The Best Hair Styling Tools of 2018

By Jessica Teich

There's a reason we spend so much time and money at the hair salon: It can seem near-impossible to create salon-beautiful hair at home. Styling your own hair can quickly turn into an expensive mess of tangled cords, fatigued arms, and sweat-induced frizz. Over the past year, we've tested tons of top-rated styling tools at all different price points to find the best of the best so that you can recreate salon hairstyles by yourself at home.

From excellent curling irons and wands, to super effective straighteners with great safety features, to hair dryers that take the stress out of styling, we've rounded up the best tools on the market from $16 to $250 (pricey, yes, but also worth it). Got hair thats super fine, kinky-curly, damaged, or full of cowlicks? Don't worry: no matter what hair issue you're dealing with, we've got you covered. Here are our top picks.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated October 09, 2018

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The Best Hair Dryers

We tested nine of the most popular hair dryers on the market, from drugstore to boutique brands. We wanted dryers that would really perform over time, so each week, I used a new hair dryer to dry my thick, long, curly hair into a smooth, straight blowout (regardless of how you plan to use your dryer, a controlled blowout tells you everything you need to know about the hair dryer's performance). We compared the time it took to style, considered special features, and then scored weight, balance, and loudness of each dryer to find the best. For more info, head to our full roundup of the best hair dryers. Here are our top picks.

Harry Josh best luxury hair dryer
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000

  • Editors' Choice

Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000

best luxury hair dryer

Our main takeaway: A compact hair dryer with speedy dry time that results in an unbelievably smooth, sleek blowout and a nice, long cord.

Settings: Two heat settings and a cool shot, two speeds, and an option for ionic drying.

Included attachments: Two smoothing nozzles.

The details: The compact size of this retro mint-colored dryer proves that great things come in small packages. At $300, this French-made dryer is certainly no bargain—it’s even venturing into investment territory. But the resulting blowout was the sleekest I’ve ever gotten my crazy curly hair at home—in just 22 minutes.

The dryer didn't fatigue my arm at all while drying due to its well-balance design (and because it's small enough to act as a travel-sized dryer). Its size can take a bit of getting used to since the weight is distributed differently than larger dryers. It has a lengthy 9.7-foot cord which is great if your outlet isn't right next to your mirror, and the controls are on the back of the handle, which prevents you from accidentally changing settings while you’re drying.

One con: if you want the diffuser attachment, expect to spend another $30. Best of all, I stayed cool throughout the entire blowout.

For more on our favorite blow dryers and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best hair dryers.

Revlon best budget hair dryer
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

Revlon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer

Revlon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer

best budget hair dryer

Our main takeaway: A great dryer at an absurdly low price for the impressive dry time and features it offers.

Settings: Two heat settings and a cool shot, and two speeds.

Included attachments: A smoothing nozzle and a diffuser for curly hair.

The details: At first glance, I thought this dryer would be cheap and unimpressive. The cool shot button was loose with a distinctly plasticky rattle, and there's a gimmicky light ring at the end of the nozzle glows red during use—both of these seemed foreboding for the blowout to follow. Imagine my surprise when this dryer delivered a quick, pretty blowout and aced our lab tests.

At 0.8 pounds it’s among the lightest dryers we tested. Like the Harry Josh, the heat and power lever-style buttons are on the back of the handle, which can take some getting used to but keeps them out of the way when you’re styling your hair. It’s a great trade-off.

This Revlon clocked in as our quietest dryer by a slim margin, and dried my hair in a speedy 21 minutes and 44 seconds (just a hair faster than our top luxury pick!). However, the resulting blowout wasn’t as sleek as the one I achieved with the Harry Josh dryer.

It's a little top-heavy and awkwardly long (I hit my low ceilings with the butt end of the dryer a few times before acclimating), but its feather-light weight prevents it from being too strenuous on my arm. The cord is only 5.6 feet long, so make sure you have an outlet next to your mirror before buying this one. It's certainly not top-of-the-line quality or design, but it’s far and away the best budget dryer we tested. At $16, it’s staggeringly cheap for the quick, effective blowout it offers.

For more on our favorite blow dryers and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best hair dryers.

The Best Straightening Irons

What makes a good flat iron? Heat adjustability, value, ease of use, safety features, button placement, and cord length (among others). To find the best straighteners, I ran many different models through my hair in the same way each time to achieve my desired style. We then graded each iron's specs, including cord length, iron weight, and total area of the plates and how effective it was at styling. For more info, head to our full roundup of the best straightening irons These are our top picks.

PM best luxury straightener
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Iron

  • Editors' Choice

Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Iron

best luxury straightener

Our main takeaway: A sturdy straightener with large plates, perfectly positioned buttons, and customizable settings.

Safety features: Customizable auto shut-off.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 450º.

Ready-to-use notification: Chimes when ready, and has a digital screen that displays temperature.

The details: This flat iron is a standout. Its 1.25-inch plates are great for long hair since they cover more surface area at once. The plates hold hair firmly and smoothly without ever snagging, resulting in a nice, sleek style. The on/off and heat adjustment buttons are smooth and tucked inside the clamp of the iron, which keeps you from accidentally hitting them as you style. Better yet, their flat design keeps them from getting caught in your hair.

If you use a flat iron frequently, this Paul Mitchell is a great value and investment for what it offers—you'll be hard pressed to find a heat tool of this quality and caliber at a lower price.

For more on our favorite straightening irons and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best straighteners.

Remington best budget straightener
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Remington Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener

Remington Anti-Static Ceramic Hair Straightener

best budget straightener

Our main takeaway: A bargain flat iron with extra-long plates that results in a salon-quality smooth style.

Safety features: None.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 410º.

Ready-to-use notification: Bars on digital screen oscillate until it's up to temperature, then remain steady.

The details: This budget buy works shockingly well and results in a style that’s salon-quality shiny. The plates are almost cushiony, so you don’t need to push too hard to get a nice, smooth style without ever snagging hair. At 4.5 inches, the plates were the longest we found, so you can tackle a large swath of hair at once. The resulting style is very shiny—I was able to skip serum.

Of course, at this price, there are cons: The iron feels lightweight, plasticky, and cheaply made, which makes me wonder how long this thing would actually last. Because of the long plates, the handles get hot, too. The buttons are well-designed but positioned on the side of the iron, so it’s possible to accidentally press them during styling. The cord is a measly 6 feet long, and the notification when it’s up to temperature is tough to see. Nonetheless, it's still a great pick for the style and ease of use it offers at such a low price.

For more on our favorite straightening irons and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best straighteners.

best straightening brush best straightening brush
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush

Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush

best straightening brush

Our main takeaway: A shockingly effective heated hair brush that cuts straightening time in half, but isn't super versatile.

Safety features: 1 hour auto shut-off.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 450ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Live temperature reading on LED screen.

The details: Initially, I didn't expect much from a heated hair brush and doubted it could coax my super-curly hair into a sleek style. Turns out the joke was on me: not only did the brush get my mane pin-straight, but it did so in half the time of a traditional straightener, leaving plenty body left at the roots without feeling fried or flat. It heats up quickly to give shiny, smooth results in one or two passes with ceramic bristles.

However, it has pretty much one function: Straighten. If you use a flat iron to tame flyaways, create waves and curls, and tame curly styles, this brush may not be for you, but if you're looking for a tool to traditionally straighten your hair, then the Amika brush is the tool for the job—and can do so in half the time of a straightener. 

The Best Curling Irons and Wands

We rounded up the best curling irons and wands at all price points to find which one reigns supreme. I tested the irons the same way you might: I curled my hair with each one and let the style breathe for the day. Unlike you, though, I teamed up with Reviewed’s senior scientist to score and weight results on a scientifically calibrated rubric on things like safety features, heat settings, durability, cord length, and quality of the resulting style. For more info, head to our full roundup of the best curling wands and irons. These wound up being our favorites.

The best curling iron and curling wand best curling iron
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron

  • Editors' Choice

Beachwaver S1 Curling Iron

best curling iron

Our main takeaway: An awesome rotating wand with a tiny clamp that cuts styling time in half.

Safety features: 30-minute auto shut-off.

Heat settings: Adjustable to the degree up to 410ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Live temperature reading on LED screen.

The details: This iron is a non-hyperbolic game-changer: It takes the grunt work out of styling. With most irons, you have to manually twist your hair around the rod. Thanks to this clever invention that curls your hair for you (at two different speeds and in two different directions), your styling time is cut in half. To use, secure hair using a tiny clamp and press a button to send the entire barrel and your piece of hair spinning.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Beyond its infamous spinning technology, the iron is easy to use. It has a well-designed handle that’s comfortable to hold, has adjustable heating settings and auto shut-off, and it rests sturdily on any countertop. The little clamp doesn't kink or pull hair, either. As a die-hard wand user, the motorized Beachwaver is something I didn’t even know I was missing until I tried it. Now, it’s hard to look back.

For more on our favorite curling irons and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best curling irons and wands.

The best curling iron and curling wand best curling wand
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand

  • Editors' Choice

GHD Curve Creative Curl Wand

best curling wand

Our main takeaway: A unique design that keeps curls from looking too uniform and unnatural, with a crazy-fast preheat.

Safety features: 30-minute auto shut-off, heat-resistant glove.

Heat settings: Just one, 365ºF.

Ready-to-use notification: Chimes loudly when ready.

The details: The unique design of this GHD sets this iron ahead of the pack: At the base, it starts as a round barrel and graduates to a flat oval at the top. That shape keeps curls from looking too perfect and unnatural. Also, the barrel is tapered only slightly—from 1-inch to 0.9-inch—so hair doesn’t slip frustratingly to the skinny end. Its finish is just gritty enough to keep hair in place, instead of sliding off a super-glossy finish like we experienced in other tests.

Here’s the best part: It heats up in a hard-to-believe six seconds. There is a downside though. Despite a quick preheat, the iron doesn’t have heat adjustability but rather stays at a steady 365ºF. Even though that temperature was enough to hold a lasting curl in pin-straight hair, some adjustability for different hair types is always ideal.

The trade-off is that, because it only has a power button that you have to hold down for a good two seconds, you won’t accidentally change settings mid-style. The wand is lightweight and balanced with a nice, long cord and a cool-tip end to keep you from burning your neck and forehead (we’ve all been there). It has a well-placed kickstand that prevents the hot iron from teetering forward onto your vanity. Some heat adjustability or additional sizes could improve this iron, but it’s very solid as is.

For more on our favorite curling irons and info on how we made our picks, head to our roundup of the best curling irons and wands.

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