That feeling of walking out of a salon with perfectly blow-dried hair is one of life’s little luxuries.
Whether you’re after a voluminous bouncy ‘do that makes you look like you just walked off the set of Dynasty or you’re channelling poker straight panels of impossibly smooth hair, it’s hard to recreate the same look at home as the one you had in the salon chair.
While the perfect blow dry is best left to the pros, there are ways you can change your technique to get smooth, glossy locks on your own.
DIY Home Blow Dry
Sonia Evans, senior stylist at the House of Charles Worthington in Covent Garden, gives her top Home Blow Dry tips:
Take your time. There’s no way you’ll get perfect hair on a weekday morning when you have 10min max before you’re out of the door. If possible, dry your hair the night before - if done right, it should hold up the morning after.
When drying wet hair, always use a heat-protecting product to minimise damage to your locks. Then wait until it’s at least 60 per cent dry before you start styling with a hairdryer.
Section your hair so that you’re drying your whole head thoroughly. When drying the back, which is the hardest part, section to the side and dry out behind your ears with your brush. Even if you have super short hair and gymnastic bendiness, you won’t be able to pull back sections of hair away straight up.
Use the right brushes for your hair as well as the look you want to achieve. Big round brushes for volume, paddle brushes for glossy smoothness.
While technique is important, so too is the kit you use. There have been huge changes in hair dryer technology recently, with everything from ion-infused devices to give shinier results to bladeless models that are so quiet you can still hear your radio breakfast show when it's switched on.
How to choose the right hair dryer
Paul Windle of leading salon Windle London says: “High air flow is key. Think about the flow of air as opposed to high heat being priority.” When it comes to power, Paul recommends machines with around 2150w as well as ones that easily allow you to switch between speed and heat levels.
The cherry on top? “The option of a cold shot button,” he smiles. Why? Because blowing cold air over freshly styled hair will help the look last, meaning the bounce and volume should stay put well into the evening.
Of course, it’s not just a cold shot that’s the secret to a salon-level blow dry. Products like a foundation spray helps prep hair for styling, while a fortifying spray helps shield your hair from the extreme heat of a dryer and straighteners.
Here are a few pre-drying products that will help you on your goal to bouncy, perfect locks:
VO5 Volume Blow-dry Spray - £4.40
Windle London Light Satin Hairspray - £14.70
Technique – check. Styling products – check. All that’s left is to pick the best hair dryer.
See what we thought of the top models below.
ghd Air Hair Dryer
Best for: all-round winner for using at home and on short trips
This hairdryer roars. You can really feel the power of it in your hand when it’s at full throttle, which is great when you’re in a hurry but not so wonderful if you’re styling first thing in the morning when the rest of your household is still asleep.
A shorter nozzle makes it easier to handle and direct heat all over your head. The cool shot button is helpfully at the ‘trigger’ part of the dryer, perfectly positioned so you don’t have to manoeuvre fingers back to the main heat settings when you’re in the middle of drying.
The design is great, and it feels small enough to take on trips away - although the handle doesn’t fold back so you should factor this in if you’re taking a weekend bag.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Best for: a sound(less) investment piece + using around small, slumbering children
Dyson has taken the bladeless technology it uses in its fans and transplanted it into this unconventional grey and fuchsia hair dryer.
The designers have also cleverly moved the motor from the head to the handle, taking the strain off your arms and making it far more comfortable to hold as you dry sections of hair. Airflow is fast and even thanks to the V9 motor which propels at an astonishing 110,000 times a minute, pushing out 41 litres a second. More air equals a faster dry.
The motor design also means that the Supersonic is so quiet you can hold a conversation while using it; something of a game changer in itself. It comes with smoothing and diffusing attachments that connect magnetically and a microprocessor monitors air temperature every 40 seconds to ensure you’re not damaging your strands with excess heat. It takes getting used to when making the switch from traditional looking dryers, but once you’ve mastered the new way to hold the machine for maximum drying power, you'll be converted.
The gold standard for hair dryers, the only downside is the cost which admittedly is far more than the average. But if you’re one for salon blow dries on the regular anyway, you should quickly recover the cost of Dyson’s Supersonic within weeks. What price to keep the gleam on your crowning glory?
Panasonic EH-NA98 Nanoe and Double Mineral Advanced Hair Dryer
Best for: heat-frazzled locks and frizz
If your hair resembles a dry bale of hay most mornings, this could be your saviour. Thanks to the Nanoe and Double Mineral tech, it’s proven to reduce hair damage from heat and over-brushing (which can lead to split ends).
Design-wise, the fold down handle, gold accents and matte finish set it apart from the crowd. While it’s nice to be able to switch between heats, this dryer is a bit different in that there’s just one control.
But don’t worry because it’s not a design flaw – more that Panasonic have included heat-reading tech that ensures the EH-NA98 automatically adjusts itself according to what your hair needs. This means you should always be at the right temperature, cutting the chances of damage due to blasting it with heat. Bonus points for being quieter than most of the other dryers on our list.
£129.99 | Boots *On sale from £179.99
label.m Tourmaline Hairdryer
Best for: blissfully simple functionality
The first noticeable thing about this hair dryer comes from unpacking – it’s got the least amount of plastic of the lot with just a plastic plug guard and a see-through window on the front of the box.
It’s great for those looking for a simple design; just two heat settings and speeds to choose from, all backed by a 2200w motor. This does mean it can get very hot, very fast during prolonged use so it’s wise to blast your hair with the cool shot button once you’ve done each section rather than right at the very end. Comes with two nozzles.
BaByliss Diamond Radiance Hair Dryer
Best for: blow-dries without blowing the budget
Who wouldn’t want hair with the glossy brilliance of a diamond? BaByliss promises this and more with this hair dryer which uses fancy diamond-infused ceramics and active ionic conditioners to give hair its best shine.
It certainly is powerful, meaning a much faster overall dry time. Its light weight also meant that I didn’t get achy arms from holding it over my head – always a plus. There are two speed and three temperature settings, although the switches go in a reverse direction to the other models which admittedly does feel odd.
All in all, Diamond Radiance is a decent dryer at a price that won’t break the bank – but it probably won’t give you that easy salon-finish easily either.
Formawell Beauty x Kendall Jenner Pro Dryer
Best for: bouncy Kardashian blowouts
I’ve never heard of Formawell until now, but fronted by one of the youngest members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, it immediately caught my eye. If it could give me hair as smooth and polished as supermodel Kendall, surely it was worth a shot.
The packaging is probably the most attractive of all the dryers I tested, lots of white and gold with a transparent window so you can see the hairdryer nestled inside. There’s also a lovely picture on the front of Kendall serenely holding the hairdryer while wielding a brush around her raven locks. Predictably, her hair looks phenomenal. This lights a flame of hope; could it work for me too?
Pros: it comes with an extra-long cable so you can move the dryer around your head without being limited to the immediate area around the plug socket. There’s also a cool shot button so you can blast hair with cold hair to help curls last longer. It’s lightweight and relatively quiet too.
Cons: only comes with one smoothing attachment so not one for curly Sues.
BaByliss Super Power 2400 dryer
Best for: single-dwellers on a budget
Promising salon-worthy results, this is a step up from BaByliss’ Diamond Radiance model – and it comes with a small jump in price too. Whether that’s down to the slicker design or more powerful motor we don’t know, but the difference is noticeable.
Although it’s a bit heavier, it’s one of the nicest-looking dryers we tried. It also does the job adequately, drying hair quickly without frazzling it.
Unfortunately the super-sized power also means super-sized noise. You won’t need to warn your neighbours before using it, but it’s probably not the wisest thing to turn on first thing in the morning if you share a bedroom.
£44.67 | Amazon *On sale from £60
Cloud Nine The Airshot Hairdryer
Best for: high-shine hair in a flash
Cloud Nine tames frizz and coaxes hair into a salon-shine finish all while protecting it from over-heating thanks to the tourmaline and ceramic heating elements that have been infused with vitamins.
In terms of comfort, it's light to hold and the buttons are placed intuitively right by your thumb, which makes it easier to switch between heat and speed levels. The cold shot button meanwhile, is positioned right by your index finger sits, so if you feel like your hair is getting too hot you can remedy the issue instantly. It's the hairdryer of choice for many chain salons, and it's easy to why the professionals give it their stamp of approval.
Used with the nozzle, it delivers precise heat without frazzling strands and it works quickly so you're not spending ages in front of the mirror with it.
If money is no expense, the quiet-as-a-mouse Dyson has the most innovative design, tech and safety features of the lot. While the Supersonic is an expert piece of engineering, we found it did take longer to dry our hair. The price tag also means we would have to live on beans-on-toast for a few months; not a sacrifice we're readily willing to make, even if it is for our crowning glory.
At a third of the price, ghd's Air Hair Dryer is far more affordable, but still luxe enough to leave on display, giving it the deserving top pick.