Heat Gun Vs. Hair Dryer: Can Both Be Used For Hair?

Clear your confusion between these two tools and learn to use them the right way.

Reviewed by Madison DufourMadison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist
By Anjali SayeeAnjali Sayee  • 

It is not an exaggeration to say not many know the difference between a heat gun and a hairdryer. Though these tools look similar and work almost the same way, you cannot replace them with one another.

A heat gun is intended for industrial use, like getting rid of paint and molding plastics. So, it cannot be replaced with a hair dryer. It may cause severe damage to hair and scalp if used on hair. This article gives you details on how a hairdryer works and why a heat gun should not be used for hair. Read on.

protip_icon Before You Get Started
  • Using hair dryers on high heat settings can damage the hair and scalp. Ideally, use them on the lowest heat settings to avoid dryness and damage.
  • Always use a heat protectant spray and leave-in conditioner that contains silicone to avoid frizz.
  • Maintaining the distance between your hair and the blow dryer is crucial to avoid frying your locks. Hold it about 8 inches away from your hair.

How Does The Hair Dryer Work?

Hair dryer for drying and styling hair

Image: Shutterstock

A hair dryer has a motor-powered fan located at the back of the device. When switched on, this fan intakes air, which passes over a heating resistance coil and heats up.  This hot air is then let out of the front exit point.

How does a hair dryer work

The heat gun also has a similar mechanism. However, it has a completely different application from that of a hair dryer. Read on to know the basic differences between them.

Hair Dryer Vs. Heat Gun: The Basic Difference

AttributeHair DryerHeat Gun
UsageOnly for drying hairHome improvement or industrial use like removing floor coverings and paint, defrosting, removing rust bolts, and paint drying.
TemperatureCan heat up to 145°FCan heat up to 1300°F

As the hair dryer comes nowhere close to the temperature range of a heat gun, it is clear that the latter is only meant for heavier jobs.

Can You Use Both For The Hair?

Woman using heat gun on hair

Image: Shutterstock

You cannot use a heat gun on your hair.

The hair dryer is designed to style and dry the hair. Its temperature settings are ideal for hair styling and maintenance. A heat gun is not designed for hair drying purposes.  While it can reach a minimum temperature of 100°F, it is not suitable for the scalp and hair. If heat is blasted on wet or damp hair, it will heat up the water in the hair, causing it to boil. This cooks the hair from the inside out, burning the hair internally before the cuticle lifts and the water can escape in a steam.

This is because it lets out concentrated hot air, unlike a hair dryer that spreads hot air evenly. The concentrated hot air can severely damage the hair and burn the scalp. Concentrated hot air lifts the cuticle straight out, not just a little bit like a blow dryer. It leaves the hair damaged, frizzy, and completely open so that no moisture stays in it at all. Here is a comparison between both the devices for a better understanding.

Comparison Between Hair Dryers And Heat Guns

Hair DryerHeat Gun
Designed to dry and style hairDesigned for home improvement needs
Heats up to 145°FHeats from 100°F to 1300°F
Has distributed hot airflow, suitable for hairHas concentrated hot airflow that is unsuitable for hair
Causes lesser heat damage than air dryingMay cause severe damage if used on the hair and scalp

Excessive heat can damage the hair shaft, affecting the hair quality. Read on to know how.

Effects Of Heat Damage On Hair

Woman with rough hair due to heat styling tools

Image: Shutterstock

Excessive heat can make the hair dry and rough (1). Hot air can penetrate the hair cuticle, reaching the cortex (inner layer). This can weaken the hair structure, affect the hair color, and may cause hair breakage.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Excessive heat affects the hair’s ability to retain moisture. As a result, hair may become stiff. It also affects hair porosity and texture.

If you are using a more concentrated heat source, like the heat gun, it can severely damage the hair structure. Even excessive use of a hair dryer can damage the cuticles.

How Safe Is Using A Hair Dryer?

Woman with dry hair due to excessive use of hair dryer

Image: Shutterstock

Too much of anything is bad. Excessive hair dryer use on high heat settings can cause dryness and make the strands brittle, leading to hair damage.

However, blow drying is a better option than air drying. This is because leaving the hair damp for too long can damage the hair cell membrane complex and alter the natural hair color. Using a hair dryer at a distance of 15 cm with continuous motion can cause less damage (1).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Always clean the filter and vents of the hair dryer. Otherwise, the dryer may overheat and push hotter air, damaging your hair even if you have applied a heat protectant.

Bottom Line

There is no way to compare the results of using a heat gun vs. a hairdryer because they are quite different from each other at many levels. Heat guns and hair dryers may look similar, but they serve distinct purposes. A heat gun is intended for industrial and household usage only and should never be used to dry your tresses. Otherwise, it may result in hair loss and scalp burns. So, you should exercise caution and stick to your regular hair dryer to dry and style your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of a hair dryer?

You can allow your hair to air dry or use a microfiber towel. You may run your fingers through your hair gently to allow air to dry your tresses or use a wide-toothed comb.

How long can you run a heat gun?

You shouldn’t keep a heat gun on for too long as it heats up quickly and reaches high temperatures fast.

Key Takeaways

  • A heat gun blows out concentrated hot air to get rid of paint or mold plastic.
  • A hair dryer emits gentle heat to dry your hair without damaging it.
  • A heat gun emits intense heat that can burn your hair and scalp.
  • Do not use a hair dryer excessively at high heat either as it can dry out your hair out and weaken it.


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