Get great hair: Make the most of your tools; plus, tips on top features.
What to Look for in a Blow-Dryer
Cool-shot button: Standard on most dryers, the cool-shot button temporarily shuts off the heating element when pressed. Use cool air to set your style.
Nozzle: Attached to the end of the barrel, the nozzle helps direct the airflow. It also protects hair from the metal grates at the end of the barrel, which can reach 300 degrees.
Vent: When the fan inside the dryer spins, it draws in air through the vent, the small holes at the back of the dryer. It’s typically covered by a screen to prevent your hair from being sucked in.
Switches: Along with an on-off button, the best dryers have settings to adjust speed and temperature, all of which let you customize the airflow to get the results you want.
How to Use It Properly
Pick the right wattage for your hair. Too much heat (read: high wattages) can be damaging. Fine hair needs only a 1,200-watt dryer. Normal and coarse hair require more heat to dry quickly; use 1,400 watts or a bit higher, says Edward Jimenez, artistic director of hair-tools brand Metropolis Technology. Whatever the wattage, always spritz a heat-protectant spray on your hair before drying.
Tailor the temperature to your styling goal. “Cooler temperatures give volume by roughing up the cuticles,” says Evelyn Calderon, a stylist at the Butterfly Studio Salon, in New York City. Higher temperatures work for sleeker looks, since heat smooths the cuticles.
Aim the airflow in the direction you’re styling. To straighten, point the dryer down the length of the hair. For volume, direct air upward at the roots.