this thing's incredible

I’ve Used This $28 Hair Dryer Since 8th Grade

Photo: Katie Dalebout

Twice a year, throughout elementary and middle school, my mom took me with her to her hairstylist. Cheri never cut off more than a few inches, but when I left the salon, I felt so completely transformed that I immediately started counting down to the next visit.

The difference wasn’t that my split ends were gone, but that my unruly, poufy, frizzy, hair was finally straight thanks to the way Cheri blow-dried it. At school, everyone noticed. Some classmates complimented my hair; others stared as if to ask, How come it doesn’t look like that more often? I held off washing my hair as long as I could.

My mom and I both have the same thick, wavy, dense hair. Growing up in the ’70s, she straightened hers with a clothing iron and curled it with empty juice cans. As a kid in the late ’90s, I relied on big bows, high ponytails, and tight braids. We each tried to replicate how smooth and weightless our hair looked after one of Cheri’s blowouts, but never could. We lacked the patience and dexterity to work a brush and dryer simultaneously, section by section. Even the dawn of the flat iron a few years later didn’t help. It just made my hair look burnt.

Everything changed on a trip to see my Aunt Sally, who had dreamy straight hair and nightmare arthritis. During the week we were there, chatting with her in her room, I saw her use what looked like a round brush and a hair dryer that had been welded together. I was too nervous to ask if I could try it, but I kept thinking about it for the rest of the trip until I asked my mom if we could get one.

We picked one up at CVS on the way home, and with it, I learned how to give myself Cheri-level blowouts. I’ve owned one ever since. It wasn’t all smooth hair immediately. There was a bit of a learning curve. But soon, I figured out that by going section by section the way Cheri did would actually work if I used the Conair (unlike my fumbling attempts with regular hair dryers). It still was time-consuming since I have so much hair, but with patience I could get each section looking as sleek and shiny as she did.

It got me through the first day of high school and every picture day and school dance, before making its way off to college with me. I remember my roommate saying she’d never seen a hair dryer like it before.

For me, the draw is the strange-looking half-cylinder-shaped brush attachment. Rather than having to hold two items (brush and hair dryer), this leaves one hand free to grab your hair sections, helping to get the back entirely smooth.

I buy a new one nearly every year. I know you’re thinking, But technology has changed so much in the past 20 years. I’ve tried a friend’s Dyson, and honestly, it didn’t work nearly as well because the air blows out forward rather than from the side, making it trickier to use on myself. The InfinitiPro’s half-cylinder shape with its thermal bristle-brush attachment (basically a half–round brush) allows me to get heat searingly close to my scalp in a way others guard against. Similarly, my friend gave me the Amika blow-dryer, which has a paddle brush, and without the rounded bristle brush, it doesn’t tug and bend my hair enough to change its texture.

The Conair’s round brush can get close enough to my scalp to straighten the particularly curly pieces near my temples, in a way all other brushes can’t. It also comes with two other attachments: a “dual-row straightening comb” (essentially two combs in a row) and a “wide-tooth detangling comb,” which I never use, but some of my friends who I’ve turned onto it have. They still thank me for improving their hair routines.

With the Conair, a blow-dry lasts a week, if not more. I use it when I get out of the shower on wet or damp hair. I section the hair out and tug the dryer down each chunk until my entire head is dry. Between washes, I use it on the pieces that got wet from washing my face or showering.

The hair dryer has traveled all over the world with me, from Canada to Spain (it comes with a handy carrying case), and if it’s ever discontinued, my nightmare of waking up back in middle school will come true.

In the summer, I often let my hair air-dry and try to embrace my natural texture, but I still only actually like how my hair looks if I use this or get it blown out by a professional. And honestly, professional blowouts aren’t in my budget right now, but the Infinitipro is here for me, always has been, and (hopefully) always will be.

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I’ve Used This $28 Hair Dryer Since 8th Grade