Watts Up? Nothing, Just Blasting My Hair with Gemstones

For my next product in the “best in beauty” series, hair dryers were an easy choice because I have a very clear favorite: the Speed Freak 2000 Watt Ceramic and Tourmaline Dryer by Rusk. I’m not the only one—a stylist at Van Cleef Hair Studio (where Michelle Obama goes in Chicago) and I talked at length once about how much we love this dryer and I recently read it’s what Kate from The Small Things Blog uses (if you’re on Pinterest, you know her).

I’m now on my second after having my first Speed Freak for about five years (a respectable life for a dryer). It does dry my hair freakishly fast, as the name entails. With the combination of this hair dryer, the right brushes and the right technique, I no longer need to flat-iron my hair. That’s unheard of for me, so be impressed. Retail price is $135.95, but you can easily find it for less ($79 at Ulta).

When it comes to hair dryer technology, “ceramic,” “ionic” and “tourmaline” have been the stagnant buzz-words for the past few years. Ceramic materials heat fast and evenly, so this makes good sense. It’s the ionic claims that get a little questionable. If you’ve bought a dryer within the past several years, it’s likely ionic. They’re everywhere, at all price points. The gist is that when hair is wet, it has a positive charge. By blasting hair with a negative charge from an ionic dryer, hair is supposed to dry faster and sleeker.

Tourmaline is another material used in hair dryers, typically the more expensive models. This is the selling point of the famous $200 T3 Featherweight. Tourmaline is—get this—a gemstone. They crush these gemstones into a powder and incorporate them into the blow dryer. Really. There is some science behind this because tourmaline yields a charge, so in theory, this dryer will blast your hair with negative ions.

Maybe tourmaline is how Jem transformed their hair!

My Speed Freak is ceramic, ionic and contains tourmaline. All the bells, all the whistles. But I don’t really care about all that—what really makes the difference to me is the wattage. The Speed Freak has 2000 watts, one of the most powerful on the market. The T3 has 1800 watts, which is respectable, but it’s more expensive. I bought at CHI dryer with only 1300 watts once and it was so weak, I had to return it. Even though it was supposedly throwing those ions, it took forever to dry my hair and looked frizzy by the time I was done.

So in my opinion, ions and gemstones probably do help a little, but wattage is really where it’s at. I highly recommend the Rusk Speed Freak because of its power, especially if you have hard to manage hair. However, any dryer with 1800 watts or more should do the trick. Another good tip is to ask your hairstylist what he or she uses.

What I’d really love to do is test the Speed Freak vs. T3 Featherweight vs. Elchim 2001 Classic Hair Dryer (Lauren Conrad’s favorite hair dryer) so if anyone owns these dryers, let me know!