The Best Hair Dryers

The best hair dryer will help you achieve frizz-free locks in record time. That means a high wind speed and generous temperature range. To find the best, we consulted three stylists, then measured and tested the 14 most popular dryers ourselves. In the end, we found four top picks that achieve the best results on the most hair types.

Editor's note:
  • October 17, 2018 - Our budget pick, the Xtava Allure Pro, has been recalled and discontinued. We’ll plan to examine more budget-friendly dryers in the future. In the meantime, we’re no longer recommending the Xtava and have removed it from our review.

The 4 Best Hair Dryers

Best for Most People
Devacurl DevaDryer and Devafuser
Devacurl DevaDryer
Its high temperatures can help thick or highly textured hair achieve any style.
Pros
Impressive range
Enhanced diffuser
Compact size
Cons
Minor usability issue

Why we chose it

Impressive heat range

It has the widest temperature range of all our tested hair dryers — no matter your hair type, it has your back. It came in second only to the Dyson in wind speed, hitting 54 mph — still plenty fast to get your hair dried quickly, and was #1 in terms of heat, reaching 230 degrees at its hottest.

Enhanced diffuser

A regular diffuser blows air into your hair from one direction. The finger-fronds of the Devafuser not only feature holes on all sides, giving you hot air from 360 degrees, they get that air deep into the curls and close to your scalp. The result? A more evenly produced heat to dry your hair faster. One of our testers with thick, voluminous hair brought her styling time down from 30 minutes to eight.

DevaCurl-Collage for Hair Dryer

Compact size

We also loved how compact it felt, despite being a full-sized dryer. It does weigh a bit more than the Dyson, but all our testers finished drying before their arms got tired. It ranks right in the middle for volume, but in all honesty, we couldn’t hear a difference between the DevaDryer and our lower-decibel dryers.

Points to consider

Minor usability issue

Like most of our dryers, the switches are on the front of the handle, so you’ll have to be careful where you place your fingers and how hard you grip it. It’s easy to switch back to your preferred setting, but it was still annoying to have to pause mid-styling because we accidentally moved the switch.

Upgrade Pick
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Dyson Supersonic
This small but powerful dryer can help you create a salon-worthy blow out in record time.
Pros
Advanced design
Great results
Numerous heat settings
Cons
Not enough heat to straighten thick, coarse curls

Why we chose it

Advanced design

The Dyson has a top-of-the-line motor which produces its chart-topping 65 mph while being quiet enough to hold a conversation. It has one of the widest temperature ranges of all tested dryers, and contains a microchip specifically to self-regulate its heat levels, going above and beyond to protect your hair from damage. That combination of speed and heat saw rapidly reduced dry times: one tester cut her time in half.

Dyson Collage2 for Hair Dryer

The Dyson looks and feels like the Macbook Pro of hair dryers — its diffuser and concentrator attach magnetically.

Great results

The Dyson excelled in the one test that separates a great hair dryer from the best: Results. If you have straight hair, or if you’re looking for a dryer that can reach those ultra cool temperatures for damaged and color-treated hair, the Dyson can give you smooth, shiny, frizz-free locks.

Numerous heat settings

Testers quickly took note of smaller details, right out of the box, and loved the light-up display. It has the most heat settings of our dryers, giving you 12 different combinations of heat and speed to customize to your hair needs. And since the Dyson automatically turns on to the last used setting, you don’t have to worry about which heat and which speed you liked, no matter how long between styling sessions.

Points to consider

Not enough heat to straighten thick, coarse curls

Our one request for the next generation of Dyson? Give us a little more heat. We know it’s possible; a few of our other dryers hit 200 degrees and higher. One tester with thick curly hair saw worse results with the concentrator than with the diffuser — and we know why: the Dyson caps out at 170 degrees, which isn’t hot enough to straighten a lot of curls into an epic blow-out.

People with coarse hair, or a lot of hair, will still see shorter dry times because of the Dyson’s super-fast wind speeds, and if you have thin, fine curls, the Dyson can help you achieve a straighter blow-out, though it might not be as fast as the DevaDryer.

Price

We can’t ignore the Dyson's $400 price tag. While we do think its functionality and features of the Dyson merit its price, it’s still twice the price of its closest competitors.

Runner-Up
Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer
Drybar Buttercup
A well-designed dryer that leaves hair feeling fuller.
Pros
Decent performance and results
Unique concentrators
Cons
Low wind speed

Why we chose it

Decent performance and results

The Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer produces gorgeous results and offers some nice design touches. It scored well both in temperature (with a great range of 70–200 degrees) and performance. Our testers found that after using the Buttercup, their hair felt fuller and had less frizz. There were mixed results on whether it improved shine, but their hair did feel much softer.

Unique concentrators

We loved the Buttercup’s two unique concentrators. They come with the standard flat edge on one side, as well as a scalloped edge that our testers found useful in making sure the heat was dispersed evenly across the hair. The diffuser, called “The Bouncer,” costs extra, but we found it easy to attach, with a bowl wide enough to handle large curls without swallowing up shorter or thinner hair.

Drybar Collage2 for Hair Dryer

Points to consider

Low wind speed

The Buttercup’s biggest flaw is wind speed: it only reaches 38 mph. That's faster than all of our budget dryers, but still on the slower side — not great for very thick or coarse hair. Even though our testers loved their results, they weren’t impressed by the lower speed.

Runner-Up
Harry Josh Pro Tools Dryer 2000
Harry Josh Pro Tools
Our lightest option is best suited for medium thick, medium coarse hair types.
Pros
Compact size
Easy to use
Cons
Appeals to fewer hair types
Diffuser sold separately

Why we chose it

Compact size

The Harry Josh Pro Tools Dryer is tiny, but it packs a punch. Our testers reported seeing the smoother, shinier results compared to the other standard dryers they tested, and despite its relatively average wind speed, it cut down the time it took testers to dry their hair compared to their regular hair dryer.

Easy to use

It’s also easy to use — the buttons are tucked out of the way on the back of the handle, where your palm sits, so it’s almost impossible to accidentally switch a setting the wrong way. It’s compact, and with the minty green color, it’s honestly pretty cute.

Harry Josh Collage2 for Hair Dryer

Points to consider

Appeals to fewer hair types

It’s biggest flaw is its narrow temperature range: 110 degrees at its lowest and 150 degrees at its hottest. This dryer works best for people aiming for a straighter hair style, with either medium hair thickness or medium hair density. If your hair type falls on either side of those spectrums — very fine or quite coarse, extra thin or tons of hair — approach this dryer with greater caution. It wasn’t designed with curly styles in mind, either.

Diffuser sold separately

When we first saw this dryer up close, we were a little hesitant about whether it was more cute than useful. As it stands, the dryer functions well enough but the diffuser isn’t included, and for $30, we’d like it better if it didn’t look and feel like a cheap piece of plastic.

How to Find the Right Hair Dryer for You

Determine your hair type

If your hair is strong enough to take the heat without being damaged (and needs the heat to get it dry in a reasonable amount of time), make sure your dryer reaches at least 150 degrees, and preferably hotter. Fine, thin, dyed, or damaged? Stay under 150 degrees. If your hair fits multiple of those criteria, stay under 100 degrees — keeping it hot will be more likely to damage your hair in the long run. Knowing what your hair can handle will help you determine just how powerful (heating and speed) you need your dryer to be.

“A hair dryer is a tool, not the be-all and end-all. A good dryer with enough power and the right technology helps to resolve the question of, ‘How hard do I have to work to achieve this style?’”

Erika Jaggars Jaggars Salon, Seattle, WA

Consider ionic technology

Ions help break water droplets apart into smaller water droplets, so the heat is still evenly distributed through the water on your hair, and reduces your overall drying time.

Ions also cut down on hair frizz and improve hair shine by encouraging your hair cuticle to close. The cuticle opens in heat and humidity — a good thing for conditioning your hair in the shower! But when left open, each hair strand stays rough, and as they rub against each other they start to break — leading to frizz and some hair loss. The cuticle needs to be closed to keep your hair healthy and shining.

Ionic technology does come with one reservation: it does its job a bit too well for straight and fine hair. Our experts agreed that ions were amazing for people with more curly, or damaged hair, but were mixed when it came to whether they would advise it for the straight and fine hair types. Instead, product and technique become more important to get volume.

Don’t forget about upkeep

It’s a good idea to clean the filter at least once a month. A dirty filter will slow down the amount of air drawn into the hair dryer, dragging down your wind speed and reducing the lifespan of your hair dryer. Most dryers have a removable filter which gets rinsed with clean, cool water. Just make sure it’s completely dry before reattaching it to your hair dryer.

If you have a non-removable filter, use a soft, dry brush or a small vacuum to remove the dust bunnies. Keep an eye on your fingers though, because some filters have sharp edges.

Hair Dryer FAQ

How else can I deal with frizz?

Every hair strand is made of three parts, and the outer part is called the cuticle. It’s made up of tiny overlapping scales. Celebrity Hairstylist StacyK, founder of JustUS®, told us that curly or chemically-treated strands of hair are naturally more open than with other hair types. Each strand is coarse, and rubs against the other hairs around it, creating frizz.

To reduce that friction, regularly moisturize your hair with conditioner. Then, when drying, aim the dryer away from your head, to force the cuticle closed. When your hair is dry, finish up with the cool shot. This helps seal the cuticle and make it lie flat, setting your style.

Do I really need a concentrator or a diffuser?

“If you have fine, damaged, or colored hair, you’ll want to use a lower temperature and speed to avoid damaging your hair. If you have coarse, thick hair, use high heat with high speed.”

Adel Chabbi Adel Atelier Salon, New York

While it’s possible to use your dryer without, you might be adding more work to your morning routine than you need to. Which one you use depends on your hair type, and the hairstyle you want to achieve. For straight hair, Jaggars explained that pairing a concentrator with a flat brush results in a smoother, straighter, and less frizzy appearance.

For wavy and curlier styles, or simply a little more relaxed look, a diffuser will be your best friend. By adding more air, it helps increase volume, and gets down into the hair strands to disperse heat into curls. For this attachment, skip the brush entirely. Instead, Adel recommends loosely using your fingers to section your hair and apply product.

What about travel dryers?

The convenience of a travel dryer’s size is offset by the diminished power it has in comparison to the ones we’ve tested. We skipped any travel dryers and those that didn’t have enough wattage to power through a full blow out (anything less than 1350 watts won’t cut it).

Unless you’re traveling, you should stick to normal-sized dryers if you want you want to efficiently dry your hair. Even then, if you have room to pack a normal-sized dryer, we still recommend that over a travel dryer.

The Best Hair Dryers: Summed Up

Devacurl DevaDryer
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer
Harry Josh Pro Tools Dryer
The best
Best for most people
Upgrade pick
Runner-up
Runner-up
Approximate price
$154
$400
$225
$229
Temperature range
70–230ºF
80–170ºF
70–200ºF
110–150ºF
Wind speed
54 mph
65 mph
38 mph
47 mph
Weight
19.5 oz
16.5 oz
17.4 oz
19.7 oz
Average Decibels
91.5
87.5
91
93