The GHD Air combines style and substance, but cheaper rivals are now just as capable
- Luxurious design
- Powerful yet quiet
- Left hair looking great when used with the nozzle
- Lacks attachments
GHD arguably makes the best hair straighteners money can buy, so it’s no surprise to find that it has also applied its hair-styling expertise to creating the GHD Air hair dryer. This sturdy dryer might not quite scale the dizzy heights of the brand’s straighteners, but it’s a worthy contender for being one of the best hair dryers on the market – and here’s why.
GHD Air review: What you need to know
GHD has long been in the business of making your hair look and feel fantastic, but in 2012 it revealed its take on a professional hair dryer – the GHD Air. It’s a testament to that dryer’s quality that seven years on it’s still considered one of the best hair dryers around.
The Air offers the usual range of temperature and power settings, and is an attractive, luxurious-looking hair dryer. However, GHD’s rivals have been paying attention; some have clearly learned from the brand’s successes and shortcomings. As a result, cheaper models from other manufacturers now match (and in some cases, beat) the Air for features and performance.
The Air did have a very similar-looking, and slightly cheaper sibling, the GHD Aura, but the Aura is no longer produced or sold by GHD – even if it is still available from third-party sellers.
GHD Air review: Price and competition
On one side, the GHD Air is flanked by cheaper competitors that retail between £30 to £60, and, on the other, the stratospherically expensive Dyson Supersonic (£300). One of its key rivals, the Panasonic Nanoe, has an RRP of £110, but rarely sells for anywhere near that price – it tends to retail for around £65. Remington’s Air 3D, meanwhile, is a tenner more expensive than the GHD Air. The Remington Keratin Protect offers the closest similarities in terms of features, yet retails for half the price and is often on sale for less.
In short, the GHD Air is no longer the undisputed champion. It lacks the styling settings of cheaper models, and the Panasonic Nanoe and Remington Keratin Protect both left our hair looking noticeably shinier. It’s still a great hairdryer, but be aware – you’re paying a premium for that classy design and high-end feel, not necessarily a boost in performance.
GHD Air review: Design and key features
The GHD’s design has an air (excuse the pun) of elegance. It’s quite chunky in comparison to its Remington rivals, not to mention the cheaper BaByliss models, and the whole package is relatively weighty. It weighs 600g. Dyson’s Supersonic is much lighter at 465g, the BaByliss Salon Light is 540g and the Nanoe is 560g.
Yet, rather than feeling clumsy and oversized, this makes it feel sturdy, well balanced and only adds to its luxurious, solid-feeling aesthetic. It’s a fine line that GHD has managed to nail and one that few other brands can achieve.
This is, in part, due to the classy black matte finish and metal accents on its shell. There’s a strip of shiny black plastic along the handle and the buttons – in red and black – add a premium touch. Even the filter looks refined and comes with GHD branding.
The GHD Air has a 2,100W motor and two heat and two power settings, plus a cold shot button. The motor’s quoted power is a tiny bit less than some of its rivals – namely the Remington Keratin Protect and BaByliss Diamond – while being on par with a number of cheaper models. It also has fewer settings than nearly all of its competitors, including those that cost more than half the price, and only ships with a single nozzle.
GHD Air review: Performance
What the GHD Air lacks in settings it makes up for in performance. The motor produces a powerful blast of hot air: our hair dried in a good amount of time even on the lowest of the two heat and power settings. It wasn’t the fastest dryer we’ve used (that title goes to Dyson’s Supersonic), nor was it the slowest, averaging a little under four minutes to dry our hair after a shower, and after swimming. The GHD Air is also one of the quietest hair dryers we’ve tested, which is surprising given the power on offer.
When it comes to styling, the extra size and weight can make the whole process a little unwieldy and we often struggled to get the exact angle we were after when blow drying the ends of our long hair with a large barrel brush. We often had to resort to straighteners (GHDs, to be precise) after blow drying in order to finish off our style. We doubt people with short hair, or particularly long arms, would have this trouble though, but it’s worth pointing out.
After rough-drying our hair, using just our fingers and no attachments, our hair was a little frizzier than we’d hoped and lacked the smoothness and shine as other dryers we’ve tested – notably the Remington Keratin Protect and Dyson’s Supersonic. However, when we added the nozzle, this was no longer a problem. It made a vast difference and our hair felt soft and looked shiny. We’d have preferred a choice of nozzles, to add a bit of variety to our style but the nozzle it does come with is a decent attachment. Our one complaint about the nozzle is that it had a tendency to slip and move around the hotter it got. You need a little bit of movement in order to change the angle when styling different sections of hair yet the GHD Air’s nozzle moved mid-section. We’d be pulling the hair through the brush and the nozzle would twist, slowing us down. This heat also meant it was difficult – and a little dangerous – to remove the nozzle straight after use. We like to style our hair with the nozzle and then remove it and blast the hair with cold air from the Cool Shot button. This wasn’t possible with the GHD Air.
GHD does make a diffuser for the Air, but bear in mind it’ll cost you an extra £15.
As we have found with many dryers we’ve tested, the cold shot on the GHD Air doesn’t differ vastly in temperature to the lowest heat setting. You have to press the button for a few seconds to really drop the temperature and, as it’s awkwardly located at the top of the handle, our hands ached if we tried to use it for too long.
GHD Air review: Verdict
If the GHD Air was cheaper, even by around £20 or so, all its flaws would be forgiven. It has a stylish, luxurious design, is powerful yet quiet, and it left our hair looking and feeling great.
The problem with the GHD Air’s relatively high price is that our expectations are equally lofty. If you buy a £30 hair dryer and it doesn’t give you salon-quality style or shine, you accept that sacrifice. At £100, many people don’t just want gorgeous looks and top-quality design, they also expect flawless performance and – in our testing – the GHD Air doesn’t quite deliver.
|Cable Length||3 metres|