8 best hair dryers of 2021: Top blow dryers, shared by hairstylists

Hairstylists break down the different types of hair dryers and recommended the best hair dryers for every hair type

Hair experts weigh in on how to find a blow dryer that complements your hair texture and styling needs. Shop their picks from Dyson, ghd, Harry Josh Pro Tools and more. Dyson

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With the return to normal underway, you may be looking to primp and prep your hair as you begin to hang out with other fully vaccinated people. One hair product you may want to consider investing in is a high-quality blow dryer to style your hair at home. A hair dryer is an essential hot tool that can help add volume and shine to your hair and either straighten your strands or enhance your curl pattern, depending on the attachments you use.

LEARN MORE How to shop for a hair dryer, according to experts

Blow dryers also make an excellent beauty gift idea for your loved ones and yourself. We consulted celebrity hairstylists for their expert recommendations and tips. Their must-have product recommendations are available across Shopping reader favorite retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom and Walmart along with directly through brands like Dyson. We also rounded up No. 1 bestsellers across popular retailers like Target and Macy’s.

Best hair dryers of 2021

Best overall hair dryer: Dyson

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer

"A lot of stylists love the Dyson, and there's a lot of reasons why," said Andrew Fitzsimons, a celebrity hairstylist. "It's super lightweight and compact, which makes it easy to use on long session days and easy to transport between jobs," he noted. Hairstylist Courtney Foster called the Supersonic her "all-time favorite blow dryer," noting that "it prevents heat damage by regulating direct heat on the hair strands, eliminates frizz and provides high shine, which is crucial when it comes to getting the perfect blowout." Stefan Bertin — celebrity hairstylist to Letitia Wright and Alessandro Ambrosio — said the shine it provides hair is "unbeatable," and the quiet motor is another big draw for him. "I'm very softly spoken, so clients usually can't hear me when I'm drying their hair, but the Supersonic is so, so quiet," he said. Jhonatan Rendon — who styles Christian Siriano and Lindsay Lohan — also recommended the Dyson because the "hair dryer is engineered to protect hair from extreme heat damage." Kristen Shaw, a celebrity hairstylist, also "loves" the Dyson blow dryer because it is "lightweight, [heats up to] the perfect temperature, reduces blowdry time and is more energy-efficient," she said.

Best 2-in-1 Hair Dryer: Revlon

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer

One of the most challenging parts about an at-home blow out is nailing down your technique. The highly rated Revlon hair dryer aims to simplify the hair styling process by simultaneously smoothing your strands with nylon and tufted bristles and drying your hair. Due to its oval shape, you can get close to your roots to create massive volume and bouncy movement. Revlon’s blow dryer sports three heat and three speed settings, along with a cooling feature to help your style last longer. The One-Step hair dryer sports ionic technology to dry your hair quickly, and it has earned a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 257,000 reviews, making it Amazon’s No. 1 seller in hot air brushes and the second bestseller across all beauty and personal care products on the site.It also earned a spot on our list of the best hair products of 2021.

Best lightweight hair dryer: ghd

ghd Helios hair dryer

Bertin previously used the more affordable ghd Air blow dryer. However, he said the new Helios hair dryer "outdoes it" because "it's lightweight, so you have great control and your arms don't ache after five minutes.”. Bertin noted it takes less time to dry hair with the Helios model, and he called it "really powerful but not overly hot or damaging." He also noted that both the ghd and Dyson blow dryers are "advanced," and both "work perfectly with all hair textures and types" — the brands both offer diffusers and afro comb attachments, so "all bases are covered, whether you want a sleek or curly look." Rendon also recommended the ghd Helios blow dryer, noting that it’s "lighter, faster and [it offers] more precise styling." "[It's an] amazing blow dryer for all hair types. You can also get the nozzle comb and add it for hair with texture or tight curls," he noted. It received a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 350 reviews on Ulta.

Best Nano Titanium Hair Dryer: BaByliss

Babyliss Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer

Foster, who is based in New York, uses this hair dryer in her salon and recommends it to any client "that needs a blow dryer at home but does not necessarily use it often." She noted because the blow dryer is infused with nano titanium properties, it helps prepare hair in the blowout process by removing static and closing the hair cuticles. The ionic dryer has six heat and speed settings, comes with two concentrator nozzles and is available in two colors: Blue and Black. It received a 4.6-star average rating from more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon.

Best hair dryer created by a hairstylist: Harry Josh Pro Tools

Harry Josh Pro Tools Ultra Light Pro Dryer

Celebrity hairstylist Caile Noble — Natasha Lyonne, Sofia Carson, Lili Reinhart and Hailee Steinfeld— called this hair dryer's 12 heat and speed settings as the “key in making this dryer perfect for all hair types.” He noted the airflow speeds up drying time and the adjustable ion technology allows him to achieve frizz-free, shinier hair. Shaw also keeps the Harry Josh hair dryer in her pro kit because "it has excellent settings that range from cool to hot, and it's a cute [mint green] color, too." It weighs less than 1 pound, so it's comfortable to hold when you're drying your hair at home. If you like to hold your nozzle while drying your strands, consider purchasing the Long Nozzle Concentrator, which has a patented Cool Air Flex Technology so you don't accidentally burn your hands. Harry Josh Pro Tools claims the blow dryer’s dual filtration system helps reduce energy consumption, and it boasts a motor speed of 94 mph as well as an 11-foot extension cord. If you want to save $100, opt for the Pro Dryer 2000, the go-to blow dryer for Shopping writer Nicole Saunders. It earned a 4.74-star average rating from 87 reviews on Dermstore.

Best travel-friendly hair dryer: InStyler

InStyler Turbo Ionic Blow Dryer

Shaw — who styles Hilary Swank, Jodie Comer and Shailene Woodley — called the InStyler her "favorite" travel hair dryer, noting the "cute and mini" dryer — which weighs less than 1 pound — fits into any bag she carries. "The best thing about it is that even though it's tiny, it generates a lot of heat so even while you're traveling, you can lock in the baby hairs and smooth your frizz," she said. The Turbo comes with a diffuser for curly hair textures and a concentrator which helps reduce flyaways — the dryer sports an infinity dial so you can customize both the temperature and negative ions it emits based on your hair needs.

Best affordable hair dryer: Red by Kiss

Red by Kiss Ceramic 2500 Turbo Dryer

"This dryer is so lightweight and isn't too much of a burden on your arms, which is key when you're using it all day at the salon," said Annagjid "Kee" Taylor, a celebrity hairstylist and author of "All Hair Is Good Hair." "I love that it gets hot very quickly — but not too hot, of course — and comes with an air concentrator attachment, which allows you to concentrate the heat on sections of hair without damaging the integrity of the curl pattern," she said." It also sports tourmaline ceramic technology, which helps seal in moisture and prevent frizzy hair. The ceramic iron received a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 100 reviews on Amazon.

Best investment-worthy hair dryer: Gamma Professional

Gama Professional IQ hair dryer

When Kevin Murphy, celebrity hairstylist and founder of his namesake hair care line, wants to shape hair, he uses the “super lightweight” (just over 0.5 pounds) Gama Professional IQ hair dryer. “If I'm doing brush work for volume and bounce, it's not too heavy in my hands, and I don't feel fatigued at the end of the blow dry,” he said. The Gama blow dryer includes a long concentrator nozzle that, when combined with a hair volumizer, can achieve “a concentrated precision blast for root lift,” according to Murphy. It’s also ergonomically designed with the brand’s Oxy Active Technology, which Gama claims blasts oxygen to help lock in your hair style. Additionally, it boasts auto-cleaning tech and has a total of 18 possible configurations so you can customize the hair dryer based on your styling needs for the day. The Gama Professional IQ hair dryer earned 4.2-star average rating from more than 130 reviews.

When the water that's in your hair strands heats up too quickly, it can cause bubbles (like boiling water) that causes damage to your strands. The result is breakage, frizz, a more brittle texture

Annagjid ‘Kee’ Taylor, celebrity hairstylist, author of ‘All Hair Is Good Hair’

Other hair dryers worth considering

We rounded up a few top rated blow dryers across various budgets at Shopping reader favorite retailers, ranging from beauty speciality stores like Sephora to emporiums like Walmart.

Walmart bestseller: Revlon

Revlon Essentials Hair Dryer

Revlon’s hair dryer is the No. 1 bestselling model at Walmart, and it boasts a 4.5-star average rating from more than 1,030 reviews on the site. Beyond being made in four colors — which range from a vibrant Pink to a neutral Black — this portable blow dryer weighs around 1.2 pounds. It offers multiple heat settings and a cool shot button, and it employs ceramic technology to distribute heat evenly.

Target bestseller: Conair

Conair Hair Dryer

Conair’s affordable hair dryer costs less than $10 at Target, and it earned a 4.6-star average from more than 7,50 reviews on Amazon. While it doesn’t come equipped with the latest tech like the more expensive models previously mentioned on this list, it has the basics to help you get the job done without spending hundreds of dollars. This Conair hair dryer sports two heat settings, as well as two speed settings and a cool shot. It also features an ergonomic handle and is equipped with a hanging ring for easy storage at home or while traveling.

Macy’s bestseller: Drybar

Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer

This bright yellow hair dryer from Drybar is Macy’s No. 1 bestselling blow dryer and it earned a 4-star average rating from 530 reviews on Sephora. The 1-pound hair dryer utilizes ionic technology and features a 9-foot-long cord. It is also equipped with three preset heat settings, two power settings and a cool shot button to help lock your hairstyle in place.

Amazon bestseller: Revlon

Revlon 1875W Hair Dryer

Revlon’s popular hair dryer is the No. 1 bestselling hair dryer on Amazon, and it boasts a 4.6-star average rating from more than 16,700 reviews. It employs a combination of tourmaline and ionic technology to help users achieve an at-home blowout free of pesky flyaways and frizz. The hot tool is equipped with two heat and two speed settings — and as a bonus, Revlon throws in a few accessories: a nozzle concentrator for smoothing the hair, a diffuser for enhancing curls and duckbill clips for sectioning the hair.

How to shop for a hair dryer, according to hair stylists

According to the pros, there are four types of hair dryer technologies: ceramic, tourmaline, titanium and ionic blow dryers.

  1. Ceramic: Ceramic hair dryers distribute the heat as evenly as possible, which is more gentle on the hair. "You don't want the heat to be too concentrated when you're drying, as you can easily accidentally cause damage," noted Taylor. She said ceramic hair dryers are her favorite because "they provide the right amount of heat that is distributed in a way that's not too rough on the hair."
  2. Titanium: Similar to ceramic dryers, titanium hair dryers distribute heat evenly on the hair. However, Taylor noted titanium dryers tend to get a lot hotter than ceramic dryers. "While titanium cuts down the blow dry time, you have to be careful with them," she cautioned.
  3. Tourmaline: "Tourmaline dryers emit negative ions, which causes water to break up and disperse quickly on the hair (water is positively- charged)," explained Taylor, who noted the science-backed tech usually equates to a higher price tag. Negative ions also help prevent flyaways and frizz.
  4. Ionic: Murphy said ionic technology really works best for frizzy hair. "If your hair is not frizzy, it's going to lead to unwanted styling results like flat hair, and it reduces the longevity of your style if you want body and bounce," he said. He noted if your hair is normal to dry or very lightly textured, and you use an ionic blow dryer, then you'll have issues with your hair going flat and your hair style won’t hold in place. "Be careful to understand the result you want before reaching for your ionic hair dryer. I've had a lot of hair fails before I understood the technology," he admitted.

What is the best blow dryer for your hair?

Murphy recommended you also let your hair texture and styling needs help guide your purchasing decision. "I'm definitely not a one hair dryer guy. I use lots of different types of hair dryers depending on what hair type or texture I'm working with, much like you would choose products for each hair type," he said.

Thick, curly or textured hair

Murphy advised looking for a hair dryer with 2,000 watts or more and an instant cool button to thoroughly dry your hair. If you have curly or coarse hair textures, Taylor added, you could get away with 2,500 watts of drying power.

"Textured hair can be dense and strong, so if your dryer is not powerful and you have to keep going over the hair, you can over-dry or dehydrate it, and the hair can become sensitive, frizzy and weak on the ends," he explained.

Fine to medium hair

"The general rule of thumb is the thicker and more coarse your natural texture is, the higher wattage you'll need, and if you have more fine hair, you can look for dryers that have a lower wattage," noted Taylor.

When Murphy wants to dry hair quickly and achieve a glass-like shine to damaged medium-to-fine hair, he opts for the Dyson Supersonic — the most popular hair dryer among the hair pros we consulted — which has 1,600 watts of drying power.

He advised looking for a blow dryer with a long neck to add bounce or curl to your hair. "I can use the neck of the dryer to rest the hair on top so I can adjust my brush work midsection to get maximum root lift and extra bounce," he said.

The hair experts also advised that you always use a heat protectant as a barrier between your healthy hair and your hot tools of choice. However, applying heat to your hair, even if you use a protectant, will "cause cumulative stress on your strands over time," noted Taylor. "When the water that's in your hair strands heats up too quickly, it can cause bubbles (like boiling water) that causes damage to your strands. The result is breakage, frizz, a more brittle texture," she said. Taylor noted that the physical signs of heat damage are more split ends, breakage and frizz, less manageability and your strands will look dull.

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