Hair dryer Review-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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  1. To dry for
    Thinking about blowing your cash on a ceramic, ionic or tourmaline hair dryer? We get the scoop on the hot new appliances and take six for a spin.

    If you've taken a wander through the blow-dryer aisle lately, you probably saw a handful of words -- like "ceramic," "ionic" and "tourmaline" -- that seemed out of place. Still, these descriptors, particularly that first one, have hairstylists buzzing and consumers happily dropping close to $200 for new ways to dry hair.

    But why?

    The terms are confusing and can be difficult to sort through. "Ceramic" is the most important one to latch on to. Most hair-dryers use metal heating coils. If a package says "ceramic," that means the coil is made of ceramic instead. Check the package carefully because some products will say "ceramic" even if the coil is made of mostly metal and just a bit of ceramic.

    The idea of using ceramic to make heat isn't novel -- it's been used to soothe tired muscles for years. But the substance is relatively new to the beauty industry. It started hair specialists buzzing around 2002 when Farouk Systems, still the leader in the area, released the Turbo Chi Dryer. That model cost $300. Prices have fallen some, but the dryers from the Chi line still cost around $200. Each.

    Why are stylists -- and the rest of us -- willing to pay so much for hot air?

    Patricia Mosier, an instructor with Fort Worth Beauty School, says the new ceramic models work more quickly -- an informal poll of about a half-dozen Fort Worth stylists indicates they work up to 50 percent faster -- and leave hair in better condition than regular drugstore models that use metal heating elements.

    Farouk Shami, founder of Houston-based Farouk Systems, which makes the Chi line, says that ceramic produces a different, moister kind of heat, than metal does: far-infrared heat. If you've ever been to a spa and had a heat-producing red light applied to an achy area, it was likely far-infrared heat.

    This type of wave penetrates hair differently, drying from the outside in and sucking the moisture out of hair more quickly, says Farouk Shami, who worked with NASA scientists to perfect the Chi line.

    "If we dry the hair in half the time, we save the condition of the hair," he says.

    Ceramic heat also produces negative ions -- Shami says, which smooth the cuticle and soften the hair. Essentially, the negative ions produced by the ceramic heat break up water molecules into fine particles so that some of the particles stay behind and hydrate hair. This also eliminates frizz and adds shine. It's more or less the same process as adding a fabric softener to the washing machine, he says.

    Some ceramic blow-dryers carry the label "ceramic ionic," which is a bit confusing because it's redundant. All ceramic heat will produce those ions.

    Other new watchwords on blow-dryer labels are "tourmaline" and "diamond." Shami explains that manufacturers are combining these gemstones with ceramics in an attempt to make more negative ions. But it's important to remember that they work in conjunction with -- not separately from -- the ceramic heating coil. Adding tourmaline to a metal heating coil won't get you anywhere, he says.

    Overall, experts say, ceramic dryers add up to far less heat damage, both because of faster drying times and because the hair reacts differently to heat made by a ceramic coil than it does to heat produced by a metal coil.

    But do they work well enough to justify the price?

    Hairstylist Josh Kinney, who owns Shampoo salon in Fort Worth, says absolutely. Kinney, who says his cut and color are his professional strengths, wasn't crazy about the styling portion of the appointment before he discovered ceramic dryers.

    "I've ditched all the old dryers," he says. "I'm able to take frizzy, long hair and get it really smoother faster than ever."

    Ceramics that make the cut

    Does ceramic technology really make a difference? Yes, for this tester. We managed to trim an average blow-dry time down by about 4 minutes. After weeks of ceramic drying, our long, wavy hair stayed soft and shiny. Here are details on six different dryers:

    Jewel Tools Tourmaline Ionic Dryer by Helen of Troy

    Pros: This semi-professional dryer dried quickly and evenly and left hair soft and smooth all day.

    Cons: Keeping long hair from getting yanked out by the motor was difficult, and it didn't completely get rid of moderate waves on its own.

    Price: $46.99

    Where to get it: Sally's Beauty Supply

    CHI Nano Ceramic Hair-Dryer Blue Edition by Farouk

    Pros: This line is the Cadillac of hair-dryers. They're lightweight, powerful and leave hair surprisingly smooth, soft and shiny, even if it's naturally curly. It's also quiet. Hair feels better-conditioned after using this dryer than when left to dry naturally.

    Cons: They're expensive and have to be bought from either a stylist or online.

    Price: Varies, but usually about $200.

    Where to get it: Shampoo salon owner Josh Kinney usually keeps several in stock and sells them to customers at cost. Shampoo is at 5316 Birchman Ave. in Fort Worth.

    Ceramic Silver Chrome Ionic Professional 1875 by Andis

    Pros: It's sleek and comfortable and worked well.

    Cons: They're still considerably more expensive than drugstore models, and the high-pitched noise they make might annoy some.

    Price: $59

    Where to get it: Various beauty Web sites. The price we listed is from Ionic Hair Dryers, Ceramic Hair Straighteners, Flat Irons, Solano Sapphire, Super Solano and Dual Voltage Styling Tools.

    Infiniti Hair Designer by Conair

    Pros: The attachment straightens wavy hair fairly well, but not as well as a traditional blowout or a straightening iron. Hair stays smooth all day, even without de-frizzing product. The grate-like back kept the dryer from "eating" long hair.

    Cons: Hair has to be combed exceptionally well or that attachment snags. Painfully. The attachment can also snag if gel or texturizer is worked into hair.

    Price: $64.99

    Where to get it: Bed Bath & Beyond; Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target

    Nano Silver Ceramic Ionic Dryer by Jilbere de Paris

    Pros: This model was powerful and fast and gave hair sleekness and body. Also, nano-silver technology is supposed to kill bacteria.

    Cons: The high-intensity blast added both body and tangles.

    Price: $56.99

    Where to get it: Sally's Beauty Supply

    Logo Nano Silver Ceramic Heat by Cricket

    Pros: Hair kept more body than with other dryers.

    Cons: The odd shape makes the Logo feel uncomfortable in your hands. It also didn't get rid of waves completely or dry quickly or evenly. The red light to indicate infrared technology was annoying.

    Price: $46.99

    Where to get it: Sally's Beauty Supply

    In the Know

    Beyond ceramic

    Tourmaline and nano-silver dryers

    Along with "ceramic ionic" technology, many dryers also emphasize the use of gemstones, particularly tourmaline, an inexpensive gemstone that comes in a variety of colors. Farouk Shami, founder of Houston-based Farouk Systems, one of the pioneers of using ceramic heat in the beauty industry, says manufacturers add gemstones in an attempt to generate more negative ions. He says that customers shouldn't be too concerned with making sure their hair-dryer has tourmaline or another gemstone in it.

    "The ceramic is really the important part," he says.

    Manufacturers, including Farouk Systems, are also experimenting with nano-silver -- small particles of silver -- technology, which is supposed to help eliminate bacteria. Some hospitals, for example, coat instruments in nano-silver to fight off infection.

    Star-Telegram | 02/21/2007 | To dry for
  2. Thanks for posting!! I'm actually looking for a new hair dryer.