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Hair dryer versus hair straightener: What are the distinctions?

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Today, what about leavel up your hair styling skills by understanding the differences between a hair straightener and a blow dryer?

You know, each tool serves a unique purpose in achieving stunning hairdos. A hair straightener excels at precise smoothing and straightening, perfect for achieving sleek, polished looks. While a blow dryer offers versatility, allowing you to effortlessly add volume, curls, or waves to your hair.

Many wonder if a hair dryer can straighten curly or wavy hair, a question that delves into its deeper usage when a hair straightener isn't available. Similarly, many inquire whether a straightener can dry wet hair. Let's discuss below.

Is it healthier to blow dry or straighten your hair?

Both blow drying and straightening can cause damage to your hair if done improperly or excessively. When used correctly and with proper precautions, neither method is inherently healthier than the other.

Blow drying, when done at a moderate temperature and distance from the hair, can be less damaging compared to straightening. Using a heat protectant spray and keeping the dryer moving continuously can help minimize heat damage. Using a diffuser attachment can also help distribute heat more evenly and reduce frizz.

Straightening involves applying high heat directly to our hair, which can lead to more significant damage, i.e. dryness, breakage, and even heat-related hair loss. You need to buy a good quality flat iron with adjustable heat settings, and always use a heat protectant spray before straightening. 

Can you straighten hair with a blow dryer?

Many want to know how to straighten hair just by a hair dryer rather than a straightener. I will say "Yes", you can straighten your hair using a blow dryer, a technique commonly known as "blow drying for straightening." This method involves using a round brush and the airflow from the blow dryer to smooth and straighten the hair as you dry it.

To straighten your hair with a blow dryer:

Step 1. Start with damp hair and add a heat protectant spray to minimize damage.

Step 2. Section your hair and use a round brush to hold each section taut while directing the airflow from the blow dryer downwards along the hair shaft.

Step 3. As you move the brush down the hair, follow it with the nozzle of the blow dryer to smooth and straighten the hair.

Step 4. Continue this process section by section until all of your hair is dry and straightened.

Step 5. For best results, use a blow dryer with a concentrator nozzle attachment to focus the airflow and a brush with nylon or boar bristles for smoothness.

Step 6. Last with a blast of cool air.

Can you dry hair with a hair straightener?

While a hair straightener is primarily designed to straighten hair, it can also help dry hair to some extent. But it's not as efficient as a hair dryer and may take longer to fully dry the hair.

Using a hair straightener to dry hair can expose it to high heat for an extended period, increasing the risk of damage. It's recommended to use a hair dryer for drying hair and reserve the straightener for styling purposes after the hair is dry. If you prefer blow drying without a hair dryer, towel dry your hair first and then dry it section by section, avoiding prolonged heat exposure.

Hair straightener VS hair dryer - Key features





Straightening hair

Drying and styling hair

Temperature control

Adjustable heat settings

Multiple heat and speed settings


Ceramic, titanium, or tourmaline



Straightening, curling, and waving

Drying, styling, and enhancing curls and waves


Dry hair

Wet or damp hair

Here's some information about hair straighteners and hair dryers, along with a comparison table:

Hair straightener:

  • Purpose: Hair straighteners are designed to heat hair to high temperatures, allowing you to straighten curly or wavy hair.

  • Temperature control: Most modern hair straighteners come with adjustable heat settings to accommodate different hair types and styling needs.

  • Plates: Hair straighteners feature ceramic, titanium, or tourmaline plates that heat evenly and glide smoothly through the hair.

  • Versatility: While primarily used for straightening hair, some straighteners come with curved plates or rounded edges, allowing you to create curls and waves as well.

  • Usage: Hair straighteners are typically used on dry hair and can cause heat damage if used excessively or at high temperatures without heat protectant.

Hair dryer:

  • Purpose: Hair dryers are used to blow air onto wet hair to speed up the drying process and style the hair.

  • Heat settings: Most hair dryers come with multiple heat and speed settings, allowing you to customize the drying experience based on your hair type and styling preferences.

  • Attachments: Hair dryers often come with attachments such as concentrator nozzles for directing airflow and diffusers for enhancing natural curls and waves.

  • Technology: Advanced hair dryers may feature ionic, ceramic, or tourmaline technology to reduce frizz, enhance shine, and minimize heat damage.

  • Usage: Hair dryers can be used on wet or damp hair and are an essential tool for achieving various hairstyles, including blowouts, curls, and waves.

Tips you need to know

In the final part, I'd like to share with tips you need to know when using hair straighteners and hair dryers:

Hair straightener tips:

  1. Always apply a heat protectant spray or serum to your hair before using a straightener.

  2. Divide your hair into sections before straightening.

  3. Use the appropriate heat setting for your hair type to avoid overheating and damage. Lower temperatures are suitable for fine or damaged hair. Higher temperatures may be necessary for thick or coarse hair.

  4. Do not clamp the straightener too tightly on your hair.

  5. Glide the straightener smoothly along each section of hair.

  6. Limit the number of times you pass the straightener over each section of hair.

  7. Try a smoothing serum or oil.

Hair dryer tips:

  1. Blot excess water from your hair with a towel before using a dryer.

  2. Try a heat protectant spray or cream to your hair before blow drying.

  3. Use the appropriate attachment for your desired hairstyle. A concentrator nozzle is ideal for sleek blowouts, while a diffuser is great for enhancing natural curls or waves.

  4. Do not hold the dryer in one spot for too long.

  5. Finish your blowout with a blast of cool air

  6. Divide your hair into sections and focus on drying one section at a time.

  7. If possible, use a lower heat setting to reduce heat damage, especially if you have fine or damaged hair.

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