If you love a good blowout but can’t bear to shell out $30 to $50 each time you hit the salon, why not invest in a professional-grade blow-dryer and do your own blowouts at home? With so many choices on the market (and so much lingo on the packaging), it can be hard to decide what to buy. How many volts should your blow-dryer have? What does wattage mean? And tourmaline, ionic, and ceramic—do they even make a difference? We spoke with New York City-based hairstylist Davide Marinelli from De Berardinis Salon and a technician from Conair who wishes to remain anonymous, to find out what all those terms mean and what you should look for when purchasing a new blow-dryer.
The first thing you need to assess is how often you'll actually use your blow-dryer. Just as you have several factors that influence which shampoo you buy, you need to determine the texture of your hair and how frequently you’ll be blow-drying it in order to know how much power your blow-dryer should have. "If you have fine hair, you don't want a dryer that's too strong," says Davide. "If you have thicker, coarser hair or plan to use your blow-dryer every day, you'll want something with more strength. The strength and power of your blow-dryer is determined by how many watts it has. The amount of volts is how much energy it uses, so you don't have to worry about that too much. If you're using the tool every day, then aim for a dryer with more watts. Hairdressers typically blow-dry with 2,600 watts, but they're using them all day, every day."
The cost of the dryer is an indication of how much power it has. "A lower-priced product will generally have lower wattage, so it won't last you as long.” says Davide. If you only blow-dry your hair every few days or once a week, then something cheaper is fine. Just remember, this is an investment. You want your hair to look its best." Other technical terms to be aware of: "Ceramic and tourmaline are minerals added to the paint on the dryer to give it extra benefits," says a technician at Conair. "They provide natural ion protection to help reduce frizz."
And extra features? Like a blow-dryer that is quieter than others or has a cool setting or special motor? "The cool setting on your dryer is essential for holding the style," says Davide. "Heat is used to create it, then a blast of cold air sets it." Dryers with quieter engines are just that—quieter. It's whether they have a slower speed or fewer settings that will affect their performance. The Babyliss Pro Volare blow-dryer has a Ferrari engine, which means it has ball bearings (like the ones found in car engines). The ball bearings reduce friction and vibration, so you get a smoother, more powerful airflow. There’s also Sedu’s Icon Privé, which costs a hefty $700. This machine is designed to be super quiet, weighs only 1.05 pounds, and has a six-year warranty. The value is in its power (2300 watts!). That will dry your hair in seconds, and its shelf life. It’s equipped with 10,000 hours of motor life, whereas other dryers have only 2,000 hours.
So, Beauties, whether you want to use your blow-dryer every day or once a week, make sure you do your homework. "Look around and do some research," says Davide. "See what's on the market and ask your stylist to give you two or three recommendations so you can check out prices. Also, check out eBay! They have some great deals."