Dangers of Ionic Hair Dryers

Ionic hair dryers are some of the latest hair-care styling accessories to flood the beauty market. Research shows that ionic dryers can improve hair's sheen and reduce frizz. However, they carry the same dangers as regular dryers.

How It Works

A conventional hair dryer, sometimes known as a blow dryer, emits hot air that speeds up the evaporation of water present when hair is wet. Similarly, an ionic hair dryer produces hot air that transforms the temperature of air and thus enables water to change from a liquid to a gas more rapidly. But along with hot air, an ionic dryer also emits negatively charged ions. These ions supposedly attach themselves to positively charged wet hair, causing the hair cuticle to remain flat and moisture to be "locked in," according to cbsnews.com. The function of the ionic dryer is also reported to eliminate static electricity that results in hair "flyaways." Ionic dryers proclaim to dry hair faster, reducing the time a woman may spend on getting ready in the morning. However, tests that have proven that ionic dryers help increase the sheen of hair have not proven conclusively that they dry hair faster, according to abcnews.go.com.

Dangers of Use

Hair dryers have evolved over the decades, and their technology has increasingly become more and more safety-inclined. Yet without proper caution, hair dryers can be dangerous, and ionic dryers carry the same risks as conventional dryers, such as the risks associating with whirling fans, high heat, hair damage, electromagnetic shock and electromagnetic fields.


For instance, modern dryers come equipped with protective screens that shield the ventilation fans in the back of the dryer. But hair that gets too close to the screen may still be caught inside the whirling fan. Hair that is caught will have to be cut or ripped out, which may be painful and may cause split ends.


Though dryers have a good deal of insulation on their bodies to prevent the device from becoming too hot, you can still burn yourself by touching the barrel of the dryer shortly after prolonged use. Dryers also have a protective screen or grill on the end of the barrel to prevent children from potentially sticking their fingers down into the heating element, which may result in severe burns.

Hair Damage

All dryers, like most thermal styling tools, will cause damage to the hair shaft, as a cbsnews.com article states. But the damage is relative. Using the dryer at too high of a setting may burn hair significantly and cause split ends. Consequently, split ends may cause hair to look dull or frizzy, counteracting the beneficial effects of ionic drying.

Electromagnetic Shock

Of course, like any electrical device, dryers carry an electromagnetic shock warning. Many are accompanied by a water immersion protection device to prevent electrocution if the dryer falls into water. However, is prudent not rely solely on this device, and avoid contact with water when the dryer is plugged in.

Electromagnetic Field

Finally, though a minimal risk, hair dryers, like some electric razors, emit an electromagnetic field. This EMF can be as high as 200 to 400 mg (or units measured by a Gauss meter, an instrument which measures the strength of magnetic fields), according to mercola.com. According to Dr. Mercola's website, Dr. David Carpenter, Dean at the School of Public Health, State University of New York believes it is likely that up to 30 per cent of all childhood cancers come from exposure to EMFs. Moreover, as the site states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, "There is reason for concern" and advises "prudent avoidance." Dr. Mercola recommends that hair dryers not be used on children as it may interfere with their development. As with all potentially hazardous devices used on the body, read the warnings labels on your hair dryer before use and proceed with caution.