As beauty editors, we get bombarded with a ton of new products every day (we know—tough life). Reviewed is a series where we report on some of the best products we’ve tried. Whether it’s a drugstore lipstick that lasted all day or a hand cream that saved us during winter, you'll find all our favorites in this column. Enjoy!
First, Some Context
Up until a few months ago, I fell neatly into the camp of consumers who couldn't be bothered with spending more than $50 on a hair dryer—tops. And more preferably, $20. Although I won't name names, for years, my wonderful hot pink drugstore pick had served my strands and me well. And when I graduated to a pricier cult-favorite hair dryer come college, I was surprised to find its performance comparatively underwhelming. Sure, it had a couple of extra thingamabobs than my old trusted one (which undoubtedly would have impressed Miss Ariel), but when it came down to performance, it didn't seem to execute any differently than my old dryer.
In fact, denial aside, it performed worse than my old one, which, I've realized, would now roughly cost my weekly coffee budget. Thus, my apprehension for any hair dryer exceeding $20 was born.
Love at First Sight…
And then, I met this beauty, which, if you're familiar with Harry Potter speak, could be considered the Firebolt of all hair dryers. First introduced during a launch celebration at celebrity hairstylist Cervando Maldonado's salon 454 North (he's the only one I trust to cut my hair, BTW), I was immediately taken with the shiny disposition of The Cura Luxe ($250), and it's slightly less expensive sister, The Cura ($200). However, pretty faces aside, would it actually work?
After a quick debriefing of features (read: digitally controlled heat settings with five temperatures and two speeds, a volume booster switch, lock-in cool shot button, oh, and an auto-pause sensor which intuitively halts airflow when you set your dryer down), I was curious to find out. And a little skeptical.
To be 100% honest, I wasn't prepared to be impressed by the Cura Luxe (again, I'd trained myself to form an immediate nose wrinkle when faced with down payment–worthy hair tools). Yet I couldn't curb my amazement as Maldonado began to dry my freshly shampooed strands with the dryer. After prepping my hair with just a little bit of heat protectant, he was drying and simultaneously transforming my hair into that Pantene commercial–esque volume and shine that I never thought I'd be able to achieve sans wig.
Okay, what else did he put in my hair? I somewhat frantically thought to myself as I left the salon. After all, the natural body and smoothness of were uncanny. And still not convinced it was due to the dryer alone, I attributed it to the elusive immortal-seeming hair magic which occurs time and again in the salon chair and then is frustratingly unachievable when I return to the clutches of my mortal bathroom.
But here's the catch: A few days later when I gave the T3 Cura Luxe Dryer a whirl on home turf, and without Maldonado's undeniable styling magic, I still got the same results. Plus, by drying my hair on my own in the seclusion of my bathroom, I also noticed how quiet and lightweight the dryer was in comparison to virtually every other dryer I've tried, owned, or experienced in the salon chair. Ugh, I thought to myself. Am I really about to fall head over heels for a $250 hair dryer?
After a few more practice rounds, I had my answer—yes. Although my favorite features have to be the volume booster switch (which my super-fine strands crave) and the auto-pause sensor (which makes self-procured blowouts about a million times easier), I've been most impressed with how much less damage the dryer has imparted on my hair compared to others. (The lesson: You don't know what you don't know.) Though I typically wash my hair twice a week and do my best to let it air-dry at least one out of the two times, that strategy, combined with the protective technology of the Cura Luxe, seems to have significantly improved the integrity of my hair.
And since the dryer on its own delivers mass amounts of shine, volume, and movement, I've also found myself less reliant on styling products (a win for my bank account and my overall distaste for layering my hair with formulas). So although up until recently had a personal grudge against all pricey hair dryers, my tail is officially between my legs thanks to T3's newest innovation.
Keep scrolling for the rest of my go-to hair lineup (for when I do seek some extra backup).
Working a few pumps of this invisible hair oil from Verb is the first thing I do after I step out of the shower and lightly towel off my hair. It supplements my perpetually dry strands with some moisture (thanks to Moringa oil) and also helps with my eventual detangling efforts. It also works as a great heat protectant.
I've sung this leave-in's praises over and over but only because I've truly never found a better multitasker when it comes to keeping my strands in tip-top shape. A few thorough spritzes detangle, hydrate, and add heat protection prior to my blowout.
Though I am still technically single and ready to mingle, I've depended on this volumizing mist from Tigi for years (since college) and have yet to find a formula that yields similar results. On days when I crave just a little more volume, I give my hair a quick once-over after applying my leave-in and right before drying. (The volume feature of the dryer takes the effect even further, which I love.) Just make sure the mist is evenly distributed—aka give it thorough comb-through.
If my ends still feel a little parched (typically if I've gone through a steady spell of heat-styling versus air-drying), I'll add a dollop of this heat-protecting serum from Amika before heading out the door. It's virtually weightless, almost impossible overspray, and although it's also meant to be used prior to heat-styling, it's also the ultimate finisher if you seek shine and hydration. Plus, it smells amazing.
Looking for more hair inspiration? Here's what happened when I swapped out my expensive haircare regimen for a drugstore one.