Best hair dryers for curly, fine, thick and frizzy hair
Get salon-quality styles in the comfort of your home with our pick of the best hair dryers to buy in 2019
It would be fair to assume that one hair dryer is pretty similar to the next. But in a sea of models – an Amazon search produces 10,000 results from more than 50 brands – manufacturers are adding ever-increasing features to get their products noticed. So if you’re looking for your next blower, we’re here to help simplify the process of choosing between the best hair dryers you can buy right now.
For the past month, we’ve put the top-selling models to the test in our quest to discover which is truly the best hair dryer of 2019.
The Shortlist: Best hair dryers
Using Panasonic’s proprietary Nanoe filter, designed to prevent damage being done to your hair, the EH-NA65 combines gentle heat with powerful airflow, all controlled by three heat and three speed settings. Its three attachments, a thin nozzle, a wide nozzle and a diffuser, then help set your style. A mid-range hair dryer with mid-range features, the BaByliss Diamond sticks to the basics without trying to wow or complicate matters. Its sleek design, three heat and two power settings, and single nozzle are great at this price point. This is light, powerful and offers the kind of drying times and settings – which include three heat and three power buttons – more expensive hair dryers struggle with. It weighs just 400g and its single concentrator nozzle does a good job at styling hair of different types. If you can tolerate its slightly harsh sound, the Revlon 2-in-1 adds volume and shine by styling and drying at the same time. It has only two heat settings, but both style the hair without causing frizz or damage. Its brush shape also makes it portable. An outstanding travel dryer that puts some of its more expensive rivals to shame, the Remington On the Go is powerful, lightweight and comes with a nozzle and diffuser, the latter being a rare accessory for a compact dryer. The On the Go also folds in half, which makes it a perfect holiday companion. Designed to add shine and give protection to your hair thanks to oils inside the drying grille, the Keratin Protect has three heat and two power settings, and ships with a slim nozzle for styling, a wide nozzle for fast drying, and a diffuser. The most traditionally stylish hair dryer on the list, the GHD Air is a quiet, powerful machine. Drying times are decent and it offers two heat and two speed settings, plus a single nozzle. It comes with a three-metre cable. With a shape that resembles that of the Dyson, the Remington Air 3D is lightweight and has a great range of accessories, including a slim styling nozzle, a wide nozzle for smoothing and a diffuser, all packaged in a classy case. It has three heat settings, two power settings, and its cable measures an impressive three metres. The budget-friendly Carmen Noir offers three heat and two power settings, controlled by large buttons on its matte-finish casing. It ships with a concentrator nozzle and offers a 1.6-metre cable. The Dyson Supersonic’s powerful digital motor and intelligent heat controls offer three temperature options, controlled by three power settings. Inside its case is a 2.8-metre cord, a smoothing nozzle, a concentrator nozzle for styling, a diffuser and a heat mat.
1. Panasonic Nanoe EH-NA65
2. BaByliss Diamond
3. Tresemme Fast Dry 2000
4. Revlon Pro Collection One Step Dryer & Volumiser
5. Remington On the Go
6. Remington Keratin Protect
7. GHD Air
8. Remington Air 3D
9. Carmen Noir
10. Dyson Supersonic
Using Panasonic’s proprietary Nanoe filter, designed to prevent damage being done to your hair, the EH-NA65 combines gentle heat with powerful airflow, all controlled by three heat and three speed settings. Its three attachments, a thin nozzle, a wide nozzle and a diffuser, then help set your style.
A mid-range hair dryer with mid-range features, the BaByliss Diamond sticks to the basics without trying to wow or complicate matters. Its sleek design, three heat and two power settings, and single nozzle are great at this price point.
This is light, powerful and offers the kind of drying times and settings – which include three heat and three power buttons – more expensive hair dryers struggle with. It weighs just 400g and its single concentrator nozzle does a good job at styling hair of different types.
If you can tolerate its slightly harsh sound, the Revlon 2-in-1 adds volume and shine by styling and drying at the same time. It has only two heat settings, but both style the hair without causing frizz or damage. Its brush shape also makes it portable.
An outstanding travel dryer that puts some of its more expensive rivals to shame, the Remington On the Go is powerful, lightweight and comes with a nozzle and diffuser, the latter being a rare accessory for a compact dryer. The On the Go also folds in half, which makes it a perfect holiday companion.
Designed to add shine and give protection to your hair thanks to oils inside the drying grille, the Keratin Protect has three heat and two power settings, and ships with a slim nozzle for styling, a wide nozzle for fast drying, and a diffuser.
The most traditionally stylish hair dryer on the list, the GHD Air is a quiet, powerful machine. Drying times are decent and it offers two heat and two speed settings, plus a single nozzle. It comes with a three-metre cable.
With a shape that resembles that of the Dyson, the Remington Air 3D is lightweight and has a great range of accessories, including a slim styling nozzle, a wide nozzle for smoothing and a diffuser, all packaged in a classy case. It has three heat settings, two power settings, and its cable measures an impressive three metres.
The budget-friendly Carmen Noir offers three heat and two power settings, controlled by large buttons on its matte-finish casing. It ships with a concentrator nozzle and offers a 1.6-metre cable.
The Dyson Supersonic’s powerful digital motor and intelligent heat controls offer three temperature options, controlled by three power settings. Inside its case is a 2.8-metre cord, a smoothing nozzle, a concentrator nozzle for styling, a diffuser and a heat mat.
The Expert's View
The Dyson Supersonic came out on top, ticking almost every box in terms of style, power and performance.
Meanwhile, our best value choice is Tresemme’s Fast Dry 2000 because it outperforms rivals costing up to four times its bargain £13 price tag.
Best value and best overall hair dryers
How we selected the hair dryers to test
Ionic. Ceramic. Keratin-infused. There are thousands of dryers promising to style your hair using ever-more-elaborate technologies. And that’s before you consider how powerful they are, if they’re compact enough to travel with, and what accessories are included in the price.
To whittle this list down, we selected the top ten highest-rated hair dryers on Amazon, Currys, Argos, John Lewis and Robert Dyas. We combined the ratings for each model to find their average scores and used these to identify the ten highest scorers from our group of 50.
For products with the same scores, we opted for a variety of brands from the well-known – GHD, Remington and BaByliss – to the less popular Carmen, as well as selecting those covering a range of budgets.
We chose three hair dryers from Remington at different price points, alongside the best-rated and best-selling models from Tresemme, BaByliss, Carmen, Revlon and GHD. We also included the Dyson Supersonic and Panasonic’s Nanoe EH-NA65 to represent hair dryers from technical, non-traditional beauty brands.
During our selection process we were searching for hair dryers that look the part, have long cable lengths, offer a minimum amount of power, create low levels of noise and don’t weigh a tonne.
The best hair dryers must be light and well-balanced so you can use them for as long as is necessary without your arm going numb. They need to offer a range of heat and power settings to suit different hair types and lengths, how you intend to style your hair and how damaged it is. They should also ideally have a cool shot function to add extra shine, and be portable enough to take away with you on holiday or fit into a bag for the gym. All the dryers in our selection have a cool shot.
If you typically blow dry your hair straight, look for lightweight models with ionic technology. These are more gentle on the individual strands of hair and result in a smoother finish. All of the hair dryers we’ve chosen, except the compact Tresemme Fast Dry 2000 and Remington’s On the Go, offer ionic technology.
For longer hair, or more complex styles, the best dryers need to be manoeuvrable enough, in shape and weight, to style with ease at various angles, and come with decent accessories.
Frizzy locks can be managed by choosing a product with a thin concentrator nozzle, and preferably one with ionic technology, as frizzy hair can be lacking in volume.
Both fine hair and curly hair will benefit from being dried on a lower setting for a longer period of time, and the healthiest curls are those dried through a diffuser, which slows down the process and evenly distributes the heat more effectively. You can also use a diffuser to add volume to straight hair by massaging your scalp with the diffuser fingers.
When it comes to power, typically the higher the wattage, the better. Wattage tells you how strong the air flow is, rather than how hot the hair dryer will get – although the two tend to go hand-in-hand. A more powerful hair dryer will dry your hair quickly without ‘frying’ it, while maintaining a decent level of power on lower heat settings. Hair dryers boasting higher wattage also tend to last longer than their smaller-motored cousins.
How we tested the hair dryers
We tested each of the models in our hunt for the best hair dryers on both fine and thick shoulder-length hair, both with a natural curl. We used them in five different scenarios to assess power, portability and hair protection.
The first test involved rough drying the hair after a shower and timing how long it took to remove all moisture. This was done without any nozzles or diffusers attached and we used our fingers, rather than a brush, to move the air through our hair. This was the fairest way to ensure the style of drying was as close to identical each time. We repeated this test for each hair dryer on both hair types.
For the second test, we used each of the models after swimming, when our hair had been fully submerged in water. This had the added benefit of being able to test portability. We also noted how noisy each hair dryer was in both environments.
Next up, we put the individual hair dryers’ accessories to the test. Some models don’t come with accessories, while others offer a selection of nozzle shapes and sizes, as well as diffusers. Any that didn’t ship with accessories as standard were marked down, while we gave extra points to those with the widest range of attachments.
In the case of nozzles, we used the different shapes and sizes to blow dry our towel-dried hair straight, using a large round brush. We assessed how quickly we achieved our desired style, how heavy each hair dryer was during blow drying, how easy they were to manoeuvre around the head, and if the nozzles moved during the drying process. We also noted how easy it was to fit and remove the nozzles. The diffusers were similarly used on towel-dried hair and we judged them on how quickly they styled hair and how bouncy our curls were.
To get a true reflection of how each dryer affected our hair following both rough drying and styling, we didn’t use any heat protector or hair products.
Plus, given the broad range of models on offer, we had to assess each for value for money, not just straight up price. We factored in dryers that had poor features for their price, and those which offered great styling and drying on the cheap.
To manage these tests as fairly as possible, we used a point system to compare the models. For each area of assessment – cost, power, drying times, weight, cable length, how loud they were, how shiny they left our hair, how portable they are and their ease-of-use – we scored each out of ten, giving a possible score of 100. At the end of the test, these points were totalled to reveal the top models.
Hair dryer reviews: The test results
It may be clichéd that the most expensive model was the one that came out on top but the Dyson Supersonic offers almost everything we were looking for. It scored top marks in nearly every category, only really being let down by its cost. While Dyson qualifies its £300 price tag by saying there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes tech, this may put it out of reach of many, and the cheaper Panasonic Nanoe scored just one point less.
If you can forgive its odd, bulky design – we think it resembles a duck – the high-powered Nanoe is a third of the price of the Supersonic, even though it has similar features. It ultimately dropped points for being a little chunky.
The surprise of the bunch was the Tresemme Fast Dry 2000. We weren’t expecting much from an appliance that costs just £13 but it punched well above its weight. It didn’t leave our hair as smooth as others on the list but that’s really the only sacrifice for the bargain price. For a couple of quid more, the Remington On the Go is a folding hair dryer with similar drying times and power. It lacks the settings of its compact rival and is a little more fiddly to use but almost everything else is on par.
Our favourite middle-of-the-range hair dryer is the Remington Keratin Protect. As its name suggests, it’s designed to protect your locks during styling and our hair felt great after use. The other mid-range dryer was the BaByliss Diamond with expectedly mid-range features. It achieved middle-of-the-road scores, but offers good features versus price and is one of the lightest models we used.
The third Remington on the list, the Air 3D, attempts to play Dyson at its own game. It has a similar design but that’s where the comparisons end. It’s lighter but doesn’t feel it, it took more than twice the time to dry our hair after swimming, and it left it feeling rougher than we’d expect for the price. For a tenner less, the GHD Air dried our hair faster and left it in better condition and offered just one fewer setting and accessory.
A wildcard entry, the Revlon Pro Collection One Step Dryer & Volumiser, is a two-in-one dryer and styler that is incredibly easy to use, even one-handed. It gave us bouncy hair, full of the volume that we typically only get from curlers.
The final dryer was the Carmen Noir. We can’t comment on speed because neither of the models we used (an original and a replacement) managed to dry our hair without cutting out because of overheating.
The best hair dryer reviewed:
Dyson Supersonic, £299.99
We were a little reluctant to recommend the Dyson Supersonic as the best hair dryer on the market because it’s so pricey, yet the scores speak for themselves. It performed head and shoulders above its rivals in almost every category, and even those in which it fell short, on paper, it seemingly made up for in real-world use.
For example, the Dyson Supersonic has one of the least powerful motors of our selection yet dried hair faster than all its rivals, totally confounding our expectations. This is because its ionic motor and heat controls have been designed to triple the power and maximise airflow to protect the hair.
Dyson’s Supersonic should also feel more weighty than it does. It’s one of the heaviest on test, but this weight is more evenly distributed than the others. Its motor is at the bottom of the handle rather than the top, and this makes it well-balanced. Its slim, tall design also makes it a great travelling companion.
Alongside the Panasonic Nanoe, the Supersonic offers the greatest range of settings – three heat, three power and a cool shot – and you can switch between each using tactile buttons placed near where your thumb naturally sits on the handle. This made the Dyson the easiest of the bunch to use.
When it comes to add-ons, the Dyson Supersonic ships with the most accessories of any hair dryer we tested, including a wide nozzle for smoothing your hair, a slim styling nozzle, a diffuser and a heat mat. We’re unsure why the heat mat comes as standard because the Supersonic never once felt too hot to the touch.
The dryer uses sensors to manage how hot it gets, and this was a welcome feature when it came to switching accessories mid-dry – we’ve burnt our hands too many times to mention with rival brands. Dyson’s accessories work as promised and attach via magnets, which do a fantastic job of keeping them in place. The same couldn’t be said for all nozzles tested, with those on the GHD Air particularly being prone to twisting while styling.
After our testing period ended, the Dyson Supersonic was the hair dryer we kept returning to. Plus, following a week of exclusive use, our hair feels like it’s in better condition than before.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. Having the motor at the bottom of the handle restricts how low down you can place your hand, and we often blocked the filter by accident. The Supersonic’s ability to make hair super smooth meant our style sometimes lacked volume. And, of course, we can’t ignore how expensive it is.
The results we achieved, alongside the portability, accessories included and damage protection are certainly worth paying more for, and we’d happily part with up to £200. Its sturdy design should also mean it lasts. However, £300 is extreme and will sadly mean many won’t be able to experience just how good a hair dryer can be.
The best value hair dryer reviewed:
Tresemme Fast Dry 2000, £13
It’s frankly staggering the amount of power and number of settings Tresemme has managed to fit into a hair dryer that is so cheap. There are simple hair brushes that cost more.
That’s not to mention the fact the dryer is compact, light and it only took an extra 30 seconds to dry our hair to the same level as the overall winner, Dyson’s Supersonic.
The Tresemme Fast Dry 2000 comes with very few bells and whistles, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The simple controls make it easy to use and it takes the crown for being the most straightforward hair dryer we tested. Only the Revlon Pro Collection 2-in-1 dryer was as user-friendly, and that more expensive styler doesn’t come with as many heat and power options. We also regularly opted to take the Fast Dry 2000 with us when going swimming, where space in our backpack was at a premium.
It produces an average level of noise, louder than those at the top end of the price bracket – the Dyson, GHD Air and Panasonic’s Nanoe – but not as loud as rivals which cost more, particularly Remington’s Keratin Protect and the Revlon styler. It also felt gentler than those in the mid-range, styling hair quickly using power rather than raw heat.
The closest rival in terms of value for money is the other compact model in our test, the £15.99 Remington On the Go. Tresemme’s dryer has fewer accessories – one nozzle versus a nozzle and a diffuser – and it dried hair marginally slower, by 19 seconds. The Remington also boasts the novel ability to be folded in half to fit into the smallest of bags.
The features in Tresemme’s favour, though, include the great styling options of its three heat and three power settings, versus Remington’s total of four. It’s also lighter, easier to use and cheaper.
If you want a compact dryer with great performance and options, the Tresemme Fast Dry 2000 is our value for money winner. However, if a folding hair dryer is a dealbreaker, your only real choice is the Remington. Both give their more expensive rivals a serious run for their money so you could, in theory, buy both and have one for home and one for your gym bag for under forty quid.
Comparing the rest on test
Panasonic has ploughed years of engineering prowess into its Nanoe Ion EH65, and it shows. The Nanoe is surprisingly quiet – the quietest on test – and offers the same number of heat and power settings as the Dyson Supersonic, albeit in a more fiddly set up. It wasn’t the fastest at drying hair, coming in third behind the Supersonic and Remington’s On the Go, but it did achieve near-on Dyson levels of shine. It also gave our hair more volume than almost every other dryer, excluding the Revlon 2-in-1.
The top of the dryer is fitted with Panasonic’s chunky Nanoe filter, which pulls moisture from the air to blast smoothing particles at the hair. The problem is that the extra shine you get isn’t really worth the dryer’s heavy feel. This build becomes even more cumbersome when its accessories are attached. All that said, it’s the closest hair dryer we’ve tested if you want to achieve Dyson standards without the hefty Dyson price tag.
BaByliss’s Diamond took third spot in our test for being average. While that sounds like an insult, it’s not. It doesn’t have any real gimmicks, or even the design quirks of higher-priced models. It’s a step above the compact dryers because its ionic technology left our hair looking shiny. And its middle-of-the-road drying times, weight and ease-of-use match its price. If you’re after a simple, powerful dryer at a reasonable price, BaByliss deserves your money.
Behind our best value choice winner, the Tresemme Fast Dry 2000, is Revlon’s Pro Collection One Step Dryer & Volumiser. It has a retro feel, reminiscent of the 2-in-1s from the early 1990s, but is so easy to use – the easiest on test – it’s clear to see why the design has stayed true to those stylers of old. If you don’t have the time, or patience, to fully blow dry your hair, this combines the two, which additionally makes it highly portable. We were also impressed with how volumised it left our fine hair.
For a budget travel dryer, Remington’s On the Go offers rival-beating features such as fast drying times, decent accessories and portability. Perfect for gym bags and carry-on hand luggage. It dries impressively fast for a portable dryer – it took just 20 seconds longer than the Dyson – but we often accidentally folded tit in half mid-dry, which was a pain.
Despite its promises, the Keratin Protect fell a little short of the shine we got from the Dyson, yet was on par with the Nanoe. It’s noisy and one of the slowest models we tested, but has a decent range of settings (only one short of its highest-scoring rivals), a long cable and a wide range of accessories.
Given GHD’s straightener credentials we had high hopes for its Air model, but were left a little disappointed. It’s the heaviest hair dryer we tested, with fewer heat and speed settings than cheaper rivals, and its single nozzle left us wanting. But it’s a stylish-looking dryer, and will suit those looking for something sturdy. Plus it left our hair in better condition than the more expensive Remington Air 3D.
First impressions of the Air 3D were good. A luxury case with three accessories and a Dyson-style design excited us. Sadly, it left our hair feeling almost as rough as cheaper dryers. Its controls, while plentiful, are a little confusing and resulted in the hottest dryer on test. Plus points are that its attachments give you a wide array of styling options, it’s light, portable, and has the longest cable we used.
Any hair dryers to avoid?
We can’t recommend the Carmen Noir, because it failed at its most basic function: drying hair. The first model we tested cut out before we’d even finished rough drying our hair after a shower – it lasted even less time with the nozzle attached.
Thinking this may have been caused by a one-off fault, we bought a second model only to be met with the same problem. On paper the Carmen Noir looks decent – powerful, light, quiet and with a great choice of settings – but if it can’t dry shoulder-length or fine hair, it’s fallen at the first hurdle.