For African-Americans, hair is important, and that importance has very little to do with vanity. In pre-slavery days, how an African wore his or her hair spoke to their character and the place they held in society. It was a form of expression, enthusiasm, and power — so much the case that when Europeans began to transport us to the new world and place us on the auction block, they would shave our heads as a way to dehumanize.
With the Emancipation Proclamation and the next 100 years of fighting for every little bit of freedom we could get, our diverse hairstyles started to return and take their rightful place high in the pop culture realm.
In the post-Civil Rights era especially, we gave the world Coffy. We gave the world Shaft. We provided a backdrop of stylistic icons, who were Bad with a capital B. It’s no surprise the digital age continues that dominance with popular search terms that focus on how we do what we do. Whether black or not, people want to embrace the style, so naturally, they go looking for the best products.
Laila Ali Ionic Soft Bonnet Dryer: A Knockout!
To understand what “the best” means, you must first understand what characterizes African-American hair as a whole. Typically, when people talk about it, they’re talking about thickness, smaller curls, and a much tighter look. This allows greater diversity in the way you choose to style your hair. But to get from point A to point B, you need a good hair dryer, and this is about as good as it gets.
Laila Ali is a female boxing champion. She is the daughter of “The Greatest” himself, Mr. Muhammad Ali. She is a talented on-air personality. In short, she isn’t a woman too familiar with failure, having never lost a fight. Her career both inside and outside the ring is an embodiment of power, but she balances that power with a delicate beauty, and it shows in the LADR5604.
The purple and black soft bonnet is adjustable. It allows enough malleability to fit jumbo rollers if you’re going for a looser curl or looking to “make waves,” and don’t have a lot of time. The ionic airflow is perfect for braiding, and offers just the right amount of care to chemical treatments and conditioning. The dual heat settings allow you to dry evenly at a comfortable temp while the cool feature helps to hold your preferred style in place.
Best of all, it’s lightweight and grants the user greater mobility in where he or she decides to dry off. Want to play some video games while waiting for Laila to do her thing? Have at it. It’s lightweight and packs plenty of power.
To Keep in Mind
The caveats are small. There may be a small learning curve when it comes to getting the bonnet to fit comfortably. Just work with it a little, and you shouldn’t have any issues.
First Runner-Up: The Conair Soft Bonnet
Conair has been a leader in the beauty supplies industry for decades, and their budget-conscious entry in the hooded dryer market is a keeper. While the design is a little less daring and attractive compared to the Laila Ali model, it’s functional and delivers a four-speed heat setting that gives you a wider scope when it comes to temperature control. The oversized hose comes with an “Easy Lock” feature that keeps airflow targeted where it needs to be. A few of the drawbacks: sometimes it’s a bit too cautious when it comes to the overheat prevention settings. It’s designed to keep the unit from overheating thus prolonging the lifespan, but it may not sit well with some preferences. The blower also runs a little louder than we prefer, so unless you’ve got some buds in your ears, forget about listening to podcasts or watching a video.
Second Runner-Up: Hot Tools Pro 800-Watt
Hot Tools doesn’t have the longevity of a Conair, nor the name recognition of Laila Ali, but the company makes a pretty solid soft bonnet with most of the features you’ll see on the other two models. The black-and-white casing is an attractive and compact design that travels well at the home, office, or wherever you’ll be using it. As with the other two models, it has an ionic airflow that maintains the strength and shine of the hair for a healthier look. It’s not as quiet as the Ali, nor as powerful as the Conair, but it gets the job done and works quickly. Just to give an idea, if you keep it on the medium setting, it can have thick and course hair dry in about an hour. Need to go a little faster than that? Up the heat setting, but consider wearing a towel over your neck. It can get a little warm.
Third Runner-Up: The Gold N Hot Pro Ionic
Gold N Hot is a lesser known brand, but it makes a strong enough soft bonnet to be considered with some of the biggest names in the industry. Utilizing a strong ionic airflow and a tight bonnet piece, you have just as much flexibility in choosing and perfecting your style. It’s compact, has a 40-inch flexible hose that won’t restrict your movements, and has a simple three-setting heat function. While that may not grant you the nuance you’re looking for when it comes to comfort, the low and middle levels will move quickly enough. The highest heat level can get a little intense, so you may want to wear some neck protection if brave enough to try it. Also, there is a little less freedom under the bonnet if you break out the jumbo rollers. It’ll fit, but you may be making more adjustments than you’d like.
What does a celebrity know about hair dryers? In the case of Laila Ali, quite a bit! The airflow, the hood flexibility, low blower noise, compact design and attractive body features — this one has got it all. Even so, not every product experience will be identical, so if you give the champ a shot, and would rather go another direction, do try to keep some of the others we’ve mentioned in mind. They all seem to understand that mobility, airflow, and cap fit are the most important features their customers are looking for. While our alternatives can be a little louder than we would like, they nail the core functions. Now with that said, it’s your turn. Have you tried any of the products listed here? What were your experiences, and which ones would you recommend checking out?