Hair dryers were invented in the late 19th century in France by inventor Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy, but his invention looked closer to a giant robot than any modern-day version we recognize. The apparatus consisted of a large seated bonnet surrounding the client’s head with pipes heated from a gas stove. But thanks to over a century of innovation, we now have the privilege of finding the best hair dryer (or hair dryer brush) that fits right in the palm of your hand — no gas stove hookup needed.
Luxury vs. Affordable Hair Dryers
Today, the main difference you’ll notice between a $30 hair dryer and $400 hair dryer is performance and design, says Cédric, founder of Cédric Salon at Lotte New York Palace Hotel. “Most pro hair dryers are powerful and some of the new consumer dryers (like the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer and other luxury dryers) have smart technology in them that helps you to achieve a beautiful, smooth blowout without overheating your hair, which is always the goal,” Cédric says. Still, you can find a range affordable, stylist-approved hair dryers to help you get a salon-worthy blow out at home. In fact, mass market brands like Conair and Revlon have invested decades of research into providing quality products for less.
What to Look for in the Best Affordable Hair Dryers
“As with all things hair, it depends on your personal hair type,” Cédric says. If you have long and/or thick hair, you may want to look for a hair dryer that’s powerful, yet lightweight so it’s not too tiresome on the arms. But if you have shorter, finer or thinner hair, a lightweight dryer (sans super turbo settings) works great.
How to Achieve a Great Blowout at Home
So you’ve got the affordable (perhaps infrared) hair dryer of your dreams, now what? Before you throw out the box, keep the nozzle attachments that come with the dryer, Cédric says. “Use the thin nozzle if you want a smoother, flatter look and use the larger nozzle to give hair more body and volume,” he says. After drying, Cédric recommends setting the hair with rollers for as long as possible and then applying a spritz of lightweight hairspray for hold. “The longer you want your hair to last, the longer you should keep the rollers in,” he says.
From expert-approved to highly-reviewed options, find the 12 best affordable hair dryers you can buy for under $100.
Elchim 2001 High Pressure Hair Dryer
While this hair dryer is technically just over $100, it earns a spot on our list as one of Cédric’s favorites. He recommends it to clients searching for a high-powered yet price-conscious option, complete with two speeds, five temperatures and a super-powered AC motor that’s particularly great for thick hair. Bonus: The made-in-Italy model is also lightweight.
InfinitiPro by Conair 1875 Watt AC Motor Hair Dryer
The Best-Reviewed Affordable Hair Dryer
In addition to offering strong airflow capabilities with its 1,875 watts of power (“It blows air like a hurricane,” says one of reviewer), this cult-favorite Conair dryer has an AC motor with ionic ceramic technology for a sleeker, faster blowout. It also has two speeds, three temperature settings and weighs just under two pounds — so it won’t tire your arms out quickly, either. “For the price, you will not get a better hairdryer,” reads another enthusiastic review. “To be honest, you could spend 10 times the price and this would still be the better buy.”
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Travel Dryer
The Best Travel-Ready Affordable Hair Dryer
While this compact travel dryer weighs a mere 9.6 ounces, it’s certainly powerful. Its 1000-watt motor has nano ion technology, meaning it not only dries hair quickly but also imparts a sleek, shiny look. “Take it from a veteran traveler, this is the best travel blow dryer you could ever hope to find,” writes one reviewer. “Buy it now, thank me later!”
Revlon 1875 Watts Infrared Heat Hair Dryer
The Under-$20 Hair Dryer
Over 22,000 Amazon shoppers have positively reviewed this Revlon dryer — and priced at under $25. That’s already impressive, but especially considering the 1875-watt model features infrared heat technology designed to reduce drying time and ionic tech with negative ions to leave hair shinier and healthier. It also has two heat and speed settings, as well as a cool shot button.
Trezoro Professional Ionic Salon Hair Dryer
Best Affordable Hair Dryer Under $50
With a whopping 2,200 watts of power, this hair dryer is the most powerful hair dryer option on our list that’s praised by reviewers for being near-silent. The lightweight model offers two speeds, three heat settings and and is complete with an ionic system that gives the hair shine. One Amazon review said, “This is a terrific hair dryer that looks classy and works extremely well in an unusually quiet manner!”
Bed Head Curlipops 1875 Watt Diffuser Dryer
The Best Affordable Hair Dryer for Curly Hair
The large nozzle on this diffuser helps define natural curls while covering more surface area to reduce drying time. Its ionic technology combats frizz and adds shine, while its three heat and two speed settings allow you to customize your experience. One curly-haired reviewer said, “The best thing I have ever bought for my hair — ever.” As an added bonus, the colorful style will look nice in your beauty drawer.
Remington Pro Hair Dryer with Pearl Ceramic Technology
Remington has been making affordable hair tools since 1937, so the brand knows its way around an effective hair dryer. This option is particularly beloved by users for its sleek, fast results. It has a pearl-infused barrel designed to transfer micro-conditioners to locks for a smoother look, plus an AC motor with 1875 watts of power that customers say can dry a full mane in under 10 minutes.
Conair 1600 Watt Wall-Mounted Hair Dryer
The Wall-Mounted Affordable Hair Dryer
If you prefer your hair dryer to be wall-mounted rather than stashed away in a drawer, this Conair version is a bestseller on Amazon. Although not the strongest hair dryer on our list, the 1600-watt machine is exceptionally compact, lightweight and easy to hold while delivering solid performance. The hair dryer also has a built-in LED night light, making it a perfect two-in-one for any bathroom.
Slopehill 1800W Professional Ionic Hairdryer
The Dyson-Alternative Affordable Hair Dryer
If you glance at this dryer quickly, you might just mistake it for a Dyson Supersonic hair dryer — except this Slopehill version is about $350 cheaper. It doesn’t have the full Dyson technology, but this affordable blow dryer option does have 18 centrifugal fan blades, an ionic cylinder motor that’s ultra-quiet and a temperature protection function to prevent overheating hair. The sleek dryer also comes with three magnetic attachments, three heat and two speed settings and, unlike the Dyson version, a foldable handle that makes it even easier to take on-the-go.
Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush
Best Affordable Hair-Dryer Brush
Revlon’s One-Step hair dryer has over 300,000 four- and five-star reviews on Amazon, making it one of the most popular hair dryer brushes on the market. The brilliance of the hot airbrush is that it gives bouncy volume and glossy shine, while also quickly drying hair. The ceramic coating helps prevent heat damage, while the tangle-free brush bristles help detangle for silky, salon-quality results in mere minutes.
InStyler Turbo Ionic Blow Dryer
Best Lightweight Affordable Hair Dryer
Heftiness doesn’t always equate to power. This 2,000-watt turbo dryer can cut drying speed time in half, and it still weighs less than a pound. Not to mention, it has customizable infinity dial for limitless heat and airflow possibilities.
InfinitiPro By Conair SmoothWrap Hair Dryer with Dual Ion Therapy
The Sleek-Inducing Affordable Hair Dryer
This high-tech Conair hair dryer features “dual ion therapy,” which emits the perfect balance of positive and negative ions to leave hair shinier, healthier and with fewer flyaways. The 1875-watt dryer also has six heat and speed combinations, plus a high-torque motor for super-fast drying.