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Some women are blessed with hair that air-dries beautifully -- congratulations to all five of you! As for the rest of us, some help, usually with a heavy, loud, scorching-hot blow-dryer, is necessary. If gorgeous hair is your goal, a new, quality dryer is a must-have; not only will advanced models cut down on drying time, but many also feature technology that adds shine and conditions your locks at the same time.
Ionic technology describes the negatively charged ions that shoot out with each blast of air, for hair that is moisturized and frizz-free, in half the time. According to Tobin, "Hair is like an artichoke, with many interlocking scales. Ions neutralize the charge in the hair, reducing static electricity and making those scales lie flatter."
Our pick: Conair Ion Shine Ionic Metal Styler ($35.95) Weight: 2.75 lbs. Pros love this inexpensive, 1,875-watt model, which includes a cool-shot button (ideal for smoothing hair in place once styled), two heat and speed settings, and ports on both sides of the nozzle that distribute ions uniformly (as opposed to other models, which release ions from within the barrel).Ceramic
Ceramic coils warm up evenly, distributing heat that penetrates hair quickly and from the inside out, says Jo Ann Welsh, regional educator for Fantastic Sams salons. Like ionic models, ceramic versions can also reduce drying time. The difference is that many ceramic hair dryers come in a higher wattage than the ionic variety, so are slightly more damaging if used every day.
Our pick: Revlon Quiet Ceramic Professional Dryer ($27.99) Weight: 2 lbs. Featuring three heat and two speed settings, 1,875 watts and a cool-shot button, it's extremely quiet, at 70 decibels. (By comparison, most dryers are about 80 decibels, equal to the buzzing of an alarm clock.)Ionic and Ceramic Combination
Twice the technology means the best of both worlds: less heat damage and faster drying time.
Our pick: Remington Pro Air Protect & Shine ($19.99) Weight: 1.75 lbs For a fraction of the price, you get all the gadgets you'd expect in a pricier model (including a removable filter for cleaning, 1,875 watts, a nozzle attachment, and an extra long cord).Professional
Designed to withstand endless hours of use in a salon, pro-quality dryers (which can also be ionic or ceramic) have larger and heavier motors that will last three times as long (up to 10 years) as nonprofessional versions, says Paulette Heller, director of marketing for hair dryers at Conair. If you're a hair dryer junkie, you might want to invest in a professional one.
Our pick: Supersolano ($109.05) Weight: 2 lbs This model is pricey but adored by stylists, who love the evenly distributed weight of this dryer. It feels the same regardless of the angle you're holding it at, helping to alleviate any hand cramping for those with very long or thick hair.