Wondering what the catch is? There isn’t one. The BaByliss 2100 Salon Light is simply terrific value for money
- Great value for money
- Fast drying times
- Thin and sleek shape makes it good for travelling
- Red plastic finish may not be to everyone's taste
- Ships with only one concentrator nozzle
The BaByliss 2100 Salon Light would be Goldilocks’ ideal hair dryer: it’s not too heavy, not too loud, not too cheap and not too expensive. It’s rare for a product to hit the sweet spot in this way, but the 2100 Salon Light is a good-looking, well-designed dryer that out-performs more expensive rivals. If you’re looking for the best hair dryer on a budget, you’ve found it.
BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review: What you need to know
Ombre, Boutique, Elegance, Diamond. BaByliss currently sells 12 different models of hair dryer, many with its distinctive curved design and often in a variety of colours. Prices range from £20 to £120, and the BaByliss 2100 Salon Light sits at the lower end of the scale.
It touts ionic technology, which is designed to release negative ions towards the positive ions in your wet hair. In theory, this causes the water molecules to evaporate faster and reduces the amount of time it takes to dry – and also reduces any potential heat damage. It’s not alone in using this tech: a large number of the most popular hair dryers have this feature. However, few include it at such a low price.
The glossy red plastic may not be to everyone’s taste, but all the essentials are here. There are three heat and two power settings, a cold shot button and a 3m cable – which is amongst the longest on dryers we’ve tested. You only get a single nozzle as standard, but this is also the case with the GHD Air and that model is four times more expensive.
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BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review: Price and competition
Its main rivals in terms of design and features are its own siblings. BaByliss sticks to a similar design and feature set for its range, offering slight variations at different price points, yet the BaByliss Velvet Orchid is the Salon Light’s closest competitor. At the time of writing, the two dryers were selling for the same price (£25), yet the Velvet Orchid’s RRP is a fiver more than the Salon Light’s. For this extra money, the Velvet Orchid has a more powerful motor – 2,300W versus 2,100W – and uses tourmaline-ceramic technology versus regular ceramic. It also opts for a more understated design.
Ceramic technology dries the hair using infrared heat whereas tourmaline-ceramic uses a mixture of infrared heat and negative ions, in addition to the standard ionic technology, which theoretically offers greater protection.
The Salon Light weighs marginally less, at 540g versus 650g, and elsewhere in the Salon Light’s favour is that its 3m cable is 80cm longer than that of the Orchid. We assume this is where the Salon Light gets its name from; because it’s lighter than other BaByliss models because it’s certainly not the lightest hair dryer around.
Having used both, though, there’s very little to separate them. Despite their differences on paper, drying time is similar and they both left our hair equally soft and shiny. It’s likely your choice will come down to which you like the look of best.
BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review: Design and key features
In a market saturated with black hair dryers, the Salon Light’s shiny red shell is a refreshing change. It certainly makes a statement, if that’s what you’re looking for from your hair dryer. Its thin shaft and handle also make it relatively compact for a full-sized dryer.
We were a little disappointed with the overall finish, though. In photos, it looks elegant and expensive but in the flesh it looks a little cheap. That said, when the matte black nozzle is attached, the contrast between the two looks great. Having only one nozzle does limit the styling options a little, and it’s a shame this dryer doesn’t come with a diffuser. For this price, though, we’ll take that hit. Given its similarity to other BaByliss models, we wouldn’t be surprised if a diffuser from a different model was suitable with this one, although we haven’t tested that yet.
Elsewhere, BaByliss Salon Light’s three heat and two power settings offer a great range of options for varying hair types. The dryer doesn’t get too hot, either, even when turned up to maximum.
BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review: Performance
Of all the BaByliss dryers we’ve tested, the Salon Light is the quietest – although only just. All – including the BaByliss Velvet Orchid, Diamond and Elegance – have produced similar decibel levels, and without a sound meter, the differences aren’t discernible. Compared to its other rivals, however, the Salon Light’s sound level puts it in the middle of the pack. It’s not as quiet as the Dyson or Panasonic but isn’t as loud as Remington’s Keratin Protect.
The lowest heat setting on the Salon Light is a little weaker than a number of its rivals, including the BaByliss Diamond, but its lowest power setting is comparable to that on the Dyson, which goes some way to negate this weakness. This is impressive given the vast price difference. It’s certainly adequate enough for blasting your hair quickly when you don’t want to make too much noise, or simply want to remove excess moisture from your hair but you’re not interested in a full blow dry. The cold shot on the Salon Light is also the most effective we’ve used. It feels much cooler than the lowest heat setting, and it helped set our style in a way even the Dyson fails to do. Unfortunately, like with many of its rivals, this cold shot button is positioned a little awkwardly on the handle so using it for longer than a minute or so started to ache our hand.
Despite the Salon Light’s 540g weight (100g heavier than the Dyson), the nippy drying times mean your arms shouldn’t get too tired. It took a little under three minutes to rough dry our hair after a shower, which puts it on par with the £100 GHD Air. This rose to four minutes after swimming. Travel dryers from TRESemmé and Remington have produced faster times, but they lack the conditioning technology so we’re willing to make that sacrifice for hair that’s in better condition.
While using the Salon Light with its nozzle, when styling, for example, the extra weight was a little more noticeable, but this was counteracted by the dryer’s thin and sleek shape. This compact shape also means the dryer is more portable than many of its rivals.
Speaking of the nozzle, we were impressed with how smooth it left our hair. It didn’t get too hot during use, was easy to attach and remove, and didn’t rotate mid-dry unless we wanted it to. This was a relief after reviewing the GHD Air and having to constantly return the nozzle to its original position during use. After a rough dry, our hair looked shiny and largely frizz free with the Salon Light and this was helped by the use of the nozzle.
BaByliss 2100 Salon Light review: Verdict
If asked to guess the price of this dryer, we’d definitely shoot higher than the £25 mark. It outperforms some of its more expensive competitors in drying time, smoothness and ease-of-use, plus it’s largely a well-designed piece of kit.
The in-your-face colour and slightly cheap-looking finish is where the Salon Light starts to reveal its budget side. Yet this is a minor criticism. If you choose to buy the Salon Light, you won’t just be getting incredible value for money – you’ll also get silken-looking hair into the bargain