GHD has long ruled the hair straighteners roost, but when it comes to hair dryers the British brand hasn't had it quite so easy.
The Helios has actually been available exclusively in a small number of salons since the start of January, but now it's on general sale in the UK. The burning question, as ever, is whether it has been worth the wait.
GHD have made a name for themselves by launching premium products at premium prices, designed to appeal to consumers and hair stylists too; at the luxury end of the market.
Design and key features
The design of the GHD Helios clearly distinguishes the heat and cold shot buttons, the branded grille and the metal that sweeps around the rear of the dryer.
The GHD Helios feels well built and sturdy weighing 0.78kg, but that never really caused any issues thanks to how well-balanced it is. Its handle shape is ever-so-slightly more slender, making it feel more comfortable to hold.
GHD offer the Helios in four two-tone colours – black and silver like the GHD Air, navy blue and black, maroon and gold (as featured here), and white and gold.
The feel of the Helios is a cut above, too. The plastic shell of the GHD Air feels a little rough to the touch by comparison, and the plastic shell of the Helios feels smoother, silkier – almost like silicone. It also replaces the hard plastic hook by the cable with a soft silicone loop which is attractively branded; the GHD name imprinted on a chrome-plated button. Similar branding appears on the rose gold grille, and even the holes in the filter and the shape of the impeller inside have an industrial beauty to them.
The GHD Helios features a motor boost up to 2,200W which exceeds the power of both the Dyson by 400W and 600W.
What the GHD Helios lacks in settings and accessories, it more than makes up for in performance. The Dyson Supersonic set the benchmark by which we compare all other hair dryers, particularly in terms of drying speed, and the Helios absolutely is way superior.
In just one minute and six seconds, our hair went from wet out of the shower to dry. This is a minute faster than the Supersonic, which itself is a minute faster than the competition. It was slightly slower at drying our hair after a swim – 1 minute and 50 seconds. What’s more, despite this test only rough drying our hair, we didn’t feel the need to use straighteners to complete the look and smooth flyaways. A rarity.
Styling our hair, as we’d expect, took a little longer, but only marginally so at 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
This speed comes from what GHD calls AeroPrecis technology. A system that uses a brushless motor with a built-in power supply to create a blast of focused air travelling at 75mph. This is coupled with GHD’s redesigned nozzle that curves at the end like the wingtip on a plane, which is engineered to reduce air turbulence. The combination of speed and power removes water from the hair quickly, while the nozzle reduces frizz. The result – when both rough drying and styling our hair – was smooth, shiny hair with little frizz and very few flyaways.
GHD has even patented the shapes of the holes in the grille to make the dryer quieter, and it is. Which brings the level of noise down to Dyson levels.
GHD has also seemingly solved the issue that plagued a number of GHD Airs we tested in that the nozzle fits tightly enough to not twist and move as you’re drying your hair.
The sacrifice you make for this shine is a lack of volume and movement. Our hair is fine and blowdrying gives it body and bounce. With the GHD Helios, we were disappointed with how flat our hair was. Another, small complaint is that while GHD has solved the nozzle problem, the cold shot issues remain. As with many dryers we’ve tested, the cold shot on the GHD Helios doesn’t differ vastly in temperature to the lowest heat setting. You have to press the button for a few seconds to really drop the temperature and, as it’s awkwardly located at the top of the handle, our hands ached if we tried to use it for too long.
GHD has another winner on its hands with the GHD Helios. It combines style with substance, something GHD is renowned for, and the years of research and development are clear to see.
It's not cheap, but I am sure that doesn't shock you. We believe the performance makes it worth the investment. It has been a very pleasant surprise to use a genuine Dyson Supersonic rival.