When it comes to hair-related products, you should know what kind of head is giving you the scoop. As a small child, I had solid 3a/3b ringlets. For the first chunk of my adulthood, I didn’t understand anything about curl types and suffered from attempting to apply advice from styling magazines clearly targeted at naturally smooth, straight hair. For the last 10-15 years, I’ve increasingly become friends with—and even embraced!—what are now best described as somewhat thick, 2b/2c locks that go to mid-back length. (My 8th grade haircut assures you, it is only the length that keeps it from being Very Big Hair.) And as I refine my product routine, I’m delighted to start seeing those childhood ringlets reappear in places.
For many, many years, I avoided hair dryers for being frizz-inducing, volume-building monsters. One blast of their fiery breath, and I have flashbacks to the time in fifth grade when all my mom had to do to make me into a very believable witch for the school play was to hit my hair with a dryer while flipped upside down. (It is possible it looked like this particular witch had abandoned her cauldron for an electric device and failed at properly using the outlet.) So while I technically own several hair dryers, they don’t get daily use. But I have longed for a faster route to dry hair, and in my current overnight t-shirt plopping routine, I generally find that my hair is still not actually dry in the morning. And cold weather is on the way. Brr!
Let’s start with the tech details on the Laifen Swift:
Buttons: 2—one for power (high/low/off) and one for temp
Temps: 3 (room temp, 120° F, 176° F), plus a feature to cycle between hot and cool. I checked these temps with an infrared thermometer, and the results agreed with Laifen’s advertised temps.
Indicator: A ring light shows you the temperature setting.
See more tech specs ate the Laifen website.
There are two nozzles, a general-use standard flat one and a concentrator nozzle that is meant for “concentrated airflow…to precisely style your hair to whatever look you wish to achieve.” I didn’t try the concentrator nozzle, so I can’t attest to that–visually they don’t look especially different, but the Swift surprised me in its drying time (more on that in a moment), so the concentrator nozzle may be made be the same magicians and produce particularly different results from the standard nozzle.
The Laifen attachments are magnetic, which is great for two reasons. One, I’ve had it with trying to get threaded attachments at just the right angle or snapping tabs into tiny holes. Two, I was experimenting with the regular nozzle when straightening my hair, and it kept being at the wrong angle as I moved around my head. The magnetic attachment made it pretty easy to rotate to a new direction. The connection is strong enough to hold the attachments securely on without making them difficult to move or remove or get accidentally knocked off if you’re a bit klutzy.
But as a curly girl, I’m more likely to use the diffuser nozzle attachment on a regular basis, at least if I don’t want to return to the fifth-grade witch look. The Laifen website claims, “If you decide to dry your hair using our diffuser attachment it can take 10-15 minutes.” Big promise, I thought. Frankly, this would be a miracle. Again, I have long, fairly thick hair. The only time I’ve come in at a natural drying time that wasn’t measured in hours, I was in Australia in the summer, where I’m pretty sure the humidity is measured in negative percentages. If I let it air dry overnight without plopping in a t-shirt, it’s still generally damp in spots when I wake up. Good luck, Laifen.
After a shower, I twisted my hair up in a towel while I brushed my teeth for two reasons. One, to give the poor hair dryer a fighting chance. Fifteen minutes, really? And two, because toweling tends to add frizz, and the Laifen promised anti-frizz properties through negative ions. So while I was giving it (forgive me) a hair of advantage in drying, I was also giving it an extra challenge on its frizz assurances.
Call me converted. My hair was “ok, I can leave the house if I have to” dry–some remaining dampness, but essentially something an observer would recognize as “dry– in six minutes. Six. Minutes. As for the frizz…well, I’m not going to say it was frizz-free, but that would be a true miracle, and I’d have to send Sam and Dean Winchester over to the Laifen factory to find out exactly what they were doing over there. But I hadn’t used any product at all, and it was not even vaguely “I have used a hair dryer and now look like the kid picked to touch the Van de Graaff generator at the science museum” frizzy.
Volume (the sound kind)
The other reason I historically didn’t love hair dryers is because they are so loud. My usual hair dryer comes in at a steady 85-90 dB on my sound meter. Laifen claims that the Swift is only 59 dB at high speed, and the meter agrees. That’s a huge difference, especially if you’re at all sound-sensitive! On low, it’s even quieter. While I’m no longer worried about waking up my kids (who are now teenagers and even as children slept through things like a tree falling on the house and a Night Ranger concert), if you’re trying to keep quiet early in the morning or late at night while others in the house are slumbering, that’s a big mark in the win column.
While conducting the speed drying experiment above, I was wearing bone conduction earphones, which sometimes aren’t sufficient with a lot of background noise (like on a plane), but I had no trouble hearing an audiobook while drying my hair. Of course, now that I know it only takes ten minutes or so, I can probably survive without the book!
When I first took the Laifen Swift out of the box, a small cylinder at the bottom of the dryer slid off, and I thought, oh no, I’ve already broken it. Actually, this is a feature! It’s less common in modern hair dryers, but those of you who survived Large Eighties Hair may recall the unpleasant experience of having some hair sucked into a hair dryer’s intake. On the Laifen, the intake and its filter are at the bottom of the handle! The cover slides right off—that part I thought I’d broken—to let you get at the filter.
The controls are simple and intuitive. A ring light indicator shines blue, yellow, or red at you to indicate temperature, which is a really nice touch over the alternatives of “I think the switch is on high?” or worse, “um, I pushed the button three times, so I think it’s on the hottest?” (Again with those hotel hair dryers!) Although it comes with a manual, you really don’t need one. The two-button and LED ring design is simply intuitive.
And if you’ve ever had the kind of dryer where your thumb goes numb holding down a “cold shot” or similar button in order to get something besides fire blast heat, your thumb will thank you for the easy switch to a cool setting that stays put itself. Or you can use the auto-cycle feature and let the Laifen do all the work for you. This is my favorite feature–I dry sections in the diffuser attachment, and the auto-cycle keeps the heat from getting too hot, allowing me to keep drying one section for longer.
If I were to change anything, I might add a third speed in between the two options. Low speed is pretty low, and high speed is advertised as an air speed of 22.291 m/s, which is a pretty speedy wind coming at your head. It dries your hair fast, but if you’re looking for any sort of control with the nozzle attachment, it’s tough.
Size and aesthetics
I travel pretty regularly, and I’m selective about what makes the cut in my suitcase. First of all, I need to leave space for whatever local goodies may catch my eye in my destination. Second, I don’t actually know how to pack light—literally—and constantly worry about that 50-pound checked bag limit. (I like shoes. They’re heavy.) I’m certainly not packing anything that’s already in my hotel room, which a hair dryer usually is. Except that hotel hair dryers are never going to win on features like low noise (much less drying speed), rarely have a diffuser, and (on the rare occasion I’ve turned one on) always seem to have a disconcerting burning hair smell, probably from never having the intake trap cleaned. Weighing in under a pound with a slim 7”, long shape, the Laifen Swift is actually a contender for that precious bag space on trips where it could be useful. The diffuser is about 5.5” across, but because it’s magnetic, it can be tucked somewhere else in the bag and quickly reattached.
Aside from that, it’s just an attractive device! It comes in a very Apple-esque white box that will make you feel like you’ve bought technology. Because it’s nearly a straight cylinder, you won’t have to struggle with how that weird L-shape of a traditional fits in a drawer (or doesn’t). The power cord is somewhat chunky, but it’s a fair tradeoff. It’s a 5’9” cord, which is entirely sufficient for me in my bathroom, but if you want to use it in a stylist scenario, that may come up short.
If you’ve spent any time seeking hair dryers, you know that the Laifen Swift is often pitted against the Dyson Supersonic, which sells for several times the price of the Swift. The Swift is likely still several times the cost of the Conair or whatever has been under your sink for a decade, but if you’re like me and ready to have a better time with your hair, it’s worth the extra dollars. For me, it’s practically worth it just to save my ears! I really appreciate how quiet the Laifen is. But that drying speed is unbeatable.
GeekMom received this item for review.