The Best Hot Air Brushes for a Smooth, Shiny At-Home Blowout

Hot Tools One-Step Dryer blew away the competition.

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Best Hot Air Brush
Photo: Amazon/InStyle

If there's just one device that's truly flipped the hair industry on its head, it's the hot air brush. Gone are the days of fumbling around your bathroom with a round brush and heavy blow dryer—the hot air brush allows users to seamlessly recreate a salon-like blowout at home, without spending extra cash and time on a salon visit.

Yes, a hot air brush will require a bit of a learning curve when you first try it out, but once you get the hang of it, there's really no turning back (to the salon). Because we can't get enough of these genius devices, we put 12 hot air brushes to the test, rating every brush on a scale of one to five for ease of use, drying time, and glide and styling performance. We tested each brush on our editors with different hair types and lengths, and narrowed down the search to six incredible winners.

Our favorite, the Hot Tools One-Step Dryer, dried hair super fast and left strands shiny and smooth. We loved how easy it was to use, and also appreciated the price point, too.

Here are the best hot air brushes, according to our testers.

The Winners

Best Overall: Hot Tools One-Step Dryer

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Hot Tools or Bed Bath & Beyond

What We Love: It boasts high heat, meaning a much faster drying time.

What We Don't Love: You need to be careful about potentially damaging your hair—quick passes through each strand should mitigate the damage.

It's hard to go wrong with a classic Hot Tools product. Our testers rated this hot air brush the highest of the bunch, thanks to its ease of use and high heat. "I liked this one because of how it seemed to get really hot, but I wasn't fearful of my hair getting damaged," explains one tester. Because of the high heat, testers were able to dry their hair faster than other products they tested. "This hot air brush is noticeably hotter than the other tools I've tested, and dried the soaked section of hair with only five passes of the brush," says another tester.

Our testers also enjoyed how easy this brush was to maneuver around their head, thanks to the tangle-free swivel cord. "The grip feels comfortable (due to the handle's softer texture) and the super quick dry time makes me think it won't be tiring to dry my entire head," explains one tester.

Paul Cucinello, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of Cucinello Beauty, has relied on Hot Tools for years, and wasn't surprised by how much he liked their One Step Dryer. "The simplicity of its design and straightforward instructions make this one a no-brainer," he says. "It also comes with detachable, interchangeable brush attachments which give tons of versatility and makes cleaning out the brush heads super easy."

An added bonus to this Hot Tools product are the attachable heads you can purchase separately. The device comes with the oval round brush in a size 2.8", but you can purchase other attachments for different blowout looks, including the 1.5" attachment, 2.4" attachment, or the Paddle One Step.

Size of Brush Head: 2.8" | Number of Heat Settings: One | Weight: 1.78 lb

Best Value: Revlon One-Step Volumizer Plus

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Ulta and Target

What We Love: It's lightweight and gets closer to the root.

What We Don't Love: The smell—one tester said it gave off a "hot plastic smell."

Revlon is back with round two of their One-Step Volumizer, and our testers are loving the new and improved 2.0 version. Unlike the original Revlon One-Step Volumizer, this pick features a smaller brush head and feels a bit more lightweight than the original. "The Revlon One-Step Volumizer Plus is comparable to the original—with its flexible bristles, it creates just the right amount of tension to style," explains one tester. "Because of its slightly smaller brush head, it is easier to create volume closer to the root."

Testers loved how easy it was to maneuver this tool as they dried, and also appreciated the easy-to-grip base. "The temperature controls seemed accurate but it does get pretty hot, more so than a lot of the other hot air brushes," says one tester. "I like it hotter because it makes it easier to dry my thick hair."

Hot temperatures were a plus for our testers, and so were the two bristle types on the brush, too. "After using it, my hair was soft with minimal frizz, and I did not notice any damage," says one tester.

As an added convenience factor, the brush head can come off for easy storage at home or traveling. It's a great choice if you don't have a ton of storage in your bathroom.

That being said, one tester noticed a funky smell after her first use. "I will say it definitely gave off a hot plastic smell, which is never enjoyable," she says. "I liked it considering its price and the extra features it offers, but the smell kind of gets to me."

Testers agreed it was the best value for the price, considering it leaves hair soft, smooth, and dried in a short amount of time. "It's such a popular hot brush, and understandably so— it's affordable and does a great job at styling hair and creating volume at the roots due to its 2.4" barrel," says Cucinello. "It has adjustable heat settings too, so that's a plus!"

Size of Brush Head: 2.4" | Number of Heat Settings: Four | Weight: 1.71 lb.

Best Splurge: Dyson Airwrap

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Dyson

What We Love: The glossy finish this styler leaves.

What We Don't Love: The high price tag.

There's a reason the Dyson Airwrap is constantly sold out—yes, it's that good. "This is an incredible piece of beauty technology," explains Cucinello. "It's also super versatile, allowing every kind of styling option you can imagine without the risk of damaging the hair. Drying might take a little longer but the shiny, long-lasting results are definitely worth investing the time."

Our testers loved the Dyson Airwrap for many reasons—one of them being the high-quality materials. "The bristles are different from any other hot air brush bristles, kind of in between a soft and hard bristle," explains one tester. "This device was easy to hold, the handle was comfortable, and had a long cord and thinner design, compared to other hot air brushes."

Our testers were very impressed by how much shinier their hair looked after use, compared to other hot air brushes they tested. "My hair was noticeably shinier and it got rid of any frizz I had, and it did not leave behind any damage, from what I could tell," explains one tester.

One tester raved about how the Dyson Airwrap exceeded her expectations, leaving her hair with a slight curl at the end with minimal effort. "Compared to my typical hot air brush, it worked faster and left a glossier finish," she says.

Another great feature of this device is that, not only does it come with multiple heads to create different looks, but it also includes multiple heat settings, too. "The temperature controls were accurate, and the brush never felt too hot or too cool," says one tester.

The size of the brush head had our testers at odds—one tester loved the small-sized barrel for her shorter hair, while the other tester said she wished the barrel was larger for her longer hair. "I would prefer a bigger brush when styling my hair, so that the process doesn't take as long and I can get larger waves," she said. The 1.6" long barrel attachment (sold separately) may be an option to help with styling long hair.

Clariss Rubenstein, a celebrity hairstylist, considers the Dyson Airwrap "the ultimate." "It's so crazy easy to use and the blow dry is so shiny and polished," she says. "It's an investment but worth every penny!"

Size of Brush Head: 2.21" | Number of Heat Settings: Three | Weight: 1.46 lb.

Best Versatility: T3 AireBrush Duo

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Ulta and Sephora.

What We Love: There are multiple options for air speed and temperature.

What We Don't Love: This seemed to take longer to dry hair completely than other brushes in our test.

First off, let's just take a moment to appreciate how sexy the T3 AireBrush Duo looks—with the clean white base and interchangeable heads, as well as the rose gold accents, you won't want to be hiding this device underneath your bathroom sink. Our testers rated this pick high for its ease of use, the amount of control you have over the air speed and temperature (the T3 has more setting options compared to others), as well as the finish it leaves on the hair—think smooth, soft, silky, and zero frizz.

"The T3 AireBrush Duo is great and I use it all the time," explains Rubenstein. "I have zero patience for blow drying my own hair, so this is absolutely perfect for me. I alternate the round and flat brush depending on the look I want, and either one looks like I took my time and did a full salon-quality blowout."

Our testers agree, stating that they enjoyed how easy it was to use this device compared to the classic hair styling round brush and blow dryer. That being said, one tester found the unusually long base a bit difficult to work around her head. "Since the stick/handle is so long, and my hair is short, it felt hard to maneuver the brush around my head to get it styled properly," she explains.

Another downside one tester noted was the lack of heat this product gives off. "The temperature controls seemed accurate, but I wish the hot setting went higher," she explains. "It took about ten passes to get my hair dry, and the main part of the strands dried way before the ends did. It didn't feel like it got hot enough for my hair's thickness."

That being said, perhaps this hot air brush is best suited for those with thinner, less coarse locks. Thanks to the five heat settings and two interchangeable heads (round brush for volume and paddle brush for straightness), there are multiple options when it comes to styling your strands with this pick.

Size of Brush Head: 2.5" Round Brush | Number of Heat Settings: Five | Weight: 1.46 lb.

Best for Shine: Drybar Double Shot Blow Dryer Brush

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Sephora and Drybar.

What We Love: The ionic technology leaves hair shiny.

What We Don't Love: This doesn't completely smooth out natural curls.

There's no doubt about it that Drybar completely changed the name of the game when it comes to a quick blowout. After opening up Drybar salons nationwide, the brand has brought styling home with their Drybar Double Shot hot air brush device. Our testers loved this product for the larger, round brush head, the variety of bristles, and the shine factor, too.

"The Drybar did feel a bit easier to maneuver, as it had a flatter and wider head," explains one tester. "Additionally, the tip of the head was a non-heating portion where you can place your hand to help guide and roll the brush up the shaft. It wasn't as lightweight as the Dyson Airwrap, but it was comfortable to hold."

Our testers loved that the Drybar hot air brush leaves hair shiny (thanks to the ionic technology) but several noted how hot the device can get. "My hair was soft and shiny without frizz," says one tester. "It did not damage my hair, but since it does get pretty hot I would be sure to use a protectant when using it."

A tester with type 3 natural hair appreciated the silicon and normal brush bristles, "which helps it stay latched onto the hair while moving the hot air brush around," she explains. "However, my hair was not as straight or smooth as I would've liked. It went from a clump of curls to a frizzy blah."

So, if you're looking for a hot air brush to add a bit of shine, the Drybar might be your best pick. On the flip side, if you have really coarse, curly, or natural hair, one of the other options in this lineup might suit you best.

Size of Brush Head: 2.44" Round Brush | Number of Heat Settings: Three | Weight: 2.6 lb.

Best for Long Hair: Trademark Beauty Easy Blo Dryer

Step Volumizer and Hair Dryer, Barrel
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Also available at Trademark Beauty.

What We Love: The simplicity of this device—it's great for beginners.

What We Don't Love: The oval-shaped brush head might take some getting used to.

For those looking for an easy-to-use, affordable hot air brush without all the bells and whistles, the Trademark Beauty Easy Blo is the one for you. Our testers loved this product for the texture it leaves on long hair, the basic, not-complicated settings, and how fast it dried their strands.

"This hot air brush was easy enough to use, although it felt bulkier and cheap compared to a lot of the other options we tested," explains one tester. "However, it was very lightweight and was fairly easy to style my hair despite it not being a round brush—it didn't yank on my hair at all while I was styling."

Unlike the other hot air brushes that were tested, the Trademark Beauty Easy Blo has a more oval brush head, rather than a rounder head. This oval shape allows the brush to grab the hair closer to the root while providing more stretch and tension. This feature is what makes it so great for folks with longer hair, who need more pull from roots to ends.

That being said, it might take some getting used to when using an oval brush head over a round one. "I wanted to use this device like a round brush. but doing so with this kind of a tool creates weird bends in my hair," explains one tester. "However, I don't foresee myself getting tired using it on my whole head."

The Trademark Beauty Easy Blo is a perfect option for those with long hair or someone who doesn't want to pay a pretty penny for pricier hot air brushes.

Size of Brush Head: 3.25" Round Brush | Number of Heat Settings: Three | Weight: 1 lb.

Our Testing Process

The hot air brush selection has grown rapidly in the last few years, with more and more devices entering the market constantly. To begin the testing process, we chose 12 of the most popular devices on the market, and asked our team to test each. Additionally, we asked experts for their input on some of the devices that were awarded winners within the testing process.

From long hair to short hair, straight hair to natural hair, we made sure to test each device on different hair textures and lengths, and kept that in mind when writing up our reviews. We asked all of our testers to grade each hot air brush (from 1 to 5) on a number of attributes including ease of use/comfort, glide performance, drying performance, and styling performance.

Once all scores were tallied up, we assigned categories to the six hot air brush winners.

What to Keep in Mind

Tension

Finding a hot air brush with good tension is important in smoothing out the hair, especially those with thick, coarse, or natural hair textures. "In order to straighten hair and get any curl out, you need a brush with good grip and good tension," explains Rubenstein. "This is equally as important when choosing a hot air brush."

Heat levels

The level of heat should correlate with the heat setting you use on your traditional blow dryer. "If you tend to use high heat to dry your hair, make sure to look for a hot air brush that reaches the same type of temperature," says Rubenstein. "Most of these brushes have different settings so you can adjust accordingly."

Power

Many people need to set their blowdryer on a high setting, which not only means high heat, but also greater power. "In order to get a thorough and speedy blowdry, you'll need both for quick and effective results," explains Rubenstein. "If this is the case, make sure to look at the wattage when shopping for a hot air brush."

Your Questions, Answered

How do you use a hot air brush?

You want to use a hot air brush the same way you would perform a blowout with a blow dryer and brush. First, apply heat protectant to damp (not wet) hair. "Section your hair, then work the brush in smaller sections throughout your head—you don't want to rush the blowout," explains Cucinello. "As you blow dry each piece, you can use more clips to keep the dry styled hair away from damp hair while it's cooling."

According to Cucinello, you want to start with the heat setting at about the halfway point and adjust accordingly—don't automatically jump to the highest setting. "If you need to refresh a blowout, give your roots a good shot of dry shampoo and work a light amount of dry shampoo through the rest of your hair, and then use your hot air brush," he says.

Can hot air brushes damage your hair?

Any heat can damage your hair if used improperly. "A hot air brush shouldn't be more damaging than a classic brush and blowdryer," explains Rubenstein. "Make sure your hair is brushed through so you are not blow drying any tangles, and make sure you're taking clean sections so nothing gets caught. Do not over dry!"

What Is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it's really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we've put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content.

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