Expensive Hair Dryers: Are They Worth the Cost?

Reviewed by Karyn Grossman, MD on November 13, 2011

Is it worth upgrading your hair dryer to a pricey pro model? If you're pressed for time, the investment might pay off.

A basic dryer's wattage -- that is, how much heat it generates -- probably ranges from 1,200 to 1,875. Pro dryers can hit 2,500 watts. That means your hair dries faster.

"I always get the most powerful dryer I can. The less time that I have heat on the hair, the better," says Natasha Sunshine, stylist and owner of Byu-ti Hair Therapy salon in Santa Monica, Calif.  

It's not good for hair to be exposed to high heat for long. That can damage hair and make it more likely to break. Features such as tourmaline-infused or ceramic parts and ionic technology conduct heat more efficiently, meaning less wear and tear on hair.

Some of those features are available in inexpensive dryers, too. If you pick one, it should have lots of speed and heat settings, and you should use only the lowest ones, says dermatologist Zoe Draelos, MD, of Duke University School of Medicine.

Some dryers have ionic or infrared technology to shorten drying time as well as features such as a "cold shot" button to set hair, a warranty lasting four years or more, and a light body.

These pro tips will help you maintain a healthy mane.

  • Don't start the dryer right away. "Let hair dry naturally for several minutes or use a special towel, like those manufactured by Aquis, that helps wick away excess water” to trim dryer time, says dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, of Kansas City, Mo.
  • Keep your distance. Hold the dryer at least a foot from your head to minimize hair damage, Draelos says.
  • Divide and conquer. Section your hair and dry one section at a time. Stylist Natasha Sunshine makes vertical sections starting at the front hairline. Divide a 2-inch chunk of hair. Use a natural-bristle round brush to smooth out that strip of hair as you dry it. Roll the hair forward toward the face for straight locks and forward and back to leave in some wave.
  • Focus In. Always use the nozzle attachment on your dryer unless you're diffusing curls. This concentrates heat for a quicker result.
  • Cool Out. The "cold shot" button on hair dryers is a wonderful tool, Sunshine says. "Hair is malleable. Think of plastic heating up and then cooling off and setting the shape.”


Show Sources


U.S. Department of Energy:  “Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use."

How Stuff Works: “How Hair Dryers Work."

 Kent Yu, principal, T3 Micro, Venice, California.

Zoe Draelos, MD, consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.

Audrey Kunin, MD, dermatologist; founder, Dermadocter, Kansas City, Mo.

Stefanie Henriquez, stylist, Frédéric Fekkai, The Mark Hotel, New York, N.Y.

Natasha Sunshine, stylist/owner, Byu-ti/PureOlogy Salon, Santa Monica, Calif.

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