Ionic vs Regular Hair Dryer – Understanding the Differences

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When you’re on the hunt for a new hair dryer, you’ll be faced with quite a few options. Ionic and Tourmaline (or regular) hair dryers are two of the most popular options on the market.

At first glance, it may seem like there are no differences between Ionic vs Regular Hair Dryer, but there certainly are!

  • Ionic hair dryers break down positively-charged water molecules in your hair.
  • Regular hair dryers blow hot hair onto your hair to dry it.
  • Both work well for different reasons but may not work for everyone.

How much of this is woo and marketing speak, and how much of it is really important for your hair?

In this guide, we’re going to discuss these differences and how they can impact your hair-care routine. By the end, you should know which one is the best for your personal needs. Read on for the full breakdown. 


Ionic vs Regular Hair Dryer

Both ionic and non-ionic hair dryers dry hair using negative ions. But the methods they use are different, and produce different results. To make things even more confusing, many hair dryers use both ionic and tourmaline ceramic systems to dry hair.

Let’s look at each of the two types of drying methods individually, then we’ll go over how they’re combined.

Ionic Hair Dryers 101

Conair Ionic Hair Dryer

Ionic hair dryers work by producing millions of negatively-charged ions, which break down the positively-charged water ions present in your hair after you’ve washed it.

Unlike positively-charged ions, negative ions seal your hair cuticles, allowing your hair to remain sleek and smooth. 

Ionic hair dryers work by producing millions of negatively-charged ions.

The great thing about these hair dryers is that they allow you to dry your hair at a lower temperature, which helps to prevent heat damage. They are also wonderful at preserving the definition of wavy and curly hair, allowing your curls to stay light and bouncy while also drying them quicker. 

Finally, since ionic dryers keep your hair smooth, so you’ll notice less – if any – pesky frizz once your hair is dry. 

The Downsides of Ionic Hair Dryers

Sure, ionic hair dryers may seem perfect on paper, but they come with several unique drawbacks that may make them less desirable to those passionate about maintaining the healthiest hair possible. 

One of the main drawbacks to ionic hair dryers is that it is super easy to over-dry your hair when you use one. Over-drying can be particularly damaging to fine hair. If your hair is quite thin, it can be left limp and tired-looking after being over-dried with an ionic dryer. 

One of the main drawbacks to ionic hair dryers is that it is super easy to over-dry your hair when you use one.

What’s more, because of their unique, advanced mechanisms, they’re quite a bit more expensive than their traditional and even ceramic counterparts. So, if you’re working on a budget, you may want to consider getting a regular hair dryer instead. 

Tourmaline Ceraminc Hair Dryers 101

BabyLiss Pro Tourmaline Hair Dryer

Regular hair dryers are made using tourmaline ceramic, a semi-precious mineral known for its ability to produce negative ions. As mentioned earlier, negative ions break down the positively-charged water ions in your hair, similar to ionic hair dryers. 

In fact, many hair dryers make use of both technologies to make the drying process as quick as possible. Tourmaline reduces the time needed to dry your hair by up to 40%, making it one of the most popular hair dryer choices in salons. 

Tourmaline reduces the time needed to dry your hair by up to 40%.

Tourmaline can also break water molecules down using negative ions, so hair dryers made with this material are far less dependent on heat to dry your hair out. Since heat is known to damage hair, this makes tourmaline dryers a slightly safer option. 

These dryers can also leave your hair looking glossy and free of frizz, which is a desirable outcome for anyone who is passionate about having healthy, radiant hair. 

Drawbacks of Regular Hair Dryers

Because tourmaline is a fairly rare gemstone, it can be quite a bit more expensive than other hair-drying models. However, the price of a tourmaline dryer is generally still lower than that of an ionic dryer, and prices are all over the place for hair dryers in general.

You can spend an arm and a leg on a Dyson Hair Dryer , stick to the medium end with a Cura T3 Ionic dryer, or simply spend less than $50 on a basic dryer like a Conair Ceramic .

Furthermore, if your hair is limp or oily, then the smoothing effect that tourmaline dryers have can leave your hair flat, encouraging oils to travel down the strands. If you have oily hair, you may want to stay away from tourmaline dryers and opt for an ionic model instead. 

If you have oily hair, you may want to stay away from tourmaline dryers and opt for an ionic model instead. 

Hair Dryer Tips to Fight the Frizz

If you’re new to the art of styling your own hair and want to be able to achieve a look that is free of frizz, then follow these quick, easy tips:

1. Wash Your Hair First!

It may not be obvious that the perfect blow-dry routine involves washing your hair, but it does! After using a hair dryer, washed hair becomes much easier to style and maintains a radiant, healthy look all day. You can blow dry hair that is already dry, but it works best to start with damp, towel-dried hair.

2. Let Your Hair Air-Dry

Wet hair is much more susceptible to damage, so try not to be aggressive when you’re drying it with a towel, and try to avoid using your hair dryer right after you’ve stepped out of the shower. Instead, use a soft towel or an old shirt to cover your hair, and allow it to soak up the water gently. 

Once you’ve absorbed most of the water from your hair, remove your towel and let your hair air dry. Smooth it out and leave it at least 60% dry. 

3. Section Your Hair

Once your hair is semi-dry, you can begin segmenting it according to its thickness and length. The larger the section you create, the longer that section is going to take to dry. 

When you are ready to use the dryer, start drying the lower sections first. Make sure that the dryer is on a gentle setting, and maintain a reasonable distance, so you don’t scorch your hair. Also, we recommend starting close to the base of the neck. 

4. Treat It With Cold Air

Once your hair is completely dry, you should give it a gentle blast of cold air from the dryer to lock in that natural shine. If you want to preserve this shine while keeping your hair in check, you can also use a light hairspray or anti-frizz serum.

This is also the best time to start styling your hair using your favorite styling product. Once you have run the product through your hair and have achieved your style, treating your hair with a blast of cold air will lock the style in place while keeping your hair naturally radiant. 


There are some differences between ionic and ceramic/tourmaline hair dryers, but they both work pretty similarly, and to successfully dry your hair, you want to follow the same set of tips, regardless of what you use. And as we mentioned above, many brands use a combination of both drying methods!

The bottom line: if you’ve got fine hair, lean toward tourmaline. If you’ve got oily hair, lean toward ionic. But good drying practice is more important than the system you use.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).