The hair dryer: If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
In fact, since the first handheld, portable hair dryer was invented in 1920, not all that much has changed with the styling staple’s design. Which is surprising considering that even the simple eyelash curler has gotten update.
Cue Dyson: The no-suction vacuum brand (that also turned your apartment living room fan into a work of art) recently announced that its team of engineering geniuses had come up with a design breakthrough. The Dyson Supersonic is quieter, sleeker, and redesigned to look nothing like the blow dryer sitting by your bathroom sink (thanks to the motor, which is smaller and moved to the shaft)—oh, and it also costs a whopping $400.
The innovation is definitely an exciting and groundbreaking advance, but is it really worthy the equivalent of a two-month ClassPass membership? During a recent meeting with the PR rep, we were given 15 minutes to poke, prod, play with the settings, and give the fancy new dryer—which doesn’t officially come out until September 2016, so we were working with a prototype—a go on my (admittedly not-very-wet) tresses to find out.
Originally posted May 16, 2016. Updated June 16, 2017.
Scroll down to see our observations on the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer.
One of the most innovative aspects of the Supersonic is the motor—a patented digital motor V9 for the tech types out there. Similar to what you’ll hear in those Dyson vacuum commercials, it is Dyson’s smallest, lightest, and most advanced digital motor (and what they believe to be the smallest and lightest used in a hair dryer, period). The motor is about the size of an acorn and, unlike your average dryer that has its motor up closer towards the nozzle, this one sits in the handheld part of the dryer. Which means that OMG-my-arms-are-so-tired-I-can-barely-hold-this-up-straight feeling you get with your old Conair? Gone.
Traditional hair dryers can sometimes have a weak airflow (a grooming frustration second only to low water pressure), which translates to a slower dry time—and many assume that if there is a strong airflow, it means that dryer is way more efficient. Dyson’s engineers, however, literally spent years and millions of dollars on research to determine the ideal gust (one that’s both controlled and efficient in drying hair). What they realized? A slightly weaker airflow—but one that’s controlled—is actually way more efficient when it comes to drying hair. Which might seem counterintuitive if you’re used to big gusts of dry air in your face.
Another major selling point, according to Dyson? THE FACT THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO SCREAM TO BE HEARD OVER YOUR BLOW DRYER. In reality, while the Supersonic is by no means silent, it is quieter than traditional dryers. I equate it to how a normal hair dryer sounds through a closed door—meaning the sound difference is definitely noticeable. If you live in a studio apartment with your boyfriend who sleeps in every day, this might make a difference.
As the PR rep who kept a watchful eye over the sample explained, the Supersonic has intelligent heat control—meaning it doesn’t go over 212 degrees Fahrenheit—which prevents hair damage. If you want something a little less intense, you can go to 176 degrees Fahrenheit for regular drying and down to 82 degrees Fahrenheit for a cold blast. No one from Team Well+Good wanted to put this 212-degree feature to the test, however. (We couldn’t risk singeing our eyebrows in the name of journalism.)
Attachments & Extras
The Dyson hair dryer includes three attachments: a styling concentrator, a smoothing nozzle, and a diffuser. Sounds pretty standard, right? Except in the case of the Supersonic, they’re all heat-proof and magnetically attached to the body, meaning no fussing around trying to get each piece to click into place. Also, the dryer is just as powerful without an attachment—and going sans nozzle makes it feel way more compact, which allows it to serve double duty as your luggage-friendly travel option.
The feature that I find most exciting, however, is the rubber mat that comes with each Supersonic. Why in the world would you need one? If you too have ever watched your hair dryer slip off the bathroom counter and land with a thud on the floor below, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind that comes with it (especially when you’ve just shelled out $400).
“Not worth the money—right now. As someone who doesn’t blow-dry her hair regularly, I think that’s a little too much to spend on a hair dryer. The sleek design and quieter sound are cool, but I’d hold out until something truly groundbreaking comes out—or the price drops.” —Katie Maguire, Assistant Editor
“The weight in the handle—and not the head—is a big deal for ergonomics and keeps my weight training regimen separate from my grooming practices. Plus, the short nozzle is appealing in a dryer that’s this fast—usually you sacrifice power for a smaller nozzle and dryer. But can they invent a cordless version please? That would be a truly huge innovation.” —Melisse Gelula, Co-Founder and Editorial Director
“While it was pretty lightweight and gym-bag friendly, it wasn’t as quiet as I thought it would be. But if it were more comparable in price to my usual blower—around $120—I would definitely buy it.” —Sarah Sarway, Senior Social Media Associate
“At $400, it’s a big investment, but if you live with a light sleeper, I’m sure they’d appreciate it. Hey, maybe they’d even pay for half!” —Erin Hanafy, Senior Editor, Articles & Special Projects