ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, found standout hair dryers and hair straighteners at both $200 and $20. COURTESY PHOTO
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Looking for a good blow-dryer, hair straightener or mascara? It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money, according to the latest lab test results of these products by ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports.

“You can pay anywhere from $20 to $200 for a blow-dryer or a straightening iron, but it doesn’t really matter what you spend,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, ShopSmart’s editor in chief. “ShopSmart found standouts at both price points that will give you plenty of great hair days.”

BLOW-DRYERS

ShopSmart tested 10 models of blow-dryers on swatches of human hair in an environment chamber to keep temperature and humidity steady. Additionally, a panel of 10 staffers used the dryers at home. Despite big differences in price and wattage — ranging from 1,300 to 1,875 — drying time did not vary much. But once noise and other features were factored in, ShopSmart found three standouts.

ShopSmart’s smart splurges include the CHI Pro Dryer GF 1505, $135, and Bespoke Labs T3 Featherweight 83808-se, $200. The bargain buy, Revlon’s Ionic Ceramic Pro Stylist RV484, $20, was a little louder than the smart splurges, and it lacks a removable filter. However, it has one bonus the pricey dryers don’t — separate heat and speed settings to control temperature and airflow. Both the CHI and the Revlon blow-dryers come with a diffuser and a concentrator, while the Bespoke Labs dryer lacks a diffuser.

STRAIGHTENING IRONS

When a blow-dryer isn’t enough to iron out those curls and kinks, straightening irons can get the job done — at least the right one. ShopSmart’s tests turned up a few winners that keep tresses on the straight and narrow.

ShopSmart tested nine straightening irons in a humidity chamber, to keep moisture and temperature steady, on swatches of naturally curly human hair. Testers counted how many passes it took to straighten them. To see how the straighteners perform on hair that’s still attached to someone’s head, nine staffers tried them at home.

As with blow-dryers, wattage wasn’t any indicator of performance; neither was high-temperature settings. Results of in-house tests and user feedback revealed that these products’ claims of ionic, tourmaline and nano-silver technology didn’t seem to make a difference in straightening performance, either.

ShopSmart’s choice for smart splurge, the Infiniti Nano Silver by Conair SS9, $100, had all three features, but the bargain buy, Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic RVST2001C, $30, had none. Paying a higher price also did not guarantee a better straightener, and neither did the brand names. Conair was the maker of the top- and bottom-rated models, while the CHI Ceramic GF-1001, $130, was the second-most-expensive straightener tested but did not rate anywhere near the top.

MASCARAS

Dark nail polish, body glitter and other beauty trends come and go, but black mascara is a classic. ShopSmart had 34 women try 16 “engthening” and/or “thickening” formulas, none waterproof, to find out which mascara did the best job.

The eye-opening results: It’s not necessary to spend a lot to get a great mascara. While the top-rated wand was the more expensive, Lancome Paris Definicils, $24, another very good choice was the affordable Max Factor Lash Perfection Volume Couture, $7. Another surprise was how beauty-magazine staple Maybelline Great Lash washable mascara fared in the tests. While it rated very good overall, several panelists said it was nothing special, and some complained about clumps.

Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org