The 2-in-1 barrel brush-meets-hairdryer has been touted as your very own at-home hairstylist, promising extra lift, smooth volume, and curled ends akin to a salon blow-dry, all without leaving the comfort of your bedroom. At a recommended retail price of $87.00 CAD, it's a fraction of the cost of many hairstylist-recommended tools on the market, and you can find it in stores and online at accessible retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Ulta Beauty.
Glowing reviews, coupled with questions from friends and colleagues, initially piqued my curiosity. Hundreds of five-star reviews speak for themselves — but would the One-Step Dryer actually make a dent in my dense, wavy, mid-length hair? Would it really give me a salon-worthy blow-dry at home? And if so, how long would my new style last?
At first glance, the tool is pretty big; almost double the size of barrel brushes hairstylists have used to give my hair volume, bounce, and definition. That said, the dryer system is built in, so it makes sense. The shape isn't exactly round — rather, oval, as though a barrel brush has been flattened slightly. Brush bristles are studded between the plastic teeth to prevent tangling or breakage and to volumize limp strands. There are three heat settings — cold, warm, and hot — and the handle is moulded to fit your hand. The whirr is noisier than a Dyson Supersonic but similar to popular standard hairdryers. It's also much lighter and thus easier to wield.
The instructions recommend styling your hair with the One-Step Dryer when it's slightly damp, not wet, for the best results. I rough-dried my lengths with my trusty Dyson (pricy but a total game-changer in terms of speed, efficiency, and results) and split my hair into eight sections, using claw clips to separate.
I have a lot of hair and passing the brush through one section didn't do much, so I halved the sections and started from scratch. I took care to go very slowly from root to tip, and the first pass was impressive. It dried my hair straight, but not poker straight, almost instantly. I found it difficult to curl the ends, which just fell flat, but despite its size it was easy to wedge the brush into my roots. Because of this, I was able to eradicate a lot of frizz from the top but hold on to volume and lift. My hair felt soft and looked seriously smooth. However, I'm right-handed and I struggled with the left side of my hair. With a little bit of practice, though, I'm sure I could nail it.
I had to go over some strands more than once to get it right, and my arm started to ache after a while. I put this down to the heat setting — I just don't think it was hot enough to style my dense hair. However, if you're trying to steer clear of flat irons or curling wands, which often exceed temperatures of 350 degrees and completely frazzle hair, this is a brilliant alternative. I would suggest drenching your hair in a heat protectant spray first regardless of the temperature, then giving it a quick blast with a hairdryer to make sure it's damp, not dripping.
Overall, I think this tool is best suited to those with long, fine hair, who can expect shape, volume, and smoothness. Those with hair like mine, which is very heavy and wavy in places, or curly and textured hair might struggle. Reading more online reviews confirms my theory: Curly-haired users don't seem to have as much success as they would the usual hairdryer and barrel brush, citing low heat and a lack of precision. For me, using the tool actually made me feel like a professional — but achieving a good result was quite a lengthy process.
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