Although salon hair dryers get the best ratings overall, you can actually get a perfectly good hair dryer without shelling out $75 or more. Overall, the best-rated dryer in this price class is the Infiniti Pro by Conair (Est. $35).
This inexpensive hair dryer has all the basic features a hair dryer should have, including separate heat and speed settings, ceramic and ionic technology, and a cold shot button. InStyle magazine named it the best inexpensive blow dryer for 2015 and 2016, saying it "lasts three times longer" than others in its price class -- though they don't explain how they tested its durability -- and "makes quick work of even the thickest hair." The Infiniti Pro also gets good reviews in Allure magazine and at Refinery29.com, where a staffer says this dryer was "super easy to hold" and took only 7 minutes to dry her ultra-fine hair. However, testers at Good Housekeeping were less impressed, saying the Conair dryer was one of the slowest and noisiest in their 2012 tests. Its best features were its low price tag and 4-year limited warranty.
We found more than 1,000 total reviews for the Conair Infiniti at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and Ulta.com, with overall ratings ranging from 4.3 to 4.6 stars out of 5. Unlike the editors at Good Housekeeping, users are generally (though not universally) satisfied with its drying speed. Although there are some complaints that this hair dryer is unwieldy, and some say that it is perhaps a touch heavier than they would like, most find it to be manageable. The noise level is also a problem for some. Moreover, there are several complaints about reliability and safety, and an earlier version of this hair dryer was part of a 2013 recall over the possibility of a burn or fire hazard -- though current models should be fine.
Conair also makes the 1875 Watt Tourmaline Ceramic Styler (Est. $35), which is recommended at TheSweethome.com as a great choice for people on a budget. At 0.91 pounds, it's the lightest dryer in that site's test, as well as the least expensive, yet it dries hair just as fast as models that cost two or three times as much. However, it doesn't earn the top recommendation because it has a lot of little annoying quirks: a short 5-foot cord, a cheap-feeling plastic case, and sliding controls that the reviewer finds hard to manipulate.
In more than 1,680 reviews, users at Amazon.com award this Conair hair dryer 4.2 stars out of 5 overall. They say it's lightweight and quiet, comes with good attachments, and dries hair quickly, leaving it sleek and frizz-free. Most of the complaints we found center on durability, ranging from flaking finish to complete product failure. Although the dryer comes with a 2-year warranty, users must mail it back at their own expense to get repairs — and Conair will replace it only if it agrees that the dryer is defective.
We also saw good reviews for the Conair YOU Reel 1875 Watt Tourmaline (Est. $30), also sold as the Conair Cord Keeper, which is named as a Best Value pick in a comparison test in Real Simple magazine. This model's major selling point is the retractable cord from which the dryer takes its name. More than 930 reviewers at Amazon.com award the hair dryer an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5, and the retracting cord is far and away their favorite feature. They also like its quiet operation, sturdy build, and vivid pink or purple color.
However, many owners complain about the dryer's durability, saying it broke down in a variety of ways after one to two years. Unfortunately, the retracting cord that users like so much appears to be a particular weak spot. Many users say the cord doesn't retract fully or easily, and some say that a failure of the cord mechanism was the first sign of trouble before the whole unit failed.