How much should you spend on a hair dryer? With prices from reputable brands starting at just over £20 and going up to £300/ $400 for a Dyson Supersonic, it can be hard to figure out what’s a reasonable sum to spend. But the place you should start looking for an answer isn’t in the tech: it’s on your head.
The condition of your hair (damaged, treated or healthy), your hair type (curly, thin, straight) and how much effort it takes you to go from bedhead to ready to face the world should help you decide.
If you already colour your hair, it’s likely to need a little more TLC. Look for a dryer with at least a low and a high-power setting, as well as options for temperature. Use a high-power, hotter setting for a quick blast to get most of the water out of your hair and then switch to a lower, cooler setting to protect your locks as you finish off.
Ceramic hair dryers are a great option for coloured or damaged hair as they dry it faster and require less heat to do so.
If you straighten your hair, you might want to look for a dryer with tourmaline technology. This will help to smooth and de-frizz your hair as it dries. Ionic hairdryers, which often use tourmaline, are also good for curly hair, as they’ll protect the curl and cut down on flyaway frizz but may leave fine, thin hair looking limp.
You’ll also want to check out the wattage of the device you’re looking at. More power means it’ll get the job done more quickly. If you’ve ever spent a frustrating 45 minutes with a dinky hotel hairdryer and still ended up with wet hair, you’ll understand how much different wattage makes. Your hair dryer should be at least 1,800 watts but professional hair dryers will be twice as powerful.
Also look for a cool button, which will help you set your look at the end.
In terms of attachments, a diffuser will help you maintain your curls and a flat-headed nozzle will help you to smooth.
Here’s the best of the hair dryers we’ve tested. If you’re upgrading all of your kit, have a look at our guide to the best hair straighteners as well.
Best hair dryer reviews
1. Dyson Supersonic
The Dyson Supersonic is a technological wonder (dare we call it “cutting edge”), which promises to be kinder to your precious hair, more comfortable on previously weighed down arms, quieter, and faster at drying and styling. Our testers were impressed with the Supersonic but initially aghast at the high price tag, although we think that £299/$399 isn’t so much money when compared to the price of a quality haircut, let alone the care of your precious hair.
You might even save some money by having to use less hair product. It’s very fast at drying (some may find it a little too fast when drying at low speed), super quiet, simple and comfortable to use, and with some neat design features such as the magnetic attachments. There are certainly cheaper, quality hair dryers available but we think the hair-friendly Dyson Supersonic is smart enough to justify the comparatively high price tag.
Read our full Dyson Supersonic review.
2. GHD Air
At £99, the GHD Air isn’t a cheap hair dryer by any means (although it is a third of the price of Dyson’s Supersonic offering). Whether it’s worth coughing up the cash for is definitely going to differ from person to person. It feels like a luxury and we’ve definitely enjoyed using it. It’s speedy and efficient, and overall a joy to use.
We’ll struggle to go back to a cheaper hair dryer now that we’ve had it for a few weeks. But we’ve been perfectly happy with hair dryers in the past that have come in at under £50, so it’s not a necessity by any means. It would make the perfect gift for a hair-obsessed loved one, though.
Read our full GHD Air review.
3. Braun Style&Go
Variously called the Braun Style&Go, the Satin Hair 1, or the HD130, this dryer might be a little confusingly named, but it's very simple when it comes down to what counts: drying your hair.
There aren't many bells and whistles here, but with prices from £19.99 you wouldn't expect too many either (though at $79.99, the US price is a slightly tougher sell). You get a choice of two heat and power settings, and a removable styling head. Most importantly though, the dryer is both small and light - and foldable to make it even more compact - making it the ideal hair dryer to take with you any time you need to travel.
Braun has even planned with that in mind, making sure it's compatible with voltages from 100-240V, so as long as you have a travel adapter you can trust that this will work just about wherever you are, without worrying that the voltage will be too low to power it, or too high and break it.
Despite that portability, this packs a decent punch for its size, so you won't be standing around for hours waiting for your hair to dry. This is unlikely to be your main dryer, but for a budget back-up or a travel-friendly spare, you could do a lot worse.