My title for this post is somewhat misleading. The hairdryer in question is actually R6 499. Yup, I spat my tea out too when I heard that. The Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer comes with a pretty supersonic price tag. Not even my beloved ghd straightener costs that much and, if you asked me to choose between it and a hairdryer, I’d choose the ghd straightener. In fact, I’ve had a ghd hairdryer for around 5 years that now sits around the R2000 mark and I thought that was pretty pricey, worth it though because it is still going strong… but still.
When I first heard about the Dyson Supersonic I was invited to chat to one of the UK Engineers, Brett Coulton, who worked on the dryer. He gave me insight into the development process before I had a chance to use it. For some reference, Dyson has been working on this baby for about 6 years. According to Coulton the focus has been on understanding the science of hair. They tested varying hair types in their new hair laboratories (which have cost more than R5 billion) to try design the “optimal” hair dryer.
Wait, Dyson? Don’t they make vacuum cleaners?
Yes. Dyson is more well known for their vacuum cleaners than hair dryers. In fact this is their first foray into the hair world and I’m presuming just the start with that sort of capital outlay on research centres. The biggest issue with hair dryers is that heat damages hair. It burns it, dries it out and generally makes it look rubbish. According to Coulton, Dyson combatted this with something called “intelligent heat control”. This ensures the hair isn’t exposed to excessive temperatures. A glass bead thermistor measures the temperature 20 times a second and transmits this data to the microprocessor, which intelligently controls the patented double-stacked heating element.
What happened when you used it?
Well, at that price I thought it might sing to me out the box (kidding). When you first unbox the Dyson Supersonic you’re met with really clean packaging and a beautiful hair dryer, if not somewhat unconventional. It has a round cylinder shape and is hollow on the inside. There are three accessories with the hairdryer. Two smoothing nozzles and a diffuser. These all attach magnetically to the dryer which I thought was actually rather rad. Everything is made from premium materials including the accessories. You won’t be unimpressed with the quality of the product. The cable is high end and secured well (I’ve seen cables and plug points on hair dryers frey from constantly being plugging in and pulled out). I do feel that for the price point I’d want more accessory options so I did ask Coulton if there were more on the way but he simply said his lips were sealed. I’m taking that as a probably.
The Dyson Supersonic is surprisingly light. I have long-ish hair so it usually takes me around 20 minutes to dry it. We’ve all suffered from that tired bicep after a good few minutes of waving the dryer on our roots. The Dyson isn’t like that. It doesn’t feel top heavy and is super easy to wave around. Also that hollow centre means you never get hair stuck in the back when you aren’t concentrating. So that’s a win.
The Dyson dried my hair in under 10 minutes. That’s impressive. It’s far quieter than other hair dryers as well. It still whines, but softly. I suppose that is a pro point? It has 3 airflow settings and 4 heat adjustment settings, so if you feel your hair getting too hot you can always turn down the temperature. I didn’t feel like my hair was hot at all the first time I used it and it still dried it quickly. So colour me impressed.
The device does everything they said it would: dries my hair quicker, with limited heat, is quieter, lighter and generally just a really well put together product. It is a super hair dryer. I cannot fault it. I also cannot pay R6499 for it.
The bottom line
Coulton explained to me that they had 103 engineers working on the project and those not familiar with hair dryers had to take part in a blow drying course. Dyson chatted to hair stylists and took years to develop this product. They made 6000 prototypes. When I questioned life span of the Supersonic Coulton said all Dyson products were designed to last. They conducted hours of tests and also replicated actions you would do when using a hair dryer. They even had a 135kg man stand on the handle!
All of this work and research shows. This is an incredibly well engineered machine. It has a beautiful aesthetic. It blows head and shoulders above other hairdryers and it really is impeccably made. I’m still not paying R6499 for a hair dryer. Yes, it is beautiful and faster and potentially better for my hair. But most high end hair dryers from 5 years ago allow you to turn down the heat to ensure you don’t damage your hair. Yes, they might not be as scientifically forward thinking or engineered so well – but seriously. I dry my hair maybe twice a week at a push. I can’t justify this price.
If you dry hair for a living buy the Dyson Supersonic but for anyone else – it is 3 TIMES the price of a top of the line hair dryer and costs more than most people earn as minimum LEGAL monthly wage in South Africa. This is not a gadget you use every day or need to do your job. It’s a hair dryer. Granted a great one, but still. I’m hoping Dyson use those research facilities to develop a more affordable alternative. I’d likely jump brands in a heart beat if they did.
Disclosure: I was sent a Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer to test out for this review. I do not get to keep it, it goes back to the distributor now.