High and dry

Practice safe styling with the best hair dryer for your texture—and your budget
BY CORRINA MOSCA

Buying a hair dryer isn’t as cut-and-dry as it used to be. Gone are the days of simple shopping; rather than picking between a few, multi-coloured models, we now have to navigate a million different wattages, heat settings, and materials.

Fear not: you don’t need a degree in mechanical engineering to figure out which specs are best for your hair type—and your budget. We’ve laid out the most important aspects to consider when choosing your next hair dryer, helping you to make an informed decision.

TURN DOWN THE HEAT

Depending on your hair’s texture, you may need to take advantage of dryers with different heat settings. Products with higher heat settings are best used on thick, coarse hair, while lower heat settings are better for fine, breakage-prone locks.
If you’re an avid fan of the at-home blowout, consider purchasing a dryer with a “cool shot” option. This gust of cold air helps to seal the hair cuticle, helping your hair to hold style and shine all day long.

MATERIAL GIRL

As it turns out, not all hair dryers are created equal: different models come with different heating elements, each with their own special benefits.

Ionic dryers, for instance, shoot negative ions into the hair as it dries. Because water’s ions are positively charged, ionic dryers help to break down and disperse water molecules on the hair shaft. This helps to speed up drying time and reduce frizz levels—perfect for individuals with thick, frizzy hair. If you’re looking to amp up the quality of your dryer, check out tourmaline options: this semi-precious mineral helps to distribute even more negative ions across the hair shaft, further. However, these devices can cost a pretty penny, so buyer, beware.

On the other hand, ceramic, porcelain, and infrared dryers are used to distribute heat evenly and gently. Ceramic and porcelain help to make the heating process less harsh and more consistent in temperature, while infrared technology helps to dry hair from the inside out. Because of this, these models are perfect for individuals with fine or damaged hair.

Finally, titanium dryers are also on the market. These lightweight models can get extremely hot, but also work to distribute heat evenly and keep temperature consistent. Because of their extreme heat, titanium dryers aren’t recommended for damaged hair—but they’re great for women with thick, coarse, and plentiful locks.

WATTS UP?

If you’re looking for a dryer with more wind power and less heat, aim for a high-wattage motor. This will cut down your styling time, without frying or overheating your hair—especially if your mane falls in the damaged, thin, or fine categories. Professional stylists recommend that at-home users purchase a dryer with a wattage between 1800 and 2000 watts, as you will see the most benefit—for the best price—in this category.

DAMAGED GOODS

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember one simple thing: always accompany your hair drying sessions with a tough-as-nails heat protectant. Our favourites include TRESemme’s Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Hair Spray ($8), which protects hair with a moisture-locking vitamin complex, and Bumble & Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer ($31), which keeps hair frizz- and damage-free—without the use of phthalates or parabens.

Practice safe styling, and your hair will reward you with decreased frizz, added softness, and unparalleled shine.

BEST BUYS
Looking for a new hair dryer? We’ve got top picks for every budget:

$50-70: Conair Infiniti Pro 1875 Watt Dual Voltage AC Hair Dryer

Ceramic and tourmaline technologies keep hair smooth, shiny, and damage-free, while an AC motor cuts back on drying time. ($59.99)

$71-90: Conair 514C Infiniti Pro Elite Collection Blow Dryer

Enhance your hair’s natural shine and reduce frizz up to 75 per cent with this model’s ionic technology. ($79.99)

$91-110: Conair Infiniti Pro 3Q Brushless Motor Dryer, $109.99

With its ultra-quiet motor, this lightweight and mighty dryer reduces both drying time and unwanted frizz. ($109.99)