Did you know not all hair dryers are created equally? There are several factors you need to assess when shopping for a new hair dryer, including figuring out your hair's texture, taking its length into consideration, the porosity of your hair strands, and curl pattern. Many women make the mistake of purchasing a generic hair dryer, only to realize that the tool isn't working with their hair, making the hair styling process that much more difficult. Having the right hair dryer for your hair type can make a world of a difference not only during the hair styling process but after, ensuring that your style is locked in, your curl pattern is smooth and uniform, and your hair looks healthy and shiny.
To help clear up some confusion, we’re breaking down the different things to consider and keep in mind as you hunt for the perfect hair dryer for your hair.
First things first...what are the different types of hair dryers?
There are two main types of hair dryers out there that promise to give your hair that perfect blow out with minimal damage: ionic and ceramic.
Ionic hair dryers
Ionic hair dryers use negatively charged ions, which break down positively charged water molecules quickly, cutting down on drying time. Since negatively charged ions don't open up the hair cuticle, hair strands dry smoothly and sleekly. You can use a lower heat temperature when drying your hair with an ionic hair dryer, and curls definition is preserved when using these hair dryers. While a faster drying time is great, it becomes easy to over-dry your hair, leading to damage, while fine hair may be left looking limp. Ionic hair dryers are also more costly than ceramic hair dryers.
Ceramic hair dryers
The main benefit of ceramic hair dryers is the ceramic coating inside, which helps distribute heat evenly. These hair dryers sense the room temperature and regulate heat accordingly, to ensure that the least amount of heat is being used throughout the drying process, leading to a fast drying time and less damage overall. While ceramic hair dryers are great for reducing heat and speeding up drying time, they do not produce as many negative ions as ionic hair dryers. Ceramic hair dryers are most costly than traditional hair dryers (think drug store brands), however, less costly than ionic hair dryers.
How to choose the best hair dryer for your hair type
Now that we've gone through the differences between technologies, let's outline which one is best for you according to your hair type:
Thick hair, frizzy hair: Ionic Hair Dryer
If you have thick hair, you know the struggles of waiting hours for your hair to air dry or wrestling with your hair dryer for half an hour or more! Cut the hair drying time down by option for an ionic hair dryer. Ionic hair dryers use negative ions to dry hair (which dries the positively charged water ions). This is a fast method to drying thick and curly hair and helps prevents frizz.
Thin hair: Ceramic hair dryer
If your hair is flat and thin, you are likely looking to add volume and thickness when blow drying and styling your hair. Therefore, you likely do not need the added benefits of smoothness and shine that comes with an ionic hair dryer. A common misconception is that high heat is necessary to dry hair, however, extreme heat can no only damage fine, thin hair, but does nothing for your hair in the style and bounce department. When styling flat, thin hair, it is best to use a ceramic hair dryer, which regulates heat levels to prevent damage to fragile hair, while creating lift in strands that are otherwise limp and lifeless.
Curly hair: Hair dryer with diffuser
If you're looking to embrace your natural hair's texture, a diffuser is an essential attachment for your hair dryer. Curly hair has a pattern that must be protected at all times, and a diffuser will help smoothen and lock in curls while blow drying. Be sure to look for a diffuser with thicker separators to preserve the shape of your curls.
Dull hair: Shine enhancing hair dryer or ionic hair dryer
Some specialty hair dryers deliver hair conditioning ions to your strands, restoring shine to the hair and eliminating frizz, making it look smoother and healthier. Similarly, the negatively charged ions in ionic hair dryers are key for a sleek, shiny blow out.
Fine hair: Adjustable heat setting
A hair dryer with an adjustable heat setting is crucial for those with fine hair strands, as they soaks in heat much quicker than thicker hair strands. Find a good balance between settings to achieve a quick drying time with as little heat as possible. If you feel that you need to up the heat, try increasing the air flow instead.
Other tips to consider when shopping for a hair dryer
Pay attention to the wattage on the hair dryer
Wattage plays a part in how hot a blow dryer can get, and how fast a blow dryer can dry your hair. It’s crucial that you pick a hair dryer with a wattage that will safely and thoroughly dry your strands. For both curly and fine hair types, experts recommend that dryers have a wattage of around 1400.
Choose a hair dryer weight that is comfortable for you
Depending on the technology and features, some hair dryers can weigh a few pounds. If your hair is thick, you’re going to be holding the dryer for quite some time. You want to make sure that you’re able to hold the hair dryer without any arm strain.
Use a hair dryer that has a cold air blaster
This will help to seal the outer cuticle of the hair, locking in moisture and improving shine and softness. If your hair is usually dry and brittle, this trick is especially great to help eliminate that coarseness.
Choose a hair dryer with a nozzle attachment
Often overlooked, the nozzle attachment may just be the most important accessory for your hair dryer. This attachment allows you to direct all the air and heat flow in one direction, to ensure that your hair dryers smoothly and in one direction. If you currently blow dry your hair without the nozzle attachment, this may be the reason why your hair frizzes, as the air flows all directions, pushing the cuticle up.
Other hair drying tips
Aside from using the tools above to help choose the perfect hair dryer for your hair type, there are other ways you can help ensure that you achieve a perfect blow-out right at home.
Choose the Right Products
Make sure that your haircare arsenal is full of products that will protect your strands during the drying process. Use a heat protectant before heat styling, and finish off with a moisturizing hair oil or finishing cream.
Grab The Right hair Brush
Start off by using a paddle brush while blow drying until your hair is about 75% dry. Then, use a round brush as you’re drying your hair to lift the hair strands at the roots and create body and volume. If you are looking to add extra shine, choose a round brush with boar bristles, which distribute the hair's natural oils from root to tip.
Remember to Pre-Dry Hair
Style holds from hot to cold, not wet to dry, which means you’ll make the hair drying process much more difficult if you try to use your hair dryer on sopping wet hair. Use an absorbent microfibre towel, or air dry your hair as much as you can before reaching for the hair dryer. This will not only speed up the time when using a hair dryer, but it will ensure that you don't fry your hair. When your hair is almost completely dry, reduce the heat setting as much as possible.
Section your Hair When Drying It
Often times, people will try to just dive into a full head of hair to dry, resulting in a frizzy nest of hair. Instead, section hair off and tackle each section at a time. This will help make sure every section is dried properly before you move on to the next section.
Written by: Samantha Callendar