What Hair Tool Should You Buy? A Guide To The Latest, Greatest Gadgets

By Lucy Slight
Photo / Mara Sommer

Straighteners, curlers, dryers, and our thoughts on the Dyson Airwrap.

Got some coin to spend on a new hair tool, but feeling a bit confused by all the fantastical new gadgets on the market?

From straightener-dryers-in-one, to tools with multiple attachments and those that work on the go, the technology

When you’re spending the big bucks on an appliance, you want to know you’re getting the right one for your hair needs, hair type and your level of skill so there are plenty of factors to consider before you fork out.

If you’re looking to go beyond your regular straightener or hairdryer and invest in the latest tech, here’s what you need to know about some of the market’s most hyped hair heroes.

Because of the nature of this tool, it requires a bit of practice to really perfect it, but once you do, you won’t know how you lived without it. It almost replaces all your hair appliances, thanks to the scope of the attachments which let you dry (like a hairdryer), curl (like you’re getting a professional blow-dry), and smooth with the help of the click-on hairbrush and smoothing hairdryer nozzle.

The Coanda smoothing dryer attachment is a new addition to this latest model, which can help negate the need for a hair straightener for some people, as it works hard to tame flyaways instantly. Longer barrels are now also included to help curl long hair, whereas the previous version had shorter barrels only.

Ideal for: Anyone who prefers a bouncy blowout over perfectly straight hair or ringlet-shaped curls. You will need to play around to feel like an expert with this one but it’s easy to get the hang of it — and there are plenty of tutorials online to help you get there.

Those with natural curls, this one is for you. We got Viva’s resident curly girl, deputy editor Johanna Thornton, to trial this tool specifically for this piece so she could share her insights:

“Ghd’s new Curve Thin Curling Wand was recommended to me by a curly-haired friend who swears by it for touching up her naturally textured hair, transforming any frizzy pieces into perfect curls that blend seamlessly with the rest of her hair. Curly girls will know that on day two or three after washday, our options are to refresh curls with a spritz of water and more hair product or admit defeat and tie them in a bun.

“So, I was excited to have another styling option with this curling wand, which has a 14mm ceramic barrel that mimics a tight natural curl pattern (3C-4B curls), heating hair to 185C for lasting curls without extreme heat.

“Mastering the wand takes some practice; I wound some curls far too tight and ended up looking like Annie, or a pack of two-minute noodles. The trick is to have the tip pointing downwards and on an angle before wrapping each section around the wand, and to play with the direction of the curls so they look natural. While my result wasn’t as beautiful as my friend’s, I’d keep this in my curly-haired toolkit for instant touch-ups without having to wet my hair.”

Ideal for: Refreshing naturally curly hair to reinvigorate flat curls or touch up any strands in disarray.

If you’re used to a traditional hairdryer, the first thing you’ll notice about the Supersonic is its size — it’s a lot smaller. Don’t for a second think that means it’s any less powerful though; this hairdryer uses fast but focused airflow to dry hair quickly, without using a damaging level of heat.

You can use the nozzle attachment to dry and style your hair at the same time, as the wide airflow makes it work more effectively, and if you experience flyaways, the flyaway attachment (with the same Coanada effect technology of the multi-styler attachment) helps smooth down those shorter hairs to blend them in with your longer locks.

For those with curly hair, the diffuser attachment stimulates the effect of natural drying and evenly disperses hot hair to encourage definition and reduce frizz. The attachments are easy to remove and swap out, as they click on to the body of the dryer with magnet technology — and all attachments remain cool to touch, regardless of which of the four heat settings you’re using.

Three airflow settings and a cool shot can also be used, depending on whether you’re drying from very wet, refreshing or setting your style, or you simply prefer a gentler level of air.

Ideal for: Anyone who blow-dries regularly as the intelligent temperature controls help to minimise heat damage. If you travel a lot, the size of this dryer is perfect for fitting into your luggage.

If something like the Dyson Multistyler feels a bit complicated — or the budget doesn’t stretch there — a heated blow-dry brush like this one is a great option. The round brush, which dries your hair while it styles, creates a sleek, blow-dry effect much like you’d get at the salon, and it can be used for touch-ups in the days after washing too.

This works best if you use it in sections to ensure you’re in control and decrease the risk of getting too much hair tangled in the brush. Start with the bottom/underneath layer of hair and work your way up until you’ve completed the top layer.

If you’re after more of a curl or increased volume, you can wrap the hair around the barrel and hold it in place for a few seconds. If you prefer a straighter look, you can simply wrap hair around the brush and pull it through quicker, using several strokes in the same section until it’s dry.

Ideal for: Someone who loves a blow-dried look with a bit of bounce but doesn’t have the skill to use a blow-dryer and a hairbrush at the same time (read: most of us).

Ghd’s latest addition is a first-of-its-kind tool, which dries and straightens your hair from wet (not just damp), without any damage. No damage, you say? You heard right. Through the science of convection and conduction, hair can be dried safely without the use of extreme heat — and you can hold the tool close to your scalp without risk of it sizzling your skin.

If your hairdryer and your straightening iron had a baby, this is what it would look like. Essentially, as you turn the styler on, you’ll feel hot, directional air flow out from the centre while the four surrounding plates heat up.

The hot air provides the drying element, while the plates work their magic to straighten and smooth the hair. With very wet hair, you’ll need to hold the styler at the root of the section of hair for a few seconds, then run it slowly down your strands, repeating as needed until it’s dry.

Ideal for: People who love a sleek, straight look and don’t want to spend time blow-drying and straightening with separate tools. Because of the wide plates, the duet style isn’t so great for achieving the “GHD curl” look, so it’s best for styling that’s smooth and sleek.

Every Dyson hair tool uses a different type of technology to help prevent hair damage from heat, and with the Corrale, it’s the flexing plates helping to shape and gather hair and apply even heat that helps to reduce the reliance on an extreme temperature to achieve smooth locks.

Heat settings range from 165-210C, which lets you tailor the tool to your hair type. Those with finer hair can often get away with a lower heat setting, while those with thicker strands may need the higher temperature for optimal styling.

Traditionally, cordless tools don’t tend to have the same level of oompf as their plugged-in counterparts, but innovative 4-cell lithium-ion battery technology means there’s no compromise, even when using the tool unplugged.

It takes around 70 minutes to fully charge the Corrale, and from there, you’ll get up to 30 minutes of styling time, so it’s a good one to move about the house with, take camping (or anywhere less accessible to power) or have with you if you’ve got something on after work and know you’ll need a bit of a touch-up on the go.

Ideal for: Anyone looking to take their tool with them on the go, without having to rely on a power outlet.

If frizz tends to get you during the day, or you just want something with a little more legs to it when giving your hair a brush, this USB rechargeable tool does just that. The heated fins, which are coated with ceramic and ionic powders, heat up in seconds like the plates in your straightening iron to gently heat and smooth your hair while you brush.

This is what you’d call more of an entry-level hair tool, both in terms of price and function. If you’re looking for something to keep in your bag to simply refresh your hair without doing anything too dramatic, this is great.

It’s compact and lightweight and sturdy enough to live in your handbag. For anyone wanting a tool to actually style your hair from scratch or really change the look of the hair, this isn’t quite powerful enough to do so. It’s certainly more of a quick smooth and go brush, not a styler.

Because the bristles and fins are quite long, it works best if you pick up each section of hair and pull the brush through, rather than brushing while the hair is flat to the scalp. It helps to stretch the sections of hair too and work slowly to get the smoothing benefits from the plates.

Ideal for: Quick touch-ups that don’t require too much styling, or anyone who wants smoothing and detangling benefits on the go.

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