CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer review: we test the luxe lava-infused blow dryer

w&h beauty writer's CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer review – does it deserve a spot in your hair tool lineup?

A collage for the chi lava pro hair dryer review of the dryer alone and being held by our beauty writer
(Image credit: Future/Michelle Rostamian)
Woman & Home Verdict

The CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer, while pricey, is a high-quality, powerful hair dryer that dries hair quickly and smooths out frizz. It's also uniquely lightweight and feels comfortable to hold, making it a great option for those with long, thick hair.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Slim, non-bulky design

  • +

    Lightweight and easy to travel with

  • +

    Powerful heat and speed settings

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Slight piercing sound

  • -

    Tip gets very hot

Specifications

Weight: 10.5oz

Watts: 1200W

Cord length: 11ft

Warranty: 2 years

RRP: $337 (US only)

A CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer review wouldn't be complete without declaring my dedication to CHI as a brand. My first foray into hot tools began with a CHI flat iron – it was the first hot tool I ever purchased, and yielded smooth, frizz-free results for the close-to eight years that I used it. 

The decades-old brand has been making its mark in the hair industry for the quality construction and powerful results it brings. That's why I had high hopes when I tested out the Lava Pro Hair Dryer. 

As with everything beauty-related, landing on the best hair dryer is a personal preference. But every so often, you come across a product or tool that has the potential to be a universal favorite – the CHI Lava Pro is one such example. What makes this dryer stand out is that it's infused with lava derived from volcanic rocks, which CHI says brings on the benefits of reduced drying time and styling at lower heat settings, which equals less heat exposure and thus, less damage (although we'd still always recommend using the best heat protection for hair if you heat style daily.) 

Our CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer Review

The design

CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer

The handy compartments in our CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer box

(Image credit: Michelle Rostamian)

There's no denying the construction of this hair dryer, but before we delve into that, it's worth noting how impressive the packaging is. Unlike lower-cost hair dryers that are thrown into a cardboard box, this one comes in sturdy packaging and each element of the dryer has its own compartment. Above all, the dryer was protected, which I appreciated as it has a matte black surface and is prone to scratching.

In terms of design, this hair dryer checks all the boxes. It's sleek, slim, and the signature black and red is a nice reminder that it's a CHI product. I'm a huge fan of how polished the buttons are – they're not clunky, made of different colors, or ill-placed to where you'd accidentally push them. Rather, they're intentionally discreet and have a bit of a texture, which makes for an easy grip and a seamless push.

As someone with long, thick, curly hair, I appreciate how lightweight this hair dryer is. At just over half a pound, it's definitely one of the best travel hair dryers, not to mention, it boasts a round, super slim design that takes up no more space than a bottle of hairspray. This shape offers a function, too, as it helps provide a straight shot of air onto your hair. This not only helps to lessen drying time, but it uses less electricity in doing so.

There are three magnetic attachments: a diffuser to enhance your natural curl pattern, a precision concentrator with a pinched mouth to help blow a shot of air onto one space at a time, and a smoothing nozzle with a wider mouth for reducing flyaways and frizzy hair. It also comes with a brush to help with cleaning, and a seven-second auto-reverse cleaning function, which keeps the back filter cage free of dirt and debris.

How does the CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer perform?

CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer LCD Display

Our CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer LCD Display

(Image credit: Michelle Rostamian)

In terms of performance, the CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer is a winner. And with 1200 watts of power, I can see why. I like the direct shot of air it gives my hair, and find that one section of hair dries in less than five minutes, which is significantly less than other hair dryers I've used. 

All of the attachments are magnetic, which makes it delightfully easy to pop on and off – no cumbersome twisting, turning, or clicking required. The precision concentrator was my favorite when it came time to blowing my hair straight – I was able to get a very smooth, silky end result, and I also didn't experience any frizz.

This dryer has three heat settings: low (140°), medium (190°), and high (250°). As well, it has three-speed settings indicated by one dot (for gentle airflow), two dots (for medium airflow), and three dots (for fast airflow). All of these settings are displayed beautifully on an LCD display, which I find gives the dryer a high-end touch. The controls are straight-forward and I especially love how quickly the functions operate. Other models I've used had a half-second delay when I changed the settings, while this dryer switched immediately (though you do have to push and hold them down).

Generally, I don't play around with the heat and speed settings too much: I use the middle heat setting and fastest airflow for drying, and the highest heat setting and fastest airflow when I'm giving myself a bouncy blow dry. I like that the dryer remembers heat and speed settings even when you switch it off – no having to switch functions every time it's turned on.

What's not good about this hair dryer?

There's a lot to love about the CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer, but there are a few minor things I wish were different. While the settings do change quickly, I don't love the fact that I have to push and hold each button down for it to function. Similarly, I have to continuously hold the cold shot button down for it to operate, which can be awkward. The cool shot button does take a bit of time to get cold when the precision concentrator is on, but that's just because the air is flowing through a more narrow opening when that nozzle is in place.

The tip of this dryer gets really hot after using, so be careful placing it around small children or pets. And though the dryer itself isn't loud, I did hear a slight piercing sound in the background – almost like a television or radio that's lost reception.

CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer review: w&h verdict

If you're wondering whether or not the CHI Lava Pro Hair Dryer is worth the price, I'm here to tell you that as long as you can afford it, it definitely is. Despite a few mishaps that are more inconvenient than they are cons, I'm a huge fan of this hot tool and wouldn't expect anything less from CHI. It's well-constructed, gives me incredible results, and I'm hesitant to throw it in my hot tool drawer because of how sleek it is (I actually don't mind leaving it displayed atop my vanity).

This dryer helped keep my frizz at bay, dried my hair quickly, and travels like a dream. Though it's a professional model, its magnetic attachments and various heat and speed settings are foolproof to use at home, as is the slim, non-bulky design that gives seamless control. All in all, if you're looking for a solid blow dryer that's as durable as it is powerful, this is one to be on the lookout for.

Michelle Rostamian
Beauty & Shopping Writer

Michelle Rostamian is a Los Angeles-based beauty writer with 10 years of experience in the beauty industry. She began her career as a publicist, content writer, and social media manager, representing beauty brands and industry professionals. Currently, she is an editor and writer on all things makeup, beauty, skincare, and lifestyle. Michelle graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Communications. She has bylines at Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, The Zoe Report, HelloGiggles, Yahoo, Byrdie, Well+Good, Reviewed, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, The Girlfriend, and more.