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The newest styling tools aim to do more than simply curl or smooth hair. Some of the latest improve hair quality as well, says Janet Taake, senior vice president of merchandising at Ulta Beauty. High-tech add-ons, like digital-thermometer gauges, are prompting many consumers to trade up to newer models. Retail sales for hair appliances, which includes stylers, dryers and trimmers, gained 1.74 percent to 74.6 million units in 2012, says Virginia Lee of Euromonitor International. Here, some new tools that promise to heat up the category.
The German brand will soon bring its high-tech beauty tools—complete with all sorts of bells and whistles—to U.S. soil. Of note: the Curl Active Iron, which has a motorized, self-spinning barrel; the Infini Pro Dryer that automatically shuts off when set down and the Versa Style Iron, which combines a flat iron, roller set and three curling irons in one tool.
Available in May at Ulta. $149.99 to $199.99
The British styling brand’s latest dryer, GHD Air, aims to give amateurs a professional edge. The jet-black dryer features a salon-strength AC motor designed to last longer than the average consumer dryer and to dry hair more quickly. GHD Air, which carries a two-year warranty, also incorporates ionic technology and temperature control to stave off frizz and flyaways.
Available at Sephora and select salons. $225
The express blow-dry outpost doubled as a product lab to create a new line of tools designed by Drybar founder Alli Webb. Tested and refined with the help of nearly 1,000 stylists across 26 Drybar salons, the collection of canary-yellow heat styling tools carry playful, bar-inspired names, including The 3-Day Bender Curling Iron, Smooth Operator Flatiron and Buttercup Blow Dryer.
Available at Sephora and Drybar. $125-$185
A newcomer to the styling scene, Theorie is bent on infusing its tools with high-end design elements. The blow dryers are handmade in Italy and powered by an AC motor that’s said to cut drying time in half. Other items include the SAGA Touch Titanium Flat Iron, available in black, red, purple and blue, and the Digital Titanium 4 in One Curling System, which includes four interchangeable barrels and relies on metal ceramic heater technology to deliver fast and even heat.
Available at select salons, Folica.com and Beauty.com. $150 to $250
(5) R SESSION PRO TOOLS
Founders Kevin Ryan and Frank Rizzieri’s recently revamped collection is the culmination of their years of experience styling hair for shoots, fashion shows and celebrities. Rizzieri says they plan to leave basic tools to others, instead creating unique items like the Tidal Waver, a dual-barrel curling iron that reaches 450 degrees and features digital temperature control, and the Mini Pinpoint Flat Iron, a petite iron designed to reach close to the scalp for precious detailing.
Available at select Aveda Institutes and salons. $70 to $125
(6) HAIRMAX LASERCOMB
This FDA-approved at-home device, available in four models featuring a range of seven to 12 laser modules, is designed to treat hair loss in men and women. It delivers laser light energy directly to the scalp, which is said to jump-start hair follicles and hair growth when used three times a week for eight- to 15-minute sessions.
Available at high-end department stores, including Neiman Marcus, and on QVC. $295 to $545