The Solano Supersolano Professional Hair Dryer is our ultimate pick. This revolutionary device is a must for famous hair stylist Nathaniel Hawkins, providing both hairdressers and individual users with a mixed technology of ceramic and infrared heat that works for both thin hair aiming at volume, and thick hair wanting a sleeker look.
It has two heat settings (Medium and High) as well as a Cool Shot button for setting the cuticle and making the final look last longer. The purchase includes two concentrator nozzles (medium size and large), which come very handy for stylists, as well as for individuals who wish to play around with different techniques.
Our step-up pick is the CHI Rocket Dryer, a mixed dryer of ceramic, ionic and infrared technology that also suits every hairstyle. This one includes two nozzles: one of them a concentrator, and the other one a comb attachment, aimed at cutting drying time by a half. Since it weighs the average for the industry (2.2 pounds) it is convenient for traveling as well as for everyday use. It features two different velocity settings (Low and High) as well as a Cool Shot button that, unlike most Cool Shots, is either switched On or Off, so it does not need to be pushed down constantly for cool air to be emitted. Thanks to its controllers, there are four possible combinations of drying for users to choose: Low Hot, High Hot, Low Cool and High Cool.
On the other hand, our budget pick is the Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer. It features a ceramic-based technology and a powerful motor that delivers consistent, strong heat flow suitable for every hair type. This feature reduces the total amount of time in which hair is exposed to heat, diminishing potential damage to the cuticle and scalp. Because it is also light weight, it will be perfect for you if you happen to travel a lot, or if you tend to carry your hair dryer outside of your house, e.g. to the gym, your training studio, your mom’s house during weekend visits, etc.
A Little Background
Hair dryers, also known as blow dryers, were first invented at the end of the 19th century. However, the modern handheld model that we all know was introduced to the market around 1915.
The first models were very inconvenient, often failing due to overheating and electrical circuits going off. By that time, the maximum wattage supported by hair dryers was of 100 watts, making both the air current and heat generation motor insufficient for achieving dry, styled hair in less than 40 minutes.
From that moment on, hair dryers have improved two main features: its wattage, and the materials it uses to generate heat. While initial models used nichrome wires, today’s models feature finer and more effective elements such as ceramic for heat generation.
In the 1950s, the incorporation of a plastic casing made it possible for more lightweight models to be introduced, and it highly encouraged housewives and women in general to get a commercial hair dryer of their own for everyday styling purposes.
Blow dryers were a hot deal in the 1950s among women in America and Europe. Although initially used by individuals and hairdressers to achieve voluminous stylings with a silky finish, its purpose changed as fashion changed.
In the 70s and 80s, it was clear that a current of hot air would help a lot to give hair dramatic volume. But, as the 90s arrived, the hair dryer became a ‘must’ for women looking for straight, silky hair like those of movie stars, models, TV celebrities and music icons.
The concept behind a hair dryer is that wet or moist hair can be managed in terms of shape and overall look if hot air is applied to it. This helps styling purposes (often involving round brushes as well as haircare products) as well as comfort purposes. People often rather have a quick blow-drying session with hot air after their shower during the winter season, or in places where temperatures are particularly cold.
When the first models came out on the early 20th century, it was all about water molecules being heated up and restricting the hair’s cuticle to move beyond the shape that was given to it by the hot air current. But hairstyling technology has advanced a great deal, relying on physics and similar disciplines, with further mechanisms incorporated recently to meet the needs of customers.
Management of electrical charges, both negative and positive, at cuticle level plays a big role in today’s hair drying. Ionic and tourmaline hair dryers are designed to give a silky, smooth finish to both women and men looking to improve the look of thick, frizzy hair.
Although controversial, these new technologies have strongly changed the trends of the market for both particular users and professionals.
On the other hand, this flourishing trend of making new models reliant on newly discovered technologies have also made it very hard for any average women to know which one to buy.
How We Picked
Type of hair and desired results. A thick hair looking for a silky finish or a curly hair wanting to be straightened up needs ionic technology, whilst that very same technology can be awful for fine hair looking to get volume and presence. However, heat generation elements such as ceramic, combined with a powerful and steady airflow, have proven to be a great fit for every hair type, leaning the final result solely on the technique and other appliances such as nozzles, diffusers and brushes.
Personal or business use. A blow dryer can be amazing for personal use based on the subjacent technology described in the previous paragraph. But that same dryer may be terrible for a hairdresser. And this leads to our second criteria. A particular user will always be looking for a specific result related to its hair type, whilst the professional needs to invest on a tool that will allow them to manage the various needs of their clients.
Subjacent technology. Classic hair dryers are discouraged, particularly at the face of new technologies such as ceramic, ionic and tourmaline. Although the subjacent technology of each hair dryer is almost always a synonym of what to expect from it, we found ceramic hair dryers to be more suitable for every hair type, thus a good investment for virtually anyone regardless of their hair being curly and thick, straight and thin or particularly frizzy.
Portability. Lightweight and retractable cords are two features that make blow-drying sessions easier for personal use, as well as for those who travel a lot or bring their hair dryers to their gyms or training facilities.
Estimated time of a blow-dry session. This depends on most of the previous criteria, as well as lifestyle choices. We chose models that stand on the faster side, considering both people that blow-dry their own hair for special occasions, as well as those who use it daily or otherwise regularly as a part of their routine. Furthermore, we also took weight and arm exhaustion into consideration, choosing only among devices lighter than 2.5 pounds.
Hairdressing by a professional
The Solano Supersolano Professional Hair Dryer is our top pick because it is a somewhat affordable model that works with a mix of ceramic and infrared technologies, making it useful for every type of hair aiming at all kinds of results.
This combined technology -along with its affordable pricing- is why we highly recommend it to individual users, because it fits virtually everyone’s needs. And this is the same reason why we also recommend it for professionals and entrepreneurial hairdressers. Given the nature of its technology, and the price tag -which is considerably lower than the average for most professional dryers-, it is perfect for the handling of a varied clientele without going bankrupt after the investment.
The main benefit of ceramic-based models like this is that heat is generated faster, and emitted in a more uniform way. This shortens drying periods and provide users with a polished finish. On the other hand, infrared technology penetrates the hair fibers with longer energy wavelengths, modifying it from the inside out. The combination of both technologies ensures long-lasting shine on a healthy-looking hair.
The overall finish in terms of volume will depend on the technique and the accessories used. For instance, a round brush with a concentrator nozzle will work wonders on flat, thin hair users looking for volume.
As a professional tip, we recommend using a medium size round brush on the roots for voluminous looks. Curly hair, on the other hand, will benefit from the use of a diffuser (sold separately).
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The weight is 2.5pounds, which is a little over the average of 2.2 pounds. This requires users to use more strength on their arms and upper body in order to use the product in the right way, representing a significant drawback for many who aim at absolute comfort.
However, the ceramic and infrared combined technology allows for shorter drying sessions, reducing the total time up to 40% the usual. This compensates for the heavy weight, since the dryer will have to be held for less time, thus diminishing final arm exhaustion. If you’re a hairdresser or someone who dries their own hair on a daily basis, you might want to have this into consideration.
Also, although this model includes a Cool Shot button for users to finish up their looks by sealing the cuticle with fresh air, you can’t “lock it” by switching it on and off. Instead, you need to hold it down throughout the sealing period for cool air to be emitted. Otherwise, hot air (either on Medium or High velocity levels) will be blown by default.
Our Step-up Pick
The CHI Rocket Dryer is one of the most powerful models available today. Combining ceramic, ionic and infrared technologies, this dryer supports all hair types and will allow you to play with a mix of preparations, nozzles, accessories and controls to achieve various results with just one dryer.
This model is lighter than the Solano Supersolano Professional Hair Dryer by 0.3 pounds, making it slightly more convenient if you’re constantly traveling or otherwise changing locations on a regular basis.
The purchase of the CHI Rocket Dryer includes two accessories aimed at fitting everyone’s need. For a more traditional blow-drying session, you get a concentrator nozzle that slides onto the shooter. However, keep in mind that this nozzle does not lock, allowing you to place it perpendicular, parallel or diagonal to the dryer’s axis for further convenience. Concentrator nozzles used with round brushes of different sizes provide a shinier finish, like the one you usually get when walking out of the salon.
The second nozzle is a comb, which is very handy for quick blow-drying sessions aimed at getting the hair dry instead of styled. This is particularly useful if you’re looking to get warm through the winter, as well as if you live on a cold area, or if you just don’t like to walk out of your house with your recently washed hair still wet. If you’re a professional stylist, the comb nozzle can be useful for sealing iron-straightened hair along with the cool-shot button, but for all the rest it might just stay on your drawer for months.
The heat settings of the CHI Rocket Dryer will allow you to get further control of what you’re trying to get. It features two different velocity settings (Low and High) and a Cool Shot button that does lock either at On or Off, allowing you to seal the final look without holding down the button throughout the cooling period.
These controls allow for four different combinations: Low Hot (great for thin or damaged hair), High Hot (great for thick hair or curls), Low Cool and High Cool (both of them great for sealing the cuticle once the hot work is done).
If your hair is frizzy or tends to get rebellious, the Cool Shot button will be a total must!
Most of the available options with this type of technology, accessories and controls are usually valued at a very high cost. However, the CHI Rocket Dryer, although a significant investment, is much more budget-friendly than its European pairs.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
For an item this pricy, the design could be better. The metallic silver shooter contrasting the black matte structure looks anything but high-end, although this becomes irrelevant once it is switched on and starts to work wonders.
Individual users might find the design to be irrelevant, but if you’re a hairdresser looking to brand up as luxurious and exclusive, you may want to keep on looking for a more elegantly designed model that will help you with the positioning of your business.
The Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer is an impressive option for its price. Featuring a ceramic-based technology for heat generation and ionic technology for frizz control, this is the best model for both individuals and professionals on a tight budget.
For an impressively low cost, the Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer features a powerful AC motor that delivers consistent, strong airflow. Conair states that this AC motor will reduce the total hair drying time to up to 50% less than the average time for hair dryers with DC motors.
It has two speed settings: Medium and High. However, the Medium setting blows out hot air with the same intensity as most dryers do when set on High. And the High speed setting is the most powerful we’ve tried.
In terms of heat control, this also includes three options: Hot, Warm and Cool shots. These functions, combined with the speed settings, guarantee you will have total control on the delivery of the airflow whilst drying your hair.
The Conair also comes with two nozzles. One of them is a concentrator, used to direct the airflow in the desired direction whilst protecting hair in other areas from the heat. The other one is a diffuser, which will come very handy for women with wavy hair who wish to maintain their natural shape, as well as for those with natural curly hair that are only looking for a quick drying session before going out with their curls right on point.
Although it is a great deal for all hair types, it will suit you better if you’re looking to straighten your hair and get a final polished look. If your hair is thin, we highly advise you to combine your hair drying sessions with a hair care routine that includes a good shampoo for thinning hair.
If you’re looking to make a long-lasting investment, you might also want to know that the Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer is sold with a 4-year warranty. This is a very long warranty time for the industry, considering that most brands today offer 1 to 2 years.
Flaws but not dealbreakers.
The fact that the High speed setting is so powerful might make it uncomfortable and inconvenient for users who are not used to powerful airflows, or those who have not yet polished their hair drying technique. It will dry your hair super fast, and if your technique is wrong (especially when it comes to direction and hair dryer placement) you will probably end up with a mess that will be difficult to undo.
The Cool Shot needs to be pushed down in order for the shooter to deliver cool air flow, which gets a little uncomfortable on the fingers after a while.
Furthermore, it is quite loud. In fact, it is the loudest one we’ve tried so far. If you share spaces with roommates or coworkers, or if you’re just really sensitive to noise, you might want to pass.
Best hair dryer for a professional hair stylist
The RUSK Engineering CTC Lite Technology Professional Lightweight Hair Dryer is, by far, the best pick for a professional hair stylist. The technology includes titanium and ceramic, guaranteeing strong heat generation throughout sessions.
Although its name implies that it is lightweight, 2.2 pounds is an average weight among similar models. However, what makes this one very comfortable is the ergonomic design that does reduce total arm exhaustion.
It works wonders on both curly and wavy hair looking to stay curly and wavy, as with thinning hair aiming at volume. This means that it is a great investment for hairdressers, because it will work for virtually every client, regardless of their hair type and length. The ceramic plus titanium does not interfere with the hair natural shape, leaving the final result to be dependant on the actual technique.
The hair dryer features three heat settings: Warm, Hot and Cool, making it easy to adjust accordingly to the phases of the blow drying sessions, including the final setting stage. Combined with the Lo and Hi airflow settings, these multiple features will allow you to get absolute control on what you’re working on.
Best hair dryer for frequent travelers
The RUSK Engineering W8less Professional Dryer is the best choice for you if you travel constantly either by plane, train, car or any other means. It takes barely any space on your luggage and it weighs only 1 pound -- which is less than half the average.
And the best part is that lightweight does not mean low power when it comes to our frequent travelers’ pick. This 2000-watts model features a combined technology of ceramic and tourmaline, making it particularly useful for frizz control on all hair types and lengths, but especially on thick hair.
You will not find a lightweight option this powerful and customizable. We think it is a good investment for both personal and business use.
The only downside is the fact that the cord is not retractable. This would have been the cherry on the cake for such a portable, travel-friendly equipment.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I invest on a modern hair dryer?
A: This depends on your priorities and your routines, but hairdressers from all over the world recommend to avoid traditional and outdated models.
The technology used in the past was limited to exposing humid hair to heat while brushing it to get a straightened, shiny finish. There wasn’t really much to it than hot air burning the hair’s cuticle in order for it to be momentarily pretty. This resulted in a lot of women suffering from permanent hair and scalp damage derived from over-exposure to heat, leaving their hair looking opaque and lifeless on the long run.
With new trends, and after decades of thorough investigation on capillary science, new alternatives have arisen, allowing both professionals and everyday users to get the exact result they need for their hair type and hair dryer use. Ionic-based thermotherapy and ceramic/tourmaline therapy are the most popular of these alternatives, and almost every brand dedicated to the developing of hairdressing products has already launched hair dryers with these types of technology.
The overall result has been healthier hair and scalp among clients, including those who dry their hair on a daily basis.
So, if you’re looking to get instant results in terms of the look of your hair without sacrificing the health of both your cuticle and scalp, we highly advise you to throw out your old-school device and replace it with a modern one.
Q: How long does a hair dryer last on average?
A: This depends on several factors. But the most important one is the quality and the trajectory of the manufacturer. You get what you pay for, so if you go for a budget-friendly model and plan to use it on a daily basis, you should not expect it to last more than 2 or 3 years.
High-end brands often give clients a warranty of 1 or 2 years, depending on the brand and the model. However, the dryer often lasts twice or three times that period, with an average of 4 to 5 years of constant use.
Q: I have curly hair and I don’t want my curls to go away. Will hair dryers spoil my natural hair?
A: No, absolutely not. In fact, there are several options available on the market aimed at preserving natural curls. The best technology for curly hair is ionic, because it will keep frizz under control by making negatively charged ions interact with positively charged water molecules. Furthermore, ionic-based models allow for fast blow-drying sessions, protecting the hair from over exposure to heat and long-term damage.
Nozzles for hair dryers such as diffusers are also very helpful for styling curly hair with a hair dryer.
Q: How do I know exactly what my hair type is?
A: We usually know what our hair type is by pure intuition. For the most part, we tend to classify hair as straight, wavy and curly, giving an extra layer of specificity according to thickness (fine/thick) and frizz.
However, professional hair stylist and capillary scientist André Walker developed a state-of-the-art classification system. Although the system was aimed firstly at African-American women in order for them to know exactly what their hair type is (thus knowing which products fit them best), it is now a universal guide for people of all races and cultures looking for standardized reference.
This system has standardized hair types and is growing increasingly more frequent among stylists, professionals and brands concerned with providing women with hair products such as shampoo, hair dyes, conditioners, intensive treatment and oils.
Every hair type is beautiful
According to Walker, there are four hair types with up to three sub-classifications according to texture.
Type 1 (Straight). It has no curls at all and hair is usually fine and shiny. Because of the physical characteristics, oil travels much more easily and faster than it does on subsequent hair types, meaning that oil management (both the one naturally secreted by the scalp and cosmetic ones such as argan and coconut) should be the first thing to take into consideration when planning for a hair routine. Ceramic hair dryers combined with concentrator nozzles, round brushes and a good technique are the best way to go if this is your hair type.
Type 1A. This type of hair is thin, completely flat and soft. The fiber diameter is as slim as it gets and people with this hair type are usually looking to enhance their volume. Without proper hair care products, it is almost impossible to make this hair type look voluminous for long periods of time.
Type 1B. People with this hair type have a mixture of thin and coarse hair fibers, and it is usually easier to manage and give volume than it is with hair type 1A.
Type 1C. All hair fibers are of coarse texture, and you are probably more prone to frizz.
Type 2 (Wavy). The hair is usually fine and thin, with textures ranging from coarse to frizzy. If this is your hair type, you should be working on keeping your volume and frizz under control. Tourmaline and ionic models, combined with products for hair care and other implements such as curling wands will get you a long way.
Type 2A. Hair is fine and it has a slight S-shaped wave at the ends. It is usually not voluminous.
Type 2B. This hair type is much more defined and the S-shaped wave starts at the middle of the hair length. There is usually a lot of frizz at the top of the hair.
Type 2C. The S-shaped wave is defined from the roots, making it look more voluminous. Frizz is a real issue.
Type 3 (Curly). Ranging from loose curls to corkscrew curls, this hair type is found mostly on women of color and redheads. André Walker sub-classifies this type in two subtypes according to texture. Hair dryers with frizz-reducing technologies (such as ionic and tourmaline) are usually the best go-to for people with this hair type. A diffuser nozzle is highly recommended.
Type 3A. Curls begin at the roots, although they are not very well defined throughout the hair’s length and tend to look sloppy. The curl diameter is medium to large.
Type 3B. The curls have a smaller diameter and the texture is much more coarse. Because curls are defined from the roots, the overall look is very voluminous.
Type 4 (Kinky). This hair type is associated with afros, with a texture pattern that ranges from tight coils to Z-shaped coils. It is hard to manage, particularly when it comes to hair drying. It is not advisable for people with this hair type to straighten it, because it could result in permanent hair damage.
Type 4A. This subtype is dense, fragile and it has a very tight curl with a minimum-sized diameter starting at the roots.
Type 4B. This hair type has a Z-shaped texture, and it is usually very fragile. Many strands are packed together and hair products should be chosen with extreme detail in order to avoid permanent hair loss.
Q: I have thin hair and I’m looking for volume. Can a hair dryer help me achieve a more vital hairstyle?
A: Absolutely! However, try to avoid purchasing an ionic-based device, since they will aim to reduce frizz and volume and will ultimately make your thin hair looking limp and devitalized. Our top budget pick is perfect for this type of hair.
For better results, incorporate hair drying to a more complex hair care routine including shampoo and conditioner for thin hair, as well as thermal protection. Thorough routines also include weekly treatments with coconut, jojoba or argan oil for further nourishing of the fiber.
Q: What’s the difference between ionic, ceramic and tourmaline hair dryer?
A: While the three of them aim at a frizz-controlled finish, the subjacent technology is very different and it will lead to very different results depending on the type of hair.
Ionic technology consists on the emission of millions of negatively charged ions that break water molecules up, and this is its main, revolutionary feature. Because its use depends on electric interaction between negatively and positively charged molecules, heat has little to do with it, meaning that hair can be dried and the desired styling can be achieved without using excessive temperatures, thus reducing the overall heat-induced damage onto the hair.
This type of hair dryer is particularly useful for people with curly hair that wish to preserve its shape, as well as for those with wavy or straight hair that want to control frizz.
However, because it dries the hair in such a fast, seamless way, users tend to over-dry it by exposing the hair to heat for more time than it is necessary. This results in unintentional damage to the fiber that may lead to a worsening of the quality of the hair in the long run.
Ceramic dryers, on the other hand, are designed in a way that the heat flow is distributed evenly and in a way that adjusts to the room temperature and the time of use per drying. In other words, if the room temperature is too high, the heat of the air flow will diminish, whilst if the room temperature is too low, the heat will adjust to a level where it generates enough heat for the drying to be effective. Furthermore, at the beginning of a blow-dry, the air emitted by the device will be higher than it will be at the end because the air cools down gradually.
Ceramic dryers are good for every hair type, but are usually more costly than traditional ones and are not very good at frizz control.
Note that models mixing both ionic technology and ceramic layers with heat flow distribution are available.
Tourmaline hair dryers are made of semi-precious gemstone tourmaline. The main feature of this mineral is that it emits negative ions, performing similar to ionic ones but with further potency, thus needing even less heat and time for the hair to get a polished finish.
Hair dried with devices relying on tourmaline technology end up looking extremely silky, glossy and frizz-free. Imagine an average Asian hair for further reference. This is amazing news for people with thick, rebel hair that with to have a flawless straightened hair, but it does not work for thin hair aiming at getting volume. In fact, tourmaline hair dryers are strongly discouraged when it comes to oily hair, because the flattening of the fiber and the smooth finish allows for the oil produced at the scalp to travel more easily down the rest of the hair, making time between washes much shorter.
Of all types, the ones including tourmaline are usually the most expensive. Some models have tourmaline pieces incrusted inside, whilst others have the entire inside layer made of this mineral. Some other models have both inside and outside layers made of tourmaline, being considerably more expensive and heavier, thus reserved mainly for professional use.
Hair styling by a professional
Wrapping it up...
The Solano Supersolano Professional Hair Dryer is our top pick for the best hair dryer available on the market as of today. With a mixed technology of ceramic and infrared heat generation, along with a strong and steady airflow and very convenient heat and velocity settings, this powerful model is just perfect. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an at-home device for quick styling, or if you’re looking to make a good investment for handling various hair types in your hairdressing business -- our top pick is versatile and useful for everyone’s needs, and it is sold at a reasonable price that will fit almost any budget.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.