Blow her away this Christmas

The big trend for holiday gift-giving this year is choosing thoughtful gifts to be put to good use, and to break away from the cheap consumer goods of yesterday. If you’re considering buying a hair dryer for someone on your list, this short buyer’s guide will help you select a hair dryer that will blow her away.

A trip to the hairdresser’s is typically at the top of our holiday To-Do list, leaving ladies with hair that feels and looks (and photographs) its best. One way that hairdressers achieve that effortless, chic look is to reach for that most important of tools: our hair dryers. You can spread great holiday cheer this year by bringing a touch of the salon to someone special on your list. This quick and easy buyer’s guide will help you select a hair dryer that will help keep her in style!

Types of dryers

Ionic hair dryers create millions of negative ions, helping to break down water’s positively-charged ions. It allows your hair to dry much faster using heat and force of air, but also using technology to break down the water itself. Seem a little too science-y for you? Check out this thoughtful post to learn more about ionic dryer technology.

• Perfect for: Hair that is frizzy, and/or thick and difficult to dry.
• Not suitable for: Hair that is flat and/or oily, or that will be styled in a non-sleek hairstyle.

Tourmaline hair dryers are ionic dryers on steroids: their interiors are coated with semi-precious tourmaline mineral, crushed into a fine powder and built into the internal components of the machine. When this powder is heated, cooled, or pressurized, it generates an electrical charge, emitting both negative ions and far-infrared heat.

• Perfect for: Hair that is exceptionally hard to dry, and/or very coarse in texture.
• Not suitable for: If your hair is flat and/or oily, or if you prefer non-sleek hairstyles, ionic is not for you.

Ceramic or porcelain dryers emit non-damaging infrared heat to dry the hair gently and in an even distribution for added heat protection. In these dryers, ceramic or porcelain is used to coat a dryer’s metal or plastic heating elements and other internal parts, making heat less harsh and more consistent in temperature. Plus, they, too, emit negative ions to speed drying and smooth frizz.

• Perfect for: Hair that is fine and/or dry—but really, everyone can benefit.
• Not suitable for: This really doesn’t apply – anyone can benefit from this technology.


The goal in drying is not to “toast” the hair, so choose a dryer that has a higher wattage for more blowing power, which will cut down your styling time without exposing hair to excessive heat. Aim for the 1800 to 2000 wattage dryers, and remember that though you may pay a higher price, the dryer will last much longer than a small-motored cousin.

Heat levels

Different heat levels are there to adjust to suit your hair texture and condition. High heat is for really thick or coarse hair, helping to quickly remove excess moisture when you’re right out of the shower. Lower settings are perfect for thinner or fragile hair, or for folks who dry their hair when it is damp (rather than wet). Finer hair is easily damaged by high temperatures and high speed, so always consider hair texture when choosing the right dryer.


Particularly when hair is long, or takes a long time to dry, ergonomics are key. An easy-to-hold handle and lightweight (up to 1#) design are elemental, but notice, as well, button placement. Are buttons easy to reach, or will toggling one cause you to accidentally untoggle another?


Folks with curly and wavy hair textures will want to use the diffuser at the low heat setting, helping lift the hair and release a gentle, indirect stream of warm air that is not overpowering. Diffuers helps reduce the intensity of a dryer’s air-flow, while also taming frizz. When the dryer is used to get straight hair or soft waves, the concentrator nozzle is the right tool for the job. This nozzle changes the air flow, allowing for more targeted drying.


Look for a dryer with a cool-shot button, used to “set” the curl or wave, sealing the hair cuticle for longer-lasting hold and added shine.
If the dryer is going to travel, look for compact models that might also feature retractable cords.


A long-lasting hair-dryer that suits your lifestyle, and meets your needs, is one beauty purchase that you can justify spending more on. Generally, dryers that cost around $100 tend to last 5-10 years, but a $30 model might burn out over 1-2 years. Truly, it pays to pick well.


If you’re buying a pricey dryer, you’re going to want a good warranty for at least one year, preferably two. Don’t forget to check the fine print!


Want to learn more about what the pros recommend? Check out this guide from Allure magazine. And if you’re looking to understand how to achieve the best blowout at home, just like a pro, check out my guide here.