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Best hair dryer 2021: Our top 9 tried and tested hair dryers for salon-fresh results

1 Dec 2021
best hair dryer_ babyliss salon light hair dryer

The right hair dryer can take your hair from so-so to stunning – we’ve reviewed the best for all budgets

The best hair dryers can shave precious time off your morning routine, smooth out frizz and prevent heat damage with gentler heat settings. Not only that, but a good hair day can really lift your mood and boost your confidence. So if your crowning glory is important to you, it makes sense to invest in a top-quality hair dryer. Modern dryers use ceramic and ionic technology to promote hair health by speeding up drying times, distributing heat evenly and sealing in moisture, giving hair a healthier and glossier finish.

We’ve taken the time to test a whole range of hair dryers to find the best you can buy at every price point. In our user guide, we’ll explain the key features different hair dryers provide and the performance you should expect from a decent dryer; and below we round up our top picks for home drying.

Whether you’re looking for a budget option that won’t damage your hair, or a salon-quality hair dryer that will keep going for years and years, you’ll find your new favourite in the dryers we’ve tested below.


The best hair dryers: At a glance


How to choose the best hair dryer for you

What are the different kinds of dryer available?

All hair dryers use a fan to direct air through a heating element and out through a nozzle to the hair. A basic hair dryer may not do much more than switch on and off, but more sophisticated hair dryers will have a variety of heat and air speed settings. Lower temperatures are less damaging for fine hair, while higher heat settings will help thicker and more densely textured hair dry quickly.

Basic hair dryers also tend to use a metallic heating element, whereas more expensive modern hair dryers often use ceramic, which distributes heat evenly to prevent damaging hotspots, and generates infrared heat that dries quickly and seals the hair cuticle, giving a soft and shiny finish. The mineral tourmaline is also used in some high-end hair dryers, and has many of the same hair-health benefits as ceramic.

Many modern hair dryers also include ionic technology in which, put simply, negatively charged ions are generated when the air passes through an electric current in the heating element. These ions break up the water molecules in your hair, allowing ionic hair dryers to dry your hair more quickly and spread moisture more evenly throughout your hair for a smooth and glossy finish. Ionic technology is popular in many heat-styling tools, as by heating evenly and drying the hair quickly it helps reduce heat damage, and seals in moisture for shiny and hydrated hair. Ionic technology can be applied to any heating element, so you’ll see it in combination with ceramic, tourmaline or even metallic heating elements.

What difference does power rating make?

In general, a higher wattage indicates a more powerful and effective dryer. Hair salons will typically use dryers with 2,000W motors and above, allowing experienced stylists to blow-dry efficiently. However, like many salon products, these powerful tools are best left in the hands of professionals who know how to wield them safely. At-home hair dryers usually fall in the 1,000W-1,600W range.

Wattage isn’t the only measure of power, however. The latest “digital motors” (EC or Electronically Commutated motors, if you want to be fancy) allow increased air velocity with reduced heat, for amazingly efficient results without the damage associated with higher heat.

What other features should I look out for?

One of the easiest things to overlook when buying a hair dryer is how long the cable is. Some cheaper models come with relatively short cables, while pricier models often boast “salon-length” mains cables, which are as long as 4m.

Some models come with a concentrator nozzle, designed to make it easier to direct the airflow accurately onto a section of hair. These nozzles are great if you blow-dry around a round brush for a salon-style blowout.

It’s also common to find a diffuser nozzle. These are cones with internal fingers that are often used for drying curly hair. You can also use a diffuser on the roots of straight hair to give it more volume. Diffusers can be purchased separately, but an attachment made to fit your particular hair dryer is likely to give the best results.

Read on for our picks of the best hair dryers to buy in 2021.

The best hair dryers you can buy in 2021

1. BaByliss 2100 Salon Light: The best budget hair dryer

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

BaByliss has been synonymous with hairstyling since the 1960s, but its Salon Light 2100 is packed with modern technology. BaByliss claims the motor provides twice the air pressure of conventional hair dryers, and despite its low price, the BaByliss 2100 Salon Light also has a ceramic heating element to keep temperatures under control.

The results speak for themselves: hair is dry in minutes and free from frizz or heat damage. If drying speed is top of your list, the 2100 Salon Light fits the bill. It’s pleasingly light, which makes for ache-free drying of even the thickest hair, and a 3m swivel cord makes tangled cables a thing of the past.

The colour may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a fantastic hair dryer for its price.

Read more in our full BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review

Key specs – Heating element: Ceramic/ionic; Temperature settings: 3; Power: 2,100W; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 3m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator nozzle; Weight: 950g

2. GHD Helios: The best hair dryer for superfast styling

Price: £159 | Buy now from Amazon

GHD has exceeded our expectations with its latest hair dryer, the Helios. A reimagined combination of GHD’s iconic Air hair dryer and the discontinued Aura model, the Helios is quieter, lighter and more powerful than its predecessors. With a stylish, well-balanced design, the Helios is a delight to dry your hair with, despite us finding the styling options somewhat limited, with two power and heat settings instead of the standard three.

But it’s the drying power that sets the Helios apart from the rest: the 2,200W motor rivals the Dyson Supersonic in its drying time and ability to deliver a frizz-free finish. No easy feat for a hair dryer that costs half the price. That’s thanks to GHD’s AutoPrecis technology creating a blast of focused air that travels at 75mph, as well as the concentrator nozzle that precisely directs airflow for a smooth blow dry.

Overall, with the GHD Helios, you can expect your hair to be dried in record time with natural volume, stunning shine and a smoothness like no other. Its price point places it firmly in the premium hair dryer category, but it’s an investment your hair will thank you for.

Read more in our full GHD Helios review

Key specs – Heating element: Ionic; Temperature settings: 2; Power: 2,200W; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 3m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator; Weight: 510g

3. Dyson Supersonic: The best luxury hair dryer

Price: £300 | Buy now from Argos

The Dyson Supersonic is a radical re-imagining of the hair dryer – so much so that it looks more like a space-age microphone than a haircare gadget. It’s been engineered to feel well balanced: even though the bluntness of the head and the weight distribution – the V9 digital motor is in the handle at the bottom of the dryer instead of at the top – takes a little getting used to, you’ll be blown away (sorry!) by just how powerful and easy to use this hair dryer is.

Other welcome touches include magnetic concentrator and diffuser attachments that fit on, and can be removed, without too much force. These magnets also mean the attachments stay put while drying instead of turning and moving, as we’ve seen on other dryers (namely the GHD Air). Other features include flexible speed and heat settings, and thermal sensors to prevent the unit or attachments getting too hot.

Since launch, Dyson has also launched a range of attachments to join the nozzles and diffuser. The “Gentle air dryer” attachment resembles the hem of a skirt and uses its waves to diffuse the airflow, making it softer without reducing drying time. This is perfect for fine or damaged hair, as the airflow and heat are more evenly distributed. Having used this attachment for more than a month, we have noticed a difference – not only to our daily style, but also the condition of our hair. Elsewhere, its new wide-tooth comb attachment is designed for curly or coily hair. It detangles the hair while drying to prevent damage and make it easier to style.

The Supersonic creates smooth, shiny styles and dried our hair superfast. This is the ultimate combination of quietness, speed and hair-drying finesse. The lengthy cable, non-slip mat and beautifully crafted leather case help seal the deal.

Read more in our full Dyson Supersonic review

Key specs – Heating element: Ionic; Temperature settings: 4; Power: 1,600W; Speed settings: 3; Cable length: 2.7m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator, diffuser and smoothing nozzles; Weight: 690g

Buy now from Argos


4. Remington Keratin Protect: The best hair dryer for shine

Price: £37 | Buy now from Amazon

Designed to add shine and protect your hair from heat damage, thanks to keratin and almond oils infused into the drying grille, Remington’s Keratin Protect is a great mid-range hair dryer. For a decent price, it comes with some excellent accessories and an impressive number of settings, including three heat and two power buttons. It ships with a slim nozzle for styling, a wide nozzle for fast drying, as well as a diffuser. It’s a slim, sleek-looking dryer and doesn’t weigh an awful lot. Plus, its cable is long enough for even the largest of bedrooms.

Read more in our Remington Keratin Protect review

Key specs – Heating element: Ceramic/ionic; Temperature settings: 3; Power: 2,200W; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 2.5m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator nozzle; Weight: 665g

5. Panasonic EH-NA98 Nanoe: The best hair dryer for afro-textured hair

Price: £60 | Buy now from Argos

Panasonic’s premium blow dryer uses its patented Nanoe water atomising technology to hydrate and condition the hair and scalp. The Nanoe system actually jets nano-sized water particles (a billion times smaller than steam particles) directly into your hair as you dry, reducing static, frizz and split ends. The result is impressively shiny and smooth hair, even on longer and thick-textured hair. It’s an especially good dryer choice for afro-textured hair.

The Nanoe also has an innovative alternating hot and cold mode, which blasts hot air along the hair shaft to flatten and style, followed automatically by cool air to seal the cuticle and set the style. A scalp mode gently dries the roots and scalp at 50˚C, and is particularly good for dry and sensitive scalps. The dryer is lightweight and has a foldable handle, making it neat to store at home and perfect for travel.

Key specs – Heating element: Ceramic/ionic with Nanoe technology; Power: 1,800W; Temperature settings: 4; Speed settings: 3; Cable length: 2.7m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator, diffuser and quick dry nozzles; Weight: 578g

Buy now from Argos


6. Parlux Alyon: The best salon-style hair dryer

Price: £122 | Buy now from Amazon

This compact and stylish dryer from Italian brand Parlux packs a serious punch with its powerful 2,250W motor. The Alyon blows up to 84 cubic metres of air per hour so that you can dry hair fast using airflow, rather than heat, to keep hair soft, shiny and healthy. Ionic technology and a ceramic heating element further help to evenly distribute heat and moisture, reducing frizz and keeping hair soft and healthy.

The compact design, weighing just 425g, comes in ten gorgeous shades from matte black to candy pink and metallic green, and there are two concentrator nozzles in the box for sleek styling (a diffuser attachment for curly styling is available separately). The Parlux Alyon is a good quality, salon-style dryer used and recommended by hairdressers – it dries quickly, keeps hair in good condition and will look great in your bedroom too.

Key specs – Heating element: Ceramic/ionic; Temperature settings: 2; Power: 2,250W; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 1.5m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: 2 concentrator nozzles; Weight: 425g

7. Nicky Clarke Frizz Control 2200W Ionic Dryer NHD177: A great budget hair dryer for frizzy hair

Price: £21 | Buy now from Argos

Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke expanded his range of home hair dryers with this ionic dryer designed to control frizz at a fraction of the price of some of our luxury options. The ceramic element and ionic technology help the hair to retain moisture for a sleek and healthy finish. The 2,000W motor is powerful enough to dry hair fast and with a minimum of fuss, and the dryer comes with a concentrator nozzle to direct airflow. The long barrel also helps make it easy to direct airflow where you want it, and there are two speed and three heat settings for drying flexibility, plus a cool shot to set your finished style. If you’re on a budget, this is an excellent alternative to some of the pricier products reviewed above.

Key specs – Heating element: Ceramic/ionic with tourmaline; Power: 2,200W; Temperature settings: 3; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 3m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: concentrator nozzle; Weight: 590g

8. Tresemme Fast Dry 2000: The best hair dryer under £20

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

It’s almost shocking how good the Tresemme Fast Dry 2000 hair dryer is considering its absolute bargain price. For as little as £14, you get a highly portable, fast-drying hair dryer with a great nozzle. It additionally has a decent cable length and a great selection of settings including three heat, three power and a cool shot.

It is missing the ionic technology of its more expensive rivals, meaning your hair isn’t left as shiny, but this compact dryer does a more than adequate job of creating a lasting, elegant style in a hurry and if you’d told us this dryer was £20 or £30 more expensive, we wouldn’t have doubted you.

Key specs – Heating element: Standard; Temperature settings: 3; Power: 2,000W; Speed settings: 3; Cable length: 1.8m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator nozzle; Weight: 400g

9. Babyliss Hydro Fusion: The best mid-range hair dryer

Price: £60 | Buy now from Argos

Babyliss’ latest hair dryer uses ionic technology to reduce drying time and leave your hair shiny and sleek. It’s got three different heat settings, a cold shot button and two different speeds, making it ideal for a range of different styling. If you’re a fan of attachments, this hair dryer comes with both a concentrator to direct the heat and a diffuser, which can bring out a natural curl.

When we reviewed the Babyliss Hydro Fusion, we thought it performed remarkably well for the price. Babyliss’ flagship “advanced plasma” technology does wonders for your hair’s health because it allows the dryer to dry your hair quicker at lower temperatures. It’s only available in the ice blue colour pictured above: that’s the same colour as the hydro fusion air styler – which also uses ionic technology, incidentally – so if you’re building your Babyliss collection these two look great together.

Read our full Babyliss Hydro Fusion review

Key specs – Heating element: Ionic; Temperature settings: 3; Power: 2,100W; Speed settings: 2; Cable length: 2.5m; Cold shot button: Yes; Accessories: Concentrator, diffuser; Weight: 570g

Read more

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