The 10 Best Bonnet Dryers

Updated March 17, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you're battling bedhead at home or resent paying an arm and a leg for the privilege of a "scalp massage" in a fancy salon, a dryer hood or soft bonnet is the secret to achieving professional results on a wide range of hair types from the comfort of your own bedroom or bathroom. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bonnet dryer on Amazon.

10. Conair Pro Style Collapsible

If you're of the opinion that strapping your head into a drawstring cap totally blows, the Conair Pro Style Collapsible is a compact and portable alternative for gently heated super-cranial airflow wherever you choose to set it up.
  • adjustable thermostat
  • convenient onboard cord storage
  • doesn't accommodate large rollers
Brand Conair
Model HH400R
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Hot Tools Tourmaline

In the school of thought to which Hot Tools Tourmaline belongs, the development of ionizing infrared technology is the key to forgoing bad hair days. Using radiant heat and negatively-charged nanoparticles, it gives damp tresses and delicate coiffures a bit of TLC.
  • reduces static and frizz
  • requires less time than many others
  • gets in the way when not in use
Brand Hot Tools
Model 1059
Weight 16.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Pro Styler by Conair

The Pro Styler by Conair doesn't take up a lot of floor space, but it's got plenty of room under the dome to accommodate anything from bulky rollers to glamorous updos that wouldn't survive the gale-force winds otherwise required to set them.
  • base with hinged arm
  • dual heat and a variable airflow
  • tends to get uncomfortably hot
Brand Conair
Model HH320LR
Weight 10.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Laila Ali Ionic

Affordable and easy to carry wherever you need to go, the Laila Ali Ionic is suitable for a range of uses, from penetrating conditioner treatments to rapid processing of thick braids and longer locks, although mastering some styles may take more than one session.
  • multiple speeds and temperatures
  • fits over jumbo-sized styling tools
  • hose can come loose during use
Brand Laila Ali
Model LADR5604
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Pibbs Kwik Dri

Featuring a wheeled stand, a flip-up visor and 1,100 watts of high-efficiency setting power, the Pibbs Kwik Dri distributes heat evenly to remove excess moisture, but it has a tendency to snatch up loose strands, so use it without a hair net at your own risk.
  • one-hour automatic timer
  • adjustable temperature control
  • also comes in wall-mount version
Brand Pibbs
Model 514
Weight 30.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Highland Venus Plus

For a touch of salon nostalgia, the Highland Venus Plus has a 980-watt element in a dome-shaped hood mounted on a durable, powder-coated steel base, so you can sit back and relax with your reading material of choice under a crown of warm breezes.
  • doesn't take up a lot of floor space
  • surprisingly quiet while in use
  • works with most chairs
Brand Highland
Model LSHD-005-C
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. SalonPro Orbiting Infrared

A hair-condom hooked up to a detachable blower won't set you back nearly as much as the SalonPro Orbiting Infrared, but for advanced technology that can pull off million-dollar looks without the help of a professional stylist, it's a modest investment.
  • even heat distribution
  • adjustable height and angle
  • hands-free operation
Brand SalonPro
Model SP-2238F-L
Weight 32.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Babyliss Pro Rollabout

The Babyliss Pro Rollabout makes it easy to tame tangles and fend off frizz, and looks like a professional unit. If you're up for listening to some tunes while you're under the hood, there's an optional audio input for your smartphone or MP3 player.
  • ultra-fast preheating
  • variable humidity control
  • lightweight and easy to reposition
Brand BaBylissPRO
Weight 16.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Hair Flair Deluxe Softhood

The Hair Flair Deluxe Softhood is a versatile and convenient way to take the damp out of your 'do without breaking the bank. Simply place the cap over your head, adjust the chin strap, and connect the hose to the nozzle of your favorite blow dryer.
  • works well on braids or dreadlocks
  • packs easily for travel
  • shortens the setting time
Brand Hair Flair
Model 473115
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Pibbs Lamp

The Pibbs Lamp uses infrared light to gently set color applications, conditioning treatments and styling products without the damaging effects of high-intensity blow drying, while flexible arms make it easy to direct the heat right where it's needed.
  • can be stand or wall mounted
  • turn individual bulbs on or off
  • enclosures to prevent contact burns
Brand Pibbs
Model pending
Weight 28.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Is A Bonnet Dryer And Why Do You Need One?

Many people have seen bonnet dryers in professional hair salons but didn't realize they could have the same device in their home. A bonnet dryer consists of a large hood that sits over the hair, covering the entire head so it can evenly distribute heat. One of the biggest differences between bonnet and hand-held dryers, though, is the fact that the former gently circulates air, while the latter sends out strong blasts of it. This is not only better for one's scalp, but also increases the longevity of the product.

Bonnet dryers are not only used to dry the hair, they can also be used to help certain treatments. They help the hair better absorb deep conditioners and oil treatments, leaving your locks extra healthy and shiny. They can also help the hair take up color enhancements, letting highlights appear brighter. Since these appliances can be put on lower heat settings, they can minimize hair damage from drying, too.

One study on hair cosmetics found that because the actual heating element of bonnet dryers sits a certain distance away from the scalp, it is one of the safer methods of drying. Unlike hand-held models, bonnet dryers leave the user with full use of their hands, so they can read, type on their laptop or do other tasks while waiting for their hair to be ready. Even if the user does nothing at all while sitting under their bonnet dryer, that is better than putting continuous strain on their arm, the way they would with a hand-held model. Bonnet dryers have also been shown to reduce hair frizz more effectively than hand-held varieties, and are gentler on chemically over-processed hair.

Additional Features To Look For

If you are using your bonnet dryer to help curls set, make sure the hood is large enough to fit the rollers, while still leaving space between the heating element and your head. It's also important that the unit has a highly flexible arm, so you can adjust it to different heights, allowing you to sit on almost any surface in your home.

Some bonnet dryers attach directly to your existing hand dryer; simply connect the hose of the bonnet model to the nozzle of the hand-held model, and the heat from the latter will be directed up into the hood. These will usually be soft bonnet dryers, in which the hood is made from non-slip silicone, and covers the entire head, staying in place via a chin strap. Soft varieties are also more compact than the plastic ones since they can compress to be nearly flat when not in use.

The thicker the hair one has, the higher the wattage they will need in their dryer so as to speed up the process. People who struggle with dry, frizzy or brittle hair know how damaging hair dryers can be. In 2000, one inventor made a hair dryer that used a negative ion generator and a corona discharger to reduce frizz. Many bonnet dryers utilize this same technology. For ultimate versatility, look for a long and flexible air hose, so you can plug your dryer in almost anywhere you like.

If you plan on using your dryer to help treatments set, make sure it's made from chemical-resistant materials; this is safer for both the dryer and the user. Another important safety feature is the timer; many bonnet dryers allow you to set a cycle from anywhere between zero and 60 minutes, to make sure you don't accidentally overheat the machine, or damage your hair.

The History Of The Hair Dryer

Before hair dryers were invented, women had to be quite inventive if they didn't have the patience for hair to dry. Some women took to attaching a hose to the exhaust of their vacuum cleaners and using the clean air that came from here to dry their hair. In 1888, the French inventor Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy created the most primitive version of a hair dryer. His instructions stated the device could be connected to any type of heater, and it would send heat through a pipe, into a dome that sat over a person's head. Godefroy's dryer had an escape valve that let steam out, too, so the user's head would not overheat.

Even though Armenian American inventor Gabriel Kazanjian invented a hand-held blow-dryer in 1911, between the 1920s and 1960s, hair salons everywhere were purchasing Godefroy's design. However, the first dryers were very large and noisy and could take up to an hour to fully dry hair. During the 1930s, some salons turned to gas dryers, but these created too many fumes and were very damaging to hair. Eventually, salon owner Robert Hoffman developed an electric hair drying system, which became the standard for salons until around the 1950s.

Bonnet hair dryers were some of the first models designed specifically for at-home use. The original models used a plastic cap that sat over the head and a hose that attached to a suitcase style machine, which generated the heat and air.

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Last updated on March 17, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience—with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist—she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new.

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