12 Best Hair Dryers for Curly Hair Review to Make Everyone Jealous – Jan. 2021 with Buying Guide
Everyone blessed with naturally curly hair knows the temptation.
It’s wonderful to receive compliments about your hair, when you’ve spent forever taming it to craft just the right look. But you can only take so many people telling you “you’re so lucky to have hair like that!” After a while, all you want to do is blurt out:
“Yeah, I’m lucky that I just hop out of bed every morning with my hair looking like this.”
Or “Yeah, I’m really lucky to be stuck in the bathroom every morning unfrizzing and detangling my hair, just so I can look decent enough to leave the house.”
Or simply “Yeah, right. Wanna trade hair for the month?”
(Can you tell that several members of the G+S team have curly hair?)
If you have curly hair, you know that it’s both a blessing and a curse. On casual days you can just wash and dry it, comb it out, and head out the door. For work or more dressy occasions, your hair can look absolutely stunning when you get it “just right.” And your curly locks give you a myriad number of gorgeous hairdo choices.
But as you know from experience, it often requires an incredible amount of work (and product, and sometimes pain) to control and style curly hair. And not all of the comments you’ll hear are non-judgmental. Some will be unwanted suggestions or criticism, largely the product of jealousy.
There’s one thing most people who have naturally curly hair really want: to make things easier. Using the right products and technique are two big steps. But the other important factor is using the right hair dryer. A model which allows you to carefully control the level of heat, and utilizes the right technology to control frizz, can almost make it a pleasure to style curly hair.
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The review team has checked out dozens of hair dryers in search of the ones which are best for curly hair, and we have twelve favorites.
Best Hair Dryers for Curly Hair
1. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
The Groom+Style review team doesn’t always list the very best product at #1 in our rankings. We always consider a product’s price and value, as well as its performance and features, before making that decision.
In the case of the Dyson Supersonic, though, we think the product is so far superior to anything else on the market that we’ve placed it at #1 – despite its absolutely scary price.
So what could possibly make a hair dryer worth that price? To put it simply, next-level engineering went into this Dyson, which has won unanimous (and deserved) praise from every industry expert and reviewer who has tried it.
Here’s a brief look at some of the technology. There’s a powerful and extremely reliable digital motor in the handle (which makes this unit odd-looking but unusually balanced and easy to work with), an “Air Multiplier” in the head which triples the normal air flow, and “intelligent” heat control that measures the temperature 20 times each second to regulate it and prevent the air headed to your hair from getting too hot.
That might sound like way too much power and heat for curly hair, but the design of the Supersonic makes sure that the air output is carefully controlled, and there are four very precise heat settings (212°, 176°, 140° and cold air, plus a cold shot button) and three speed settings (fast dry, regular dry, styling) that give you unprecedented control.
One other key feature that the team fell in love with is a great diffuser attachment which won’t fall off, because the Dyson’s nozzles attach to the hair dryer magnetically for a firm grip. There are smoothing and concentrator attachments included as well, but the diffuser is the key for drying curly hair, and this one is great.
Those are the bells and whistles. As for performance, curly hair ends up dramatically smoother and shinier, with much less frizz, than it does with any competitor. If the price doesn’t scare you off, it’s an incredible hair dryer.
Facts and figures for the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer:
2. BaByLiss Tourmaline Titanium 3000 Dryer
We’ll come back down to earth price-wise with our #2 choice, a BaByliss model which sells for less than a quarter of the price of the Dyson but still does a fantastic job drying curly hair. BaByliss is well known in the industry and makes a number of hair dryers with different attributes.
We’ve chosen this one because of its tourmaline titanium technology, which combines the fast-dry capability of far-infrared heating, the powerful heat production of titanium and the maximum negative-ion production of tourmaline.
The manufacturer claims that its 3000 model produces millions of those negative ions, which ensure that curly hair stays shiny and under control. We’re not sure exactly how you measure millions of ions, but we’ll take their word for it because frizz simply isn’t an issue with this BaByliss.
Powered at a strong 1900 watts, there are six combined heat and speed settings to give you fingertip control as you style difficult-to-manage hair. There’s a cold shot button as well.
The fact that this unit uses titanium as well as tourmaline made us nervous about “too much heat” at first, but the six settings let you keep it under control. The one big negative that G+S found is that it doesn’t come with a diffuser attachment; you’ll have to buy one separately, and we strongly advise it for working with curly hair.
We wish there was a diffuser included with the BaByliss 3000, but the dryer’s great performance on curly hair (once you’ve added your own diffuser) make this a solid #2 choice.
More details on the BaByLiss Tourmaline Titanium 3000 Dryer:
3. Wazor Professional Hair Dryer
Now we’re reaching the price level that most people might consider reasonable for a hair dryer –under 50 bucks – and even at a lower price, the Wazor gives you a lot of drying power for curly hair. It has a salon-quality motor which runs at 1875 watts, and its tourmaline and ceramic components (tourmaline is our preferred choice for drying curly hair) produce effective far-infrared heat and high levels of negative ion production to reduce frizz and flyaways.
(BaByliss isn’t the only manufacturer that makes numerical claims for its ionic performance; Wazor claims that its model produces 100 times more negative ions than any competitor. We’ll leave it up to you to do the scientific measurements, if you’d like.)
The Wazor has three heat settings and two speeds as well as a cold shot button, which allow you to customize the output for different stages of the drying process. It comes with a finger diffuser plus a concentrator nozzle (nice to have if you choose to straighten your hair from time to time) and a wind comb.
One other nice feature is that there’s a removable lint filter on the back of the unit. That’s something which more manufacturers should include, not just to catch lint but also to prevent your hair from getting sucked into the dryer. This is a lightweight, quiet and solid hair dryer.
The Wazor is more of a “standard” hair dryer than our first two G+S choices, but it does a bang-up job drying curly hair without damage or frizz.
Looking closer at the Wazor Professional Hair Dryer:
4. T3 Featherweight Luxe 2I Dryer
We’re back in the sticker-shock range for the review team’s top choice for a curly hair dryer that’s designed for travelers. The Luxe 2I isn’t quite as expensive as the Dyson (what is?), but it’s still well above the amount you’ll pay for an ordinary hair dryer.
But T3 is well-known for innovation in the hair styling industry, and their tools are the choice of many professional and celebrity stylists. As you might expect, there’s proprietary technology in this model which makes it a powerhouse in a small package.
So what do you get for that high price tag? Start with tourmaline heating elements, the best (and most expensive) choice for drying curly hair. Tourmaline is extremely efficient at producing the negative ions which help dry curly hair without causing static electricity and high levels of frizz, at lower levels of heat than you’d get from titanium or ceramic components.
Tourmaline elements like those in the T3 are preferable to other materials coated with tourmaline, as used in dryers like the BaByliss and Wazor. They’re also more expensive, which is one reason why you’ll pay a premium price for the T3. The other is the company’s proprietary “SoftAire” technology; they don’t tell you exactly what that is, but we can tell you that it works very, very well on curly hair.
There are two speed settings, three heat settings, a cool shot button, a concentrator attachment and a separate tourmaline ceramic brush. However, there’s no diffuser included with the T3, so you’ll need to purchase one separately for best results on your curly locks. That’s what knocked this hair dryer down to #4 on the Groom+Style list.
This is a compact, lightweight and ergonomically-designed hair dryer that does a great job on curly hair, and even though it comes without a diffuser, it’s the model we’d want to pack for a trip.
Specs for the T3 Featherweight Luxe 2I Dryer:
5. Jinri Professional Salon Hair Dryer
What’s the difference in price that results when using tourmaline ceramic instead of tourmaline components? Several hundred dollars, if you’re comparing the T3 with this Jinri professional dryer.
There are other differences as well, with the most noticeable being weight; the Jinri is heavy, weighing about three times as much, which makes a big difference if you want to travel with it or you have smaller arms and wrists.
Despite the somewhat-lesser attributes, this Jinri hair dryer does a very good job on curly hair. One reason is that well-designed units with tourmaline-coated ceramic elements still do produce far-infrared heat to dry hair from the inside-out, as well as a high number of the negative ions which are important for preventing frizz and flyaway hair. Another is that it’s a salon-quality appliance, making it somewhat heavy but also quite durable.
The Jinri features two speeds and three heat levels, for the flexibility of operation which we prefer when working on our own curly hair. It also comes with a diffuser, a concentrator and a filter cap which can be removed for cleaning.
Jinri’s professional dryer is somewhat heavy, but solid and a good performer, and the price is reasonable for the performance it delivers.
Digging deeper on the Jinri Professional Salon Hair Dryer:
6. DevaCurl DevaDryer Hairdryer With Diffuser
This is a “love it or hate it” type of product which intrigued the Groom+Style team. As you can guess, more of us loved it than hated it.
The DevaDryer is pretty expensive (although not costing anywhere near as much as the Dyson), and it’s not the most durable hair dryer on our list. However, it was designed specifically for curly hair – and it’s particularly effective for high volume type 3 hair and type 4 hair, which means that it’s a very good choice for styling African-American hair.
The DevaDryer is an ionic model like the others we’ve reviewed, but what stands out is its enhanced diffuser, shaped like a hand with five fingers (although some team members thought it looked more like a leaf). Instead of blowing air from one direction, this diffuser has holes on all sides of all five “fingers,” allowing the hot air to surround the hair and get deep into curls, all the way down to the roots. That makes for a more even and faster dry, as long as you follow the directions on how to place and use the diffuser.
The Deva produces more heat than most dryers for curly hair, but it’s used smartly so it really does cut drying time without damaging hair. There are three temperature settings (and the hot setting is really hot, an important feature for styling type 4 hair) and two speeds, plus a cool shot button.
|Regular users of the DevaCurl find that it has a tendency to break down more quickly than a normal hair dryer, but its pros definitely outweigh its cons for those with tough-to-style curls and coils. |
A closer look at the DevaCurl DevaDryer Hairdryer With Diffuser:
Here’s another option which we dropped down in our rankings partly because of its high price (it’s not as expensive as the Dyson, but it’s pretty close), but also because it’s only suited for those whose curly hair is medium-thick.
The highest temperature this Harry Josh model can hit is 150°, perfect for medium-texture hair but not hot enough for thick or coarse hair.
Don’t get us wrong; this is a terrific hair dryer from a famous, celebrity hair stylist, which is why we recommend it for those who will benefit from its quality. It’s just not for everyone reading these reviews. If you have type 3 or 4 curly hair, please keep reading (or go back to the reviews above this one). But if you have hair that’s of medium thickness, you’ll find the Harry Josh Pro leaves it shiny and frizz-free – as long as you also purchase the diffuser for this dryer, sold separately. (It’s hard to understand why they include two concentrators but no diffuser, but that’s life for those with curly hair.)
This hair dryer is quieter and lighter than most models, and has 6 speed and heat settings for ideal customization of your dry. It’s small and cute, too.
The Pro Dryer 2000 is only suited for those with medium-texture curly hair. But when you add the diffuser that’s sold separately, it leaves type 2 curly hair looking beautiful and shiny.
Digging deeper on the Harry Josh Pro Dryer 2000:
8. Revlon Salon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer
Hair dryers with tourmaline components or coating can cost you an arm and a leg. They don’t have to, though.
This Revlon dryer with tourmaline-coated ceramic elements is a great example, coming in at a lower price than you’ll pay for many models using only ceramic elements. That’s music to the ears of the budget-challenged with curly hair, since tourmaline increases the production of the negative ions which reduce static, frizz and flyaway hair.
There’s not quite as much control on the Revlon as you get on much higher-priced competitors, but there are still two speed and two heat controls, a full 1875 watts of power, finger diffuser and concentrator attachments, and a hanging ring for easy storage. This isn’t the most durable hair dryer for curly hair you can find, but while it lasts, it does a good job drying curly hair and leaving it looking great.
Your Revlon Salon won’t be around for years, because it’s more in the “cheap plastic hair dryer” category. But you get the benefits of tourmaline ionic technology for the price of going out for pizza – and that’s not a bad deal while it lasts.
More specifics on the Revlon Salon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer:
9. Pibbs 514 Kwik Dri Salon Dryer
We’re pretty sure this hair dryer for curly hair isn’t what you were thinking of when you started reading.
But it’s another “specialty” product which is a great choice for those who would like to relax while their hair dries – or more importantly, those who have the difficult-to-style Type 3B to 4B hair that’s common in the African-American community.
You’ve probably seen models like this in salons (or in classic movies); they’re “hooded” hair dryers that you sit under, while the heating elements do their work without your interference. A hooded dryer does a terrific job of slowly drying thick and curly hair without drying it out or creating frizz, and the Italian-made Pibbs Kwik Dry has been the best-selling hooded hair dryer for years.
This unit is solid, durable and a great option if you want to use rollers (1-2 inches only, 3-inch rollers probably won’t fit under the hood) or dry your extra-thick, curly hair in half the time it would take with a hand-held dryer. (If you don’t use rollers, you’ll have to wear your hair in a net while it dries.) The height, head and base are adjustable and it can be moved on casters, there’s a graduated temperature dial and a timer you can set from 0-60 minutes.
A hooded dryer may not your style, particularly if you’re always on the go, and the Pibbs is rather expensive. It’s a great alternative, though, especially for thick hair or coils that will normally take hours to dry.
Looking closer at the Pibbs 514 Kwik Dry Salon Dryer:
10. Rusk Engineering W8less Professional Dryer
When the competition is tough, even very good competitors are liable to fall down into the bottom quarter of a top 12.
That’s what happened to this moderately-priced Rusk. It does have one great attribute that shines, though: it’s an excellent hair dryer for curly hair, while it’s also just about the smallest and lightest quality unit you can find. (Hence the name W8less – it’s not really weightless, but compared to some of the other dryers we’ve reviewed, it comes close.)
This is a tourmaline-coated ceramic model (with far-infrared heat, as most of these dryers have), so it’s ideal for drying and styling curly hair without frying it or causing it to frizz.
There are two speed and three heat settings on the W8less, plus a cool shot nozzle; this is the most powerful hair dryer we’ve check out at 2000 watts, so it’s a very good thing that you can set it on “low” since the high setting is only suitable for very thick curly hair or coils. One negative for the purposes of this review session is that the Rusk only comes with a concentrator and not a diffuser. You’ll have to buy that separately – which is the final reason this unit comes in at #10 and not higher.
This is a small, extremely lightweight hair dryer that has most of the attributes you need to dry curly hair, except a diffuser.
What you need to know about the Rusk Engineering W8less Professional Dryer:
11. Magnifeko Professional Hair DryerNo products found.
The ceramic heating elements in the Magnifeko are what dropped this hair dryer into the bottom quarter of our rankings – it’s still good, it’s still reasonably-priced, but it doesn’t produce as many negative ions so it doesn’t do quite as good a job reducing frizz as we’d like.
On the positive side, it does come with a diffuser as well as two concentrators, it has a removable and cleanable filter, and it has a feature we’d like to see on all hair dryers: a safety thermostat that shuts the machine down when it runs too hot.
When it comes to the Magnifeko’s performance, there’s not much to argue with. It’s true that your may be a tad frizzier than if you had used a tourmaline hair dryer, but this model still does use ionic technology, so it will cut down on most of the frizz and flyaway issues you’d experience with a standard drugstore dryer. It leaves hair shiny and dries quickly, and that’s the bottom line.
The Magnifeko isn’t one of our top choices, but it still does quite well drying curly hair, at a very attractive price.
The lowdown on the Magnifeko Professional Hair Dryer:
12. Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer
This is our budget choice, coming in at well under 20 bucks. Remington claims that it uses tourmaline ceramic technology, but at this price, our guess is that there’s just a hint of tourmaline in the elements’ coating. No matter; it’s an excellent choice for drying curly hair if you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend.
There are the usual five settings, two for speed and three for heat, a cool shot button, and diffuser and concentrator attachments.
There’s more than enough power to dry all but the thickest locks. It’s a little louder than most dryers and the cord is a bit shorter than we’d like, but for what you spend, your curly hair will be treated well and you won’t have to deal with damage or frizz. What more could you want for less than 20 bucks?
This may be a budget selection, but it isn’t that much lower in performance than most of G+S’s highest-rated models. It’s what we would call a bargain.
Details for the Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer:
Best Hair Dryers for Curly Hair: Buying Guide
The right hair dryer is crucial for those trying to tame and style their curly hair, and the G+S team has given you our recommendations for the best dryers on the market.
But it might help to look more closely at choosing a hair dryer which will be an ally – and not an enemy – when you step out of the shower and are ready to tackle the wet mass of curls on your head.
We’ll do that, right after a quick check of Groom+Style’s tips on caring for and styling naturally curly hair.
Why Is Curly Hair Such a Challenge?
The biggest reason why curly hair is difficult to manage and style: curly hair is naturally dryer than straight hair, because the curls prevent natural oils from sliding down the hair to provide all-important hydration.
Dry hair leads to the issues that plague its “owners,” including tangles, knots and frizz. It can also lead to what’s known as “triangle hair” – that’s when hair at the top of the scalp is straighter and easier to manage, while curls accumulate at the bottom where detangling and de-frizzing is most difficult.
Aggressively brushing and then blasting already-challenged hair with a powerful dryer, makes things even worse. Strong brushing removes much of the natural curl and breaks hair strands, removing luster and making the frizz problem even worse. And unleashing the full force of a high-powered hair dryer directly on curly hair can lead to disaster.
Treating your hair gently and with loving care will make things much easier, when the time comes to actually style and dry it.
Groom+Style’s Recommendations for Curly Hair
Ready to go hair dryer shopping?
The One Indispensible Thing You Need To Dry Curly Hair
Believe it or not, the most important factor in choosing a hair dryer for curly hair isn’t the dryer itself. It’s an attachment. No one with curly locks should consider a dryer unless it has a diffuser attachment. You can purchase a diffuser separately, but then you’re stuck trying to figure out if the attachment will actually fit onto your hair dryer. Your best bet is to purchase them together at the same time.
What’s a diffuser? It’s the weird-looking plastic attachment you’ve always wondered about – the round one with a number of pegs sticking out of it. It’s crucial for drying curly hair, because it spreads the hot air over a wide area while carefully controlling it.
Using a diffuser isn’t hard. You place a section of your hair onto the diffuser, and then press the unit onto your scalp. That efficiently dries the section without blowing out its curls; a straight-on blast of hot air will often remove natural curls and cause frizz. Those with wavy hair can also benefit from a diffuser, although they don’t have to dry their hair in sections. Drying normally but with a diffuser attachment will accentuate natural waves and make them bouncier.
There’s one huge key to a diffuser’s effectiveness: using it with low power and low heat. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a tangled mass of fried and frizzy hair. It’s tempting to get your hair dry as quickly as possible, but that’s the price you pay for luxurious, curly locks. It takes longer to get them looking good.
Technology and Hair Dryers for Curly Hair
Unless you’re buying an “el cheapo” hair dryer at the local drugstore or supermarket, it’s unlikely that you’ll be considering an old-fashioned model which simply blows hot air that can damage your hair in a flash. Nearly all of today’s hair dryers use some variation of modern technology; ceramic, titanium, infrared, tourmaline and ionic are some of the words you’ll see thrown around regularly.
Any combination of those materials or technologies will dry hair pretty well. The challenge of drying curly hair, however, requires making smart choices.
The first category to look at involves the material that’s used as the dryer’s heating element (or in less-expensive models, to coat the heating element).
- Ceramic is the “lower-level” material and is fine for people with normal hair.
- Titanium is a much lighter material which radiates heat more efficiently, so titanium hair dryers are easier to use and dry hair faster.
- The most-expensive choices usually have internal components made from or coated with tourmaline, which is a semi-precious mineral. These hair dryers aren’t as light as titanium models, but they’re gentler (so it doesn’t feeling like you’re pointing a blast furnace your hair).
The best option for drying curly hair is tourmaline. The reason has to do with the topic of our next section, ionic technology.
Why People With Curly Hair Need An Ionic Hair Dryer
Most titanium and tourmaline hair dryers now feature something called “ionic technology.”
In a nutshell, ions are electrically-charged particles, formed when an atom gains or loses electrons. They can be either positively- or negatively-charged. When it comes to hair dryers, models with ionic technology send streams of negative ions into hair, where they break the water molecules on wet hair to speed the drying process – without damaging the hair itself.
Negative ions also close off hair cuticles (the outside layer of protective cells) to prevent moisture that’s inside the hair from escaping, making the hair shiny and smooth. And they neutralize static, cutting down on frizz and flyaway hair.
Ionic hair dryers aren’t great for thin or fine hair, because it can leave it looking limp and unattractive. But they’re a solid choice for most other types of hair – and they’re perfect for people with curly hair.
Let’s think back to our previous discussion of the materials used in hair dryers. Tourmaline helps increase the production and flow of negative ions, much more than titanium or ceramic do. So now the picture is complete: tourmaline is the best choice for drying curly hair, because it dries hair quickly and gently, while ensuring the maximum flow of negative ions to reduce frizz and flyaways.
One final word before we move on: infrared (or far-infrared). When a hair dryer is said to generate infrared heat it simply means that the wavelengths of the energy are longer. The advantage of infrared is that heat “penetrates” deep into the hair and dries it from the inside-out, reducing drying time and damage to the hair. You’ll often see infrared technology listed as a selling point for hair dryers, but just about all modern ceramic, titanium and tourmaline models now use it. In other words, don’t obsess over it. If you buy a good hair dryer, it will almost definitely be an infrared model.
Hair Dryers for Curly Hair: Other Buying Considerations
There are several other features to consider when shopping for the perfect hair dryer to handle your curly hair.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hair Dryers for Curly Hair
Q: Isn’t the whole “negative ions” thing a scam?
Q: I understand the ceramic/titanium/tourmaline differences, but I’ve seen hair dryers advertised as “ceramic tourmaline” or something similar. What’s going on there?
Q: Are tourmaline elements better than a tourmaline coating?
Q: Can family members with straight hair use the dryer I buy to use on my curly hair?
If you do ever grow tired of your curly hair and want to try straight hair then you can always buy a flat iron hair straightener!