A Celebrity Hairstylist Reveals the Only Hair Dryer He Uses

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You can achieve that salon-blowout look with the help of this hair dryer, endorsed by a top Hollywood stylist.

Nothing quite compares to that fresh-from-the-salon feeling, walking out after a professional blowout with your thick, bouncing tresses blowing in the wind. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic (and the fact that blowouts aren’t exactly budget-friendly), the majority of us are reserving our salon time for more essential cut-and-color services. The next best thing to a salon blowout is the at-home version, which can be totally achieved with the help of a great hairdryer and a tried and true styling product.

However, finding the right hair dryer can be a bit tricky, as there are so many on the market ranging in price from around $10 to nearly $400, running the gamut in terms of bells and whistles. There are even hairdryer-brush combos, like this viral one-step tool from Revlon. So, which one is the best? We decided to ask an expert, celebrity stylist Sean James, who has been tousling the tresses of Hollywood’s elite—including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Phil Keoghan, Eugene Levy, and Dylan and Cole Sprouse—for decades.

“I’ve used so many dryers over the years,” James tells Reader’s Digest. Amongst his favorites over the year? Wigo, Solano, Elchim, and T3. However, there are three that he currently keeps close by at his styling station at Matthew Preece Salon in Santa Monica, California. His ultimate go-to is the FHI Heat Platform Nano Salon Pro 2000, which he dubs the “most durable” of them all. “Performance-wise I prefer it over the others,” he explains.

Sean James, Artistic Director of FHI Heat poses with FHI Heat Platform Nano Salon Pro 2000 hairdryerMichael Bezjian/Getty Images

It has all the right features

While the FHI Heat Platform Nano Salon Pro 2000 isn’t the cheapest hair dryer on the market, James explains that it offers the most bang for your buck. With three heat settings (plus a cool shot button, which is a must for James) and low and high-speed fans, it uses Tourmaline Ceramic technology, using negative ions to dry the hair evenly, reducing drying time up to 50 percent while sealing moisture in and fighting frizz.

It comes with a number of accessories to enhance your drying experience, including a curl-defining diffuser, straightening comb, concentrator nozzle, and storage bag.

He also reveals that it is incredibly durable compared to other hair dryers he has used over the years. “I want something I don’t have to be too precious with,” he points out. For example, it has nonslip rubber buttons, “that stops it from sliding off a table”—or out of your hands.

These are his runner ups

Looking for a dryer smaller, more luxurious, or less expensive?

James suggests the smaller, slightly less expensive version, FHI Heat Platform Nano 1900 as a great alternative. “It’s more compact, so I keep one in my car for house calls,” he says. It’s also slightly less expensive. “It’s more of a travel dryer equipped with a concentrated nozzle, two fan speeds, and can conveniently fold up.”

And, since some of his VIP clients are fans of the super luxurious Dyson Supersonic, he also keeps it in rotation. “I use it a lot for photo shoots and on The Walking Dead aftershow, The Talking Dead. Celebrities love it. But performance-wise I prefer the FHI Heat,” he says.

If you are looking for something in the under $25 range, he suggests the Conair INFINITIPRO. “Just remember, it isn’t going to perform the same way as a professional dryer,” he points out.

How to use your dryer

Once you have a professional-quality hairdryer, James has a few tips and tricks to share that will maximize results and help you achieve a salon-worthy blowout.

  • Spritz on a heat protector. If you are trying to achieve straight or wavy hair, James suggests spraying on FHI Heat Stylus Fresh Start Protective Prep and Primer, “that will protect your hair and help lock in moisture.”
  • Prioritize the roots. “The biggest mistake you can make with drying your hair is not starting off by drying the roots and mid-lengths first,” he says.
  • Choose the best styling products. For extra volume and for curly or dry hair he is a huge fan of Kerastase Elixir Ultime, “the absolute best on the market ever!” he exclaims. “It smells so good you won’t want to ever use anything else.” FHI Heat Stylus Sheer Remedy Liquid Satin Treatment is also a great product for your blowouts, per James. “Apply a little oil before drying your hair and a few after.” Looking for less expensive products? Here are 12 from the drugstore that stylists swear by.
  • Sanitize your tools. James created a sanitizer for this purpose, Beach Blvd’s The Shore Thing, available in a few fragrances, including Coast Is Clear, an intoxicating blend of caramel, orchid, and jasmine aromas that smells nothing like your average sanitizer.

Next, read on to check out these other genius ways to tame frizzy hair.

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Leah Groth
Leah is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, mother and product junkie. Her obsessions include old houses, home design, fashion, beauty, books and anything that makes her life — which includes working full-time and taking care of two "spirited" children and a Vizsla puppy — a little bit easier. Her work has appeared on a variety of publications and websites, including Glamour, Prevention, Business Insider, Livestrong, Mindbodygreen, Fatherly, Scary Mommy, Wonderwall and Cosmopolitan.