It’s been eight years since GHD first entered the hair dryer game – one of the original brands to bring a salon-style, professional hair dryer to the masses with the GHD Air – and a lot has changed.
There are now dozens of professional dryers from both traditional hair companies and non-traditional firms, which are more well known for vacuums than styling products (Dyson, we’re looking at you). In our GHD Air review, we explained that despite a rise in competition and an improvement in drying technology, GHD’s original hair dryer still more than holds its own and is one of best hair dryers you can buy. Yet, it was starting to show its age. A point that appears to have not gone unnoticed at GHD.
Taking what we loved about the GHD Air and fixing a number of the points we didn't, the hair giant has launched the GHD Helios. We’ve been using the £159 hair dryer exclusively for the past fortnight and we’d be as bold to say that we have a new favorite hair dryer – it's high price tag notwithstanding.
Hair dryers have largely moved away from the black (read: boring) designs that are popular in hairdressers. They have become an accessory, rather than just a tool, and come in a range of colors from bright red to “Fuschia” and beyond. The Helios follows suit, but in a classy, elegant way that we’ve come to expect from GHD.
We tested the white and rose gold model and it’s absolutely stunning. It also comes in maroon and gold, black and silver, and navy and black. The different colored versions of GHD Helios’ plastic shell are additionally covered in a thin coating that feels almost like silicone to the touch and this gives the dryer a smooth, luxurious feel.
Weight-wise, the Helios is lighter than the Air tipping the scales at 780g compared to its predecessor’s 1.54kg. What’s more, where – on paper – it’s heavier than other dryers we’ve tested, the Helios is incredibly well-balanced so it doesn’t feel any more bulky and it isn’t any more difficult to use. There is a downside to this, however. The extra weight on the GHD Air made it feel expensive and sturdy, which helped us to rationalise its high price. The Helios’ light weight, by contrast, feels just like many of the other cheaper hair dryers on the market. A feeling that even its elegant colorways and smooth shell can’t quite counteract.
Everything else, including the placement of the two-speed and dual-temperature switches, the cold shot button and the branded grille are almost an exact copy and paste from the Air.
GHD claims its Helios is “faster, lighter and quieter” than the Air. We’ve already confirmed it’s lighter, but does it live up to the other claims? Yes – very much so! Its motor is marginally more powerful – up from 2,100w on the Air to 2,200w – and the holes in its grille have apparently been redesigned to reduce noise. It is noticeably less loud in real-world use, and when measured with a decibel meter, it’s a whole two decibels quieter than the Air.
When it comes to speed, the Helios similarly smashed it out of the park. Not just in comparison to the Air, but when pitted against the drying speeds of every hair dryer we’ve ever tested. Until the Helios, the Dyson Supersonic was the fastest dryer – taking our hair from wet from a shower to completely dry in 2 minutes 6 seconds. The Helios took an entire minute off this time. This meant our hair was rough dried in 1 minute and 6 seconds and is an absolute game changer.
The Helios was similarly a minute and eight seconds faster than the Supersonic at drying our hair after a swim, offering a total dry time of 1 minute and 50 seconds. With the concentrator nozzle attached to the Helios – a nozzle which has been made thinner with a curved edge designed to reduce turbulence – it took us just two minutes and 20 seconds to style our hair. Again, a minute faster than the Dyson Supersonic.
We didn’t even have to sacrifice hair quality and shine for this improved speed, either. After every use, our hair was almost frizz-free with only minimal flyaways and we never once had to resort to running straighteners over it to complete the look. Two weeks into testing and our hair definitely feels stronger and we’re seeing fewer breakages and less hair loss in the shower.
There is a but, though. Helios’ lightning speed and precision, which made our hair so smooth and shiny, left it lacking volume. It’s almost as if the flow of air is so powerful, it beats the hair into submission. This was disappointing, particularly when everything else was going so well.
Just as cheaper rivals were starting to catch up on, and overtake, the power and performance of the original Air hair dryer, GHD has come out swinging with the Helios. A dryer that surpassed most of our, already high, expectations and one that we’ve found ourselves gravitating towards over every other hair dryer in our collection. Until the release of the GHD Helios, our go-to dryer was the Dyson Supersonic. This is now in second place.
Sadly, £159 for a hair dryer will be out of the reach of many people meaning its superior performance is out of reach, too. As a result, the Helios is unlikely to be an impulse buy and will be considered an investment. An investment we highly recommend you make.
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