Have you ever been so spoiled for choice it made you mad?

It’s a good problem to have…kinda. After all, it means that you have the ability to grab something awesome no matter which way you put your hand out. And sometimes you get the opportunity for multiple choice, like when I buy mango, rum raisin AND green tea Häagen-Dazs. But the “more is more” mentality that I get to apply with frozen treats, multiple plant butters, and infinitesimally different shades of lipstick doesn’t usually fly with more weighty beauty/maintenance items like blowdryers.  It’s not like we’re talking about shoes here—heat styling tools tend to be a ‘one of each’ kind of deal.

A black woman in red heels stands in front of several pairs of black pumps
iStock/Leonard Mc Lane

If you don’t understand how each of these pairs in the background is fundamentally different, it’s okay, we just have different priorities.

We’ve already been past some fairly cool dryer features lately, and that list covers some of the larger criteria for a good dryer I think everyone should consider. However, if you’ve covered those and you’re  still wondering about the little things that could make you take a more definitive side—this one is for you!

Removable intake grilles

Proper cleaning and grooming tools go together like staying hydrated and music festivals—they’re essential to one another. With hair dryers, cleaning attachments is usually easy enough, but there’s also the ventilation system to look at. Your dryer is only going to blow as effectively as its filter is clean. And your curls are going to be feeling the pain if you try to compensate for a thick layer of dust by cranking the temperature to more extremes, or leaving it on your hair for longer periods. It’s not always easy to get into the grille with a q-tip or canned air, which for those of us ‘smarter, not harder’ types is going to mean it’s not getting cleaned. Be honest with yourself, you’re among friends here, and you know who you are.

Try finding a dryer with a removable filter that allows for a quick and painless wipe on the regular, and you’ll be back at maximum efficiency with minimum hair shaft disruption!

Multiple temperature settings

A thermometer reading 30 degrees Farenheit over a snowy town

I like control. The more options one tool can give me to bend it to my will, the more I’ll like it! Settings beyond ‘hot and less hot’ on your hair dryer will give you more of a hand in how your style comes out, and take the guess work out of how high of a temperature is TOO high for what you’re trying to get done. Just remember your heat protectant!

Travel capabilities

Who doesn’t love jetsetting around without the ability to do your hair as you prefer? If you’re a curlista on the go often, it’s not an option. Getting a hair dryer made to fold up and deliver the same power you need without the bulk can be a great suitcase bonus—especially if you’re living that ‘Everything in the carry on’ life.  Retractable cords are also a great travel-friendly feature, since tighter and more frequent cord winding to compensate for space means faster wire insulation breakdown. And more electrical fires…which no one needs.

Travel hair dryers are the only exception to my ‘You should only need one’ standard about electric styling tools—but if you’re a minimalist type, or have limited space, the ability to fold down and reel in is a huge plus, and one of these might be your one and only! Don’t forget your power adapter if you’re going abroad!

Mounting Options

I’ve said this before:  I need to have everything out in the open for me to remember that I have it. If there were a good way for me to keep my socks, stationary, and other personals on open-air shelves, I’d be doing it. Still waiting on the good folks at Pyrex and Whirlpool to collab on a clear refrigerator for me….

Fortunately some hair dryers come with options like built in loops and wall mount units for visible storage! That’ll keep them in sight, in mind, and neatly out of the way! For frequent heatstylers, it also means extra simple access. No need to keep that light under a bushel!


A tiled picture of the same hair dryer in different colors

“But April,” you’re saying. “That’s not really something you should be concerned about, right?”

Um…no? I cannot have form AND function? How could you suggest something so awful!

Melodramatic reactions aside, remember, these are little extras that might push something off your wishlist and into your shopping cart. And if I’ve narrowed my choice between a great gold and wine damask patterned dryer and a great neon coral one with pyramid stud details, I’m going with the former! Of course, dryers that elaborate only exist in my own head or the parts of the internet I’m not rich enough to know about, but the point still stands!  Once all things are considered, if you’re down to the least essential criteria, follow your heart and/or your bathroom color scheme.

What do you think, Curl Community?

Is there anything I missed in this little three-part series? And what’s your most essential dryer feature?

Let me know!

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