Best hair dryers compared: Dyson vs GHD vs Kmart and more

Anula Wiwatowska
Apr 16, 2024
Icon Time To Read8 min read
// Hair done, check my nails

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Comparing the best hair dryers on the market is tough. Unlike other lifestyle tech devices like air purifiers, or cheap heaters, hair dryers don't really have a standard spec list. So unless you know exactly what you're looking for, it can be difficult to figure out if a Kmart, or Remington, or GHD hair dryer is even any good.

In this guide we've done the research for you, and compared the top of the range dryers from the main players in the hair game.

Hair dryers compared

Dyson hair dryers vs Kmart hair dryers vs GHD hair dryers vs Remington hair dryers vs... well you get the idea.
Hair dryer
Hair dryer
Price range
Key specs
Rating
Retailers
Dyson Supersonic Nuraldyson supersonic nural
From
$749
Weight: 680g Wattage: 1600W
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Dyson SupersonicDyson supersonic
From
$649
Weight: 659g Wattage: 1600W
4 out of 5 stars
4
Cloud Nine New Airshot ProCloud Nine New Airshot Pro
From
$499
Weight: 440g Wattage: 1600W
4 out of 5 stars
4
GHD Helios Hair Dryerghd helios hair dryer
From
$350
Weight: 780g Wattage: 2200W
3.3 out of 5 stars
3.25
Kmart Ionic Hair DryerKmart ionic Hair Dryer
From
$27
Weight: 1.5kg (packaged) Wattage: 2200W
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Bondi Boost Sonic Hair Dryerbondi boost sonic hair dryer
From
$279
Weight: 350g Wattage: 1800W
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Remington Air3D Plus Hair DryerRemington Air3D Plus Hair Dryer
From
$199
Weight: 1.89kg (packaged) Wattage: 1800W
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
VS Sassoon Luxe AirsonicDIGITAL SENSOR LUXE AIRSONIC
From
$269.95
Weight: 370g Wattage: 1600W
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25

What to look for in a hair dryer

Icon Checked Box  Light
Specs to consider
  • Wattage
  • Maximum air temperature
  • Ionic and ceramic heating elements

Styling your hair with a hair dryer requires three main things; heat, tension and direction. You need to apply heat to the hair, while positioning your hair with both a brush, and the dryer's air flow to create the shape. To harness these techniques without damaging your hair, you need a hair dryer with enough power and heat, but not so much that it causes breakages. It is a balancing act for sure.

Hair dryers range from as little as $20 all the way up to the $700-$800 mark, but it can be difficult to figure out which devices are actually worth the higher price tag. When you're looking to buy a hair dryer there are three main specs to consider; wattage, max temperature, and hair protection features.

Wattage
The higher the wattage, the more power the hair dryer has which means it can dry your hair faster. The downside to high wattage however means that the power and heat from the hair dryer can cause more damage to your hair if it isn't harnessed properly. For dryers with more than 1600W, check the air flow directionality and make sure it blows concentrated, and straight on.

Maximum air temperature
We all know that heat can damage hair, but it actually happens earlier than you may think. Any heat above 60 degrees C can cause some level of hair damage, and above 140 degrees C can cause structural and irreversible damage. Hair even starts to melt at 220 degrees C. Look for hair dryers with lower maximum temperatures (like the Dyson Nural) to prolong the health of your hair.

Hair protection features
Nothing will ruin a gorgeous, bouncy blowout like dull and lifeless hair. Hair dryers with ionic and ceramic heating elements add an additional layer of protection between the heat and the hair, which helps to minimise hair damage. Ionic charges also help to tame flyaways and static, leaving you with smoother and shinier locks.

Best salon quality hair dryers

Salon quality hair dryers have a few standout features that aren't has prominent in cheap options. First up, they're lighter and more ergonomic- if you're banging out ten blowouts a day you don't want to be holding something heavy. Second, they have long cables. We're talking 3 metres long for many of them. Thirdly, they're quieter. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause permanent hearing loss, and lets face it you don't see many hair stylists rocking PPE during a blowdry.

Apart from these bonuses, the best salon quality hair dryers tick the basic features off. Most have high wattage, controlled air temperature settings, and excellent air flow directionality. They're also much more expensive. Here are how the top-tier salon quality hair dryers stack up.

Dyson Supersonic Nural hair dryer
Features
  • Wattage: 1600W
  • Maximum temperature: 100°C
  • Hair protection: Negative ions + smart temperature control
  • Dyson's brand new Supersonic Nural hair dryer is one of the smartest hair dryers on the market. It uses sensors to measure the distance from your scalp, to maintain a consistent 55°C drying temperature.

    It also comes with five magnetic attatchments to suit a range of hair types, all that intelligently remember your dryer settings from the last time you used it.

    The downside is that the Dyson Nural is quite heavy, coming in at 680g, which may make it uncomfortable for extended use.

    Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
    Features
  • Wattage: 1600W
  • Maximum temperature: 100°C
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • The original Supersonic hair dryer from Dyson is less advanced than the Nural but still presents good value. With the same motor and negative ion protection, the Supersonic has set heating temperatures maxing out at 100°C. Although this top heat setting can still be damaging, it is much gentler than other options out there.

    Along with the hair dryer, you'll also get five magnetic attachments including the flyaway, and a gentle air attachment.

    Cloud Nine New Airshot Pro hair dryer
    Features
  • Wattage: 1600W
  • Maximum temperature: 85°C
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • If you're not that keen on extra attachments, the Cloud Nine New Airshot Pro is a better invesment than Dyson hair dryers. It has the same wattage and negative ions to tame static, but weights about a third less at just 440g.

    While its max temperature is 85°C, which is above the Dyson Nural, it is still lower than the original Supersonic, and well within the threshold to mediate hair damage. It only comes with two attachments, but you'll save at least $150 by forgoing the extras.

    GHD Helios Professional hair dryer
    ghd helios hair dryer
    3.3 out of 5 stars
    3.25
    RRP
    $350
    Features
  • Wattage: 1600W
  • Maximum temperature: Unknown
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • GHD is a well known hair straightener brand, but did you know it also does hair driers? The Helios Professional GHD hair dryer is marketed as just that - salon quality - and while it does have noise dampening, it is quite heavy at 780g, and there is an important spec left empty.

    GHD doesn't provide information about its temperature settings. Although the dryer has three heat settings, the rated temperature for these settings is entirely unknown. This makes it even more difficult to properly compare between GHD and other quality hair dryers. We know that it does have a higher wattage than most (2200W), which would indicate that the maximum temperature is around 33% higher than the Dyson Supersonic, or the Cloud Nine New Airshot Pro.

    Do hair dryers damage your hair?

    Heat styling may be effective for holding a style, but it can also fry your hair. Hair dryers are known to be a much gentler heat styling option than hair straighteners or curlers, but they can still do damage.

    According to studies, heat measuring at over 60°C can damage the integrity of the keratin fibre in human hair, but irreversible damage doesn't start until 140°C. At this point the moisture has left the hair, the cuticle will visibly deform, and those locks will loose elasticity. Hair dryers that go up to 140°C should keep your hair relatively free from heat damage (provided you use a good heat protectant), but using lower heat settings will always be a better option for hair health.

    Apart from heat, poor drying technique and indirect airflow can also cause damage to your hair. If you're always getting your roundbrush stuck, or pulling with too much tension then you risk snapping hair or yanking it from your scalp. Obviously thats bad (and painful). Less obviously, poor directionality in airflow can cause hair damage as well. When your hair is whipping around at 200km/h it can put additional pressure on the strands - imagine a tree in those kinds of winds, it will lose a few leaves. Having good directionality helps to tame hairs into place rather than tangle them in to one another, resulting in a nicer blowout and less chance of breakage.

    Best cheap hair dryers

    When it comes to picking a cheap hair dryer, you're still looking for the same things as you do in a salon-quality device, but you'll probably have to lower your standards. Cheaper devices tend to have basic temperature control, higher wattage, and are significantly heavier than their pricey counterparts.

    For the sake of our comparison, we have put any hair dryer under $300 in the 'cheap' category. $300 is still a lot, but a good hair dryer should last you years so the cost-per-use is easier to justify than a new outfit you may wear once. Plus at this price point there are fewer compromises that will need to be made.

    Kmart ionic hair dryer
    Features
  • Wattage: 2200W
  • Maximum temperature: Unknown
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • Kmart loves a good cheap fan/heater combo, and the ionic hair dryer is no exception. Naturally it is cheap as chips, has three heat settings, a cool shot button, and comes with a directional and diffusing attachment. It is basic, but it gets the job done.

    On the downside it has quite a short cable length at under 2m, there is no temperature information, and it seems to be quite heavy. While Kmart doesn't provide the actual weight of the item, the packaged weight is 1.5kg and multiple buyer reviews state the weight as an issue.

    Bondi Boost Sonic Hair Dryer
    bondi boost sonic hair dryer
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    3.5
    RRP
    $279
    Features
  • Wattage: 1800W
  • Maximum temperature: Unknown
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • The Bondi Boost hair dryer borders that line between salon quality and at-home styling. While it is super light-weight, weighing in at just 350g, with a 2.5m long cable, it lacks any information about maximum air temperatures. We don't love that.

    Despite this, the Bondi Boost Sonic does have an interesting self cleaning feature. Pressing down and holding the button will reverse the air flow and push out debris built up in the filter. We do love that!

    Remington Air3D Plus Hair Dryer
    Remington Air3D Plus Hair Dryer
    3.8 out of 5 stars
    3.75
    RRP
    $199.95
    Features
  • Wattage: 1800W
  • Maximum temperature: Unknown
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • Similar to the Bondi Boost hair dryer, the Remington Air3D is almost ready for the salon, but the lack of temperature information lets it down. 

    It is also quite a chonky hair dryer, weighing in at 1.89kg packaged up- although unpackaged weight is not available. Within said package are five different attachments to suit all hair types however.

    The cheaper price tag and these additional attachments are what pull it ahead of the Bondi Boost, but specs wise they are pretty similar.

    VS Sassoon Luxe Airsonic
    DIGITAL SENSOR LUXE AIRSONIC
    4.3 out of 5 stars
    4.25
    RRP
    $269.95
    Features
  • Wattage: 1600W
  • Maximum temperature: 70°C
  • Hair protection: Negative ions
  • Our pick for the best budget hair dryer is the VS Sassoon Luxe Airsonic. This dryer is only 370g, has a maximum hair-loving temperature of 70°C, a full 3m cord, and a gentle 1600 watts of power. Plus a concentrated airflow from the thin-line nozzle maks for better directionality.

    At under $300, the Luxe Airsonic offers salon-quality features on a budget.

    How we review hair dryers (and give them that star rating)

    We use standardised testing across every product we review to ensure we're giving you the best recommendations possible. Our team designs these tests uniquely to the product category, taking into account the most important factors for consumers.

    When we review hair dryers there are five main considerations;

    • Price: What is the value proposition? Are you being asked to pay too much for too little? 
    • Performance: What kind of features does it have, are the controls user friendly?
    • Hair health: Heat styling causes damage, but how does this product help mediate that? 
    • Design: How heavy is it? How ong is the cable? Are the attachments useful and how hard is it to clean?
    • Expert testing: What is it actually like to use? Does it feel nice in your hand, are the buttons in a useful position? How long does it actually take to dry your hair? How hot does it get to touch?

    After our expert testing, we weigh hair health as the most important. If you want to put in the effort to give yourself a bouncy blow dry, you don't want your hair to be fried off because of it. After that, design is the next biggest consideration, followed by performance and then price.

    In some cases we may not have had a chance to do hands-on reviews with these products, in which case we ommit the expert testing section in our rating. Don't worry, it doesn't affect how the products are scaled against each other, but it does mean that our ratings may change as we get through practical reviews.

    Anula Wiwatowska
    Written by
    Anula Wiwatowska
    Anula is the Content and Social Media Editor within the Reviews.org extended universe. Working in the tech space since 2020, she covers phone and internet plans, gadgets, smart devices, and the intersection of technology and culture. Anula was a finalist for Best Feature Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards, and an eight time finalist across categories at the IT Journalism Awards. Her work contributed to WhistleOut's Best Consumer Coverage win in 2023.

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