Don’t Splurge On Hair Tools Before Reading This!
On the whole, beauty loot can cost you a pretty penny. Jars of luxury cream will run you an easy $50, it’s tricky to find a legit mascara under $20, and enticing eyeshadow palettes are certainly a splurge. Then there are all the sleek hair tools, which can take your hair routine from overwhelming to streamlined and make for plenty of good hair days.
Today’s haircare technology is better than ever, but what makes one tool better than the other? Knowing what to look for – and what to avoid – can save you money and frustration in the long run. We spoke with a handful of stylists who’ve used their fair share of hair tools over the years, and they were happy to give us their best advice. Bonus: they even dished on some amazing dupes for splurge-y faves like Dyson.
What to Look for When Buying Hair Styling Tools
The hair tool market has made major strides even in the last five to 10 years. Not only do many retailers and manufacturers have a better idea of what’s healthiest for hair, but the technology itself has been fine-tuned.
“[Generally speaking], today there’s more versatility in hair tools, which means we have the ability to style different hair types. Tools are also generally lighter, making them more comfortable to hold,” says celebrity stylist Cody Renegar. “At the same time, they have more velocity, which causes less heat damage to the hair.”
If you’re in the market for a new hair tool, look for these signs of high-quality manufacturing.
1. Adjustable Settings
Temperature and airflow controls are one of the newest advancements in hair tools, and they are an absolute must. After all, you wouldn’t apply the same serum to every complexion, nor would you cook every food at the same temperature.
“Adjustable settings are a huge benefit to styling,” says NYC–based celebrity hairstylist Kimberly Gueldner. “For example, people with fine hair will want to keep their heat setting low.” Conversely, thicker hair types can benefit from a bit more oomph.
The adjustability also means you can tweak settings as you work. For instance, you may want lower heat on iron when curling smaller sections, and when blow drying, you may want more airflow when hair is very wet and less once it’s mostly dry.
All this translates to less damage and healthier hair in the long run.
2. Ceramic Plates
Ceramic plates are the way to go on all hair tools, including flat irons, curling irons and wands, blowout brushes, and blow dryers. “Ceramic plates heat hair from the inside out, while titanium plates heat from the outside in,” explains Rodger Azadganian, celebrity stylist and founder of äz Craft Luxury Hair Care.
This is much gentler on your strands and also requires lower temperatures overall.
3. Ionic Technology
Along with ceramic plates, prioritize hair tools with ionic technology. Gueldner says, “Ionic technology helps generate instant and constant heat with no hot spots, contributing to better and easier styling.” It can also help tame frizz and flyaways while styling and prevents hair damage. In the end, this translates to shinier and healthier.
4. Lightweight Feel
A lightweight tool made from quality materials is simply easier to maneuver. This is more of a comfort thing versus a hair protection issue, but the difference is noticeable if you heat style your hair often.
5. Minimal Noise
Look for heat styling tools that minimize noise output, which is a blessing to your ears. Older tools and poor-quality tools are excessively loud, which can actually be damaging to your eardrums and impact hearing quality over time. This is particularly true if you use blow dryers daily and/or if you’re a stylist who’s exposed to the sound all day long. (Wearing noise-canceling earbuds while you work can also help with this.)
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Bonus Hot Tool Perks to Look For:
Not every hot tool will have these features, but they can make your styling experience better.
- Cold air button to cool down hair and set your style
- Automatic turn-off for scenarios where the tool’s accidentally left on
- Dual voltage so you can travel with the tool
- Quic-heating capabilities to save you time
- Interchangeable attachments for varied styling
Stylist-Recommended Hair Tools & Dupes
Now that you’re up to speed on what to look for in hair tools, we’ve got some choice picks to start your search. These all come highly recommended by the hairstylists we interviewed, and some are top-notch dupes for Dyson’s covetable splurges.
If you’ve got a bougee budget to work with, this category is for you. That said, Renegar tells us that top-of-the-line tools are typically meant for stylists. He adds, “Blow dryers are worth the big splurge for reasons like the drying speed, they have the strongest airflow, and are generally easier to handle.”
Pro or not, if you want to get the best of the best, Dyson is synonymous with innovative technology and outstanding results. Its lightweight Supersonic Hair Dryer, $430, and futuristic Airwrap, $600, have made major waves in the industry (pun intended) and are a mainstay in pro-stylist salons.
There are definitely less expensive hair styling tools that get the job done well, so don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune. In fact, a mid-end tool may be best for non-professionals who use hot tools regularly but not all day long. Renegar says that Drybar’s cheery, yellow-hued Buttercup Blow-Dryer, $199, is a second to Dyson’s for half the price. He’s also a big fan of T3 Hair Tools, which boasts exemplary technology and has won multiple beauty awards.
Try the chic AireLuxe Hair Dryer, $200, and the brand’s new Singlepass Curl Professional Curling Iron, $170. The Tineco Moda One Smart Ionic Hair Dryer, $300, is another Dyson dupe. It has the added bonus of smartly detecting when hair is dry or wet (and adjusting on its own!) during your blowout.
If you want to keep spending to a minimum, you’ve definitely still got options. Again, just make sure to do your research and prioritize products with the features outlined above.
“Hot Tools is the OG of tools, is decently priced, and has all the safety precautions you want in a curling iron,” notes Gueldner. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something over $100. She’s also a fan of CHI Haircare hot tools, which was the first brand to implement ion technology. You’ll find products ranging from budget-friendly to mid-tier.
Revlon is another good option that’s hit the market with some quality hair tools, says Renegar. In fact, some of their products even outshine more expensive options. The covetable Revlon One-Step Volumizer, $75, is a perfect example.
+ Have you heard of hair slugging? Trending now, it’s a technique that’s been around for a while and might just do some magic on your strands.