It crackled, it screeched, its howling even woke my boyfriend up in the morning.
No, not my shower singing voice (thank you very much) – my hair dryer.
I’ve used the same hairdryer for close to six years now. I bought it from CVS one morning in a panic when my tried and true dryer (another one I’d had for about six or seven years) finally bit the dust – so this one was just to “get me by” until I could go searching for a real one.
Six years later, that day finally came.
I’m a budget-conscious person, and I’m not a gal who throws things out prematurely. (If you can’t see the holes in my tights, it’s like they’re not there…right?) But after a few too many mornings of that burnt hair smell, I was finally ready to call it quits with my old Revlon gal and move on to a smarter, healthier model.
In my journey to healthy hair, I’ve come to realize it takes a wide combination of products, tools and routines to avoid and prevent damage – and that includes your hair dryer. While many say to avoid using heat on your hair as much as you can, we all know that’s not always possible. (I don’t know about you, but I’m no Heidi or Megan who can pull off the wet hair trend.) So when drying your hair, you should have the best tools at your disposal to help your hair dry smoothly, quickly and healthfully.
1. The rattling is driving you crazy.
That annoying rattling noise in your dryer means you have a defect, which likely has to deal with the place where blades draw air in through the vents, push the air past the heating element and shoot it out to you (also called the impeller). If your hair dryer’s rattling, it means the internal plastic thingy impeller is loose, broken or obstructed – which means the dryer isn’t going to be working as it should. If you have mad mechanic skills (and the impeller’s only loose or obstructed), pop open that puppy and fix ‘er up. If you’re like me and can break things just by looking at them, get in your car, drive to a store with hairdryers and buy a new one.
2. It takes a few light years to dry your hair.
For my damaged gals, this sign is the big one: The longer the drying time, the more time you’re spending with high heat directly on your scalp, roots, strands and tips – which means more time for causing damage.
When to replace your hair dryer To shorten drying time, dry your hair in sections with the help of a wide-tooth comb. Then, use a large-barrel round brush once your hair is at least 85-90 percent dry to help it dry smoothly (which also cuts down on your flat iron use). If these steps still don’t help, hit the store – many models on the market can help cut drying time by 40-50 percent.
3. You can’t see the filter anymore.
Like your car’s or home’s air filter (or like your my shower drain, ahem.), the filter on your hair dryer can easily become clogged with hair, lint and other debris – which means it won’t be able to work properly. If your dryer’s relatively new, try cleaning it yourself. If the filter is clogged beyond repair, though, it might be time to hit the store.
4. It sounds like a howler monkey’s mating call.
Your dryer squeaks, squeals and screeches – and you just can’t take it anymore. Squealing noises in your dryer usually means something’s caught in one of the fan blades – which could lead to a defective dryer or, severely, it could cause something to catch on fire. (Pray it’s not your hair, eesh.)
You might just need a simple(ish) fix: Open your hairdryer and remove any foreign/stuck objects. However, if no objects are to be found (or can be removed), it’s time to start comparing new models.
5. Your model doesn’t include words like “ionic” or “tourmaline.”
Hair dryers these days are made with a purpose: To help dry your hair quickly and smoothly.
Quick chemistry lesson: All substances have positive and negative ions. Wet hair is “positively charged,” and ionic hair dryers shoot out negative ions to restructure the ions in your hair. So ionic dryers are made to rehydrate and recondition your strands.
Similarly, tourmaline hair dryers use a type of gemstone (called, um, tourmaline) to help dry hair faster and add shine.
Ladies, hear me now: If you’re prolonging the life of a damaged hair dryer, you’re just wreaking havoc on your locks. Make a clean break and find a new, better model. Like, now.