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These four are full of hot air – in the best possible way. Their functionality and design will help make every day a good hair day

Everyday essential | Hair dryers

All blow dryers are not created equal. The ideal model should be speedy, powerful, and comfy to hold, with a long enough cord and attachments that work well with your hair’s texture. In the Beauty Lab, we tested 20 different dryers on dozens of hair swatches to evaluate how fast they dried and whether they left hair shiny and smooth. Then, with feedback from our testers (whose tresses ranged from long to short and from super-curly to pin-straight), we crowned four winners. Here’s the full blow-by-blow…

Best value – Professional lightweight hairdryer ($30)

At just over a pound, the compact Pro Beauty Tools dryer is a featherweight, taming the locks and saving the wrists of grateful testers: Hair “felt silky” and “dried quickly,” they said. A real find at this price

Description: the compact Pro Beauty Tools dryer

the compact Pro Beauty Tools dryer

Quietest – Hot tools whisper quiet salon turbo ionic dryer ($80)

A good pick if noisiness is a pet peeve. In addition to having a hushed motor, Hot Tools smooths hair, though it’s best suited to finer strands (it’s less powerful than our other picks). “Very quiet and very hot, making up for the air-flow,” said one tester.

Description: Quietest – Hot tools whisper quiet salon turbo ionic dryer

Quietest – Hot tools whisper quiet salon turbo ionic dryer

Most comfy – Babyliss pro nano titanium portofino ($140)

Our testers awarded it high marks for hand-held comfort as well as how sleek and healthy it made hair look. “Powerful, and nice heat,” said one. Almost nobody seemed to mid that the dryer, with its six settings, was on the heavier side.

Description: Most comfy – Babyliss pro nano titanium portofino

Most comfy – Babyliss pro nano titanium portofino

Fastest – FHI heat nano weight pro 1900 turbo ($145)

The FHI blew past the competition on drying time. Though pricey, it bested dryers costing more than twice as much. “Light, quiet, and fast,” said testers. While the dryer itself stays temperate, the air it emits on its highest settings can get hot.

Description: Fastest – FHI heat nano weight pro 1900 turbo

Fastest – FHI heat nano weight pro 1900 turbo

Play it safe

Yes, extreme heat locks in the straight look, but it can also damage hair. Always hold a dryer six to eight inches from the scalp during use, and keep the nozzle moving between sections. Unless your hair is very thick or coarse, you may not need the highest heat to achieve your signature style.

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