If I can only pick one, do I go with a blowdryer or a styling tool?

What do you do during an evening to yourself?


One of the things I would always do with my clients when I worked behind the chair was go through the products I used on them during styling at the end of the appointment.

I understood that they wouldn’t always buy every single thing I showed them, and I could usually gauge where they were with their product usage by just having a quick conversation with them.

After explaining why I used what I did, I would usually finish up with, “. . . but if you could only choose ONE, I’d choose ______” so they didn’t feel pressure to buy it all. I’d focus on the product I thought would help in the most dramatic way with their hairstyling, so they could really see the value in using the right products.

When it comes to tools, I completely understand that it’s a steep investment to purchase a really fantastic blow dryer, curling iron, and flat iron EVEN before you add products into the mix!

So, if you could only choose one, between a blow dryer and a styling tool like a flat iron or curling iron, which would I steer you in the direction of? 

Here is what I would take into consideration: your texture, your lifestyle, the length of your hair, and your styling goals.

If your hair is extremely thick, long, holds onto water, or has any trait that makes you dread drying it, I’d tell you to invest in a high-end dryer. You won’t believe the difference in using a great one versus a cheap drugstore dryer. I’d also recommend you try a blow-dry spray. I really love the T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i for seriously smooth drying, but runner up would be the Rusk Speed Freak. If your hair is blown dry smoothly, with a great dryer, you’ll have a much easier time styling it with a flat iron or curling iron too.

If your hair is frizzy, resistant to curl or doesn’t smooth nicely with just your blow dryer, I’d recommend looking at a hair tool. The flat iron gives you the option of smoothing straight and also creating a wave! The flat iron I’ve used the longest, and is one of my favorites, is the GHD Classic 1 inch.

Read my post about getting a silky smooth blowout here, and tips for flat ironing your hair here!


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Rebecca says · 07.13.16

Hi. Can you use a heat protectant spray and a quick dry spray at the same time? Will a quick dry spray cut down the time to air-dry too? I have oily hair and have never liked to use a lot of product, but my hair is now to my waist and color treated, so I’m trying to be more thoughtful of my ends. Thank you!

Thea says · 07.13.16

Love this! Very honest. I would enjoy seeing an updated tutorial on creating waves with a flat iron. It’s not usually my go-to tool, but I’m curious if I would use the flat iron more (rather than my curling iron) if I knew some good techniques.

Jenna Buchanan says · 07.13.16

Got a GHD yesterday for a steal from Amazon Prime. Yay for Amazon Prime Day!

Karen says · 07.13.16

What was the price on Amazon Prime Day? I’m kicking myself I forgot to look for this.

Susan says · 07.13.16

Hi KatenCan you show how to do your style using the old fashion round brush technique… A lot of time theres not enough time to blow dry and curl please and thank you!

Lindsey says · 07.13.16

Hi Kate!

I’m sure you have mentioned this a previous post, but what blow dry spray would you recommend? I have never used one and I think I should! I have super thick hair. I dread blow drying it!

Forrest says · 07.16.16

She mentioned KMS Free Shape blow dry spray a while back, and one other I can’t remember. I got the KMS and really like it. It doesn’t interfere with my other products.

Kaitlin says · 07.13.16

Which tool would be less damaging to use, if there’s any difference? and thanks for this helpful post!

Ashley R says · 07.13.16

Have you seen the new Dyson hair dryer? It hasn’t even been released yet, but it looks so cool! The $399 price tag makes it completely unattainable for me, but I’m fascinated by Dyson’s technology and design.

You need to find a way to get Dyson to send you one to try! I’d love to find out how well it works.

Amy says · 07.13.16

I have thick, naturally curly hair and just recently purchased the GHD flat iron, per your recommendation. I LOVE it, and I’ve used a lot of different high end flat irons! The GHD straightens my hair without flattening it (if that makes sense) so the end result still looks thick.
I would love it if you could do a hair tutorial on how to do soft waves with a flat iron. I know you have one for regular curls with a flat iron that you did a while back, but my hair is your length and I’d love to see an updated version! Thanks for a great post 🙂

Patti says · 07.13.16

I’d like a tutorial on soft waves too!

Simone says · 07.13.16

Definitely a styling tool. I wash my hair at night and sleep on it wet (I know, are you cringing?) because if I blow dry it I lose my natural wave and my hair is actually flat (my hair stylist found this fascinating but she agreed my hair does that!). So I would say HANDS DOWN my curling wand!

On a very random note, J. Crew Factory online has 50% on their clearance with the code on their site. I know you sometimes link some J. Crew fashion and thought I’d let you know. I scored two tops for $25!

Debbie says · 07.13.16

Is it bad to sleep on wet hair? I figure people do this a lot…at least damp hair…especially if one is trying to cut down on using heat tools (not to mention, time.)

Simone says · 07.13.16

I’m not sure. People always give me weird looks when I tell them I do! I guess it’s better because you don’t have the heat of the blowdryer!

Shelley says · 07.14.16

I sleep on wet hair as well and use my GHD straightener in the morning to do my hair. I do not have time to work out, blow dry and straighten in the morning- so this a compromise. I would figure it’s better to use less heat than more imo.

Brandi says · 07.13.16

I really need to invest in a good blow dryer. My hair is fine strands, but there’s a ton of it so it’s a thick head of hair, if that makes any sense. What I really wanted to know though is what are your thoughts on the TYME Iron? I love the wavy look, but really really stink at doing it myself.

Debbie says · 07.13.16

Can you recommend a good hair serum to reduce frizz. I sat outside last night an I could literally feel my hair getting bigger and bigger got to love this humidity:-)not. I have fine hair just a lot of it and it frizzes easy.

Andrea says · 07.13.16

As much as I love my flat iron, I would opt for a blow dryer! Some days I just don’t have time to let my hair air dry and I hate having wet hair drip all over my clothes!


Mel says · 07.13.16

Straightening iron! 100% iron for me! I can’t live without mine!

Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

Jenna says · 07.15.16

But even if you choose a styling tool, you still probably need a blow dryer… so your recommendation is to get a cheap blow dryer and splurge on the styling tool? I have “problem hair” so couldn’t live without either… 🙂

Megan says · 02.15.17

I think I will go with a blow dryer, because its something you use on a regular basis as compared to other tools..

Melisa says · 02.04.19

I’m looking to get a good flatiron and I know what you recommend, but was wondering your thoughts on the Lange brand and the various Babyliss ones? The more I look and research, the more confused I am – so many brands! Thank you –

Mandy says · 01.23.20

I recently got the Lange Le Reve. It’s the one that has the infrared in it so one plate on one side isn’t completely just a plate, it’s cut out for the infrared light. If that makes sense at all. I thought it pulled on my hair more than my Chi I was previously using. I just wished I hadn’t bought it because I didn’t think it did a better job. It’s just sitting in my bathroom closet now. I am back to using my Chi, yet still looking to see if there is something better lol.