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Up there on the list of annoying tasks like doing the dishes and waiting in line at airport security is drying your hair. It's loud, heavy, and time-consuming, but for those cursed with hair that just can't be air-dried (I know the struggle, trust me), allow us to introduce you to ionic hair dryers.
An ionic hair dryer is a type of hair dryer that gives off a negative ionic charge. “The negative ions from the dryer counteract with positive ionic charges in your hair, which are caused by damage to your hair’s cuticle,” explains celebrity colorist Jeremy Tardo. “Water also has a positive ionic charge, so the negative ionic charge from an ionic blow dryer will actually repel the water, causing your hair to dry more quickly.” Pretty neat, huh? Aside from the convenience of getting your hair to dry faster, this process helps seal the strands' cuticles to retain moisture. The end result: smoother, healthier, and frizz-free hair.
Take a look at some of our favorite ionic hair dryers below.
Best Overall: ghd Air Professional Performance Hair Dryer
The magic in ghd’s ionic dryer is the placement of the generator. Unlike traditional dryers, ghd positioned its generator closer to the nozzle, meaning emitted ions easily reach your hair and lock in moisture. “This dryer smooths the hair and locks in moisture quickly and beautifully,” says Tardo. It also comes equipped with a 1600-watt motor and will dry your hair twice as fast as a traditional hair dryer.
Best Budget: Conair 1875 Watt Turbo Hair Dryer
Conair’s ionic dryer seems like a no-frills option upon first glance, but its incredibly quiet but fast-acting motor makes it a total standout. Its ergonomically designed for comfortable styling and features two heat and two speed settings, making it easy to manage all hair types from thin to thick. Did we mention it’ll cost you less than lunch?
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Hot Tools Professional 1875W Superlite + Quiet Ionic Turbo Dryer
This budget-friendly ionic hair dryer is a fan favorite for good reason. It features three speeds, three heat settings (as well as a cool shot setting for locking in styles), and a super lightweight design that makes styling much less of a hassle. It’s 1875-watt motor is also incredibly quiet, making it the perfect choice for early AM blowouts.
Best Splurge: Bio Ionic 10X Ultralight Speed Dryer
For the most impatient of personalities is Bio Ionic’s powerhouse of a dryer. “It’s super lightweight and great for reducing drying time, especially for thick and curly textures,” says Tardo. In fact, thanks to the brand's proprietary mixture of volcanic rock and signature mineral complex, it can dry the hair in as little as 10 minutes, making it well worth the splurge. Oh, and in case you need any more convincing, it also weighs less than a pound.
Best Lightweight: Instyler Blu Turbo Ionic Hair Dryer
Rather than a traditional two-speed heat setting, this dryer features dials for customizable heat and airflow in addition to an ionic switch that allows you to swap between settings. It's also incredibly lightweight, weighing in at less than a pound to prevent arm cramps during styling, which is something we can definitely get behind.
Best for Blowouts: Drybar Buttercup Blow-Dryer
If Drybar knows anything well, it's perfecting a blowout. This lightweight dryer enlists an 1875-watt motor for fast salon-quality drying in the comfort of your own home. It also features three heat settings, two power settings, and a cool shot button to lock in your style.
Best Hot Hair Brush: REVLON One-Step Volumizer Hair Dryer
We’re already major fans of the genius invention that is the hot air brush, which essentially lets you dry and style your hair with just one tool, and this ionic version from Revlon is a must. It allows you to easily create volume at the roots and curls at the ends, while the ion technology keeps the hair sleek, smooth, and soft. “This is the most user-friendly ionic tool for at-home blow drying that has come onto the market in a while,” says Tardo. “It’s also super affordable!” Cheap and easy? Don't mind if we do.
Best for Frizz Control: BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Dryer
This small but mighty dryer is equipped with six speeds and heat settings for a shiny and smooth blowout. Its motor boasts an impressive 2000 watts of power, helping to majorly cut down on drying time. Plus, it comes with an easily removable filter to make caring for your dryer a breeze.
Best for Curls: DevaCurl DevaDryer & DevaFuser
Tardo is a big fan of this hair dryer and diffuser set from DevaCurl that’s specifically made for curls of all kinds. In addition to smoothing and frizz-fighting ionic technology, the 1600-watt hair dryer features a concentrator nozzle, three temperature settings, and two speed settings for a customizable styling experience, while its cool shot button boosts shine and locks styles in place. The unique hand-shaped DevaFuser diffuser delivers 360-degree airflow to keep your waves or coils looking their very best.
Best for Damaged Hair: Conair InfinitiPRO SmoothWrap Hair Dryer
Damaged hair craves moisture and conditioning the most, which is what makes this ionic hair dryer from Conair a must. It focuses on maximizing the amount of conditioning ions your hair absorbs, making for frizz-free hair that’s full of body. Plus, it uses ceramic technology to prevent future heat damage, which is a major plus.
Most Innovative: Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000
This innovative hair dryer features eight different heat, speed, and ion settings, allowing for a lot of versatility when it comes to styling. Tardo is especially a fan of the fact that you can turn its ion generator on and off. “You can switch between the ionic setting to smooth the hair and the non-ionic setting to create fullness,” he says. It also has a lightweight ergonomic design and a high-speed A/C motor to reduce drying time.
Best for Travel: Amika Mighty Mini Ionic Dryer
Nobody wants to lug around a full-sized hair dryer every time they travel, which is why we love this mini dryer from Amika. Not only is it adorable (literally, have you seen a cuter hair dryer?), it’s pretty powerful too. In addition to ion technology, it features tourmaline-infused ceramic components that emit far-infrared heat that heat (and dry) the hair from the inside out, cutting drying time in half while reducing damage.
Overall, we’re giving top honors to the ghd Air Professional Performance Hair Dryer. It not only majorly cuts down on drying time, but we love that its strategically placed generator allows ions to easily reach the hair and lock in moisture. The Harry Josh Pro Dryer 2000 is also worthy of a shout out for its innovative ion switch that allows you to swap between smoothing and volume-boosting settings. Last but not least, the DevaCurl DevaDryer & DevaFuser is a solid choice for curly types from wavy to coiled. It fights frizz like a pro and comes with a patented diffuser specially designed to bring out the best in your curls.
What to Look for in an Ionic Hair Dryer
Adjustable Heat and Speed Settings
With any hair dryer—ionic or not—Tardo suggests choosing a model with adjustable heat and speed settings in order to tailor your blow dry sesh to your specific hair type. “It’ll allow you to use more or less wind and heat, depending on the texture and needs of your hair,” he says. As you know, any kind of heat styling has the potential to damage your hair, so having adjustable options will also help prevent you from using too much heat and leaving your hair fried.
Tourmaline and Ceramic Components
In addition to ion technology, Tardo loves hair dryers that use ceramic and tourmaline materials, as they boost the dryer's overall benefits and further protect your hair from damage. “Ceramic heats in an even, consistent way which is great for styling hair—as well as for not singeing it,” he says. “Tourmaline emits additional negative ions, which maximizes the benefits of an ionic hair dryer.”
Wattage Between 1500 and 1800
When it comes to power, Tardo recommends opting for a hair dryer with wattage that falls somewhere within the 1500 to 1800 range. “Anything under 1500 will slow down your styling time, and anything over 2000 can get too aggressive and cause unnecessary damage to your hair,” he says.
How do you use an ionic hair dryer?
Ionic hair dryers work the same way traditional models do, and they can be used in tandem with whatever styling brushes or tools you prefer in order to achieve your desired result. However, Tardo recommends using an air concentrator attachment with them in order to better smooth out the hair. “This helps to focus the direction of the air flow so that the hair isn’t blowing in multiple directions, causing unnecessary frizz,” he says.
Are ionic hair dryers better than regular hair dryers?
When it comes to picking out the right hair dryer, an ionic model may be a better choice over a regular non-ionic model depending on your hair type. Typically, ionic technology is best suited for thicker, dry, and/or frizzy hair due to its ability to lock in moisture and leave behind a soft, smooth finish. If you're seeking volume and fullness, regular models are best.
Meet the Expert
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any ionic hair dryers from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.