Revlon
CNN —  

When it comes to hair, you always want what you don’t have. Growing up with pin-straight hair, I always longed for beachy waves. And when I started having babies, pregnancy hormones slowly but surely added waves to my hair — but not the kind I had dreamed of. Nowadays, my ’do comprises straight hair on top and tight curls underneath.

Taming my new mane with a round brush and blow dryer has been a challenge. To achieve smooth, voluminous hair, I either do a messy blow-dry, followed by a straightening iron and then hot rollers, or pay anywhere between $30 and $50 for a professional blowout. And I’m certainly not alone. The profusion of blowout salons speaks to the fact that women are turning to professionals to achieve the results (Volume! Smoothness! Natural waves!) they so badly want.

Until now. Enter: The Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer. When this product landed on my doorstep, I was skeptical. I had heard the hype — the 250,000-and-counting positive Amazon reviews, the critical praise, the hundreds and hundreds of YouTube beauty influencer tutorials… If anything is having a moment, it’s this holy grail hair dryer.

  • Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($41.88, originally $59.99; walmart.com)

Given that I will never be able to get the results I want with my own at-home blowout, I assumed this dryer would be just as difficult to master. Turns out I was wrong. After using the One-Step for the past six months, I can say that, firstly, I’m obsessed, and also, this is the foolproof hair tool you’ve been looking for. In fact, when we tested it against other top hair dryers, it was our pick for the best budget hair dryer on the market. Here’s why.

It’s easy to use

Upon looking at the dryer, which is shaped like an oval brush, I was concerned that there would be a steep learning curve when it came to achieving results. But I kid you not, within minutes of opening the box, I had a perfectly smooth, shiny, frizz-free blowout.

First, I pinned half my hair up and started wrapping the dryer around sections of towel-dried hair. After three strokes, the first section was dry and straight, and because I had let the dryer linger at the bottom of my hair, there was a lovely, soft curl at the ends. Three strokes!

There was no tangling or tugging, thanks to the brush’s combo of ball-tipped nylon bristles and boar bristles, which work together to gently detangle hair strands while also gripping hair to straighten, smooth and curl. The swivel cord meant that I didn’t have to constantly reposition the brush, which again aids in the whole zero-tangle situation that consumers rave about.

Revlon

More to know: With each seamless swipe of the dryer, the One-Step distributes hot air evenly onto the hair via vents built into the brush, simultaneously drying and styling it. Placing the brush closer to your scalp will not only dry the roots, but it will also boost volume, giving you the supermodel-esque extra lift we’re all looking for. However, our other testers had one warning after trying the One-Step for our best hair dryers story: It gets really hot on its highest setting, so much so that they were starting to break a sweat by the end of their drying session.

It dries hair in minutes

Revlon recommends towel drying your hair ahead of time and waiting till it’s almost half dry before you begin the One-Step drying process. By doing so, you’re ensuring yourself a head of dry, straight hair in 10 minutes or less. My hair isn’t thick, but it’s long and I have a lot of it, and with the One-Step my blowouts take seven to eight minutes.

Less time spent applying heat and bristles to my hair also means less damage, and it’s less time spent maneuvering the 1.8-pound brush above and around my head, which is an arm workout in itself. And I’m not the only one who’s obsessed. Our other testers also loved how quick and easy it was to get a gorgeous blowout. “I loved, loved, loved the way this tool made my hair look — straight, shiny and like I just left the salon,” said one tester. “Honestly, I loved this thing for its ability to leave my hair shiny and frizz-free,” raved another.

It’s the best budget hair dryer out there

Let’s face it: Products that are this effective and have this much of a cult following also tend to break the bank. But at just $60, the One-Step is more affordable than most high-end hair dryers on the market. With so much demand, the One-Step can be a little tricky to find, but you should be able to find it between Amazon, Walmart and Target.

  • Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($41.88, originally $59.99; walmart.com)

Where the savings really come in, however, is the elimination of other tools needed to achieve blowout results. Remember, prior to the One-Step, I was using a hair dryer, straightening iron and hot rollers to get my desired look. Or I was spending well over $100 a month on weekly blowouts. The fact that the One-Step eliminates the need for all these products and treatments (and costs) makes this dryer a game changer for me. The biggest flaw is if you’re not looking for a blowout all the time. If you want your hair to dry curly or wavy, or you only have a short amount of time for a rough dry, you’ll probably want a different, more traditional hair dryer.

The bottom line

With the One-Step in our collective beauty arsenal, we can accomplish a smooth, salon-quality blowout on a daily basis. The brush’s ionic technology uses negative ions that maintain a neutral charge on your hair, working to give your locks that conditioned, shiny and frizz-free look. What’s better than that?

If you want to read more about the Revlon One-Step or other hair dryers we tested (spoiler: We tried the Dyson too), check out our guide to the best hair dryers of 2021.