There’s nothing we love more than high-quality products at a great price, and that doesn’t change when it comes to hair styling tools. We’re no strangers to the luxury all-in-one options available on the market, but sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles. You’re just looking for something that gets the job done, and does it well.
“There are lots of affordable options in hairstyling tools, so you really don’t need to sacrifice anything to be budget-friendly,” explains celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine. Taylor Morozova, a professional hairstylist based in Palm Beach, agrees with Maine. “There are a lot of great budget options that just aren’t as flashy,” she explains. “I would focus on what the tool boasts, versus the brand name.”
So what should you be looking for in a high-quality hair tool? “Materials and customizable heat settings are most important to me,” Maine explains. “Ensuring that the heated plates or iron are constructed of a material that distributes heat evenly and as safely as possible like titanium or ceramic,” he shares. “Also, customizable heat settings are important as different hair textures and qualities require different thermal settings.”
With a little practice and the right equipment, achieving your dream blowout or the perfect beachy waves doesn’t have to be so complicated, or cost so much. Ahead, we’ve consulted professional hairstylists on the tools they use and trust — from curlers to straighteners, blow dryers, and more — all under $200.
“This ultra-powerful 1875-watt motor with ionic technology provides a shiny, frizz-free blowout in 20% less time than most professional dryers,” explains Toni Landsberg, Drybar stylist and the brand’s senior director of global education. “Plus, the negative ion generator blows billions of negative ions into the hair to seal the cuticle and help reduce frizz while drying.”
“I have repurchased this hair dryer twice,” shares Raven Hurtado, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “The air pressure is strong, it dries hair fast, and also smooths out thick or coarse hair,” she explains. “You get the option of adjusting the pressure speed to low, medium or high, and also a cool shot button to lock and hold the shape.”
“I like this because it has an AC motor for fast drying and a long lifespan,” explains Michael Dueñas, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of Veluer Creative. “And, it includes several attachments for styling versatility.”
“This is a powerful and affordable consumer dryer,” explains Maine. “It’s great for people with really dense hair that often struggle to blow dry their hair quickly.”
This is what Morozova offers to her clients that opt out of the Dyson Supersonic. “It’s lightweight and dries the hair very fast,” she explains.
When it comes to Olya Iudina’s favorite straightener, the stylist at IGK NYC opts for this styling iron from T3. “It has great quality ceramic plates that provide snag free glide through any type of hair,” she explains. “It’s wider, and the longer blades save a lot of time on styling.”
“I like that this is slim so you can reach baby hairs, it also heats up quickly,” shares Hurtado, who calls this straightener her current fave. “It’s made of titanium, which is great for thick hair but generally works well for all types of hair.”
If you’re looking for a no-frills, sturdy straightener, Maine recommends this flat iron which he describes as “a classic go-to choice.”
“I love this straightener from Gussi, although I would call it a styler because you can do so much with it,” shares Morozova. “I love the beveled edges which make it easy to get close to the root but also makes curling with the iron easy as well,” she explains. “Plus, how cute is that design? I’m a sucker for colored tools.”
“This dual-purpose iron allows you to quickly style even the thickest hair into super-sleek straight looks or add a bit of wave or curl,” shares Landsberg. “Rounded edges allow you to wrap hair around the barrel for easy curls and waves,” she explains, making it perfect for those seeking a versatile straightener.
Maine’s favorite straightener, this two-in-one tool “has innovative air cooling vents along the side of the plates and outside of the iron that reduce the thermal temperature while styling,” he explains. “You can easily straighten and curl with the rounded shape of the iron, while the cooling feature also helps lock in the style and increase shine.”
“I like this because it has ceramic plates infused with real crushed pearls to help reduce frizz and damage, and multiple heat settings for all hair types” explains Dueñas.
“This modular styling tool features three interchangeable attachments which snap easily into the handle to create a variety of styles,” explains Landsberg.
“I love this curling wand, it has a digital temperature gauge, a nice taper, and even heat throughout,” shares Morozova. “It’s perfect to get beachy waves and is very beginner friendly.” If you’re looking for different barrel sizes, the brand carries a couple different options (including this 1-1/4″one) which Morozova also recommends.
“If you have shoulder length or longer hair this curling iron is a must,” shares Morozova. “It has an extra-long barrel which allows you to curl more hair at once which is a huge time-saver, “ she explains. “The one-inch version is the most versatile in my opinion.”
“You just can’t go wrong with a classic Denman brush,” shares Morozova. “It’s great for every hair type and can be used to detangle hair, define curls, and achieve more volume at your roots,” she explains. “There are limitless possibilities and the knock-offs don’t cut it.”
“I like this because it has flexible bristles that glide through tangles with ease,” explains Dueñas, “and a non-slip grip for easy styling.”
A favorite of Hurtado’s, this brush features vents that “help air flow evenly through the hair when you’re using a hair dryer,” she explains. Since the bristles are soft yet strong enough to grip your hair, she describes, you won’t experience any tugging on your hair.
“This brush will last you years,” shares Dueñas. “With the staggered bristle set up, you eliminate creases in your hair when you pull with extra tension.”
Landsberg calls this the “ultimate detangler for wet or dry hair.” It’s “great for all hair types including extensions,” she explains, and “works through tangles without tugging or pulling.” If you’re constantly on the go, the travel-sized option is easier to fit into smaller bags or purses.
“This concave brush makes a great companion for creating bouncy blowouts,” shares Maine. “It glides through the hair and conducts heat well for curled looks.”
This is Iudina’s favorite brush, and she swears that “there’s no better option for wet or dry hair.” No matter how tangled your hair might be, she raves, this can detangle it in a matter of seconds.
This brush “combines the best of both wet and dry brushes,” explains Maine. “It’s gentle on tangles but firm enough to create slick styles,” he shares.
For those trying to avoid heat all together, this curling set is a great tool. “It’s super effective for hair types that respond well to air drying,” explains Maine. Hurtado is also a fan of similar tools, explaining that they work particularly well for those who don’t have the time or energy to curl all their hair in the morning. “Sleep with it on or leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, and you get glamorous curls,” she explains.
“These are my go-to,” shares Dueñas. “They keep hair very shiny, work on all textures, and give a longer and stronger hold than anything else on the market.”
“I absolutely love these clips,” shares Morozova, who uses these to section off hair for any type of styling. “They are super durable and hold the hair perfectly.”