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 Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist
Written by Anjali Sayee, BTech
Edited by Madhumati Chowdhury, MA (English Literature)
Fact-checked by Bhumika Daga, MA (English)  • 

It is not an exaggeration to say not many know the difference between a heat gun and a hairdryer appliance. 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 control 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. Electrical safety is an important consideration when using a corded heat gun compared to handheld ones.

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). Blowing 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).

Charukshi Wijesinghe, a blogger, recounts the hair loss she experienced and points out what she did to stop it on her personal blog: “I rarely use my dryer and flat iron now, and trust me, I feel my hair has become so much stronger and healthier (i).”

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.

Infographic: The Basic Differences Between Hair Dryers And Heat Guns

To recap, though a heat gun and hair dryer may seem similar, their differences are quite major. It is important to be aware of these differences to ensure you don’t end up damaging your hair and scalp. We have listed the basic dissimilarities in the infographic below that you can keep handy. Scroll down and check it out now!

the basic differences between hair dryers and heat guns (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

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.

Can you use a hair dryer as a heat gun to remove paint?

Yes, a hair dryer can remove paint instead of a heat gun. As they do not emit high heat temperatures, they may take longer to remove the paint than a hot air gun.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Hair Shaft Damage from Heat and Drying Time of Hair Dryer
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229938/
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