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How we test hair dryers

Here's how we put hair dryers through their paces to give you useful results.

young woman drying hair with hair dryer
Last updated: 29 May 2018


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

A good hair dryer will leave you with healthy, soft, smooth and shiny hair, while a less than desirable product will leave your hair feeling dry, frizzy and lifeless. Whether you buy one from a department store or salon supplier, many come with features that promise a professional result, but can they deliver the goods?

We put each hair dryer through performance testing in our CHOICE labs as well as a user trial to give you an idea of how easy they are to use. Read on to find out how we put them to the test.

Our expert testers

With 15 years of testing experience, our expert tester has an eagle eye for a product's technical performance. He tests a wide range of products in the CHOICE labs, from cots and strollers to TVs and cordless phones. He also sits on several Australian Standards committees. 

How we choose what we test

With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one hair dryer to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market, and what you are most likely to find at retailers.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models. We also check market sales information, and we consider member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure the product tested is the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.

How we test


We test the performance of hair dryers in our in-house lab by assessing:

  • Drying rate we measure how quickly each hair dryer will dry your hair. To do this we moisten a cloth and measure the drying time with the hair dryer placed 15cm away from the cloth. We measure how fast it dries on the lowest and highest heat and air speed settings, and then average these.
  • Airflow speed we measure the range of airflow speeds at the lowest and highest settings, 15cm from the front of the air outlet. A good range of airflow speed is useful for styling. 
  • Temperature range we measure the range of temperatures at the lowest and highest settings, 15cm from the front of the air outlet. If all you're interested in is a quick blast to dry your hair, then you'll want a hair dryer that excels in the drying rate test. But it's preferable that a hair dryer offers the best of both worlds, for the times you want to use gentle heat and slowly style your hair. So a range of temperatures and airflow speeds is also valued. 

Ease of use

To get an idea of how easy hair dryers are to use, we recruit CHOICE staff members and conduct a user trial. In this year's trial, each person used a selection of hair dryers and answered a range of questions relating to ease of use. This formed the basis of our ease of use score, which takes into account how comfortable the hair dryer is to hold, how easy the markings are to read and understand, how easy it is to operate the air speed and temperature functions and how easy it is to use for styling. 

Test criteria explained

Overall score

The overall score is made up of performance (50%) and ease of use (50%).

The performance score is made up of:

  • Drying rate (60%)
  • Airflow speed (20%)
  • Temperature range (20%)

Ease of use is made up of:

  • How comfortable it is to hold (25%)
  • How easy the markings on the hair dryer are to read and understand (25%)
  • How easy is it to operate the air speed and temperature controls while using the hair dryer (25%)
  • How well you can style your hair with the hair dryer (25%)

Our test lab

Our test laboratory is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.