Quality vs price

When it comes to certain high-end products, are you paying a premium for quality or just brand?
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02.Hair dryers

One of the main differences between bargain-basement and pricey hair dryers is the technology they claim to use, namely ionic and ceramic technology.

Hair dryers fall into two categories – those marketed as simple consumer products with few bells and whistles, and those marketed as professional products, which command a premium price. 

Should you fork out the big bucks, or will your discount department store basic do the trick? One of the main differences between bargain-basement and pricey hair dryers is the technology they claim to use, namely ionic and ceramic technology. 

Tracey Hughes, creative director of Mieka Hairdressing and Hairexpo Award’s Educator of the Year 2012, says ionic hairdryers claim to cut the drying process time in half and to increase the finished shine factor. “The ionic feature is based upon positive and negative charges,” she says. 


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Ceramic technology, on the other hand, “uses a ceramic heating unit that provides better heat regulation. Ceramic dryers can be a little more popular due to the costs being slightly [lower than] ionic dryers”. 

In our trial of hair dryers, the GHD Air, which claims to use ionic technology, dried hair quickest (tying in one case with the cheapest hair dryer on trial). However, while one triallist found the GHD dried her hair in less than half the time of the non-ionic cheapie, the others reported the GHD dried their hair only slightly faster.

CH1112_Worth_H_Remington_ERemington Professional Aero 1800

Price: $19
Power: 1800W

While the Remington was the cheapest hair dryer, three triallists preferred it to the more expensive Vidal Sassoon. However, two of our triallists said it made their hair feel dry, rough and tangled, and a third said her hair looked frizzy after use.

What they said

  • “It was OK for what I assume is a low-end hair dryer. It is much better than the [Vidal Sassoon] I tested first. My hair looks OK, but it is still very inferior to my own hair dryer.” 
  • “It is very ineffective. It is similar to the dryers you find at hotels.”

CH1112_Worth_H_VSSassoon_EVidal Sassoon Studio Tools Expert Turbo Dryer

Price: $45
Power: 2200W

This mid-range dryer from Vidal Sassoon performed surprisingly poorly in our user trial. Three testers rated it as the worst performer of the lot. “To be honest I could not give an explanation as to why [it did so badly],” says Hughes. “Since it does contain the newer technology, I can’t offer a technical reason as to why the performance was poorer.”

What they said

  • “I don’t think I could use this early in the morning when I usually dry my hair as it may wake the neighbours!” 
  • “I couldn’t leave the house with this blow dry. The dryer felt cheap and nasty. It made a tinny sound, was noisy and didn’t work well at all.”

CH1112_Worth_H_GHD_EGHD Air

Price: $199
Power: 2100W

The GHD Air easily surpassed the other dryers in our survey when triallists were asked to give it an overall rating. They all said they would buy the dryer, and were willing to pay top dollar for it. However, although the performance in our survey was impressive, Lili Hopkins, freelance hair stylist and salon owner, believes there are better products out there in the same price category, her pick being a Parlux.

What they said

  • “It was pretty fast considering how thick my hair is, and my hair didn’t feel frizzy after drying.” 
  • “It was hard to tell which setting it was on, as it looks like it’s on the highest when it’s actually on medium. But I like the rubber stoppers on the side so when you put it down it lands gently every time.”
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