Using one of the best hair dryers for curly hair is great for multiple reasons. Although opinions vary on air drying vs blow drying (see the curly girl method), many experts recommend using a quality tool with a diffuser on low speed and low heat settings for healthy-feeling and defined curls. To help you find the right one, our expert has tested some of the top hair dryers on the market to see which ones work best for curly hair—but before we get into those, here's a little expert insight into why they're so essential.
"I'm a massive advocate of using hairdryers for curly hair for a couple of reasons," says hairstylist Mason Josh from London's Hari's Salon. "Drying your hair naturally isn't reliable as the results will always be different, due to external factors that are likely to cause frizz, like the weather or daily activities. A dryer or diffuser gives you more control over creating defined curls, and it’s much less likely to frizz. I've found using a hair dryer for curls is the best styling tool to get great curls every time."
A good dryer that's well looked after will last years, so it's a worthy investment—especially when you consider how many times you'll use it. The best buys for curly hair types will have advanced technology and compatible attachments such as a diffuser, which distributes the air more evenly to preserve definition, and a comb, which directs air into the roots and is great for tighter coils, on offer. "The best dryer I’ve used is the ghd Air, which has its own diffuser," Mason says. "The Dyson diffuser is great too."
Meet the experts on hair dryers for curly hair
- Mason Josh (opens in new tab) is a professional stylist at London's Hari's Salon (opens in new tab), official BAFTA partner for the 2022 Television Awards. He loves to work with curly hair and has given readers some insight into why hair dryers for curly hair are so valuable.
- Lucy Jones (opens in new tab) is a curly-haired stylist at London's Larry King Salon (opens in new tab), who knows a thing or two about good hair dryers and advised us on what features to look for in one for curly hair.
- Michelle Thompson (opens in new tab) is an award-winning hair stylist, curly hair expert, and an ambassador for hair tool brand ghd (opens in new tab). She's also advised My Imperfect Life readers on what you should look for in a hair dryer for curly hair.
What features should the best hair dryers for curly hair have?
- Accompanying diffuser—The best diffusers for curly hair are bowl-shaped attachments disperse air more evenly for gentler drying, reduced frizz, and improved definition. If you're on the hunt for a new diffuser, too? "Look for one that has a good amount of prongs (or fingers) and holes," Thompson advises. "This will disperse the air flow evenly throughout while keeping the curls separated. The ghd Helios hairdryer and diffuser are a match made in heaven!"
- Multiple speed settings—As a rule, all good hair dryers should have multiple speed settings to choose from. While using a slower speed reduces the amount of excess frizz in curls, we don't always have the luxury of time when drying our hair, and faster settings are useful for blow drying hair into sleeker and straighter styles. It's good to have options!
- Multiple heat settings—Similar to the above, having multiple heat settings gives you more flexibility with your styling, including being able to use less extreme heat on your curls. "You should look for a dryer that has a diffuser attachment and also temperature control,” Jones says. "The Dyson Supersonic is great for this as it has an added benefit of built-in temperature control, which doesn’t allow the dryer to overheat."
- Cool shot function—This is an important function on any hair dryer because it helps to cool down your strands to set your style. "A good, powerful hair dryer that has a good temperature control and a cool shot is a must," Thompson confirms.
- Smoothing technology, e.g. ionic—This is a great additional feature as it will help to look moisture into your curls to keep them as healthy as possible. If you're blow drying your hair into a straighter style, it'll also help promote sleekness.
How we tested the best hair dryers for curly hair
When testing these tools, our tester dried her hair with numerous best hair dryers for curly hair contenders, using the compatible diffuser attachments from each brand, and took all of the following factors into account.
- Number of heat settings
- Number of speed settings
- Cool shot function
- Size and feel of compatible diffuser
- If the diffuser came with the dryer or has to be purchased separately
- Whether any other attachments are available
- Any advanced or unique technology
I love mixing up how I style my hair and on the days I wear my natural curls I want them to be as defined and healthy-looking as possible. My hair is on the fine side with a looser ringlet-y pattern and, as with all types of curly hair, it's prone to dryness. In terms of styling products I like formulas that nourish well without weighing my strands down, defining serums that reduce excess frizz, and gels with a good amount of hold.
I dry my hair using a diffuser on 99% of the days I wash it and leave it curly. For me personally, because my hair has lower porosity it takes quite a long time to dry on its own, plus the weight of the water pulls it down, leaving me with flat roots. Every head of curls is unique but superior airflow, lots of heat and temperature options for adaptable styling, and a good-sized diffuser with lots of holes for as even air distribution are general plusses in the best hair dryers for curly hair.
The best hair dryers for curly hair as reviewed by a beauty editor
1. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
This is an incredible bit of beauty tech. Complete with a Dyson digital motor to ensure fast drying, its Air Multiplier™ technology also creates quality airflow that isn't harsh on your strands. Temperature is measured more than 40 times per second for optimum control, while negative ions reduce static to reduce any excess frizz.
The downside is, of course, the price tag—the Supersonic is the most expensive dryer in our round-up of the best hair dryers for curly hair by some way. But this price tag covers lots of different attachments to cater to all types of curls; a diffuser (admittedly on the small side), wide tooth comb, flyaway smoother, gentle air attachment and two different concentrated nozzles. Many other dryer diffusers have to be purchased separately to the dryer, making this model better value than first glance might have you believe. The lowest heat setting is still quite hot when holding the diffuser against the scalp, while the cool setting could be colder. But those aren’t deal breakers and, all in all, this is the best of the best.
See our full review of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
2. ghd Helios Dryer
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Another high-tech model, the Helios dryer is the successor to ghd's best-selling Air dryer. It incorporates Aeroprecis™ technology, which essentially means that its internal aerodynamics result in a (surprisingly) lighter styling tool and a faster, shinier blow dry. It's another that makes use of ionic technology to help promote healthy hair.
This tool is exceptionally powerful—75mph powerful, to be precise—so we’d definitely recommend using it on the lower of the two speed settings if you’re drying your hair curly. When used with ghd's diffuser, which, like the comb attachment, has to be purchased separately, the contoured nozzle is great for creating a smooth and sleek finish, as many of the five-star reviewers on ghd's website will attest to. Those with finer, more flyaway-prone hair may find that this dryer can be a little too powerful to get the best definition, but it leaves hair looking nice and healthy and the diffuser creates a good level of volume—ideal for creating some of the best curly hairstyles.
3. BaByliss Hydro-Fusion 2100 Hair Dryer
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
It's totally understandable if the thought of spending over 100 dollars or pounds on a new hair dryer makes you wince. They're an investment and not one that everyone can shell out a lot of money for. The BaByliss Hydro-Fusion Dryer delivers good results for curls without breaking the bank. It comes with that all-important diffuser and has also worked in ionic technology, using a "moisture balancing" system of both positive and negative ions to keep your curls defined and soft.
Considering that it's a more budget-friendly dryer, we were still impressed at the volume and lower levels of frizz the Hydro-Fusion yielded, something that BaByliss has proven with its own testers. In a two-week trialling period overseen by the brand, 86% of consumers said that their hair looked less frizzy and felt silkier, while 83% reported that their hair looked in better condition. All in all, it's a decent dryer for this price bracket.