Hair dyers have changed tremendously since the days of Grease. In the past, they were measured by how many watts they used, which somehow proved just how good they were at drying hair. Turns out all that power can lead to singed follicles. These days hair dryers boast features like, "ionic," "ceramic," and "tourmaline." But what do they actually do?
Hair dryers of yore used a metal or plastic heating element that would blow out intense and uneven heat. "Essentially, they dry your hair by cooking the water out of it -- literally boiling it off," writes hair care company Misikko. This kind of intense treatment day in and day out will make your hair brittle, leading it to eventually break. These types of hair dryers also, "diffuse positive ions that cause the (normally neutral) cuticle covering of the hair shaft to open, causing frizz and dull appearance."
Dryers that use ceramic penetrate the hair with heat. Ceramic has amazing heat conduction properties that produce far infrared heat, which is radiant; penetrating the hair shaft, rather than heating from the outside in.
Ionic hair dryers dry hair faster than standard dryers by breaking down water molecules in your hair. They also produce negatively charged ions, which keep the cuticle closed, retaining moisture in the hair shaft, and eliminating frizz, while giving hair more body. According to Miskko, "ceramic charges ions negatively -- to an extent -- but combining it with other elements can boost that charge."
The more negative ions you have the faster a hair dryer can dry (up to 70% faster). Tourmaline is a material that can generate negative ions, so it's becoming standard fare in today's dryers.
Lately silver and titanium nano technology has been integrated into dryers. The silver is supposed to kill bacteria, but we're not sure what kind of bacteria you have to worry about in your hair dryer. The titanium is supposed to add shine.
Below, a roundup of some of the best hair dryers we could find that use one of more of the above technologies, plus one that uses none, but is super cute.
Gun-style Hair Dryer from, where else, Japan.
T3 Bespoke Featherweight Hair Dryer with Ceramic, Ionic, and Tourmaline.
Rusk Speed Freak Professional 2000-Watt Ceramic Dryer.
BaByliss Pro TT Tourmaline 3000 Hair Dryer with Ceramic Ionic, and Tourmaline.
FHI Heat Nano Weight Pro 1800 Dryer with Ceramic, Tourmaline, and Nano Silver & Titanium.
Superstar Professional Turbo Ionic Blow Dryer with Ceramic, Ionic, and Nano Silver.
Bio Ionic iDry Whisper Light Pro Dryer with a Ceramic, Ionic Mineral Blend
(Image of hair dryer chair: murrus)