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Cheap Hair Dryer Buying Guide

Our top pick, the Revlon RV544 (starting at $20) wins raves for noticeably frizz-free results. The runners-up in this category are the Andis RC-2 (starting at $20), which works for travel as well as everyday use, and the Babyliss Pro Ceramix Xtreme BAB2000 (starting at $41), which sits atop our price range but impresses users with its 2,000 watts of power.

The Revlon RV484 (starting at $18) comes with plenty of appealing features as well, but reviews suggest it poses a safety hazard.

Generally hair dryers range in price from around $10 for cheap hair dryers to as much as $300 for high-end models. The difference in price often reflects whether the appliance is meant to be used in salons by professionals or at home by consumers. Consumers have begun demanding professional-quality hair appliances and manufacturers have obliged, leading to an abundance of high-end hair dryers for retail consumption. Professional hair dryers are designed to dry hair faster, do less damage to the hair, and be lightweight so that professionals wield them all day. In addition, professional hair dryers are built to last through many more hours of use, whereas retail hair dryers tend to give out sooner. A former beauty editor writing for Lifetime Moms also points to the time-saving power of expensive models relative to cheap hair dryers.

Features to consider when shopping for any hair dryer include the wattage as well as the heating and drying technology and the heat and speed settings. Cheap hair dryers employ several heating technologies, but ceramic is the best choice because of its ability to heat evenly and avoid overheating the unit or the hair. Drying technologies include ionic and tourmaline. Ionic technology uses negative ions to enable the hair shaft to close in moisture and avoid a dull, static look. Tourmaline technology is said to use more ions when drying the hair for even better results. Of course, the more heat and speed settings (e.g., low, medium, high), the more adjustability you have for precise styling.

Few experts weigh in with reviews of cheap hair dryers, probably because they use the professional-grade models. We based our evaluations of cheap hair dryers' performance primarily on consumer reviews posted online, which weigh in on subjects ranging from frizz control and hair health to durability and ease of use.

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