9 Types of Blow Dryers (Buying Guide)

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cartoon of hairdresser blow drying clients hair sept10

Before you buy a hair dryer, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the different types of categories available.

This can help tremendously for you to buy the right one for your hair type, needs, size, wattage, dimensions, style and more.

It also helps to know about all the various accessories and complementary options you have.

Below we set out the 9 types of blow dryers which includes pretty much every categorization.

Types of Hair Dryers

There are four basic styles of modern hair dryers that can all help you accomplish the goal of drying and styling your hair.

Each has benefits to their design, so take a moment to consider the options and what is most important to you.

1. Infrared Dryers

Infrared DryerSource: Amazon

Infrared dryers are known for supplying a good, even distribution of heat.

They work by emitting long wavelengths of heat, which serve to pass completely through the hair. Because the wavelengths used can penetrate the hair, it makes for a super efficient drying process.

Infrared dryers often have components that are coated with a higher-end material, like ceramic, which we will discuss later.

2. Ionic Dryers

Ionic DryerSource: Best Buy

Ionic dryers function by releasing negatively charged ions as they blow air on the hair. Because water molecules are positively charged and easily broken down by the ions, this type of hair styling tool is known for its speed and effectiveness.

Ionic dryers are also known for their ability to battle frizz and uneven texture.

Like the infrared style, ionic dryers may be coated with another material to increase their value. Tourmaline is a material commonly paired with this type of dryer.

3. Hair Brush Dryers

Hair Brush DryerSource: Overstock

Some hair dryers combine multiple tools in one. Instead of the traditional barrel, hair brush dryers release air through a modified hair brush. The air escapes from holes in between the dryer’s bristles.

This type of tool allows you to seamlessly brush and style your hair while simultaneously blowing it dry.

4. Bonnet Dryers

Bonnet DryerSource: Overstock

Another take on this hair styling tool is the bonnet dryer.

These dryers fit like a cap (or bonnet) over the head, applying warm, drying air from every direction.

Bonnet dryers may come in either a hard form or a soft form. In the hard form, the dryer sits on a stand, positioned over your head as it works.

In the soft form, the dryer is pliable. You stretch and place the cap directly on your head, over your hair.

The dryer makes for easy, hands-off styling, and is often recommended for people with naturally curly hair. However, it will not be the best choice for those who like to have more control over air flow and direction when styling.

If you are thinking about opting for a bonnet dryer, make sure to consider where you would store and use the device. If you have limited space, especially counter or storage space, a bonnet dryer might not be the best choice.


As mentioned earlier, the heating components within a dryer might be coated with different materials.

The inclusion of these materials has different purposes, including to boost the presence of negative ions or to even out heat dispersion.

Read on to learn about the different materials you will probably see advertised as you shop for dyers.

1. Ceramic

Ceramic materials are a common addition to hair styling tools of all sort. That’s because the material is great at dispersing heat evenly and smoothly.

This even dispersion doesn’t just mean drying is more effective, it can also mean extra hair protection, too. Even heat means a reduced chance of super hot blasts of heat – an incident that can damage or even burn the hair.

2. Tourmaline

Tourmaline is often included in blow dryers thanks to its ability to boost the presence of negatively charged ions. The extra blast of ions makes for an efficient (although usually more expensive) styling tool.

If ion-boosting power is important to you or if you are concerned about frizz, consider tourmaline. If not, you can probably better devote your budget elsewhere.

3. Titanium

Titanium is another material that is included for an efficiency boost. A titanium coating can help with even heat dispersion, leading to a more effective (and protective) dry.

However, the heat, while evenly dispersed, can get very hot with this metal. For this reason, people with easily damaged or heat sensitive hair might want to skip titanium and shop for another option.

How Materials Have Improved

Blow dryer materials have come a long way since the products were first introduced. When the first of these appliances were sold in 1925, they were made of metals like steel and zinc.

Because these heavy metals formed the base of the dryer, it weighed over two pounds! Plus, the dryer was not very powerful (around 100 watts) took a long time to dry the hair, making blow drying with this heavy tool quite a tiring event!


Illustration of a hair dryer motor and inside workingsSource: HowStuffWorks

You may have known that you have options when it comes to dryer set-up and materials, but did you know you can decide the type of motor used, too?

Let’s take a look at the two options you’ll probably encounter in the market place – AC and DC motors.

1. AC Motors

AC motors tend to be quieter than other motor types. A dryer with an AC motor might be a good choice for college students in dormitories or for anyone who might want to dry their hair with minimal disruption to others.

AC motors also tend to be a bit more powerful. This power can translate to a longer-lasting, more durable appliance.

2. DC Motors

DC motors are another common and effective option. One bonus to this type is that DC motors tend to be a much lighter weight.

Because of this lightness, DC motors are a good choice if you have long, thick hair that takes a long time to blow dry. If you find your arms getting tired while styling your hair, you might want to find a model featuring a DC motor.


Photo of the various hair dryer attachmentsSource: Amazon

Now that we’ve covered the basics that make up a given hair dryer model, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can customize your styling tool to fit your needs.

Many blow dryers come pre-packaged with attachments when you first buy them. For other dryers, there are compatible attachments that can be purchased separately.

You can always add attachments down the road – making them a great way to mix up your hair styling capabilities without having to invest in a brand new hair dryer.

Attachments can be used to make the hair dryer better at dealing with a specific hair type, achieving a certain style, or just easier to use.

Most clip on to the end of the blow dryer’s barrel and affect how the air flows out of the machine.

1. Diffusers

Hair dryer diffuser

Source: Sephora

Diffusers are a common and popular dryer attachment. The style of these additions varies from model to model, but they usually consist of several protrusions (that tend to look like the teeth of a comb) and many small holes.

A diffuser, when attached to the end of a dryer barrel, helps spread out (or diffuse) the flow

of air around a larger surface area of hair.

This kind of attachment is especially helpful for people with curly hair. The more evenly distributed flow of air is less likely to interrupt your hair’s natural curl and less likely to cause frizzy results.

2. Concentrators

Blow dryer concentratorSource: Amazon

You can think of a concentrator nozzle as somewhat of the opposite of a diffuser.

Instead of spreading out the air flow, it concentrates the air on an even smaller region of hair.

Unlike a diffuser, which protects a natural curl’s shape, a concentrator will work to straighten hair – making it a good addition for anyone going for a sleek and smooth look.

It also gives you the ability to control your dryer with greater accuracy. This means you will better be able to create a particular shape, if you are after one.

Plus, a concentrator allows you to apply the heat directly to the surface of the hair, without risk of your hair coming into contact with the internal heating components. This helps reduce the risk of heat damage.

A concentrator nozzle is included with many hair dryers that you will find on the market. If you are interested in using a concentrator, there is a pretty good chance that you can find a hair dryer that hits off all your other requirements, plus has a concentrator already included!

3. Hands-free Stands

Hands-free hair dryer stand and attachmentSource: Amazon

Another attachment option is a blow dryer stand. While, of course, there are other types of stands for storage, the type of stand we are discussing is a bit more functional.

These “hands-free” dryer stands have become popular for their convenience. The stand holds your dryer while it is in use, allowing you to have both hands at your disposal for styling – a great benefit for those of us who don’t have the dexterity of a stylist!

Some stands have a short neck and are designed to sit on top of a surface, like your counter or desk. Others are tall stands with a base that sits on the floor and a very long neck.

Still other stands are designed to work from above. This type might be attached to a mirror or light fixture, and have some sort of swiveling neck that can hold the dryer above your head.

4. Curling Attachments

Blow dryer curling attachmentSource: NaturallyCurly

Believe it or not, you can even get blow dryer attachments that can make the appliance double as a curling iron!

While these attachments won’t get you the high performance of a dedicated curling appliance, they can still provide some volume and shape in a convenient way.

A spinning curl attachment is a common curling tool for hair dryers. This type clips on to the end of the dryer’s barrel and has two open ends. You simply place a section of damp hair in the top end and turn on the dryer.

The dryer spins your hair as it dries, giving it volume and shape.

The shape provided tends to be more of a loose wave than a traditional curl. If you often find yourself trying to achieve this kind of beachy style, then adding a curling attachment on to your dryer purchase could be a great move.

If, on the other hand, you like a curl with a lot of structure and a more ridged shape, you might want to skip the spinning curl attachment and instead invest in a quality appliance dedicated exclusively to curling the hair.

Additional Features

The hair dryers you will encounter in the marketplace will include a variety of other features and details to consider.

Take a second to think about some of the common features we will describe below, and decide which ones sound most important to you. That way, you can easily find a tool that checks off everything on your wish list!

A. Heat and Power Settings

The heat and power required to dry different hair types and to create different styles is not one size fits all. For this reason, you might want to consider finding a dryer that allows you to adjust the temperature and/or the power.

One common use of these settings is to use a high setting when hair is wetter, and then reduce the heat and power to finish up and style the hair as it is nearly dry.

This is not only a good practical tool to help make drying and styling easier, but it can also help protect your hair from unnecessary heat and damage.

And for folks with super fine hair that dries quickly, a low power setting might be where your dryer stays at all time. Having the power to control the force and temperature of the air flow gives you the power to decide.

B. Cooling Option

Hair dryer cooling feature

Source: Walmart

Many hair dryers will come with a cool setting, often in the form of a button labeled something to the effect of “cool shot.” This button usually stands out and is easy to spot – it tends to be bright blue!

This feature allows you to quickly switch from high heat air to a blast of cool air. The benefit? A shot of cool air can help set the style you’ve created, giving your look a longevity boost.

C. Wattage

Different hair dryers will come with different wattage options. The range available is pretty extensive, and a higher wattage will mean a higher power dryer.

However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should necessarily seek out the highest wattage dryer they can find. Just like we discussed in the power settings, different hair types will do best with different wattage levels.

And plus, a higher wattage dryer could add on to your household energy usage, especially when considering how often you use it, how long it takes to dry your hair, and what setting the dryer is on.

There are even calculators available online that can help you estimate the energy usage and annual cost of running your hairdryer!

For most people, a wattage of 1800 to 2000 will suffice. If you have very thin hair or only blow dry a small section (like your bangs), you might want to seek out an even lower wattage dryer.

On the other hand, if you have super thick hair, you might want to look for something that’s got a bit more wattage.

Some professional-grade dryers will have wattages of as much as 3600. These high-powered dryers will allow you to dry your hair in less time, and as such, expose your hair to less heat and damage overall.

Cost and Budget

Source: Bed Bath & Beyond

You can find blow dryers that run the gamut of prices. There are models available that will only set you back around 20 bucks, and there are models that are as expensive as $400.

The price you will need to spend should depend on factors like how often you will use the dryer, how long you will want it to last, the number of features and attachments you are after, and how much power you will need to dry your locks.

Will you be relying on the dryer to get you ready in a hurry before work every morning? Or will you just pull out the appliance every now and then to get ready for a special occasion?

Do you have a thick head of hair that will require serious power and wattage? Or fine tresses that dry quickly and require just a tiny bit of heat?

Are you looking for a new dryer so you can experiment with the appliance and see how you like using one? Or are you already a dedicated dryer who is ready to make a serious investment in their hair styling tools?

Do you want a lot of control, through things like detailed temperature settings, attachments, and cooling options? Or do you just need the ability to turn the appliance on and off?

Generally speaking, for most folks, a dryer in the range of $30 to $70 will get the job done with a reasonably good amount of quality.

Dryers that hair professionals seek out tend to be more in the $100 to $200 range.

But as mentioned before, depending on your budget, you can find either budget-friendly buys under $30 or dryers that spare no expense and will set you back several hundred dollars.

The choice is yours! Consider your needs and you can find the best hair styling appliance for you and your budget.

7 Blow Drying Tips

Below is a great video that offers 7 excellent blow-drying tips.

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