With the exorbitant salon prices these days, more and more people are opting to treat their hair at home. In the past, this was unheard of, but modern technological advancements have resulted in the creation of a tremendous number of home portable bonnet hair dryer and portable hooded hair dryer advertised as being able to help users attain that highly sought salon quality finish—or at least close enough to that level.
But truth of them matter is, a lot of these dryers are advertised misleadingly. Some models aren’t capable of offering even an iota close to salon level finish.
So how does one find a good quality hooded or bonnet portable hair dryer?
Well, you’re reading this, right?
So you’re in good hands now because we’ve assembled a list that features 7 portable hooded and bonnet salon quality hair dryers that are genuinely good for the money.
On this list, you’ll find a total of 4 hard hood hair dryers and 2 soft bonnet cap dryers. The remaining item is actually a soft cap bonnet attachment for hard hood hair dryers, but we decided to include this attachment anyway because it’s such a splendid product and is very much relevant to this list.
What’s the difference?
Now, for those of you not in the know, the difference between a hard hood and bonnet dryer is the parts that are responsible for covering your hair/head.
- With the hard hood hair dryer, your head is covered by a solid hood that looks like an astronaut’s helmet. The inner part of the hood is riddled with small holes that blow either hot or cool air (depending on the settings) directly to your hair.
- Bonnet cap on the other hand, is typically composed of plastic that’s pliable and has a drawstring attached to it, which can be pulled to taut so that it wraps securely over your head without leaving any gaps. The dryer’s hose connects to a hole in the bonnet cap allowing hot or cool air to flow to your hair.
Each has its own pluses and minuses. With the hard version, you can expect superior durability, usually more room for fitting in large hair rollers, and better heating power resulting in faster drying time. Their downsides are they tend to be pricier, and portability is limited.
You can move around a little while using a bonnet dryer (would require an extension cord for that), plus they are compact and lightweight so you can easily travel with them. Their drawbacks are suspect durability, limited hose length, and certain units are downright noisy.
Let’s dive in to the Portable Bonnet & Hooded Hair Dryer Reviews
Okay, that’s enough blabbing from us! Our goal here is to help you discover the best portable bonnet dryer for your money and your beautiful hair, so let the discovery begin!
Consumer Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Although the reviews are mixed, we went ahead and picked this portable hard hooded hair dryer off Amazon.com because the price was simple irresistible—less than a hundred bucks! Right, so the price is fantastic, but what about the overall quality?
Professional or home use?
Well, we’re happy to report that this machine is a pretty decent buy if you only want to use it at home, which is likely not that often. Salon owners on the other hand might want to go for a sturdier, more durable model that’s capable of sustaining heavy usage on a daily basis.
Build quality and design
Frankly, the overall build of this dryer isn’t all that great. The wheels are ridiculously fragile, so you’ll definitely want to go real slow and gentle when rolling it around your house, or you risk popping off the wheels. You can easily pop them back on though.
Because of its top heavy construction, the unit tends to veer forward if you set the pole too high. This problem could’ve been avoided had the manufacturer fitted the dryer with a tougher base. The base is made out of plastic by the way, and it feels cheap. You can easily adjust the height of the dryer’s pole but as mentioned, go easy on the height otherwise the whole thing will become unstable.
Portable Hood size
The size of the hood is all right, but could be bigger to accommodate users who prefer to use those big 3-inch hair rollers. Smaller rollers should do just fine under the hard hood. Adjusting the hood’s angle is limited to pulling it down to a specific angle (doesn’t go all the way down), or you can push it all the way up. There’s no changing the angle side to side, or pulling the hood slightly to the back or bringing it forward. Those kinds of angle adjustments are typically found on pricier models.
In general, its drying power is excellent for a 75 Celsius max portable hooded dryer. It may not be salon level kind of drying power, but the heat is good enough to get a solid deep conditioning job done well. Plus, it still offers sufficient ‘juice’ to dry locks that are moderately thick, and it’s able to do so fairly quickly and with surprisingly even heat distribution.
We were also surprised to discover that the dryer runs very quietly. So quiet in fact that at times, we had to check the ON/OFF switch twice to make sure we actually had it switched on! Unfortunately, the dryer’s 60-minute timer ticks rather loudly. To worsen matter, using the timer is mandatory as the machine will not operate if you don’t set it up beforehand.
Wow, there seem to be quite a number of negativities associated with this particular model. Is it really worth the money then? As we said earlier, for under 100 bucks, it is not a bad deal especially if you’re going to operate it infrequently it at home. Far worse options are available out there and believe it or not, some of them are absurdly pricier than the Giantex dryer.
Consumer Rating: (3.5 / 5)
At first glance, the Conair Pro Style Bonnet looks more like a table lamp than a dryer. Perhaps it’s a 2-in1 device—a highly innovative hybrid of a table lamp and a hard hood portable dryer? Sadly, that isn’t the case. It’s just a hooded dryer, but this model was undoubtedly made specifically for people who are not too keen on having big, bulky hard hooded dryers cluttering up their living space.
Size & Weight
Really, this is one the lightest and smallest portable hooded dryers around—coming in at a weight of only 2 pounds and its dimensions are just 14 x 14.2 x 14 inches. This means that unlike the Giantex model, this cute little plastic thing is so much easier to put away. Yes, it can fit pretty much any type of closet. However, its plastic, lightweight, and compact build comes at a price and that price is durability.
According to one customer, the dryer conk out on her within weeks of purchase. Other reported issues include the dryer switching itself off right after it was turned on, and the hood’s shoddily made height locking latch that often resulted in the hood dropping onto the user’s head! Lucky for us as so far, we haven’t encountered these issues and our unit is closing in 6 months at the time of writing.
Still, we do concur with some users regarding the cheapness of the overall construction. There’s a good chance that our unit may not last beyond a couple of years, but we sure hope that’s not the case!
Small hard hooded portable dryer
Some customers have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the size of the hard hood, but taking into consideration how small this dryer is, the size isn’t all that bad. Large rollers most definitely won’t fit under its hood so you’ll want to keep that in mind.
Heating & Drying
The dryer has only two heat settings and we often went with the hotter temperature and the end results are often adequate. The much sought after shiny, smooth finish is achievable with the help of this dryer, but that’s of course, after applying the proper deep conditioning on your hair.
Heat distribution is an issue though. If you use this dryer, chances are, it won’t thoroughly dry the back of your head. You’ll’ have to tilt your head down a bit more for the heat to hit the hair on that area of your head.
The Conair Pro Style Bonnet Hair Dryer is clearly not up to the level of the other models on this list, but if you want an adequate enough portable hard hooded hair dryer that will save you a ton of space, you might want to check it out. You should also know that this dryer runs pretty loud!
Consumer Rating: (4 / 5)
We like this dryer for a number of reasons, but the principle one is that it sports a black and purple hood which looks pretty cool. Wow, that almost makes it sound as if the Tourmaline Tools 1059 has little redeeming qualities, hence it wouldn’t be worth the money—as if the colors of the hood are the high point! Now that would be an incorrect assumption.
Portable bonnet hair dryer – professional finish out of the salon
For a home dryer to be used on a weekly basis, the Tourmaline Tools 1059 is a solid pick. This dryer looks almost identical to the Giantex dryer, but the hood is more spacious and the heat it produces is hotter. In addition, the manufacturer has incorporated an ionic feature into this dryer.
Durable quality build
As you sit down in your chair with the dryer’s bonnet covering your pretty locks and the machine switched on, you’ll experience stellar drying power few portable bonnet hair dryers for home use can match. The heat emitted by this portable bonnet hair dryer is really that good, especially if you use the high setting.
There’s a low heat setting of course, but the output is pitiful. Actually, the low setting is ideal for alternating with high heat since it can get very hot under the hood sometimes. Medium heat isn’t available on this dryer which is a bummer.
Hair drying styles and designs
Tourmaline Tools 1059’s ability to accommodate various types of hair deserves praise despite the fact it’s primarily designed for those with curly locks. Want to dry thick long straight hair? Check!
Want to use this for your dry loose hair? Check! Want those eye-catching loose waves? Check that too. Sort out the frizz in your curly hair? Check that as well. And like other dryers, you can also use it to perform salon-like deep conditioning treatments for your hair.
It dries hair evenly but a handful of users complained that the heat doesn’t effectively hit the sides of their heads. That may very well depend on the length of your hair. Users with exceptionally long hair will need to move their heads a bit at various angles in order to dry those hard-to-reach sides.
Sure, it’s a little annoying that the bonnet or hood can’t be rotated, but you can move it up or down. You’ll appreciate the size of the hood though as it can fit big rollers unlike the Giantex dryer.
The adjustable height and wheels are handy, but the base is slightly prone to wobbling. Putting the unit together is laughably easy. It’ll probably take you 5 to 10 minutes tops to get the job done. This dryer has its share of drawbacks, but all in all, we are very happy with its overall performance and how it has hold up over the last couple of years.
We’ve heard some grumblings about the dryer’s fan and how it tends to go bonkers and making weird sounds after a certain period of time. No such problem on our end, but you might want to take note of that just in case.
And just so you now, the Tourmaline Tools 1059 is a 1875W, 125V, and 60Hz dryer. There are dials for adjusting the speed (HIGH/LOW), heat (HIGH/LOW), and the ionic feature.
Consumer Rating: (4 / 5)
The D salon has everything you’d want in a good hard hooded portable hair dryer: fabulous heat, quiet, spacious hood, and smooth wheels. Best of all, this wonderful piece of machinery costs under $100 (at the time of write-up)!
The Giantex dryer has a similar price point, but between these two, we would go with D Salon’s offering because the overall quality is superior. We are quite amazed at how quickly it gets hot. You can choose from three different heat settings so yes, there’s actually a medium setting. Hooray! If you’re pressed for time though, just crank it up to level 3 and enjoy the incredibly fast drying time.
Hair style and finish
The dryer works for just about any hair types and it does a decent job of giving that shiny, smooth finish which is usually attainable only if you get your hair done using commercial-grade salon dryers. The end result won’t be exactly salon level quality, but it’ll be close enough. Try doing a roller set with this dryer—you’re going to be so pleased with the results!
Speaking of rollers, well, because of its roomy hard hood, big rollers can fit right underneath it. Yes, even those Titanium Pro jumbo rollers by BabylissPRO. Like any other portable bonnet hair dryers worth buying, the D Salon’s height can easily be adjusted and the construction is pretty solid all around.
Our only complaint is that once the timer gets to zero, the sound it makes is annoyingly LOUD. Also note that this dryer, like many others of its kind, may suffer from the dreaded top heavy syndrome.
Overall, the manufacturer did a lot of things right with this model. It’s everything you want in an affordable hard bonnet hair dryer.
Cool Cap Bonnet Soft Nylon Hood Hair Dryer Attachment
Consumer Rating: (4 / 5)
This is not a soft hood portable hair dryer, but a bonnet cap attachment that you can fit over your hard hooded dryer. You then place your head through an opening under the bonnet cap, chill out, and wait for your hair to dry.
Reduce styling time
The idea behind this invention is to prevent the dryer’s heat from searing your ears and face, so you can sit under a hooded dryer comfortably for a longer period of time. In addition, it cuts the drying time by half so you don’t actually have sit under your dryer for too long.
Simple fitting and styling with a portable hooded hair dryer
You can secure the cap onto your dryer with an elastic strap which is attached to the top portion of the cap. But you should be aware that a number of users have commented that the strap isn’t tight enough, and that this bonnet cap is prone to slipping off their dryers. Also, a few complaints were made regarding the cap’s lack of size.
That said, we actually have two of these and they seem roomy enough to us. They can even accommodate our 3-inch rollers. Also, our caps do not slip off the dryer as the straps seem to be doing a great job at keeping them firmly in place over the dryer. Who knows, maybe those customers received duds. That’s bound to happen with any product.
All things considered, this product is good to have for those looking to dramatically reduce their hair drying times, and it’s perfect for deep conditioning.
Consumer Rating: (3.5 / 5)
This is a solid, if unspectacular, soft bonnet hair dryer for people who are regularly on the go. This unit is so thin and lightweight; you can easily bring it along with you on your travels. The thin, body looks sleek, but tips over rather easily. How light it is you ask? About 3 or so pounds!
A little noisy
Like the Gold N Hot Gh5135v1 dryer we reviewed earlier, this one also makes a loud sound when in operation. It’s not the must-wear-ear-plugs kind of loud, but loud enough that if you use it for longer than an hour; your sanity may be compromised.
Really, what’s with all these compact, lightweight portable dryers with their loud motors? You would think that the smaller the units, the quieter they run. That doesn’t seem to be the case with these two dryers.
And on the subject of motors, the motor in this dryer tends to vibrate quite a bit, so you might want to keep an eye on it if you run it on the table. Since it’s so light, the vibration can gradually move it across the table and the dryer may get ruined if it drops on the floor too hard.
Hot Tools Professional dryer features 3 heat settings and they are low, medium, and high. We reckon you’ll use medium most of the time because this setting is already pretty scorching. If you want faster drying time, feel free to use high, but do cover your ears as well as neck with a towel!
Its soft bonnet cap is surprisingly roomy and the hose is well-made, although the length should really be a whole lot longer. Get an extension cord if you need the extra length. The Hot Tools Professional portable soft bonnet hair dryer is a bit uneven, but for the price, it’s quite respectable.
Consumer Rating: (4 / 5)
Laila Ali is a former professional boxer who retired undefeated with an admirable record of 24 wins, of which 21 were by KO. That alone is enough reason to check out this ionic soft bonnet dryer, which is a carbon copy of the Hot Tools Professional.
Elegant design & lightweight build
Honestly, the differences between the two are minimal. The most obvious one is the colors obviously. In this aspect, Laila Ali’s machine takes the point. Its elegant purple/black finish looks much more stylish compared to the Hot Tools dryer which has a drabby black and white color combination.
The Laila Ali dryer runs a bit loud too, but definitely not as loud as the Hot Tools Dryer—at least not to us. Also, the motor doesn’t vibrate as much, and to top it off, the Laila Ali Dryer is cheaper too (this is true at the time of writing).
So between these two, we would go with the Laila Ali LADR5604 dryer. And before you drop the cash on this portable soft bonnet dryer, we thought you’d like to know its electrical specs: 60Hz, 800W, and 125VAC.
Which dryer is the best?
If you plan on buying a portable hard hood hair dryer, we’d suggest you get either the Tourmaline Tools 1059 or the D salon dryer. The former looks sleeker thanks to its black and purple hard hood. For that reason we give a slight edge to the Tourmaline Tools 1059 dryer. Both are excellent for the money, really.
If a soft bonnet portable dryer is what you’re gunning for, Laila Ali LADR5604 dryer wins with a knockout victory over Hot Tools Professionals soft bonnet hair dryer.