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7 Best Color Processor Dryers: Compare & Save

color processor

123RF.com (vershininphoto)

Save time and have even more stunning results by ditching your old blow dryer and buying a professional color processor. A traditional hooded hair dryer that only blows hot air can only get you so far when infrared hair dryers are proven to dry and process hair much faster, more evenly, and with less damage to the cuticle.

Black Pibbs hair color infrared processing hood Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Zones indivdually controlled
  • Simple controls
  • Made in Italy
Price: $1,349.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Tia Orbiting Infrared Ring Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Orbits around the head
  • Affordable
  • Simple to operate
Price: $350.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
DIR Damita hair processor Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Mounted or standing
  • Adjustable
  • Arcs move for even heating
Price: $1,299.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Hair steamer hood Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Low noise
  • Great for treatments
  • One-year warranty
Price: $719.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Octopus style infrared hood for salons Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • User-friendly
  • Easy to move
Price: $329.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
one wall mounted hair steamer machine and one on a wheel base Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wall-mounted option
  • Five temperature settings
  • Ozone hair treatment setting
Price: $681.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Metallic gold 5-heater infrared hair salon hood Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Individually operated
  • Carbon fiber quartz
  • Iononizing deodorizer
Price: $814.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. EDITOR’S CHOICE: Pibbs Speedy 2000 Deluxe Infrared Processor

    • Independently controlled zones
    • Trusted brand
    • Ceramic heating elements
    • User-friendly
    • Base is cheap looking
    • Wheels don't lock
    • Doesn't orbit

    The Italian-made Pibbs 14024 Speedy 2000 Deluxe Infrared Processor has five ceramic heating elements that surround the head and can be individually controlled. Each heater is controlled separately with the user-friendly panel on the back.

    The buttons are cleverly arranged in the same orientation as the heaters (basically in the shape of a plus sign) so it’s effortless to tell which button controls which heater. Above those buttons is a dial that controls the temperature of the heaters and below is a timer dial that goes up to 60 minutes.

    For convenience the processor is on a five-point caster wheel base so it can be rolled up to your client wherever makes the most sense in your salon. If you’re using it at home, the wheels are handy as you can roll it out of the way when it’s not in use. The caster wheel base has a diameter of 30 inches. 

    The height of the dryer head is adjustable from 45 inches tall to 62 inches tall. 

  2. 2. Tia Orbiting Infrared Ring

    • Good if you're on a budget
    • Orbits for even heating
    • New 2021 design
    • Requires some assembly
    • Not as long lasting as others
    • Feels flimsy and a little cheap

    Tia’s 2021 Orbiting Processor has a futuristic look with an infrared heating ring that rotates around your head for even heating of a wide area without the need for a clunky, claustrophobic hood that covers most of the head.

    I really like the control panel on this one. It’s well organized and labeled so it can have lots of options without becoming complicated. There are four preset buttons: Perm, Color, Treatment, and Dry. Or you can choose the Manual button to adjust the settings to your liking. Temperature is controlled with up and down buttons corresponding to a light-up spectrum. The timer is also controlled with up and down arrows with an LCD digital readout that counts down so you can see at a glance exactly how much time is left. 

    In addition to infrared heat, this unique dryer also had an optional fan setting which can be used with or without the infrared heat.

    It’s on a rolling base with four 360-degree caster wheels for smooth movement whether you’re wheeling it out to a client or out of your closet for home use. The stand has telescoping height adjustment but, unfortunately, they don’t give the height measurements. 

  3. 3. DIR Damita I & II Hair Processors

    • Wall-mounted or freestanding
    • Includes fan setting
    • Arc heaters move
    • Angle, height, and halo adjusts
    • Pricier than others
    • Wall mounting restricts reach
    • Doesn't rotate

    Fans of DIR’s salon designs will love the Wall-Mounted Damita I and the Freestanding Damita II. These processors have two heated arcs on either side that slowly swing up and down for even heating.

    Both processors have the same user-friendly control panel which you can view here in the instruction manual. All the buttons are well-labeled and simple to use. There is a digital timer readout and up and down arrows to set a timer. There are up and down arrows for temperature as well with six light-up LEDs to mark which setting it’s on. Below are indicators for six presets including coloring, pre-treatment, perm, and manual. Then there are buttons for the fan and the button that activates and stops the swinging arms.

    The Damita I is wall-mounted so you don’t have to deal with another tool taking up precious floor space so there’s plenty of room for your chairs and salon carts. It’s nicely adjustable but keep in mind that it will have a limited range of where it can be used. 

    The Damita II is their freestanding model on four wheels making it easy to move where you need it. This one has loads of height adjustability and you can angle the head of the processor as well. I love that the base is shaped to more easily fit closer behind a styling chair than standard star-shaped caster wheel bases.

    Both machines come with a one-year warranty. 

  4. 4. Athena Beauty Professional Hair Steamer

    • For steam treatments
    • Easy to wheel around
    • Simple controls
    • Not infrared
    • Requires distilled water
    • Height isn't listed

    Infrared isn’t the only way to process hair. Professional Hair Steamers like this one from Athena Beauty are exactly what you need for opening up the hair cuticle for certain treatments, deep moisturizers, and steam processed hair color. 

    Hot steam encourages the hair to open up and that allows for moisturizing treatments, lightener, and hair color to absorb into the hair strands deeper and more quickly so steam is the method of choice for some stylists. Hair steaming is also a nice way for home users to soften their hair and get the most out of their deep conditioning treatments

    This freestanding steamer hood is on convenient wheels and has nice height adjustability. The controls are very simple with an off and on button and a built-in timer that goes up to 30 minutes. 

    There’s a one-year warranty but just be sure to use distilled water or else mineral build-up can cause issues. 

  5. 5. Topbarber 5-Light Infrared Salon Lamp

    • Cheap
    • Flexible arms
    • Simple controls
    • Near silent operation
    • Bulbs will need to be replaced
    • Won't last as long
    • Can't control individual lamps
    • Not much height adjustment

    If you like the idea of being able to precisely manipulate the placement of the heat, go with Topbarber’s Five-Light Infrared Lamp. It had one fixed central lamp and four infrared lamps on poseable arms. You can bend and arrange these four heat sources however you need them. 

    The controls are extremely simple with an on and off button, a temperature dial, and a timer dial that goes up to 60 minutes. All the lamps are controlled with that one dial so there’s less fussing over what temperature each heating arm should be.

    These are infrared bulbs, not ceramic heating elements, so keep in mind there will be more red light than with more expensive options and you will eventually need to replace the bulbs.

    It’s on a five-point rolling base with 360-degree caster wheels and the central pole adjusts in height from 51 inches tall to 61 inches tall. That’s not as much of a range as other lamps may have but with the bending, posable arms, you have more leeway to get the position you want. 

    Honestly, one of the biggest pluses of this lamp is that it’s affordable. It’s a hard-to-beat price for something that will get the job done even if it isn’t as luxurious as higher-end brands. 

  6. 6. Elitzia 03 Micro-Mist Steamers

    • High-capacity water tank
    • Ozone hair treatment setting
    • Wall-mounted or on wheels
    • Safety auto-shutoff
    • Controls are in Celsius
    • Not infrared
    • Heater struggles in cold conditions

    Elitzia’s 03 Micro-Mist Steamers are available as either free-standing models on wheels or as an out of the way wall-mounted steamer. 

    Steamers in general are great for steam-processed hair dye, oil treatments, and other conditioning treatments, but this one has the addition of an Ozone setting. Ozone hair treatments are said to help improve circulation and act as an antimicrobial and antifungal which can reduce dandruff. 

    You’ll love how much control you have with this steamer. There are five steam power settings as well as five temperature levels starting at 113 degrees Fahrenheit and going up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. The timer has an LCD display that’s easy to read and buttons that increase the time by either one-minute or 10-minute increments. It had three pre-set modes (color, treatment, and steam) and either red or blue lights. 

    It boasts a 1.7-liter water tank that can run the steam for four to six hours at a time before needing to be refilled. There’s also a safety shutoff that will turn off the steamer when the water tank gets too low.

    It comes in a choice of black or white.

  7. 7. COF Professional Infrared Hair Dryer

    • Each heater is independent
    • Optional fan
    • Carbon fiber quartz tube
    • Energy efficient
    • Not as flexible as others
    • Pricier
    • No wall-mount option

    Besides looking really posh with its gold ABS casing, this COF Infrared Hair Dryer and Processor has the added benefit of five, independently controlled heaters. This allows you to decide where you want the heat and where you don’t for your client’s comfort. 

    Unlike some that use red bulbs, this dryer uses carbon fiber quartz heating elements that heat up faster, last longer, and are significantly more energy-efficient. This feature means you’ll need to invest more upfront, but it can pay off later when you’re not constantly buying bulbs. 

    Each panel has its own off and on switch and there’s a central LCD display control panel on the back of the dryer. There you can choose to select a pre-set mode, adjust the timer, and control the fan. 

    Another unique feature is that it has an ionizing deodorizing filter that is built-in to help reduce unpleasant hair dye and bleach smells.

    The whole thing sits on a height-adjustable pole (from 53 inches tall to 68.8 inches tall) on four caster wheels making it effortless to move around. I like that the wheelbase is designed with chairs in mind as there’s one wider section allowing it to fit snugly behind a salon chair without bumping into it.

How Do Hair Processors Work? Aren't They All the Same?

There are two different types of processors: infrared and steam.

Infrared dryers work by heating your hair with infrared waves.

Hot air dryers apply heat to the outside of the hair and then work their way inward, but infrared affects all the hair strands at the same time.

Because the heat distribution isn't just hitting the top layers of the hair and then working in toward the scalp, infrared waves affect all strands of hair equally for a more even drying process. 

And it's not just the ends versus roots of your hair. Infrared light penetrates deeper into the hair strands to heat your hair from the inside out, drying hair faster and with less heat damage to the cuticle.

As a result heat from infrared light helps color and lightener process faster than hot hair drying. 

Steam processors use hot, moist hair to gently open up the hair's cuticles, allowing the deep conditioner, hot oil, or hair dye to penetrate deeper into the hair than it would be able to without heat.

What Is Infrared Light Anyway?

Infrared is a wavelength of light that we can't see. If you're looking at a rainbow, infrared is the invisible wavelength of light that sits right beside the color red according to the Gemini Observatory. 

We might not be able to see it, but we can perceive infrared as heat. It's a penetrating heat that doesn't just warm the surface of our skin. This is the reason you so often see infrared therapy used on sore muscles and even by saunas. 

Caltech's IPAC (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) says that its heat is actually how infrared was discovered. Sir William Herschel was looking at a rainbow created by a prism and noticed that the area beside the color red was warmer than the ambient air. 

Are Infrared Dryers Good for Your Hair?

Any application of heat has the potential to damage hair, but the same can be said for standing out in the sun. The less time in heat the better and many have found that infrared dryers reduce the amount of time their hair needs to be exposed to the heat. By sparing the cuticle direct heat, infrared preserves the hair strand's first line of defense and reduces frizz.

Wavelengths of light very close to infrared (called near-infrared) have even been shown to have health benefits.

A 2013 study published by Laser Surgery Medical Journal that looked at the treatment of thinning hair that was published in Lasers and Surgery in Medicine showed that Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) increased hair growth. LLLT sounds scary but it's really just using red light wavelengths that are very nearly infrared. There have been loads of studies on LLLT as treatments for wounds, acne, and even wrinkles.

What Is a Hair Processor Used For?

Anything you would normally use heat for you can use infrared.

  • Processing lightener and hair color faster
  • Drying hair quicker
  • Perms
  • Oil treatments
  • Deep conditioner
  • Setting a look

Steam is best used more intentionally as this processing isn't in its own category. It's best for steamed hair color and for any treatment where you want to open up the hair follicles.