Hair dryers have long been a core part of most women's (and plenty of men's, to be fair) hair styling arsenal, but despite that it's still something that most people avoid spending much on - they're all just a load of hot air anyway, right?
Still, there's a surprising amount of difference to be found between the top and bottom of the market, and it's not just a load of unnecessary extra features. More expensive hair dryers are more likely to have the sort of air flow and heat controls that can reduce damage to your hair, making it healthier - and better looking.
The extreme end of that is Dyson's £300/$400 Supersonic - the hair dryer equivalent of a top-end iPhone - but you can get great dryer for a lot less than that.
The important features to look out for are multiple heat/speed settings, modes designed to manage heat and thus reduce damage to hair, and styling accessories to help you pull off salon-level style as you dry.
We're testing hair dryers from across the market - and at every price point - to pick out the ones that are worth the price, however much that price may be. We're testing straighteners too, so make sure to check out our guide to the best hair straighteners if you haven't already.
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.