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Published Sep. 10, 2021

Hot air brushes are a total hair maintenance game changer. A blowdryer meets hair brush, hot air brushes use heated plates and bristles to dry and smooth the hair. They can add volume, shine, reduce frizz, and cut down on your hair prep time. We’re all about anything that gets you out the door faster.

While hot air brushes create smooth looks like traditional hair dryers, some hot air brushes can also act as a curling iron or hair straightener, depending on the brush attachments or design. 

With tons of options on the market, choosing the right one for your mane can be tricky. They offer varying brush head thickness, and heat technologies. In order to ensure you make the right choice for your new hot air brush, we’ve looked into the top models so you can make a more informed decision for your hair care.

How we picked the best hot air brushes

We looked at several factors when deciding on which hot air brushes should make our list. First, we looked at the types of paddle attachments each product came with. While some are better for short hair, some are great for adding volume, and so on. The PopSci writers and staff sport a wide variety of hair types and styles all of which require different tools and techniques.

Weight was a factor, as well, because we don’t want to recommend super heavy tools that give you more of an arm workout than great hair. Heat output is crucial, too, because while heat is essential for adding bend or general styling, too much heat can damage your hair and cause further hair problems down the line. Therefore, we consider intelligent heat controls a must for consideration.

We also considered the ion technology on these products. We want to ensure we’re recommending products with the top of the line tech so your hot air brush will work quickly and efficiently, and not cause damage to the hair.

What to Look For in a hot air brush

Know what to look for when selecting your hot air brush, so you can prevent damage and be out the door faster.

Ion technology

Ionic technology produces negatively charged ions to prevent frizz and reduce drying time. These ions work with the positively charged ions in water to counteract any unwanted frizz. It may even allow you to use your hot air brush at a lower temperature, helping to reduce heat damage, which can have a big difference in the long run.

Settings

You’ll want a hot air brush that comes with multiple wind speeds and temperature controls to produce the desired effects. Most advanced options will have two or three heat settings and one or two wind speeds. Bonus if it has a cool shot feature, which hits your hair with a cool breeze at the end of the process to set your style in place and give a finished look.

Weight

A hot air brush that’s too heavy can be uncomfortable to use and cause arm and shoulder pain. Most models weigh roughly a pound on their own, but they can be heavier. Even a small difference can feel large when you’re holding it up to your head.

Barrel Size

The size of the barrel matters when it comes to the type of hair you have, and the desired look you’re going for. A smaller barrel under 1 inch will be best for creating curls, and thicker barrels over two inches in diameter will create more volume and bigger curls.

Best hot air brush overall: Brightup Hair Dryer Brush

One-stop shop

An all-in-one product at a great price. Brightup

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Why it made the cut: With several attachments that can curl, straighten, volumize, and dry, this best hot air brush overall can accomplish a variety of different styling tasks without cluttering up your overcrowded bathroom storage.

Specs:

  • Four interchangeable brush heads
  • Ion tech
  • Three temperature settings
Pros:Cons:
  • 4 interchangeable attachments
  • Attachments could be more secure
  • Affordable
  • Control buttons are sensitive
  • Useful temp controls
  • Consistent heat
  • This 4-in-1 hot air brush does it all, at an excellent price point. It features three temperature options and two wind speed settings for customizable use: low, middle, and high, making it suitable for fine hair all the way to coarse, curly, and thick hair. 

    The smart Ion Technology helps maintain a neutral charge, leaving the hair shaft smooth and frizz-free, while protecting your hair from damage. All you need to do is pop in the right attachment for your desired look (​​54mm brush head for volumizing, straightening or large waves,  42mm for loose curls, 32mm brush head for voluminous curls or small waves, or the simple brush head for quick drying). 

    The bayonet-style attachment system requires just a simple twist to click tools on and off of the handle for quick swaps.

    Best value: John Frieda 1.5 Inch Hot Air Brush

    Affordable air

    High quality for a fair price. John Frieda

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    Why it made the cut: This salon-worthy hot air brush is a premium experience for a great value, suitable for all hair types, and includes a cool shot mode. 

    Specs:

    • 1.5-inch barrel
    • 2 temperatures
    • Cool setting
    Pros:Cons:
  • Affordable
  • Cap at the top gets hot
  • Lightweight
  • Not the best for tighter curls
  • Cool air setting to calm and set hair
  • Ceramic barrel
  • Advanced ionic technology
  • John Frieda is a respected hair brand that consistently delivers on quality products for a good value. This premium 1.5” hot air brush features advanced ionic power with 50% more ions than comparable tools. That leads to shinier, more polished styles. It drastically reduces drying time, and is super simple to use.

    It’s light, weighing in at under a pound for the device on its own. A simple, sturdy switch allows you to select the mode you want and stay there without accidentally switching as you go. 

    It comes with two heat settings, plus a cool setting to set hair. The barrel is coated in a titanium ceramic, and the brush spins easily to create the desired look. The one downside is that the barrel is probably too big for tighter curls, but it is sure to give you that post-salon look if you’re going for more of a wave or straight blow dry.

    Best splurge: Dyson Airwrap Styler Volume and Shape

    Hair investment

    It’s expensive, but it’ll last a lifetime. Dyson

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    Why it made the cut: If money is of no concern to you and your hair, the advanced technology and smart attachments offers you the most premium hot air brush experience.

    Specs:

    • 1.2-inch barrel
    • 3 heat settings
    • Cool shot
    Pros:Cons:
  • Long lasting, premium quality
  • Expensive
  • Versatile thanks to its attachments
  • Heavy
  • Quick drying due to high air speed
  • Temp limiter products from heat damage
  • The Dyson Airwrap styler has intelligent heat control that stays under 300 degrees Fahrenheit with negative ions to reduce static and frizz. It measures air flow temperature up to 40 times every second to make sure the temp stays consistent and safe. 

    It comes with multiple one-click attachments for a versatile experience; the 1.2 inch Airwrap barrels create voluminous curls or waves, the soft smoothing brush is best for that fancy blow dry look, the round volumizing brush is best for fine, thin hair, and the pre-styling dryer is best to go from wet to damp so you can begin styling faster. 

    Plus, this product also features symmetry barrels that move clockwise and anti-clockwise for customizable curl shapes. Dyson has a long history of advanced technology for moving air and it’s very apparent in this polished device.

    Best for curly hair: FAYLISVOW 4-in-1 Blow Hair Dryer Brush

    Curl captain

    This hot air brush can straighten out any curl, quickly and effectively. FAYLISVOW

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    Why it made the cut: While you can use this to add curls and volume, as well, this hot air brush is perfect for working on thick, coarse, and curly hair that can be difficult to manage.

    Specs:

    • Four attachments
    • Three heat options
    • Two wind speeds
    Pros:Cons:
  • Great for curls and thicker hair
  • Not the fastest drying time
  • 4-in-1 for customizable use
  • Portable
  • Curly guys and gals will love this model. It’s a 4-in-1 hot air brush that comes with multiple attachments and settings: the blow dryer, styling brush head, curly brush head, straight hair brush, 2 hair clips and 1 anti-scald glove.

    Nylon bristles on the hair brush attachment help separate knots and tangles without painfully pulling out the hair like some ceramic-coated bristles. 

    Since curly hair needs to retain moisture, you don’t want to completely dry out your hair or blast it with super-hot air. The blow dryer brush has advanced negative ion technology and ceramic coating to protect hair from overheating, keeping your hair strands safe. 

    If you want to dry your hair and then add back curls for a more polished look, simply blow dry and then add the curling attachment to create big, loose curls.

    It’s also easy to take with you on the go. With a detachable design, you can easily pack this in your suitcase and it’s lightweight enough that it won’t be a pain to transport.

    Best for thin hair: INFINITIPRO BY CONAIR Hot Air Brush

    Turn up the volume

    Create volume and bounce with this slimmer model. Conair

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    Why it made the cut: This 1 inch hot air brush creates salon worthy blowouts for fine hair that craves volume. With 50% more ions for shiny, frizz free hair, this hot air brush by Conair controls frizz and creates a sleek look for fine and thin-haired users. 

    Specs: 

    • Two heat options
    • Cool blast
    • 1-inch barrel
    Pros:Cons:
  • Slim for fine hair
  • No attachments
  • Super soft and flexible bristles
  • Not as versatile as other models
  • Great for layers
  • The vents allow for better airflow, while the titanium ceramic barrel gives even heat with less chance for damage. The nylon and ball tipped bristles help to detangle carefully without getting stuck or creating knots. The bristles are soft and flexible, gently working your super fine hair strands so you don’t damage or scratch your scalp. 

    It’s lightweight and has a great “cool finish” feature to set and lock in hair. Tip: use this hot air brush on your roots for a few seconds before continuing on with the rest of your hair for added volume and lift.

    Best hot hair brushes for damaged hair: Drybar Single Shot Round Blow Dryer Brush

    Hair healer

    Protect your hair while getting your desired look. Drybar

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    Why it made the cut: A premium model, this Drybar hot air brush is the top of the line when it comes to heat protection and caring for damaged locks.

    Specs: 

    • Two heat settings
    • Cool setting
    • 2.25-inch barrel
    Pros:Cons:
  • Premium materials
  • No attachments
  • Large brush head for fuller hair
  • Finicky dial replaces buttons
  • Good for short hair and bangs
  • For extra thick hair, only use as a styling tool
  • Multiple bristle types
  • If anyone knows blow drying, it’s the famous blow drying salon Drybar. This premium model will protect damaged, frizzy, and unruly hair with its advanced ionic technology, which helps seal the cuticle before styling. 

    It offers nylon bristles to help clear up any tangles, as well as tufted bristles to add grip. They give the brush enough traction to shape the hair without painfully pulling on it. 

    The vent placement creates a quicker drying time, and the ergonomic, lightweight design makes using this tool comfortable and accessible to all. The oval shape of this model, curved edges, and soft, flexible bristles create volume and bounce without clinging to the hair, preventing even further damage. 

    Before purchasing, note that it’s more meant for blow drying, straightening, or creating big, full waves rather than tighter curls.

    FAQs

    Q: Are heated brushes bad for hair?

    While all heat causes some damage to hair, the trick with heat styling tools is to find smart technology that works with the hair to minimize damage. Look for ionic technology or ceramic tools that protect hair while using heat. Always use a heat protectant spray before applying heat on hair!

    Q: How do you use a hot curling brush on short hair?

    Smaller barrel sizes are ideal for short or fine hair. Look for a 1” barrel to create volume and lift, and focus primarily on the roots when styling.

    Q: How do I choose a hot air brush?

    Isolate a few important factors when choosing a hot air brush: budget, hair type, and desired look. If you know how much you want to spend, you’ll be able to narrow down the products in your price range and go from there. If you have shorter, finer hair, you’ll want a smaller barrel size for more control. If you are going for big, bouncy waves and curls, a thicker barrel of about 2” is better.

    A final thought regarding the best hot air brushes

    Hot air brushes greatly reduce styling time and create fuller, shinier, healthier-looking hair. Look for tools with technology that protects your hair from damage, and come with temperature and speed settings so you can achieve your hair dreams without too much fuss.

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