(Shown to the side - Conair - Ion Shine™ Compact Ionic Styler).
Since the majority of blow dryers sold today are factory packed, assembled, and sealed, if you decide to buy several blow dryers to test before you settle on one, you may have trouble returning them since most companies have a strict "no return on opened or used" items.
Some major department stores may offer a "testing station" where several models can be tested at the same time. However, more stores do not offer this option. Check before you decide to do at-home testing on units that you may not be able to return.
All blow dryers are required by law to confirm to standards that make them safe for consumers to use. Blow Dryers fall under UL 60335-1 - Safety of Household and Similar Electrical Applicances, Part 1: General Requirements.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is the trusted source across the globe for product compliance. Benefiting a range of customers - from manufacturers and retailers to consumers and regulating bodies - UL has tested products for public safety for more than a century.
Uncovering Possible Features
It definitely pays to do your homework before you buy. Most consumers value the following features when buying a blow dryer:
1. Nozzle Or No-Nozzle Design
As a general rule, blow dryers are designed to either have a nozzle or non-nozzle air flow delivery system. Many people prefer the nozzle design which even without an air flow concentrator, focuses the air flow onto the hair.
The Conair SD61 (shown above) is a classic no-nozzle blow dryer design. No-nozzle designs disperse the air flow rather than concentrate it. Some people prefer a full air flow rather than one that is focused.
The Conair Ionic Shine Ceramic Speed Styler is designed around a classic nozzle style. It also combines all the latest blow dryer technologies such as dual ionic ports, ceramic heat, ionic on/off switches, quiet tone motor, 3 speed/settings, cool shot button, hinged filter, concentrator and 6 foot professional length line cord.
Both the nozzle and non-nozzle design have attachment options that range from a concentrator and diffuser to add-on combs and styling brushes.
2. Blow Dryer Air Speeds Measured In Watts
The watts on a hairdryer will range from as low as 600 to as high as 2,000. Generally speaking most blow dryers that are manufactured for 2005 have 1,875 watts. To achieve a higher wattage then 1,875 you either have to locate one that is ranked higher or consider purchasing a dryer with a Turbo button that allows you to increase the wattage by as much as 40%.
Wattage By Hair Type & Textures
Fine, thin or damaged strands require a minimum power of 1,200 to 1,500 watts of air speed. Fragile curly strands would also benefit from the same range of power wattage.
Medium straight, textured hair, that is neither fine nor damaged ,can dry very well with any range of power depending on the style desired and the speed of drying. Thick and wavy hair or tresses that takes a long time to dry generally requires a minimum of 1,875 watts. They will often benefit from the highest wattages that is also turbo charged.
Note: For hair that is fragile or damaged consider first towel blotting to absorb extra moisture and then drying on the slowest, coolest setting to prevent "heat bubbles" or damage. It is also important to move the dryer back and forth over a large area of hair rather than directing the heat to one small area.
3. At least two heat settings as a minimal requirement
The classic Conair 1875 Hair Dryer (shown above) comes with two heat and two speed settings.
Thick strands require full heat settings. While many consumers prefer a blow dryer with multiple heat settings, most require at least two options.
Hot air helps to create a style while cold air "sets it" to help maintain the life of the hair design.
4. At least two speeds - low and high
Fine, thin, damaged or fragile strands benefit from slow speeds. Thick or slow drying strands benefit from medium to high speeds.
If a blow dryer is combined with a flat (straight styles) or round brush (waves, curls or styles with body) to create a specific hair style, remember that the higher the watts of air flow and the faster the speed of drying, the higher the risk of "over blowing" the style so that it does not "set" properly.
Yes you can over-blow your hair so that the style is not set or the hair becomes overheated and fried.
So turn down the watts, the speed and the heat for better styling results. Remember that if you blow-dry your hair on a regular basis, you will need to give it tender loving care (TLC) and special attention. Always use heat-activated products to protect the hair shaft, keep the blow-dryer moving and never hold it too close to the hair. Fried hair may become brittle and could break easily.
5. Turbo Charged
One of the very latest options is to "turbo charge" your blow dryer. This is a little bit like super sizing your meal or buying a turbo charged sport car.
The Conair 178 Ion Shine™ - Double Ionic Turbo Styler (shown to the side) combines double port ionic technology with the latest turbo feature. For the busy hair consumer who never has enough time, the turbo button offers a significant benefit. It increase blow dryer airflow by up to 40%.
This sci-fi wonder includes the following features:
The only downside of the Turbo Styler is that you can literally over blow your hair style. There is also the potential issue of too much heat and air that can potentially damage strands. If you must turbo charge, do so wisely.
6. Auto Shut-off
This is a good protective measure for using hot blow dryer tools that may overheat. Most blow dryers come equipped with this helpful option.
The blow dryer industry in the United States is carefully monitored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which handles voluntary and involuntary product recalls for products that have been deemed "unsafe" for consumers to use. Visit the CPSC website to review any other related hair dryer or blow dryer recalls or warnings.
7. Cool/Cold Shot Button
A blast of cold air at the end of a drying cycle will help to "set" a hairstyle. Heat opens the cuticle allowing it to dry but cool and cold air close the hair shaft, plump it up and help to lock in the new style.
If your dream blow dryer does not have a cool or cold setting, select a model with a cold shot button. The idea with the button is that you hold it in for short blasts of cold air. They are not designed to be used for long periods of drying time.
8. Concentrator Nozzles Concentrators come in two versions. One type consists of a single nozzle that screws onto the end of the normal air flow opening. The other type is a flat plate that consists of a series of carefully placed "holes" that concentrate air flow.
9. Diffusers Diffusers help "set" curly or wavy strands and utilize air flow that is diffused to help the strands acquire a natural shape.
The Conair Fast Air Hair Dryer With Diffuser contains a short finger or flat diffuser attachment that is designed specifically to fit onto the air flow nozzle.
A "long finger" diffuser (shown above) actually has what appears to be, longer fingers for hair lift and separation.
10. Removable air intake grill/lint filter to extend the life of the motor
Some blow dryers like Conair's Ion Shine (shown to the side) come equipped with special hinged filters that make lint and dirt removal a snap.
11. Quiet motor
Quiet motors that minimizes the traditionally loud noise of the dryer's engine were the "next big thing" approximately 4 years ago.
Back in 1997-1998 the average blow dryer would operate at 80 and acoustic level of decibels or above. Now, all blow dryers are equipped with the latest "quiet" motor technologies which take the noise down to 60 decibels or below. The days of jet engine motors are fading fast.
12. Extra long cord that eliminates the need for an extension cord The length of the cords on the dryers can range from very short to very long. Most consumer experts recommend that you select a dryer with a cord that ranges from 6-9 feet. Of course if you already have an over abundance of extension cords you can make do with a short cord.
Some models come with the automatic cord keeper which allows you, with the push of a button, to instantly snap the cord up into the handle of the dryer. This is a great feature for neat freaks or for pet or baby proofing.
13. Folding handle that allows for easy storage and traveling
This technology replaced mini-blow dryers that were unable to produce more than 800 watts of air flow. The new models are full blown dryers that come with folding handles that allows for easy storage and traveling.
Blow dryers with folding handles may or may not offer the retractable cord keepers. 14. Ceramic heat which guarantees even heat distributions throughout the dryer
Ceramic heat technology has only been available for the last few years. It is often combined with other features such as ionic or turbo options. Ceramic heat is designed to provide an even heat transfer unlike old blow dryers that tended to produce unbalanced heat pockets.
15. Ionic Technology Fights Frizz
Some blow dryers come equipped with double-port Ionic features that emit negative ions, neutralizing positive ions. This process promotes shine for healthy hair.
While ionic infused hairdryers create frizz-free, soft, static free, shiny strands, beware that they may leave hair flatter than non-ionic versions.
The latest in ionic technology involves offering a toggle switch that allows the user to either turn the ions "on" or "off". Conair refers to this option as "dual port ionic" options.
16. Dual Voltage Options
This becomes important when travel outside the United States is planned. Unless a blow dryer has the dual voltage option, the hot tool will only work in the United States. If this is a feature that you require for overseas travel, be sure to verify that the feature is available before you buy.
Conair offers a special travel voltage plug kit. The kit is for worldwide travel. The kit comes with six plugs that are color coded for quick and easy identification. The adapters can be used in Europe, Italy, Japan, Australia, China and the UK. The adapters should only be used with dual voltage applicances.
17. Hands Free
The latest trend is to find blow dryers that are "hands free" for easy styling. Although the blow drying industry believed that this would be a very popular feature, many hair consumers still prefer the old standby blow dryer that they can hold in their hands.
Conair developed the Free & Easy Styler that is mounted on a tripod stand and offers the ultimate in ease and convenience for drying hair. This innovative new blow dryer comes complete with:
18. It's Sort Of A Blow Dryer - Styler Dryer Options
Some people prefer to have a styling tool built right into their blow drying tool. Conair makes a combination Hot Air Dryer & Boar Bristle Straightener.
This styler/dryer combo combines the sci-fi power of ions with drying, straightening and styling in one neat appliance. It comes equipped with the following features:
19. Hang Loops
Conair makes some models (like the Conair - Ion Shine™ 1875W Double Ionic Port Turbo Styler - Pink/Chrome shown to the left) that come equipped with a "hang ring" that usually is a loop that extends from the base of the dryer right by the cord area. Not all dryers have this handy feature, but many do.
When it comes to selecting the blow dryer of your hair's dream, knowledge is power. Make a list of your minimal "must have" features and start from there. With careful shopping you should be able to blow dry your hair to your ideal specifications.
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- Revised Publication Date: 09/2911