Is the Hot Air Brush Actually Worth the Hype? PureWow Staffers Put 7 to the Test

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

You’ve heard people rave about the hot air brush that supposedly makes life a thousand times easier. So what’s the big fuss? These two-in-one brushes are equipped with the same type of motor as your hairdryer, which means it effectively dries and straightens while eliminating the need to juggle a round brush and a hot tool.

And yet, I was skeptical about the hot air brush. I heard all the praise but still wondered how well this magical hair dryer–like contraption actually works. Which meant one thing: It was time to test them. So I gathered six of my fellow PureWow staffers and had them partake in my not-so-scientific experiment.

I gave each of my coworkers (who, BTW, all have different hair types, ranging from curly to stick-straight) a hot air brush to try twice before reporting back. With details on their regular hair grooming habits and brutally honest reviews of the tools they tried, it turns out these brushes aren’t as universally beloved as I first thought. Scroll down to read all about it.

RELATED: The 3 Best Hot Air Brushes on Amazon

1. Tester: Katherine Gillen, Food Editor

Hair type: Baby fine and straightish. Usually air-dries in 30 minutes to an hour.

Tested: InfinitiPRO by Conair The Knot Dr. Detangling Hot Air Brush

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

Overall, the experience was fine. Just fine. It probably took me 25 minutes to go from damp to dry.

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

Harder, since I don’t usually touch my hair after I wash it, but also probably easier than using a blow-dryer and brush.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

The same, just a little straighter and smoother. In the volume department (where I’m lacking most), it definitely looked the same. I had hopes of looking like a shampoo model with bouncy hair, which is admittedly unrealistic, but I just don’t think it’s the right tool for my hair type.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

Hunny, no. It’s more effort than I’m willing to put into my hair on a daily basis, because the results look the same as if I did nothing. I got my hair colored and cut midway through this trial (shout-out to Phoebe and Molly at Blackstones), and I noticed the way a stylist directs the air in a downward motion, which really smooths it, while the tool actually blows hair away from the brush and scalp, resulting in frizzies. In the end, I don’t think any of these tools will ever replace a good old salon blowout.

BUY IT ($50)

2. Tester: Charlie Kolbrener, Executive Assistant

Hair type: Very curly and a little bit out of control (but in a fun way). I normally towel dry and then air dry, which takes a little over an hour.

Tested: InfinitiPRO by Conair Hot Air Paddle Brush Styler

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

I’m a bit of a hair-drying novice, so I didn’t do an amazing job with the tool. But when I had my sibling help, they did a great job and thought the brush was very easy to use. It took me about 30 to 40 minutes to do it myself, and it took my sibling about 25 minutes to do it on me. Both times it left me with straight hair with sort of a Farrah Fawcett–esque feathered quality to it.

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

Harder, but my usual process is very minimal.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

I won’t, but mostly just because I like having my curls. If I needed to straighten my hair for something, I think this would be a great product to use instead of a traditional straightener, mostly because it’s faster and easier to use, even though it ultimately does not straighten my hair as completely as a traditional straightener would.

$19 at Amazon

3. Tester: Chelsea Candelario, Editorial Assistant

Hair type: My curls are defined, a bit on the frizzy side, but overall shiny and soft. I like to air-dry my hair because I’m not a big fan of heat, especially when it comes to maintaining my curl definition. It takes about one to two hours to air-dry, but if I get it straightened at a salon, it’s closer to 30 minutes.

Tested: Hot Tools Professional Charcoal Infused One Step Blowout

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

The hot tool was pretty easy to use. It definitely kept my hair tangle-free, however it felt heavy at times and it took way too long to dry my roots. Overall, it took an hour for my hair to get completely dry.

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

I felt like it was harder because it took longer to get my hair the way I wanted. The first time I tried the brush, my ends looked horrible. The second time, my hair came out better and I realized it was because I needed to do smaller sections—which means I would have to spend at least an hour or more on my hair, and I do not have time for that! I also used a thicker heat-resistant serum the second time around, and that really helped.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

If I have to compare it to getting it straightened at the salon, I think it was pretty similar. I think the brush did a good job at providing volume and keeping my ends hydrated.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

Definitely not in my regular routine since I wear my hair curly most of the time, but I could see myself using this one or two times a year when I do want to straighten my hair. Honestly, if any other curly gals are looking to straighten their hair, I would reach for a hot brush tool over a flatiron any day.

$70 at Amazon

4. Tester: Dena Silver, Fashion Editor

Hair type: I have straight, boring hair that’s pretty fine. I tend to let it air-dry and it takes about 30 minutes or less. And yes, has approximately zero percent volume.

Tested: DryBar Double Shot Dryer Brush

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

The first time I used the Drybar brush, my strands looked frizzy, dry and not at all how I thought they would. So I decided to put in some research and hit up YouTube for the best tutorials out there (this one was the most useful). After learning to separate my hair into six sections, figuring out exactly how to curl my ends inward and the best way to add volume at the front of my hair, I became absolutely hooked. As in, I even ordered clips on Amazon to help section my hair better (these, in case you’re curious).

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

Since I usually do absolutely nothing to my hair, using the brush was just slightly more effort. But I discovered that this brush works best on my hair when it’s almost dry, so it tends to take only ten minutes or so, which isn’t a huge inconvenience.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

It looks so much better. So much so that a friend asked me if I got a haircut recently, a question I never receive, even if I’m fresh from the salon.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

Hell to the yes. To be honest, I’ve used it every other day since I started this test, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. I’ll probably keep watching YouTube tutorials to figure out new ways to use it. No shame!

BUY IT ($150)

5. Tester: Dabee Kaye, VP of Brand Partnerships

Hair type: Long, fine, wavy/frizzy hair. I normally dry it with a fancy ion blow-dryer and a round brush with ion as well. It usually takes about ten minutes to dry my hair.

Tested: InfinitPro by Conair Frizz Hot Air Brush

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

I hated it! I did not like that I had to blow my hair 80 percent dry with my usual blow-dryer, then start re-blowing my hair with the brush, section by section.

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

Much harder, it took way too much time and I didn’t get the results I normally get. I’m usually done in ten minutes and this took a good 20 minutes, and I’m not sure my hair was actually dry.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

Worse. The brush was not hot enough and didn’t have enough power to straighten my hair. The first time I gave up because I ran out of time and patience. The second time I finished my hair but couldn’t get it straight enough and I had frizz, which I normally don’t see.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

No, I don’t have the time or patience and didn’t like the results. The only benefit was that I could put a curl at the end of my hair, but again, it wasn’t hot enough to even hold the curl!

BUY IT ($40)

6. Tester: Jenny Jin, Beauty Director

Hair type: Thick, coarse, slightly wavy with a tendency to puff out in humidity or right after washing it. I normally let it air-dry before going to bed; it takes a solid hour or two to dry on its own and is a legitimate arm workout on the very rare occasion I attempt to blow-dry it.

Tested: Dyson Airwrap Volume + Shape Styler for Fine/Flat Hair

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

It was exactly that—an experience. The Airwrap isn’t like any other tool I’ve tried before. There are so many different attachments, but I used the firm smoothing brush and the 1.2-inch barrel. I let it air-dry most of the way (which helps prevent damage, BTW) and then just finished it with the brush to smooth everything out before adding a few curls throughout.

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

Compared to a normal blow-dryer and curling iron, I’d say it was an easier experience because the tool itself is pretty lightweight and the attachments do a lot of the work for you.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

I would say it looked better, in that it was shinier and bouncier than usual. I typically use a flatiron to add some waves, which looks a bit more undone. However, the Airwrap curls were more polished.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

I’ll definitely use this when I’m crunched on time or want to style my hair for a special event. Like I said before, I don’t usually spend too much time on my hair, but if you’re the type of person who heat styles your hair often and struggle with it, this is a great option (and an investment!).

BUY IT ($500)

7. Tester: Jillian Quint, SVP of Content

Tested: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush

Hair type: Thick, processed and dry. It will frizz up at the suggestion of humidity. I normally wash and blow it out every ten days, using a round brush and Dyson hair dryer. I typically wait until my hair is mostly dry, then spend about 30 minutes sectioning and styling.

How would you describe your experience with the hot air brush?

So easy! I washed my hair, slept with it wet and then spritzed it with a little water and heat protectant in the morning. I used clips to style by section, but it was so much easier to use one hand for the tool and the other to wrap up the sections (rather than holding a brush in one hand and hair dryer in the other).

Was it easier or harder than your usual drying experience?

It was so much easier and only took 12 minutes, but it was dry to start, so I was technically just styling.

Did your hair look better, the same or worse than how you usually dry it?

The same. I had high hopes that this brush would replicate the results of a professional blowout, but so far, that is not the case.

Will you continue to use this hot tool in your regular routine?

Definitely. It gets me 20 minutes of my life back!

$58 at Amazon

The Final Takeaway

So yeah, these hot air brushes aren’t for everyone or every hair type. But if you are still itching to try one, I’d suggest testing the Revlon or Drybar version, as they were the easiest to use and the most beloved among our testers. And one more thing? If you really, really want to use this thing properly, be prepared to section your hair, use the brush on mostly dry locks and check out a YouTube video (or four). It won’t take long to realize that all this extra effort can pay off—in the form of sleek, beautiful hair.

RELATED: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair, Really? A Celeb Hairstylist Weighs In