After 14 years of service, my hair dryer finally went kaput. I was so unimpressed by its demise (something went pop and then it died) that I hastily tossed it into the nearest bin which promptly got collected, never to be seen again. This left me without a reference point to purchase a new hair dryer. I remember that I bought it at a drugstore but a trip to CVS and Walgreens did not yield anything. What I've learned at this point is that if you're fortunate enough to have your hair dryer reach its twilight teens, when the time comes to replace it, the model will be extinct.
Allure magazine's Best of Beauty lists the Solano Turbo 3300 Xtralite Dryer as its top pick. The day I develop the patience and the skill to give myself blowouts, I might be persuaded to get it. At this point, it wouldn't be worth the investment.
InStyle magazine gave me two options in their Best Beauty Buys list: the Solano Original Supersolano if I wanted to spend over a hundred bucks or their more budget-friendly pick, the Conair Infiniti Pro AC Motor, a bright orange machine that promises three temperature settings, a cooling button and two attachments. It's supposed to be quiet too, so let's go find it!
Finding the Conair hair dryer above was easy. Everyone seems to carry it. I even found it on Amazon. On the same page was an apple green travel model. I couldn't really tell the difference between the two, apart from the price and the folding handle on the apple green one so I sent my husband out to Target to buy them both for me. My initial assessment had me preferring the apple green over the orange for a number of reasons.
The most important features of my old hair dryer are: it's designed to be a travel dryer, compact, folding and dual voltage. It dries the hair and that's all I need. How I dry my hair: I literally just blow warm air on it until it's mostly dry and occasionally, I straighten out some cowlicks on my hairline with the help of an anti-frizz cream and a round boar-bristle brush. For reference, I have very thick, mostly straight hair. I air-dry whenever possible (this takes a minimum of 4 hours unaided, on a warm day) and heat-style only on special occasions.
The similarities between the orange and the apple green: both have the AC motor, 1875 watts and use ionic technology. The orange one is ionic ceramic, according to the package. The green one only says ionic. They both have a low and a high setting, plus a cold shot button, two attachments and a removable filter that allows you to clean off lint build-up and prolong the life of the motor.
The differences: no matter what InStyle magazine printed about the orange dryer being quiet, I think that it is insanely loud. Seriously, it sounded like it was going to take off when I switched it on. The green dryer isn't as loud but the blast of air isn't as powerful or as hot. Personally, I'm not certain that I want an intensely hot hair dryer. I have this notion that less heat means a little less damage to the hair. Whether this is true or not, I am not entirely sure. I do apply product before blowdrying, even if I won't style the hair. I find that the product protects the hair, keeps frizz at bay and gives the hair a sheen after I've used a hair dryer. The green one dries my hair sufficiently, even without being ridiculously hot.
The green dryer lets you slide the switch to choose between the low and high settings and to turn it on and off. The cool shot button is in the back. The orange dryer has two rocker switches that allow you to choose the heat and airflow settings. The cool shot button is above the two rocker buttons. They are all on the same side. The options are great but I find that when I'm holding the orange hair dryer, my hand accidentally hits the buttons and changes the setting as I'm using it. It could be that I simply prefer slide switches over rocker buttons or maybe this has too many buttons in the wrong place.
Other details worth mentioning: the green handle wobbles ever so slightly sometimes while you're using it. The wobbling happens at the spot where the handle turns for you to fold and unfold it. But I find that the wobble is not a deal-breaker for me and I think the handle is generally sturdy.
The orange dryer is a little bigger and heavier than green one. There is not too much difference in weight when you initially lift it. But it will get heavier the longer you're holding it. Size and weight are definitely a consideration for me. I want the lighter one that occupies less space, especially if I have to pack it in a suitcase.
Both of them come with the diffuser attachment and a concentrator. I did not test the diffuser but the concentrator seems to work fine on both models. As for the claims of up to 50% faster drying time, I can't tell. I know that it dries my hair faster than my old hair dryer which is enough for me.
There are certainly less expensive hair dryers in the market. There are a number of Revlon ones under $15 and a few Conair ones under $20. There are two on clearance at Target right now, the Conair Infiniti Pro Volume Boost and a model by Goody, currently half off and under $20. But my point was not necessarily to get the cheapest hair dryer in the aisle but to find a decent-quality product that conforms to my expectations.
Overall, what made the most impact on me were the noise, the size, the weight and finally, button placement. My decision to go with the green hair dryer was made with very personal considerations, and the fact that what I needed more urgently was a dryer that was also good for travel. I liked the green model so much that I bought two. I have the second one as a back up, in case the first one doesn't make it to the tween years. I really don't want to be out hunting for an obsolete model come 2017.
Interesting to note, they have some holiday-friendly packaging for the new stock of the Conair Infiniti Pro AC Motor Travel Dryer. The new package is in a sleek silver box. You can remove the label by sliding it off and just add a bow. Both the orange and the green hair dryers are currently available at Target and Target.com for $29.99. (Here is the link to the green travel dryer: Conair Twist Handle Dryer - Green. The link to the other dryer and an update is below, after the pictures)