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Home / Hair Styling Tools / How to Choose a Hot Air Brush

How to Choose a Hot Air Brush

How to Choose a Hot Air BrushAh, right, they all look the same from a distance! But you should come closer to see that none of them looks like the other. Each serves different needs.

Some come with longer bristles, while others have shorter ones. These bristles can be dense or wide-spaced, and they can be flexible or tough.

You’ll also find different barrel shapes, from oval to round, and these barrels differ in sizes from 1.5″ to 3″.

With so many options on the market, finding the right one can be confusing.

But don’t worry! We’ve done the research and testing to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re after volume, smoothing, or adding movement, we’ll help you find the best hot air brush for your needs. So let’s dive in and find the perfect one to elevate your hair game!

Hot Air Brush Buying Advice:

1. Shape

It can be confusing when it comes to selecting the right-shaped hot air brush, as there are many different options available. And honestly, it’s the most important part of the decision.

Different hot air brush shapes have different purposes. While some are best for detangling and fast drying, others are great for boosting volume and straightening. So, it’s crucial to be aware of your hair type and styling needs to make the right decision.

But don’t worry, with the right guidance we will get you there easily. In this section, you’ll find detailed information about oval, round, and paddle-shaped hot air brushes.

  • Round Brushes

    Best For: Medium to thick, wavy or curly hair
    Suitable For: Creating waves, straightening

    Round brushes are best if you’re looking to add more body and shape to your hair. The design allows you to get closer to the roots to add volume with ease.

    They can really stretch and straighten curly hair. The fully circular shape allows them to spin more easily and curl the hair as well.

    They are great for short to medium-length and wavy or curly hair.

    Drybar Single and Half Shot are great examples of round brushes. The Single Shot is perfect for medium to long hair with its larger barrel, while The Half Shot creates perfect results in short haircuts like bobs and pixie cuts.

    If you have fine to normal hair, you should go for an oval brush because round shape creates too much tension and pull on the hair that can cause damage.

  • Oval Brushes

    Best For: Curly or wavy, fine to thick hair
    Suitable For: Volume boost, smoothing hair

    Oval brushes are best for maximizing volume.

    This is the most popular type and most of the hot air brushes on our list have an oval shape. This is because oval brushes dry hair evenly and faster in a more gentle way compared to round brushes. They can be used on most hair textures.

    They are very similar to round brushes but they’re wider in shape. The narrow ends of the oval brush grab the hair, lift at the scalp, and create volume better than a round brush.

    Its larger surface area stretches hair easier and straightens curly hair without pulling out like a round brush does. This makes them a safer option for fine and damaged hair. However, they’re not great at curling.

  • Paddle Brushes

    Best For: Long and thick hair
    Suitable For: Detangling and drying hair quickly

    Paddle brushes are best for creating straight styles and detangling. Their wide and flat surface is much larger compared to other brush types. This allows them to cover more surface at one go and dry the hair much faster than other brushes. Paddle brushes are superior at detangling knots without tugging the hair.

    These qualities make them particularly good for long and thick hair. They also tend to be much gentler on the hair than round brushes which allows them to brush curly hair without breaking the curls.
    Conair All-in-One Dryer Brush will suit your needs perfectly if smoothing out your hair while speeding up the drying process is your priority. Even though they are fast and convenient for straightening, they aren’t the best for adding volume or waves due to their flat shape.

  • Interchangeable Brush Heads:

    Some detachable hot air brushes come with additional attachments or allow you to buy different attachments separately. This option is highly convenient if you’re looking for styling flexibility, as it allows you to create many different hairstyles without having to spend money on different tools. And as these attachments don’t take much space to store, you can keep several on hand without worrying about crowding. They are also ideal and convenient for traveling.

    While Hot Tools One Step, Hot Tools Black Gold One-Step, and Hot Tools One-Step V2 have several different brush heads that you can buy separately, Infiniti Pro Conair The Knot Dr. and CHI Volumizer 4-in-1 take things to the next level with different attachments for versatile styling options. InfinitiPro also allows you to purchase different heads separately, giving you the luxury to gather exactly what you need for your session.

    But, it’s important to note that the detachable attachments bring the risk of becoming loose over time due to forceful or careless use.

2. Barrel Size

Let’s assume you decided on a round or oval brush rather than a paddle brush. The next important decision waiting for you is the diameter of the brush. Your choice should depend on two things; the length of your hair and the hairstyle you’re aiming for.

  • The first rule is; the bigger the brush you use, the more volume you’ll create. Larger barrels are also ideal for creating loose, large waves and curving the hair ends. However, if you are looking for defined curls, go for a smaller barrel.
  • The second rule goes; the shorter your hair, the smaller the diameter you need. A smaller barrel can grab the hair closer to the roots and create more root lift on shorter hair. Larger barrels, on the other hand, can cover more hair at one go, making them convenient for longer styles. So, if you’re aiming for straightening, base the barrel size on the length of your hair.

Brushes with 1″ to 1 ½” diameter barrel size should be your go-to if you’re styling pixie cuts and bobs. Drybar The Half Shot is one of a kind with the smallest barrel size in the market, at ONLY 1,5″.
On the other hand, a large-barreled brush in the 2″ to 3″ range is much better if your hair is below the shoulders. The Knot Dr. has the largest available size with its 3″ diameter barrel.

  • 1″: Tight curls-short hair
  • 1,5″: Relaxed curls-short to mid length hair
  • 2-3″: Straighter style with more volume – longer hair

3. Bristles

Once you’ve determined the right size brush for your hair, it’s time to consider bristles.

Hot air brush bristles are always nylon. If you are looking for natural bristles, unfortunately, you’re in for some bad news. The manufacturers don’t prefer to use boar bristles on hot air brushes because boar doesn’t hold heat like nylon.

There are two different bristles on hot air brushes; ball tip bristles (nylon pin) and short bristles (tufted).

  • The denser the tufted bristles, the more tension it will create and stretch the hair.
  • The longer the nylon pin bristles, the easier it can penetrate the hair.
  • Flexible bristles are gentler on the hair, they make detangling easier.

Always choose wide-spaced bristles for detangling and denser bristles for styling.

  • Best type of bristles for thick hair If you have long or thick hair, firmer bristles should be your choice.
    Thick hair is difficult to manage and control. Bristles should be tough enough to penetrate thick hair to detangle without harsh pulling. They also need to create enough tension to stretch your hair to smooth out curl and frizz while giving it more volume and lift at the roots.
  • Best type of bristles for fine hair Softer, flexible bristles are a good choice for people with fine, thinning, damaged, or aging hair that is constantly knotty.
    Bristles should gently grip hair and apply the right amount of tension needed to style and detangle.
    But, they also need to bend and flex through hair to prevent pulling and snagging – so you don’t have to worry about damage.

4. Wattage

Don’t forget to pay attention to wattage. It is not the high heat temp that dries hair quickly but the wattage that powers the hot air brush.

Simply, the higher the wattage, the faster the blow-dry.

Ideally, a hot air brush should be between 900 and 1200 watts. This is enough power to dry the hair without damaging it.

Wattage is particularly crucial in case you have thick, coarse, or long hair. You can cut down on drying time with a more powerful hot air brush. A higher wattage also means you’ll avoid excessive heat exposure.

5. Heat Settings:

Wattage is the measure of a hair dryer’s maximum power, and that particular “maximum” might be too much for delicate hair. Variable settings gives you control to adjust the heat based on your hair type and texture.

Hot air brushes typically heat to between 130 and 230 degrees Fahrenheit. And, they usually come with 2 or 3 different preset temperature settings as low, medium, and high.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to set the exact temperature you want.

If you have fine or damaged hair, then one of the most important things you can do to protect your hair is to learn the preset low-setting temperature.

Thick, curly hair tends to need a higher heat setting to save time and prevent prolonged heat contact. You should also note that straightening your hair requires more heat than curling or drying.

So, if you are into straightening your thick hair, Hot Tools One Step, Hot Tools Black Gold One-Step, and Hot Tools One-Step V2 are good choices. This is because they can reach the highest temperatures among other hot air brushes on the list (as high as 225°F).

And these 3 hot tools should be out of the question if you have fine, thin, or delicate hair.

This is because they heat up to 170°F even on the low power setting. If the heat remains high when the fan speed gets low, then this increases the chances that you’ll get damaged hair due to heat.

Those with fine, thin hair should go for one of these choices: InfinitiPro Conair The Knot Dr., Hot Tools 24K Gold One-Step, Drybar The Double Shot, or Drybar The Half Shot because their low power setting is around 130°F.

6. Cool Shot Option:

Even though each of the options on our list already has a cool shot feature, we really value mentioning the importance of using this function.

Though a lot of people ignore it, the cool shot function has a crucial role to play in setting the style for a more long-lasting hold.

Using the cool setting after heat styling helps to quickly cool down the hair. This helps to close the cuticle and set the hair in place for longer-lasting results.

It is there for good reason. Why not use it?

7. Detachable Design

Detachable Design example

Hot air brushes generally don’t come with many different design options, but a detachable design is one feature that can be really handy. There are two main benefits of choosing a detachable hot air brush.

First of all, this option makes a huge difference when it comes to cleaning.

Because your tool will get dirty over time with all the sticky hair products and leftover hair stuck in the brush. If you don’t clean your hot air brush, all that dirt, oil, and gunk can get back into your freshly washed hair. Product build-up also will ruin your tool and burn your hair.

Another important reason to go detachable is that they are easier to store and carry. Whether you just like your tools to be compact or want to travel with peace of mind, detachable heads are very pleasing to have.
REVLON One-Step Volumizer PLUS, Hot Tools One Step, Hot Tools Black Gold One-Step, Hot Tools One-Step V2, and InfinitiPro Conair oval are great options for traveling and being compact, yet they fail to provide different attachment options.

8. Ergonomics

If you are a regular home stylist, you know that there are a few topics to consider to maximize your comfort. Weight, handle size, and noise are among the most important issues that can make your life much easier if chosen wisely.

  • Weight

    If you have a lot of hair to dry, the tool’s weight is a critical consideration. Because the longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes. Unless you have very strong biceps, your session will stop being enjoyable very quickly.

    While The Half Shot (12,5 oz) is the lightest option on our list, it’s mostly good for short hairstyles. If you have longer hair and still would love a lightweight option, Drybar The Double Shot (14.9 oz) and REVLON One-Step Plus (14.8 oz) will do the trick.

    It’s also worth mentioning that Amika (18.56 oz) is the heaviest hot air brush on our list, yet it’s still considered a pretty acceptable option in terms of weight.

  • Sound

    Hair tools can get loud, and we mean very loud. Extended exposure to noise levels above 85 dB is harmful. Caution is imperative because hot air brushes perform normally between 80–100 dB.

    The noise levels of the hot air brushes on our list are mostly the same, just with minor differences. Yet, small changes can often make a big difference. You will be holding the tool right next to your ear for a good amount of time, maybe even every day.

    So, it’s wise to consider noise levels when purchasing a hot air brush, too.

    And, Drybar The Half Shot is the winner with only 89 dB on the highest setting, while Hot Tools goes up to 95 dB.

    We measured as many products as we could with our decibel meter and listed all the measurements on our comparison table.

  • Handle

    Obviously, hand sizes vary, and it can be challenging to hold a thick hair tool for the small-handed. If the handle isn’t ergonomic, it can slip or slide, and you might press the wrong buttons by accident. We measured the thickness and the length of the handles, as details make a difference.

    All the options on our list have ergonomically designed handles. While all Drybars and Revlons have quite slim handles (5″), InfinitiPro is slightly larger by 5.5″ and longer by 1″. It’s important to mention that CHI Volumizer 4-in-1 has some design issues regarding the handle. It’s thick at the bottom and skinnier on top, making it difficult to grip.

We hope this article helps you find the hot air brush that’s right for you. Dive into the details of the brushes that catch your eye to discover your perfect styling buddy!

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