All blow dryers are not created equal.
The ideal model should be speedy, powerful, and comfy to hold, with a long enough cord and attachments that work well with your hair's texture.
In the Beauty Lab, we tested 20 different dryers on dozens of hair swatches to evaluate how fast they dried and whether they left hair shiny and smooth. Then, with feedback from our testers (whose tresses ranged from long to short and from super-curly to pin-straight), we crowned four winners. Here's the full blow-by-blow.
Best Value :
Pro Beauty Tools Professional Lightweight Hair Dryer
At just over a pound, the compact Pro Beauty Tools dryer is a featherweight, taming the locks and saving the wrists of grateful testers. Hair "felt silky" and "dried quickly," they said. A real find at this price.
Hot Tools Whisper Quiet Salon Turbo Ionic Dryer
A good pick if noisiness is a pet peeve. In addition to having a hushed motor, Hot Tools smooths hair, though it's best suited to finer strands (it's less powerful than our other picks). "Very quiet and very hot, making up for the airflow," said one tester.
FHI Heat Nano Weight Pro 1900 Turbo
(Starting at $109, Yahoo! Shopping)
The FHI blew past the competition on drying time. Though pricey, it bested dryers costing more than twice as much.
"Light, quiet, and fast," said testers. While the dryer itself stays temperate, the air it emits on its highest settings can get hot.
(See also: 7 products that help repair your hair)
BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Portofino
Our testers awarded it high marks for handheld comfort as well as how sleek and healthy it made hair look.
"Powerful, and nice heat," said one. Almost nobody seemed to mind that the dryer, with its six settings, was on the heavier side.
Superior Shine :
Solia Professional Ceramic Ionic Hair Dryer
When it comes to making hair shiny, our consumer testers gave this hair dryer the highest marks.
Volunteers also commented on its light weight, extra-quiet operation, and compact design, but they were less than pleased when it came to the model's limited heat settings. (The Solia only offers two.)
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