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For many of us, hair care is a major investment of both time and money. Whether that involves a color appointment every six weeks, a chop every few months or simply spending 30 minutes each day drying and styling hair to perfection, the fact is we put a lot of time and energy into having as many good hair days as possible (and rightfully so, since studies show they can help boost self esteem). To maximize efficiency and results, it’s a great idea to reach for the best hair styling tools.
“Quality really shows up in the heat technology and surface materials of hot tools,” says Nikki Lee, celebrity hairstylist and founder of LA’s buzzy Nine Zero One salon. “Most high-quality heat tools will have the newest technology as far as heat regulation, reducing the recovery period on the temperature, which affects the overall performance because you get less heat damage.”
Even if you’re not a heat tool devotee, it’s still crucial to consider the way that other hair tools and accessories affect the overall quality and health of your hair.
“Quality matters with non-heat tools, like brushes and microfiber accessories, because it really can help reduce breakage,” explains Lee, adding that microfiber can be “rough” if it’s not well-made. On the other hand, high-quality brushes are specifically designed to protect hair while it’s wet and fragile.
The good news is the list of hairstyling tools to help you master any style is seemingly endless.
The Different Types of Hair Styling Tools
Hot tools: This category includes hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons and hair brush dryers — basically any tool that harnesses heat or temperature to control and style hair. “Heat on hair is one of the most important things to factor in when considering hair health,” says celeb stylist Laura Polko, who adds that applying a restorative hair mask once a week helps, but definitely doesn’t heal. “Many people think that using a hair mask frequently will minimize any damage caused by using a bad blow dryer or hot tool. Investing in good hair tools is always worth it to ensure hair maintains its health inside and out.”
With any hot tool you use, Larry Sims, celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union, recommends using a heat protectant like Flawless by Gabrielle Union heat protection spray to help prevent damage. “Avoid applying heat to the hair every day and don’t overheat your tool,” he says. “Maintain moisture in the hair by applying some oil drops.”
Hair towels + brushes: Non-heat tools often aren’t given enough consideration, but they’re essential to laying a healthy foundation for hair to be its best self. “A lot of things go into creating frizz,” explains Britney Williams, Bumble and Bumble’s West coast manager of education. “These can include the kind of towel you’re using, whether or not you wrap you hair in a towel and the kind of bristles found in your hairbrush,” she says.
The type of fabric you use to dry your hair is crucial in the first step of the styling process. “If someone is looking to air dry, I always recommend a microfiber towel to remove as much moisture as possible without roughing up the cuticle,” says IGK Hair Care founder and stylist Chase Kusero. And just like hot tools, there are plenty of varieties to choose from to fit your lifestyle.
Accessories: Consider this category to be a catch-all for everything else, like silk pillowcases, hair ties or clips that you use to style or maintain your hair. “I always ask clients what products they use to prolong the health of their hair and really nourish it, without having to over-style or over-product tresses,” says Williams.
Ready to toss out the old and welcome in the best hair styling tools? Read on to shop these professional-recommended pieces to keep strands silky and healthy.
Ga.Ma Italy Professional IQ Perfetto
Best Hair Dryer for Taming Frizz
“A good blow dryer is all about the nozzle for me,” says Williams. “When you have a nozzle on your blow dryer, it directs the hair and really helps keep the shine high and the frizz down.” Featuring a hyper-focused, pinpointed nozzle and active oxygen technology, this hair dryer is the hype for people who crave ultra-glossy locks.
Croc Master Infrared Flat Iron
Best Flat Iron
One thing you definitely don’t want in a flat iron is having to repeat the process over the same set of strands several times, which basically invites damage and dryness into your life for no good reason. Sims recommends this top-of-the-line option, which features anti-stick, anti-static plates that only require one pass to achieve pin-straight locks, as well as patented infrared technology to seal the cuticle, lock in moisture and add shine. It’s perfect for all hair types and is easy to use too, as it features an ergonomic design.
Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush
Best Hair Dryer Brush
“There’s not really a hot tool that can affect the amount of oil your scalp produces,” cautions Lee, before adding that there are styling tricks that can help, like thoroughly brushing your hair in the morning to help distribute the oil from the scalp to the ends. “Our favorite tool for touching up second-day styles are blow dry brushes,” she says. “They’re a quick and easy way to freshen up face-framing layers, smooth out your ends or add a little volume to the root.”
Dyson Air Wrap
Best Hair Styling Tool Kit
“Investing in quality products and hot tools is a great way to prevent breakage, which is usually caused by heat damage,” says Rusk Hair global creative director Matt Swinney. He recommends starting with a great hair dryer and brush, both of which can be found in the Dyson Air Wrap set, to achieve a beautiful blow out. Swinney loves the Dyson tool, as it can create multiple styles and is designed to be user-friendly. (Bonus: you can also nab it in a cool, new limited-edition colorway.)
Drybar The Wrap Party Styling Wand
Best Curling Iron for Beginners
Those new to hairstyling may have a hard time maneuvering a traditional curling iron on both sides, which can lead to a “disjointed” style. For that reason, Polko recommends any novice use a clampless curling wand instead. “It’s easier to use a wand and direct hair away from the face to achieve a cohesive look,” she says.
Mason Pearson Brush
Best Hair Brush
“I’m a Mason Pearson girl, through and through,” says Williams of her devotion to the cult-classic hair brush. “I’m also a big proponent of brushing your hair before you get in the shower, so you’re not going to have to detangle as much when you get out.” This is an especially important step for curly-haired folk, because when you brush your hair post-shower, “you’re disrupting your natural curl pattern,” which leads to flatter hair. Instead, Williams says to “brush, shampoo, condition, get out and use your fingers as your tool to break through any tangles.”
Scünci No Damage Hair Elastics
Best Hair Ties
These puppies are a classic for a reason. Don’t be fooled by their gentle fabric — it’s wrapped around a strong and sturdy elastic for all-day, everyday use. “You want to use softer fabrics, since rubber, metal or anything along those lines are not soft on the hair and can pull and cause breakage,” she says.
T3 Twirl Trio Interchangeable Clip Curling Iron Set
Best Hair Styling Tools for Waves
“T3’s Convertible Collection is great for styling waves because it offers multiple barrel options that can be utilized based on your desired end result,” Polko says. As a rule of thumb, smaller barrels work best for shorter strands, while medium and larger barrels are best for longer hair. “I like to use the large barrels in the back and the smaller barrel in the front, so curls near the face don’t fall too fast.”
Red by Kiss Mini-RED Flat Iron
Best Travel Flat Iron
Sims is constantly on the move, and his go-to styling tool is the Mini Red. “This tool has a long, thin tip and is super skinny,” he says. “It does the trick on all the hard-to-reach areas — like the nap, edges and behind the ear — without any burns or harm to the scalp. No more clients jumping in the chair!”
Aquis Waffle Luxe Hair Turban
Best Hair Turban
“Using a towel turban straight out of the shower helps dry hair quickly while keeping moisture in,” Swinney says. And this option from Aquis is specifically engineered to wick water out of hair five times faster than cotton, cutting down drying time by 50%. The result? More manageable, healthy hair, less frizz and added shine.
Turbo Power Twin Hair Dryer
Best Hair Dryer for Bangs
“I think bangs, no matter what type of hair you have, are the most high maintenance thing,” Williams says. “And chances are, you’re going to have to use some sort of heat tool, mostly because it’s very rare for people to not have any type of cowlicks,” she adds. Her strategy is to blow dry bangs with the nozzle focused to the left, then letting go and repeating on the right side to “help take out any weirdness around the hairline,” she says. Try the technique with this Turbo Power hair dryer, which offers a powerful airflow and features patented ionic technology to accelerate drying time while locking in moisture for high-shine.
Harry Josh Pro Dryer 2000
Best Hair Dryer for Fine Hair
People with fine or thin hair ought to use extra caution with heat tools, according to Lee. “Fine hair typically has fewer cuticle layers and is more prone to damage with a higher heat setting,” she says. “Anyone can use any hot tool as long as the heat setting is regulated to 315 degrees or lower, [like in this Harry Josh Pro dryer]. But our best recommendation for someone with fine or thin hair is to spend time on a really great blowout and use hot tools sparingly.”
Beachwaver Pro 1
Best Curling Iron for Coarse Hair
People with coarse hair have a bit more freedom when it comes to choosing styling tools, as their strands can withstand higher heat temperatures. “Coarser, thicker hair is more resistant and needs a bit more power,” says Kusero. Enter: The Beachwaver. Invented by celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, this curling iron self-rotates in both directions — making it ridiculously easy to achieve frizz-free waves or curls or tame thick, unruly hair.
Slip Silk Pillowcase
Best Hair Styling Tool to Use While You Sleep
“I’m a huge fan of putting your hair to work at night with a good nighttime routine,” says Covet & Mane founder Dafina Smith. “This avoids putting daily heat on your hair and allowing for the hair to settle into a consistent style. It also removes friction during sleep.” Styling hair brilliantly is hard work, and now the trick is to just protect and maintain so you can squeeze as many days out of each style as you can.
L’ange Le Volume 60MM 2-in-1 Volumizing Brush Dryer
Best Hair Dryer Brush for Creating Volume
There’s more than one road to get to straight hair, and Williams’ favorite for a voluminous, bouncy blowout is L’ange’s heat brush. “I love this heat brush for straightening hair because it keeps a lot of volume in tresses,” she says. “It’s great if you just need a little extra smoothing or your mane just isn’t looking as ‘finished’ as you want.” She starts at the nape of the neck, working her way up, which enables her to strategically brush the hair to “get lift at the root while polishing the rest of the strand,” she says. “It gives you a nice shine, like a flat iron, without having to clamp down two metal plates on your hair.”
Ghd Helios 1875W Advanced Professional Hair Dryer
Best Hair Dryer for Natural Hair
“For Afro-textured and Black hair, we want to prevent and avoid damage as much as possible,” says Sims, who mentions this dryer is excellent for smoothing hair. It’s also light to hold and has a super speedy motor that cuts down on drying time. “I get sleek, shiny results, while the the sound is low and the dryer is easy to use,” he says. (This one is also one of the best alternatives to the popular Dyson hair dryer for nearly any hair type.)
Pattern By Tracee Ellis Ross Hair Clip
Best Hair Clip
“Jaw clips are absolutely the most popular hairstyle trend I’m seeing for fall and beyond,” Polko says. “They’re great on all hair types, and even make the best hair styling tools for short hair with a half up, half down style. You can also style them with hair worn down and the front pieces out, or with all hair slicked back — the styling opportunities are endless.” Another plus? Not only does it look chic, but securing strands in a clip can prevent them from snagging on sweaters — which “can matte up hair,” Polko says.