by Shelli of Hairscapades

I was a busy little bee this weekend,
hitting three different stores (one twice), in order to get the items I
needed for my impending blow-out. I made the appointment for my Afro
puffy twists for this week and I was finally faced with the fact that I
needed to make some decisions about my hair prep. I read CurlyNikki’s
post on Flat Ironing Tips and
recognized the importance of the right products, good techniques and
the proper tools. I’d been ruminating over what heat protectant to use
and whether I would use a blow dryer, use a comb attachment, try the
tension method, braid, twist or attempt a roller set to stretch …
decisions, decisions!

Read On!>>>

So, I proceeded to do some research while
standing in Harmon in front of 4 shelves full of hair dryers (I know you
shouldn’t love an inanimate object. I know this. But, I love
my iPhone). I googled my Ion blow dryer because I had no memory of
whether it was tourmaline or ceramic or ionic (Ion … yeah, probably that
last one) or some combination thereof. Well, in my search, I came
across this very informative (though somewhat discouraging) article on
the “benefits” of “hi-tech” hair dryers: 

via Consumer Search:

Today’s blowers offer a bounty of options,
all promising softer, shiner, healthier hair. It’s hard to find a hair
dryer without the words “ceramic,” “ionic” or “tourmaline” in the name,
but critics are unsure whether these features actually make for a better
dryer or not.

The article goes on to say that though
manufacturers tout that dryers using ceramic, ionic or tourmaline
technologies result in speedier drying times, shinier hair and less heat
damage, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support these claims.
Regardless, and helpfully, the article didn’t discount these features
entirely. Rather, additional research was conducted based upon
professional and consumer reviews found via various sources. This
information was used to compile a list of the Best Hair Dryers with these “high tech features” and ranked them from the most economical choices to the more expensive:
  1. Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Ionic hair dryer (Approx. $20)
  2. Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X (Approx. $35)
  3. Conair Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 213X (Approx. $35)
  4. T3 Tourmaline Professional Featherweight(Approx. $175)
  5. Featherweight Luxe (Approx. $250)
  6. CHI Rocket Professional (Approx. $135)
  7. CHI Nano Dual Air Flow Ceramic (Approx. $140)
  8. Elchim 2001 Professional(Approx. $120)
  9. Sedu Ultrapower Professional (Approx. $150)
The awesome, but horrible thing? Almost
every single one of these dryers was on the shelves at Harmon!! LOL!
Ultimately, I decided on #2 as it was very reasonably priced, apparently
effective and I liked the style.  
The reason that I was at one store twice? I
ran home to get about four 20% off coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond (you
can use these at Harmon!!) and one $5 coupon for Harmon as I was having
a PJ moment and picked up several hair and make-up items too (you can
thank ShamIAmGlam for fanning the make-up PJ flames;).
Ultimately, I only paid $28 (plus tax) for
the dryer. Score!! I also picked up the “ionic” comb as I needed a
medium-tooth comb for detangling. So, what was next? Research on a good
heat protectant. Again, I was initially planning on using the ElastaQP
Thermal Design Spray that I already owned and some grapeseed oil, which
some tout as a natural heat protectant because it can sustain heat up to
420°. Then, I thought about someone who regularly rocked gorgeous
straight hair during the winter. MopTopMaven!! I remember reading
several posts from her last year and commenced to searching.

As the search for a good heat protectant was what prompted my search,
I was particularly interested in Mop Top Maven’s recommendation on this
front. I hit pay dirt with her article, Going Straight for Winter, as she outlined every product in her straight hair regimen. When I read that she loved Aveda Brilliant Damage Control as
her heat protectant, I knew that was it as I always read great things
about this line and knew of a local salon that carries it. So I headed
over and picked it up … along with the CurlyNikki approved Brilliant
Anti-Humectant Pomade (I couldn’t resist even though I’ll have no use
for it until Spring!!).

Back to the product search. Also in MopTopMaven’s straight hair
product line-up were Fermodyl 619 (leave-in) and Sebastian Potion #9
(leave-in/styler). I decided to hit Sally’s as I knew that they had a
GVP version of Potion #9 and thought that I’d seen the Fermodyl there
before as well. Sure enough, I hit the mother-load here too and picked
up both items.

So now, I feel that I am thoroughly prepared with both products, techniques and tools.

Products I used: 

  • Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X
  • Ionic Comb
  • Aveda Brilliant Damage Control 
  • Fermodyl 619 (leave-in) 
  • Sebastian Potion #9 (leave-in + styler)

And that’s that. It was a lot of research and store hopping, but I
feel a lot more confident that I can do this without causing appreciable
heat or manipulation damage. I’ll keep you all apprised of the final
results and will have those product reviews for you too! Go team natural!

Check out my results, HERE

How do you protect your hair during heat styling? What products, techniques and tools do you use?
CurlyNikki Says:

I too enjoy the luxuriousness of the occasional blow-out.  I own an Andi’s comb-shaped dryer which claims to be ionic, ceramic and things of that nature. It only set me back 20 bucks, like 3 years ago. I love the fact that it’s easy to handle and that you don’t need to be coordinated enough to hold a brush in one hand and juggle a dryer in the other.  Plus it’s a more natural, fluid movement since it’s shaped like a big ‘ole comb. I also appreciate that it comes with different size comb attachments, some with closer teeth, and as long as I detangle my hair prior, I don’t feel like it’s violating my fine strands.  It dries my hair fast, even on medium speed & heat which is great ’cause that allows for less heat exposure which of course means less
potential for damage.
BUT it leaves me crispity-crackily… like ‘fire hazard haystack’ dry, no matter the prep products I use.  My hair only begins to feel supple again after I use a moisturizing setting conditioner for the ensuing dry twist-out.  Sometimes, I’d remove the comb attachment and tension dry for less manipulation, but the heat still left my hair super frizzy and dry, cuticle all roughed up… like, my ends felt nasty even when they weren’t. 
I also own a fancy-ass HanaAir.  Gifted 2 years ago, but I took it out of the box this spring.  It’s a great dryer, but here’s the thing– that joint will set you back one hundred and ninety got damn dollars.  And like the price, the results are starkly different as well.  Even when tension drying, I get silky smooth… like ‘tell me my hair ain’t luxurious when you know it is b*tch’ soft.  I like how quickly it dries my hair (although no faster than the Andi’s) and how smooth it leaves my strands no matter the products (or just serum) I use prior.  I remember when Tracee Ellis Ross told me that she was surprised that some of her ceramic and ionic tools actually left her with healthier hair… the HanaAir makes that claim as well. *raises eyebrow* I can’t take it there, but I can tell you that it definitely feels as if it’s doing less harm than my cheaper one… it leaves my cuticle smooth. Much appreciated.  One time, over the summer, I blew out one side with the Andi’s and the other with the Hana… same products, same comb attachment (I rigged the Hana!), just to see if I noticed a difference on the spot and it was NUTS.  This may be a case of, ‘you get what you pay for’, but I doubt you need to spend 200 bucks. Maybe the 40-60 dollar ionic/ceramic dryer would yield similar results?  Anyway, peep the Hana results, HERE.  Note in that article, I wasn’t even prepared to discuss the super expensive dryer yet, lol!
So yeah, not condoning the purchase of a $200 dryer, but like Shelli said, do your own research. ‘Cause despite the inconclusive nature of the ‘ceramic/ionic/fancy technology dryer’ studies, I can tell you that I can see and feel a significant difference in my hair and that it also may be worth going up a tier in quality. 

This article was originally published on October 2012 and has since been updated for grammar and clarity.