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What Is a Bonnet Hair Dryer?

By Donna Tinus
Updated May 21, 2024
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A bonnet hair dryer is a personal appliance similar to the professional types of hair dryers used in salons to perform various treatments on hair that require the application of heat. Usually purchased for home use, a bonnet hair dryer consists of a small, portable stand or flexible hose with an attached hard or soft bonnet. The user places the bonnet over his or her head, and heat is circulated over the hair through small holes in the hat-like appliance. This type of hair dryer is especially useful for a person who sets wet hair in rollers or someone who likes to use heat as an aid in deep conditioning hair treatments.

A soft bonnet hair dryer is equipped with a soft, collapsible bonnet that fits snugly on the wearer's head like a hat and is held in place with elastic or drawstring around the edge. A flexible hose attaches to the bonnet, and all parts easily pack into a hard-shell case, making this choice very portable. Some models come with a brush attachment, so the hair dryer can double as a handheld blow dryer. A soft bonnet hair dryer has only about 400-600 watts of power, which usually is less than the hard bonnet varieties. The soft version provides more freedom because the wearer can walk around while using a bonnet hair dryer, and it generally costs less.

A hard bonnet hair dryer usually offers 1,200-2,000 watts of power, which makes quick work of hair drying. Hard bonnet models vary in size. Some have long stands that sit on the floor, and others have short stands, have a wide base and are made to sit on a table. Some manufacturers offer several different sizes of hard bonnets, and consumers can take into consideration the various sizes of rollers when choosing one. Hard bonnet hair dryers generally are more powerful and more expensive than soft bonnet hair dryers.

When buying a bonnet hair dryer, a consumer should consider the different types that are available on the market. Some of the newer hard and soft bonnet hair dyers use ionic technology to circulate the heat around the hair, which is considered by many people to be healthier for hair and can help alleviate frizzy hair. When using either type for deep-conditioning treatments, the user should remember to wear a plastic shower cap to keep the conditioner from touching the bonnet.

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Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Aug 01, 2014

@Grivusangel -- We had a Barbie bonnet dryer! It was an early 60s hand me down from my cousin. We were charmed with it, until we had to sit under it forever to get our hair dry.

I also remember the Kenner Easy Curl hot roller set. It had something like eight rollers that were heated by a light bulb. Seems like I remember the rollers getting pretty warm, though. My sister had one and we played with it for years. I can still smell the plastic as it heated up. But we managed to use it without singeing ourselves, so I suppose it was a successful toy. Those have also gone the way of the dodo bird, I guess.

By Grivusangel — On Jul 31, 2014

We used to have a bonnet dryer. They were attached to round dryers that had a handle on them like a suitcase. The bonnet dryer was brought out when we had to go somewhere that night, had our baths in the early afternoon and Mom wanted to make sure our hair was dry. That was before hand held hair dryers became popular.

The hoses were forever detaching from the bonnet, because, for the sake of portability, you could take the hose off the bonnet and fold everything up into a neat little package.

I haven't seen a home bonnet dryer in years. I guess they still make them.

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