As someone who cannot live without her hairdryer, I’ve been intrigued by the introduction of new hairdryers in recent years. Mainly, does a hairdryer really need to be so expensive?
A little background: I sport a chin-length bob and my hair has always been fairly thick – when I was younger I hated it, but am very grateful for it as I age. It’s also not completely straight. Instead, it has a slight wave and when the length reaches the back of my neck, it starts to kink.
Not a day goes by that I don’t blow-dry my hair. And yes, that includes at the weekend and when I travel too. Without it, my hair looks messy, and I look unkempt and unprofessional.
I totally get the irony that for someone whose life depends so much on a tool, I’ve never been too bothered with which hairdryer to use. After all, don’t all hairdryers serve the same purpose, which is to dry the hair? Apparently not, if the brands have anything to say.
When Dyson introduced its first hairdryer, the Supersonic, everyone was shocked by the hefty price. But friends who bought it then, still absolutely swear by it now. And while more brands have introduced their own high-end versions, nothing still comes close to the Dyson’s price tag.
So does price really matter? I decided to get serious about my hair’s bestie and here’s what I found out.
Are these hairdryers worth the price?
GHD Helios, $295.
Weight 780g Power 2,200W
First Impressions Looks sleek and modern, and at 2,200W, is one of the most powerful home-use hairdryers I’ve come across.
Promises To Give hair a professional salon-like finish at home.
The Tech Uses advanced ionic technology to give you better styling control while reducing frizz and fly-aways for a sleek and shiny finish (up to 30 per cent more shine), but also cuts drying time.
The Results I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s powerful. But despite its power, it’s not as noisy as I had thought it would be.
It cut down my usual drying time by almost half – just under eight minutes (equivalent to about three songs from my morning playlist) from drying to styling.
In the hand, the Helios feels comfortable, unlike my old hairdryer that often left me propping my arm up to rest from time to time due to the weight. It handles well too, and I could toggle between the different speed and heat settings, and even the cool shot mode, easily.
But the biggest difference was once I started using the Helios, I got plenty of compliments from friends. They commented how my hair was looking sleek and shiny, and even asked if I had just come from the salon.
There is a slight downside though: the sleek finish can sometimes end up a little flat, so if you have fine hair, take note and avoid using the attached contoured nozzle.
Best For Sleek and shiny hair. Minimises frizz, keeping hair smooth, straight and glossy.
Available in black and white. From Sephora stores and www.sephora.sg
Panasonic EH-NA98, $329
Weight 710g Power 1,800W
First Impressions A little bulky, design-wise. But the collapsible handle makes it travel-friendly.
Promises To A multi-tasking hairdryer that not only dries hair but leaves it hydrated, smooth and shiny (up to 40 per cent more), and cares for the scalp at the same time.
The Tech Patented nano and ion technology give you smooth and healthy hair. It reduces friction damage, which can occur during brushing and even by UV rays.
It has four modes: Scalp Care to prevent dryness and maintain moisture; Skin Care, which does the same as the latter, but for the face, using nano technology to help skin retain moisture; the Alternating Hot/Cold mode automatically switches between hot and cold air to increase shine; and the last mode, the Intelligent Temperature Control Mode is a built-in temperature sensor that adjusts airflow so that the drying temperature remains comfortable.
The Results It packs quite a bit of power but is rather loud and noisy. The heat is also pretty intense, even at a medium level, so it would be wise not to let the hairdryer get too close to the scalp.
It does take getting used to when it comes to toggling between the different modes, and I learnt that the Skin Care mode only functions at the lowest speed, blowing warm air on my face. But that makes sense because no one wants to be blasting lots of air at their faces right?
But what got me really excited: How soft, smooth and shiny my hair was after. I couldn’t stop touching my hair and looking at it in every mirror I passed. Honestly, the results were like the after picture of a shampoo commercial, complete with the hair swish and flick.
From start to finish, it took me just a little over six minutes, or less than three full songs on my playlist, to dry my hair.
The Skin Care mode, which involves moving the nozzle across the face for one minute, was interesting. Was I imagining it? But my face actually felt less dry and tight (I had just come out of the shower and had washed my face). My skincare also absorbed well and skin felt softer too.
But my favourite setting is the Alternating Hot/Cold mode. Instead of manually using the cold shot mode that other hairdryers come with, which means fiddling with buttons, this mode does the work for you. But the results are what had me hooked. The promise of extra shine by up to 40 per cent is true.
Best For Damaged hair and if you want scalp care. It cares for hair, scalp and skin, keeping them balanced and moisturised.
Comes in black and red. Available at leading department stores and electronics stores.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, $599
Weight 618g Power 1,600W
First Impressions Really lightweight, smaller than the standard hairdryer and comes with the most number of attachments in its kit. It launched in 2016 and in 2019, rolled out improvements to its attachments: a smoothing nozzle to reduce frizz, an improved styling concentrator that is now thinner and wider for a super sleek finish, a new gentle air dryer for a more diffused airflow better suited for fine hair and sensitive scalps, and an improved re-engineered diffuser that mimics natural air drying for better defined curls.
Promises To Dry hair fast but gently, and not cause further damage to it.
The Tech Uses the same airflow technology found in the brand’s bladeless fans, which minimises the sound it makes. The technology multiples the volume of air drawn in by three times, which in turn creates a high pressure, high velocity jet of air. The Supersonic angles this jet of air at 20 degrees, which gives you more controlled and precise styling, with a shorter drying time. The hairdryer also measures the temperature 20 times every second, ensuring that the heat never goes above 100 deg C to protect the hair against damage.
The Results It sits really comfortably in my hand and I don’t have my hand and arm at awkward angles while drying my hair, especially at the back of the head. It is also super lightweight, which makes blow-drying daily such a delight.
It’s also pretty quiet compared to other hairdryers – it didn’t wake my sleeping husband in the mornings.
Interestingly though, while the power doesn’t feel particularly strong, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly my hair was completely dried and styled – just slightly over two songs on my playlist, or about six minutes.
The magnetic attachments also make it really easy to switch between each one. And there’s also no worry about burning my hand doing so because it always remains cool to the touch.
My daily go-to is the Smoothing Nozzle because it gives a smooth finish but doesn’t leave hair flat. Hair gets a subtle volume (because my hair is already thick enough) and bounce. However, it doesn’t give the shine I was hoping for, and somehow, my hair feels a little dry to the touch although it appears smooth.
I figured out that for a sleek, smooth and soft finish, the Styling Concentrator attachment works best. In fact, when I need to look my best, I use both the Styling Concentrator and Smoothing Nozzle – the former to get hair straight, then finishing with the latter so hair has a soft bounce.
Best For It’s an all-rounder that lets you achieve different finishes, on different hair types.
Comes in Black/Nickel, Black/Purple and Iron/Fuchsia. Existing Dyson Supersonic users can also purchase the new attachments at $49 each. Available at leading department stores and electronics stores.