Cult US brand Drybar originated from the concept that beautifully styled hair shouldn’t require expensive appointments. Founded in 2010 by stylist and entrepreneur Alli Webb, its fast-growing salon chain serves up affordable blow dries only, and no cuts or colour.
Listed in the top “100 brilliant ideas of 2010” by Entrepreneur Magazine, the brand dropped its matching haircare range in 2012, and the year after, was hailed as one of New York Magazine’s “boom brands”. Reported by Forbes to be making $50 million in revenue by 2014, the magazine recently featured Drybar for providing a forward-thinking beauty experience. Today, there are 150 salons in destinations across North America.
Also offering luxurious products that mean we can access their signature swishy locks from home, its cruelty-free line is extensive and doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates or phthalates. There are multiple shampoo, conditioner, and dry shampoo options to start, across clarifying, smoothing, and brightening ranges. Drybar’s line features styling and finishing products too, including sprays, oils, root lift, and creams, while its protecting products encompass a hydrating treatment, leave-in conditioner and heat spray.
Aside from haircare, Drybar also offers accessories like brushes, clips and rollers, alongside its line-up of hair tools which includes a hair dryer, straighteners, hot brush and curling wands.
The cult US brand has finally landed in the UK, launching exclusively at Harrods with a huge array of hair products to choose from. But does it live up to the hype? We got our hands on a range of Drybar products in order to find out whether they are worth investing in.
How we tested
We sampled a selection of hair tools and haircare products over several days, in different scenarios. Our tester has long, fine hair that can be prone to dryness and flyaway frizz. We used the tools to create wavy and straight styles, looking at how long they stayed in place, while also testing the haircare range. We paid close attention to the quality of formulas, technical features of the tools and ease of use across the board.
- Best overall – Drybar the tress press digital styling iron: £139, Harrods.com
- Best for root volume – Drybar southern belle volume boosting root lifter: £24, Harrods.com
- Best for tousled waves – Drybar 3-day bender digital curling iron: £129, Harrods.com
- Best for a hair refresh – Drybar detox dry shampoo: £21, Harrods.com
- Best for a smoothing blow dry – Drybar buttercup blow-dryer: £139, Harrods.com
- Best heat protection on dry hair – Drybar hot toddy heat protectant mist: £25, Harrods.com
- Best multi-tasking hair spray – Drybar triple sec 3-in-1 finishing spray: £24, Harrods.com
Drybar the tress press digital styling iron
Packaged in a box with an opening flap, this styling iron comes with an instructions booklet and two-year guarantee. The vibrant yellow straighteners have a professional length 9ft grey cord and mirror finish titanium plates, bringing both a practical and bougie hair tool aesthetic.
When plugging them in, we would have liked a heat resistant stand or mat, but you can rest them on top of their box. They have a digital reader light signalling whether the iron is switched on or off, as well as power and temperature + or – buttons on their inner plate. An automatic switch off kicks in at 60 minutes, relieving the panic that we’d left them on when going out. The temperature is displayed, and can go up to 230C. We went for a comfortable 180C, which was reached within seconds.
Closing the plates and running them down our fine hair, we immediately saw poker straight strands that looked shiny too. Their slimline 1in width helps you cover your hair from root to tip and created a precise straightened finish to our tester’s long locks. The style held firmly in place overnight and throughout the next day, even while we were at a blustery outdoor event. You can also add waviness by pulling down and twisting strands away from your face.
Drybar southern belle volume boosting root lifter
Best: For root volume
Designed for use before drying, we applied the foam from its nozzle applicator aerosol bottle directly onto our damp locks. Working the vegan mousse into roots, it absorbed easily, with a cream-like consistency and didn’t leave any crunchiness. Small spritzes of mousse come out one at a time, so we weren’t overwhelmed with a big lump and there was no excess to wipe off. This also gives you more precision when covering the hair, while giving stray baby hairs some extra lift.
While drying our hair, the vanilla, jasmine, and sandalwood scent spread was potent, bringing salon-like vibes. The overall finish was evenly distributed height from our crown to our front hairline, and a noticeable softness without any remaining residue whatsoever.
Drybar 3-day bender digital curling iron
Best: For tousled waves
We tried Drybar’s 1.25in barrel curling iron, which also comes as a 1in size. The sunny yellow tong has a two-year consumer guarantee just like the straighteners. Its yellow clamp matches the handle, while a contrasting grey 9ft long cord and ionic mineral infused barrel stay true to the Drybar colour scheme. Comfortable to hold, there is a rubbery clamp control button which lifts to place strands under, with the cute message “peace, love and blowouts” printed on it. A power button joins temperature control options and a digital display to show the heat. After turning the tool on, we let it warm to 177C. Heating up in seconds, once the display had stopped flashing, we knew it was ready to use. Wrapping strands around the tong was easy, and we didn’t burn our fingers because the clamp allows enough room to both wind and secure hair.
We liked brushing curls through and found the iron created beachy waves that mimicked a professional finish. By increasing the heat, we found you can create bigger, bouncier curls. While you could separate into sections, we liked tonging random parts of our hair to add a tousled effect. From our testing experience, we’d say this tool is for relaxed curls rather than a tightly wound corkscrew. Some of the bounce dropped overnight, but we could still see waviness after waking up. The fact they have an automatic switch off feature after 60 minutes brings us peace of mind too.
Drybar detox dry shampoo, lush
Best: For a hair refresh
After spraying the powdery formula onto our greasy do, we instantly noticed its fresh, floral scent. White residue is inevitable when first applying dry shampoo, and the challenge can be getting it to rub in. While brushing the product through, the vegan powder – made from micro-fine rice – did indeed disperse quickly. Fluffing up any flatness, we were impressed by how well it rubbed in with little effort. A small spritz went a long way, adding volume and removing any oiliness.
Available in a few scents including coconut colada, we loved the woody citrus notes in the “lush” version as they reminded us of a brightening perfume. Its this luxe scent that really brings the salon experience to your home. You can shop other versions of this dry shampoo too, including brunette and invisible options.
Drybar buttercup blow-dryer
Best: For a smoothing blow-dry
Presented in a box with two concentrator nozzle attachments, we also found a two-year consumer guarantee and operating instructions.
Just like Drybar’s other hair tools, this hair dryer come with a two-year guarantee and operating instructions. We did spot that within each box there’s a plastic insert, which doesn’t feel particularly necessary and could be improved on from a sustainability perspective. As directed by the leaflet, we watched a handy video on the Drybar website and learnt some hair drying tips, such as gripping hair in a certain way to create waves and body. The bright yellow hair dryer has a grey cord and detailing, and its slimline shape feels smooth in our grip, while being quite lightweight too.
You can choose the width of the nozzle depending on your hair length and thickness, and we alternated between both. There are three heat and two speed intensity settings, as well as a cool air button, and its powerful 1875W motor meant we saw a much faster drying time than other models we’ve tried. The 9ft cord is also a welcome feature, as it allowed us to move the tool near our bedroom mirror.
We aren’t the best at creating a professional looking blow-dry (even with the instructions), but we were pleased with how smooth our hair looked after use, when its natural state is frizzy and flyaway.
Drybar hot toddy heat protectant mist
Best: Heat protection on dry hair
Designed to be applied onto dry hair, we love the ease of this vegan spray for a last minute styling or refresh (particularly if you forget to add heat protector at the drying stage). Plus, it can protect hair from heat up to 232C. After shaking the aerosol bottle, we lifted sections of our hair and generously spritzed from top to bottom. The scent features coconut, amber and vanilla, and although we found it quite strong on application, it did settle as the formula dried. The mist is fine and was invisible once dry on our locks, with the applicator evenly dispersing the formula to make this a quick and easy product to use ahead of heat styling.
Drybar triple sec 3-in-1 finishing spray
Best: Multi-tasking hair spray
Available in different size and fragrance options, we sampled the biggest 118g blanc scent bottle. This has a sweet coconut and vanilla fragrance that we picked up on immediately, as well as warming amber. Pushing down on the aerosol spray nozzle, and spraying about five inches from our hair, we saw an even cloud of mist rain down. Gently adding texture, we could feel only a subtle veil of product. Yet the style of our strands, whether straight or wavy, was held in place. The vegan spray offers definition, volume and hold minus any stiffness, and the creamy scent lingers on strands too.
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