-curly hair and, at the time of testing, my hair was damaged on the ends (thanks, bleach) and measured about 10 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 hair straightener. If I want to wear my hair naturally curly, I don’t use any hot tools to style it.
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 over a dozen hair dryers at a wide range of costs, 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.
Before blow drying my hair with each product, I handed them over to our scientists for lab testing. Our technicians put each appliance through a gamut of tests to measure airflow speed, temperature settings, weight, and sound.
For example, to measure air streams, we balanced a pingpong 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 pingpong ball, using the lab’s brick wall as the measuring stick. The BaBylissPro and Conair dryers aced this test, keeping pingpong balls hovering far above the rest.
From there, I tested each one at home to see how quickly I could achieve a smooth blowout. I 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 any annoying details, like if it was extremely loud or high-pitched.
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 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.
Finally, 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 to Consider Before Buying a Hair Dryer
Just because a hair dryer can get hotter, doesn’t mean it’s better—higher temperatures don’t necessarily yield straighter or smoother results. In fact, having adjustable heat settings is better than just one hot temperature because you may find a setting causes your scalp to burn or your hair to feel scorched.
Adjustable temperatures are also great to fit with various hair types, so anyone with fine hair can reduce damage to their strands by using a lower heat setting. Meanwhile, those who are prone to frizz can use a lower speed setting to hopefully reduce fly-aways with more intentional blow drying.
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 1.8 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 because of how its weight is distributed. One example: The lighter-weight Dyson feels heavier because its weight is in its large handle and long cord, which drag down your wrist.
Look at any blow dryer at the store and its box will say it's "quieter than the competition." To test that claim, we brought the dryers into our soundproof headphone lab and measured the volume of each hair dryer on its loudest setting. All of the dryers hovered between 7.5 and 8.4 dbA—about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.
However, the hair dryers all sound quite 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.
Your Hair Type
If you’re going for a traditional blow out look, it may be harder to accomplish on naturally wavy or curly hair. It’s not impossible, but you’ll certainly need a high-quality dryer (preferably one with ionic technology or hair smoothing abilities) to help cut down on frizz, or you may want to opt for a hair dryer brush.
However, if you typically like to embrace your natural curls, a diffuser attachment can be a great way to add some bounce and volume to your hair. In this case it may be worth purchasing a hair dryer that already comes with a diffuser included, like the DevaCurl Dryer & Diffuser Combo (available at Amazon) .
Thinner hair strands are often the easiest to blow dry as they typically don’t require very high heat settings to get a frizz free result. With that being said, it’s probably best to avoid ionic hair dryers if you have fine hair.
The technology in these dryers can make your smooth strands look a little too sleek, taking away the volume that you were trying to create by blowing out your hair in the first place.
For thick hair, you’ll want a well-rounded blow dryer that can reach higher temperatures (and speeds) to get the job done. One that delivers adequate drying power so you aren’t left with exhausted arms half way through your blow out, like the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Dryer (available at Amazon) , is great for fast drying when it comes to long, thick hair.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.