Good investment or hot air? We put pricey dryers to test
Would you be willing to blow the budget on a swish blower? Katie Wright looks at two new products
When it comes to hair dryers, it's obvious when you've got a dud on your hands.
Take those unwieldy white plastic things you find in hotel bathrooms that have one pitifully weak setting and leave your hair a frizzy mess.
Clearly, you need something a lot more powerful to deliver a decent DIY blow-dry, but beyond a certain price level, how can you tell whether it's worth splashing your cash on a high-tech tool?
Are premium hair dryers a sound investment or a load of hot air? We swapped our regular devices for two much-hyped new launches in a bid to find out...
Gemma Dunn tried the Alfa Italia superleggero pro salon hair dryer
"For some time now, I've been looking to upgrade my run-of-the-mill Tresemme hair dryer. While there's no denying it's served me well, I've long fancied myself something a little more, well, fancy. A little more premium. Yet perhaps not quite as budget-busting as the £300 Dyson Supersonic.
"Enter the Alfa Italia Superleggero - a pro-salon alternative that comes up trumps at half the cost. Dubbed the brand's 'powerhouse' edition, it's not only driven by an impressive 2500w motor with multiple heat and speed settings; it also comes complete with a unique self-cleaning system, which automatically ejects hair and other unwanted bits of debris.
"Putting it to work, I can confirm its carefully crafted handle makes for a more comfortable hold than my last one - plus, the super lightweight build means it's that easy enough to manoeuvre into position as needed.
"Just be careful not to burn your scalp if you're testing out the highest setting, as it really does get hot. You have been warned.
"As for its effectiveness, it goes without saying its drying time is far quicker than that of my usual dryer and, more importantly, it drastically reduced my frizz and flyaways to give a smooth salon-style finish. So much so, in fact, that for the first time in ages, I didn't need to reach for my straighteners. And less heat to my long-suffering tresses is always a plus in my book.
"But one of my all-time favourite features - and it deserves a mention here - has to be the Superleggero's uber-polite approach to noise. Leading a quiet revolution, this all-rounder (unlike many of its raucous counterparts) has developed a silencer to reduce motor noise, meaning a much gentler start to the day for all. Win, win."
Lauren Taylor tried the Panasonic EH-NA98 nanoe and double mineral advanced hair dryer
"I must admit I was sceptical about expensive hair dryers - how many ways are there to blow out hot air? The new Panasonic promises so much too - quick drying, reduced hair damage and split ends, improved shine and no static.
"Apparently, it's all down to nano-sized 'mineral ions' -small water particles directed back into your hair as it dries - and 'intelligent temperature control', which calculates the surrounding temperature and adjusts itself when necessary.
"My usual hair dryer is basic, old and it's always felt as if I'm doing damage to my hair every time I use it. This high-tech one looks far more stylish on my dresser, and for all its technical-sounding capabilities, it's really easy to use.
"With five temperature modes and three power levels, you can tailor the level to whatever suits your hair type, but even the hottest setting wasn't too hot and I was still able to dry mine more quickly than usual.
"The instructions say to change to the variable setting when hair is 90% dry, so I do (it switches between hot and cooler air every few seconds), and not only is it much more pleasant to use in the summer, but the changing temperature seems to give the top layer of my hair extra shine.
"There's also a 50C 'scalp' mode which feels far more comfortable on my roots, a cold mode for a quick 'setting' blast at the end and a 'skin' mode for a moisture blast on your face afterwards.
"The overall effect is that my hair doesn't feel dried out. It looks far sleeker, straight but still with plenty of body, more conditioned and nourished and with less flyaways. My partner said I looked like I'd just stepped out of the salon and I almost feel like it too.
"Over time, lots of users report an improvement in split ends, so only time will tell, but I can safely say my old hair dryer is going straight in the bin to be replaced by this brilliant high-tech beauty."