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Best buys: Hair dryers

Stephanie Taylor Christensen writes about personal finance, small business, and consumer issues. She is the founder of Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga and Toning in Columbus, OH and Wellness On Less, a site dedicated to prioritized living and c...

Get the best blowout

One of the greatest tools you can have in your at-home styling arsenal is a quality hair dryer, but with so many options to choose from, what features matter most? Here are some of the best buys in hair dryers for every budget.
Woman drying hair

Regardless of the price, hair dryers involve many bells and whistles that claim to enhance performance. For example, "ionic" is a common term, which essentially indicates that the hair dryer uses negative ions to place water back into hair for a faster blowout, less damage and a sleeker outcome. Hair dryers equipped with fast-heating ceramic coil and/or tourmaline features also claim to dry the hair faster than those that lack them. But according to Consumer Reports, real scientific evidence that any of these features actually impact drying performance is inconclusive at best.

When it comes to selecting the best buy in a hair dryer, true value is a matter of perception -- and user need. Consider what features matter to you, like heat settings, attachments, appropriate cord length and product weight. Then, turn to word of mouth from beauty insiders, the audience who often knows best when it comes to choosing a quality tool. Here are a few best buy hair dryers that are consistently recognized for value and performance by both salon professionals and everyday users.

Tip

"Supersolano brand hair dryers have been a staple in salons for years. They last forever!" -- Lisa McMillan, a colorist at B2V Salon in West Hollywood, California.

Lower-priced hair dryers

If you're looking for a lower-priced hair dryer under $20, Consumer Reports ranks the Revlon Ionic Ceramic Pro Stylist as the best hair dryer buy. It includes heat settings and speed adjustments, and is sold at most mass market drug stores. The Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Ionic is a similar low-priced fan favorite, especially for its effective drying capability with thick, long and/or curly hair. It also allows for diffuser attachments, which is helpful for alternating between a sleek and curly style. The Conair 213GB Professional Tourmaline Ionic Styler is another user favorite, and retails for about $40.

Higher-priced hair dryers

When is a much pricier, professional hair dryer worth the extra money? If you plan to use it frequently and for the long-term, it may be worth the extra money, simply because salon-quality hair dryers tend to have more than double the product life than lower-priced mass market hair dryers.

In addition, more powerful motors and heating features may reduce drying time, and in turn, you'll save priceless time getting ready and reduce heat damage. But before you buy, keep in mind that some professional hair dryers can be heavy. If you're prepared to spend nearly $200 on a hair dryer, look into the HANAair Professional Hair Dryer (called the "Louis Vuitton of dryers" by users), the T3 Tourmaline Evolution Hair Dryer or the Solano Super Solano Moda 3700, which are all sold through specialty beauty retailers.

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