Your Questions

Choosing the right hair dryer can be a minefield, with so many products to decide between.  Our advice pages are a great place to start, as well as the reviews from our testers.   We’ve also posted some of our readers’ questions here with our answers.  If you have something else we could help with, use the ‘contact us’ form to get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Buying a new hair dryer

The best hairdryers can last for years, but on average most people will buy a new hair dryer every 3-5 years. They can last for longer if they're a good make and you treat them correctly (see our FAQ on hairdryer maintenance).
Main points are that different hairstyles may well require different hairdryers. A narrow nozzle for a smooth blow-dry or a good diffuser for a boost / definition for waves. The Dyson hairdryer for example is brilliant for thicker and longer hair but so not good for fine, curly hair which needs to dry slower to set the curls.
Travel hairdryers are another consideration. Think about the weight of your hairdryer. If you need to buy a small and light dryer for travelling, it's probably worth the investment.
In terms of changing your old dryer for safety, this is an important question. Our hairdryer advice is to look out for the obvious hairdryer warning signs are: smell and heat. If you smell any burning, or a fishy kind of smell, turn off and unplug your hairdryer immediately. Burning could be an electrical fault (or your hair overheating!), and fishy smell is often associated with a blown fuse, so be really careful with both. If you can see into your dryer through the air vent, you may notice the element glowing. This is quite normal for metal coil heated hairdryers although you shouldn't notice it on a ceramic hairdryer as the metal coil is encased in a ceramic layer. Most modern hair dryers have a removable filter at the back. If it gets clogged up, airflow is reduced and the element may overheat. You might want to check if you can remove the back and clean the filter. If the plastic body of the hairdryer is getting too hot to touch however, this is absolutely not ok. As a general rule of thumb, carry out quick safety check from time to time: also make sure the cable is not exposed and is properly attached to the plug,

Hair dryer technology

It is useful to have a hair dryer with multiple heat settings but the number you need does depend on your hair type and styling requirements. For example, thinner, finer hair is best dried with a lower setting so may not require as many settings as someone who has coarser, thicker hair. Three settings would be our recommendation - high for fast-drying, medium for regular drying and then a low / cool setting for finishing. For further information, take a look at our information page on hair dryer settings.

Hair types, hair care and styling

Hi Gemma, Thick, coarser hair can usually withstand the heat better than thinner, finer hair but there are a number of things worth trying to prevent damage to your hair due to blow drying. We would recommend using a heat protection product before you start your blow dry. As heat does take the moisture out of your hair, it would be worth trying to leave it for as long as possible between blow drys too. Investing in a hair dryer with multiple heat settings is essential, so you can start the blow dry with a high heat to take most of the water out but then finish with a cooler setting which will cause less damage to your hair.

Attachments and accessories

Hi Chrissie, I'm afraid your friend is absolutely right. The thinner the nozzle is, generally the smoother the hairdryer will blow dry your hair. A narrow nozzle - often called a 'concentrator' - forces the same amount of air to flow faster through the gap in the attachment which results in a smoother and more polished finish to your blowdry. In our experience, and according to many of the hairdressers we speak to, narrow nozzles are essential for drying fringes as well as frizzy or wavy hair to make it straight and ensure the cuticles lie flat. They just focus on making the section you're drying shiny and smooth without blowing the surrounding hair around.
It's not common nowadays to be able to buy separate nozzles for an older hairdryer. To be honest, you're better off buying a new hair dryer which comes with a narrow concentrator nozzle. The best ones we've found, after consulting with hairdressers and users are: Mid-budget professional hairdryer - Parlux 385 Powerlight (reviewed here), or if you're on a smaller budget, the cheaper Remington Pro-Air Turbo D5220 Hair Dryer (reviewed here).

Hair dryer maintenance

Hi Richard, It's a really good idea to clean out the filter of your hairdryer from time to time. Clogged up hair dryers are more likely to overheat which can cause them to malfunction and worse might be a danger to you. It's important to look after your hair dryer just like any other electrical device, maybe more so as you hold it and place it close to your head!

We've written a useful page with our best advice about hairdryer maintenance and safety, so for more tips look here. Alternatively, you can go to the Electrical Safety First guide which has been produced specifically to address consumer's concerns with electrical goods like hairdryers.

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