Our team of volunteer testers – with various different hair types, from dense, tight curls of afro-textured hair to pencil-straight east-Asian hair (type makes a big difference when it comes choosing a good dryer) – put the top brands through their paces, judging how fast they worked, how heavy they felt and most importantly how they made hair feel.
Has the Dyson done for hairdryers what it did for vacuums, or was it blown away by the competition? Here’s how they stack up.
Babyliss 3Q Dryer
Attachments: 1x styling nozzle
Hand weight: 488g
Noise: 89-93dB – the loudest in our test
The Babyliss 3Q promises a lot on the box: faster drying, lighter weight, smooth finish and low noise.
While some of the claims seem a little far-fetched – given it was the loudest in the test, one of the heaviest and one of the most difficult to handle because of its long snout – it got good results for most.
One tester with straight hair said: “It actually did what it said on the box”. Another tester said it left hair soft, shiny and with volume at the roots, which was a theme with most testers.
It only comes with one nozzle, no diffuser and wasn’t anything special for thick curls, leaving them ill-defined and frizzy. And it won’t be much good for those wishing to pack it up and take it to the gym, and cleaning collected fluff out of the back will be a bit of a faff. But if shine and volume past the first couple of hours is what you’re after, the Babyliss delivered for most.
Verdict: best for straight shine, but difficult to handle
Parlux Advance ceramic ionic dryer
Attachments: 2 x nozzles
Hand weight: 420g (380g quoted) - lightest in the test
The Parlux Advance ceramic ionic dryer is powerful and compact. It’s the lightest in the bunch and doesn’t sacrifice power despite being the second smallest, after the Dyson.
Our testers found it had good temperature control, was easy to handle with a short snout, long cord and ergonomic handle, and dried hair fast. The switches felt solid, if a little old-school compared to some others. The grill at the back twists off easily for cleaning.
It was neither the quietest or nor the loudest in our test – still loud enough to block out dialogue from a TV in the room like all the rest.
Lack of a diffuser in the box holds it back for curly hair (it’s a £10 extra), while some straight hair testers found it caused their locks to be a bit dry and coarse, but others said it made their hair shiny and soft with no need for straighteners.
Its compact form and sturdy build made it a good candidate for those that travel the odd time, but don’t want a full-time travel dryer.
Verdict: powerful, compact and easy to handle
Panasonic Nanoe (EH-NA65)
Attachments: 1 styling nozzle, 1 quick-dry nozzle, diffuser
Hand weight: 510g (584g quoted)
Noise: 77-89.5dB – quietest at low power
The Panasonic EH-NA65 – horrible name, better performance – split opinion. It promises to reduce the damage caused by brushing using so-callled nanoe to trap moisture in the hair.
It’s the biggest and heaviest in the group, but also one of the cheapest, and it comes with two nozzles and a diffuser in the box.
Its average-length snout made it more difficult to wield than the Dyson or Parlux, but not quite on the same level as the GHD or Babyliss. Its retro styling in black and pink appealed to some, but it was the power and effectiveness that won it plaudits.
It dried curly hair in about half the time of the others, while preventing frizz leading one tester to say she would “buy this dryer in a heartbeat”.
The results for people with straight hair were less impressive, with one complaining it gave no lift with average drying. Another said it was just fine, but nothing special.
The Panasonic was the quietest at its lowest setting but one of the noisiest at full blast. The filter unclips from the back for easy cleaning.
Verdict: brilliant for curly hair
GHD Aura Professional
Attachments: 1 styling nozzle
Hand weight: 476g (without power adapter)
The GHD Aura Professional promises “ultimate volume and stunning shine”, and is unusual here because it features an external power adapter, shifting the weight out of the handheld.
It had a greater difference between the temperature settings than most others, being almost too hot for some at its highest setting. It was also quieter than some others, sounding almost like a jet engine spooling up and down, and it looks the part, but that’s where the plaudits end.
The testers found it was at least 25% slower to dry hair than competitors, with one with straight hair saying it left hair damp, with no lift in the roots at all, thus labelling it “useless”.
The lack of a diffuser, or even one available that would fit, meant it struggled with curly hair, too. Testers also found it a lot harder than expected to attach and detach the one supplied nozzle, fearing they would break it with amount of force required. The filter unscrews from the back for easy cleaning.
Most described the external power supply as an annoyance rather than a benefit, getting in the way and heavy when travelling.
Verdict: one to avoid
Attachments: 2x styling nozzles, diffuser
Hand weight: 440g (659g quoted)
Noise: 80-85dB – the quietest at full power in our test
The Dyson is the new kid on the block and comes in at double the price of everything else, and with very high expectations.
It looks different, hiding the fan in the handle and having the best weight balance of them all. The attachments are held on magnetically, the buttons are digital, it’s very easy to handle and it looks like a piece of technology rather than the same old hairdryer you’ve had for decades. The filter is easy to twist off and clean, as are the attachments, and without burning yourself if it’s still hot from use.
Without the nozzles on it was powerful enough, relatively quiet and with a more pleasing tone than most, but it still made hearing the TV difficult. When an attachment was added, the Dyson came undone, with the nozzles significantly reducing the power and airflow. One tester described it as the “Lamborghini of hairdryers” because it was all show.
One straight-haired tester said it left hair shiny, with fewer fly away hairs, but flat and overly dry. Another said it made hair feel like “like duckling’s feathers: flat and fluffy rather than sleek and voluminous”.
With the included diffuser one tester said it reduced to a power level “akin to blowing through a drinking straw” making it next to useless.
It looks good on the shelf, cleaning the filter is as easy as unscrewing it from the handle, and works just fine without an attachment, but is that really enough for £300?
Verdict: fancy tech doesn’t make for a good hairdryer