Hair Dryers 101

Sam Villa E-T.C. LightHair tools are regularly a hot topic in the salon. My salon guest’s are always looking for advice on how to find the best hair dryer, flat iron, or curling iron. Today I want to focus on hair dryers, keeping in mind that much of this information will be relevant to all hair tools in general. Is there a difference between dryers? What’s the best place to buy a dryer? Does a more expensive dryer work better than inexpensive one? What should come with a dryer? I will touch on all of these and by the end of this post you with be empowered with a MBD (masters in blow dryers), making you an expert in beauty blowout.

Where to Buy
There are many places to buy a hair dryer, so where do you start? The drug store, beauty supply, beauty warehouses like Ulta, Target, not to mention the endless options available online. My suggestion is to consider the return policy and the customer service that supports your purchase. Whether you spend $25 or $250 for your dryer, sometimes things don’t work as you expected. A good retailer will support your purchase with a fair return or exchange policy making it easier for you to feel confident about your purchase.

I refer many clients to They usually have an abundance of choices in all price points and their user reviews can help with your decision.The sellers typically have great return and exchange policies and your order can be quickly shipped to your front door, sometimes as fast as overnight.

Close to home
Obviously your local salon, if they sell dryers, is the number one choice for purchase. Your stylist can recommend the dryer best suited for you. While they may not have a large selection to choose from, the benefit is that they have narrowed the selection down to the very best, saving you precious time from having to research yourself. In addition, you are supporting your salon and stylist. In many salons retail sales support education for the staff or comforts for clients that lend to a superior salon experience.

If your salon doesn’t carry hair tools, my next favorite spot is Ulta. Ulta is a mega beauty supply store that carries tools, hair products, makeup and more. They have an actual hair dryer bar with every dryer they carry plugged in and ready to be tested. It’s a more hands-on experience than buying online. You can get a feel for the dryer and they have a wide range to choose from. Unlike buying online, you will not have customer reviews to consider, so do you homework before if that is important to you.

If you don’t have an Ulta in your area then Target is your next best bet. The selection is considerable, and if cost is a concern for you, most dryers will fit in a lower price point category. Their return and exchange policy is exceptional so if your new dryer isn’t a perfect fit, you can easily bring it back for something else.

What to look for in a hair dryer
When you’re looking for a dryer, first consider weight and size. There are some big dryers out there that are heavy! Over time this can cause strain on your hand, wrist and arm. Instead, I recommend dryers that are shorter and light weight. This seems to be a trend in dryer manufacturing and it’s good from an ergonomic standpoint. Also, be sure the dryer comes with a nozzle, particularly if you are straightening or smoothing your hair. Nozzles are a key component to directing the airflow and closing the cuticle to give shine and memory to your blowout. If you are diffusing your hair, be sure that your dryer has a cupped diffuser attachment like this. If you buy a secondary diffuser after your purchase, chances are it won’t fit properly or work effectively.

What to spend
Like most products, there is a range of models and prices when it comes to blow dryers. The good news is, no matter what your budget is, there is a blow dryer for you.

  • High End–My favorite dryer in the whole wide world is the Sam Villa E-T.C. Light ($179). Here’s why–It’s made in Italy. Italy corners the market when it comes to hair dryer mechanics. The engines are powerful, yet light. This dryer weighs under one pound. The size is small and the construction is sturdy. I’m hard on my dryers. They get packed in suitcases, travel through airport security, get thrown around the model rooms and on stage. This dryer can handle the abuse. It’s been dropped a number of times and still works like it did on day one. The E-T.C. has a powerful heating element using ionic technology, but the nozzle and casing do not get so hot you can’t touch it. Sam Villa, who designed the dryer, is a platform artist for Redken and has been using dryers for over 30 years. As his company has grown, I have to give a big congrats to his customer service department. They are amazing. If there are any problems with the dryer they are immediately responsive and take all measures to ensure a great customer experience. Let me tell you, this dryer is worth every penny and is available at Fix Salon. In the high end category, my second choice is Sedu Revolution 6000i ($159.95).
  • Mid Priced–If you’re looking to spend a little less, there are some noteworthy products that will give you great performance without the high price. Hot Tools Tourmaline IONIC Professional Dryer ($84.99) is my top pick. The Hot Tools brand is the “go to” for us in the salon world for dryers and irons. This lightweight dryer holds its own in the field of hair dryers. Its tourmaline technology causes hair to dry faster and closes the cuticle down for high reflection and shine. BaBliss Pro Ceramix Supreme ($54.99) is another great mid priced dryer. BaBliss is a strong contender in the professional and consumer world of hair tools. In addition to its ceramic construction, I particularly like that it has a nine foot cord. I hate it when a cord is so short I can barely move away from the bathroom sink as I am drying my hair.
  • Low Price–Believe it or not, you can still get a decent blow dryer without blowing your wallet. My favorite in the budget category is the Vidal Sasson VS505 ($19.99). What I like about this dryer is that for twenty dollars you get the dryer with a nozzle and a nice diffuser. Great price for a good value. At 1875 watts its got plenty of power for even thick hair. Another good choice is the Conair 225R Comfort Touch Tourmaline ($29.99). Conair has been around forever and I have owned a few of their dryers throughout my life. They are no thrills, but straight forward. At just under two pounds this dryer has three heat settings and attachments, all for a very reasonable price.

I hope this information helps you find the blow dryer that is right for you. And that it gives you a sense of what to consider whenever you are purchasing beauty tools. The right tools alone won’t give you beautiful hair, but they make the work a whole lot easier.