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The CHI company out of Houston, Texas was founded by Farouk Shami, a professional hairdresser who sought to make dependable salon products for professional stylists. CHI makes a wide array of professional salon products and also sponsors styling schools independently and through 500 affiliated colleges and partner schools.
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The company’s vision focuses on “education, environment, and innovation” in all its products and services. From hair dyes that are ammonia-free to safe and effective styling tools that produce low-EMF, CHI is committed to customer service and producing products that are safe for the environment and safe for routine use by stylists.
A Deep Dive into the CHI Pro Hair Dryer
This combination of technology and materials, while at first glance may seem underpowered, actually dries hair about 40% faster than standard hair blow dryers. Most hair dryers emit EMF from 60 mG (milli-Gauss) up to 20,000 mG, but EPA safety recommendations state that these values should be 0.5-2.5 mG for regular use.
EMF intensity does diminish over distance, however, blow dryers are used next to the head, which increases the risk to the brain. Further, routine use of regular blow dryers by stylists puts them at risk for EMF-related tissue injuries.
To address this problem, CHI developed an effective hair blow dryer that operates at 1.5 mG, right in the middle of the safe-use range established by the EPA. The blow dryer uses a honeycomb ceramic heated by far-infrared elements for the production of heat, which also produces negative ions to diffuse water.
This combination of gentle heat and negative ions dries hair from the inside to the outside, does so faster than other hair blow dryers, and also applies a moisturizing effect that reduces the development of frizz and static build-up on the hair surface.
Who’s It For?
The CHI Pro blow dryer is an ideal choice for both customers and salon stylists who use blow dryers on a regular basis, but who are concerned about the long-term negative effects of EMF exposure. Since blow dryers are used in close proximity to the head and standard models can emit a lot of EMF, reducing your exposure is a very valid concern.
Most people are focused on the effects of cellular phone EMF emissions, WiFi, and Bluetooth transmission exposures, but do not think about other high EMF products that you hold near your head. The CHI company considered that stylists are using blow dryers all day at distances shorter than arms-length and placing these devices next to the heads of their clients.
The founder of CHI, Farouk Shami, a hairdresser himself, thought that there must be a better, safer way to dry hair. Thus, the quest for a better hair dryer was begun and resulted in Mr. Shami establishing a patented method to make a safer product by adapting technology used by NASA.
The CHI Pro, besides having lower EMF emissions which fall in the declared EPA safety range, also dries hair faster and produces less heat damage to hair. Overall, this approach to hair drying is a win-win.
All this innovation comes at a price, however, and the CHI Pro is decidedly more expensive than your standard hairdryer. However, it is a durable, salon-grade product meant for years and years of hassle-free use.
What is EMF and why worry about it?
Although in this article we are mostly focused on the build quality and performance aspects of the CHI Pro since an important feature of the device is its low-EMF output, we should discuss what is EMF and why limiting your exposure is important. Electrical fields are emitted when there are two different sources of electrical charge, the latter also known as voltage.
The larger the difference between charges, the larger the electrical field. When there is a flow of electrical current such as through a wire or a device, magnetic fields are also produced where greater flow produces a greater magnetic field. The combination of these two fields in electric devices produces electromagnetic fields (EMF).
We measure the features of electromagnetic fields through several different descriptors, which include its wavelength (expressed in nanometers), its frequency (expressed in cycles/second or Hertz), and the strength of EMF is measured in units of field strength or Gauss. EMF is also emitted in different frequency ranges and runs from long-wave fields such as radio waves and infrared, through the visible light spectrum, and on to shorter wavelength fields such as UV (ultraviolet), microwave radiation, x-ray sources, and on the very far end, gamma rays.
These sources across the electromagnetic spectrum are produced as waves in pulses of energy. The distance between pulses of energy is how we measure wavelength and the rate at which pulses of energy are emitted is how we describe its frequency. EMF comes from many sources, both natural and man-made sources.
Natural electromagnetic fields include sources such as light (both visible and non-visible, like far-infrared and ultraviolet), electrical discharges like lightning produced during a thunderstorm, and large source generators such as the Earth’s inner core which generates the electromagnetic shielding field of the planet.
EMF in a general sense is not harmful, since we need light to see, non-visible light like infrared is responsible for heat transfer in the environment, and the magnetic field of the Earth shields us from cosmic radiation (much more intense and harmful), and the solar wind (which would slowly strip away the atmosphere were it not for the geomagnetic field, which is a good thing).
People, plants, and animals are well equipped to handle these sources of EMF, so long as things do not drastically change. The main concerns with EMF come from all the additional electromagnetic radiation that humans have artificially introduced to the environment.
These human sources of EMF include sources or intended targets of electrical current (power lines, wiring in buildings, electrical appliances) and emissions sources that we use for communication or medical applications (cell phones and cell towers, television and radio towers, x-ray machines in the hospital or dental clinic). Sources of EMF can either be benign like most natural sources (lightning, not a good one, but necessary for the environment) or can be dangerous over short-term or long-term exposure.
Whether an EMF source is safe is a matter of several factors which include emission frequency, emission intensity, and distance from the emission source. Distance is a big mitigating factor in whether or not a source of EMF is dangerous since all electromagnetic spectra follow the inverse square law.
This is the principle in physics that describes how emitted energy dissipates with distance from the source and states that emitted energy from a source dissipates by the inverse square of the distance from that source. You can think of it as energy being “diluted” over a distance.
For example, stand a foot from the wall and shine a flashlight on it. The distance is short and the light is intensely focused and bright, falling on a small spot on the wall (let’s say its value is at 100).
Now, walk back 10 feet and you will notice that the spot becomes much larger (it is spread out over a larger target area), but it is also much dimmer (its value is now 1). All that light intensity has dissipated and is now illuminating a larger target area.
Walk back even further, say down a hallway, still aiming the flashlight at the same wall and the flashlight will illuminate nearly the entire wall, but not very brightly (if the distance was 25 feet, the light value on the wall would be 0.16).
This is basically the same amount of original energy, just spread out over a much larger area. At some point of distance, you would be unable to see any illumination of the wall at all.
So, for safety, distance from the source makes a big difference in the intensity of EMF you receive. That is why you would not want to climb a radio tower while the transmitter is on.
Upon reaching the top, you would be barbequed. These principles of safe distance also apply to consumer devices, which is why so many people are concerned about the long-term effects of putting a radiofrequency-emitting cell phone next to their head.
The same can be said for other devices as well, like standard hair dryers, which can emit unsafe levels of EMF and are used next to the head. These devices are regulated for a variety of different safety concerns; however, EMF is not one of them.
Therefore, in this review, we will discuss the merits of the CHI Pro hair blow dryer both from a functional perspective and with attention paid to its intentionally-designed low-EMF profile.
What We Like About the CHI Pro Hair Dryer
The drying time for hair is very short, about a 40% shorter time than with standard hair dryers, which makes for quick work. That is a good thing since the CHI Pro is rather heavy for a blow dryer.
Coming in at 2.4 pounds, it is heavy but well-balanced and of solid construction. The weight distribution tends to center the dryer in your hand so you are not fighting to keep the nozzle up.
We also like the cord length, which was well thought out for use in a salon but also works great in the home. At 11 feet in length, working where you want if there is not an outlet nearby is not a problem at all.
The power cord is actually heavy-duty and does not heat up over longer use times as do thinner power cords. This cord length adds quite a bit of mobility and is about 2 feet or longer than other professional hair dryer cords.
Heat production is also consistent, but gentle and is well-suited for medium-body hair as well as fine hair. Thicker hair takes a bit longer to dry with the CHI Pro (many users report times of 10 minutes with soaked hair and less than 5 minutes after towel-drying), but the blower speeds will not make a mess of your hairstyle or cause a frizzing effect.
People who use the CHI Pro report that their hair feels smoother, does not frizz or produce fly-away strands, is less tangled after drying, and much easier to brush out. The gentle heat output is enough to dry your hair without causing breakage and hair damage.
Heat output ranges from about 135 degrees F up to 168 degrees F and the airflow from the small fan is enough and balanced well against the honeycomb heat block to do the job well (blower speeds are approximately 17.6 up to a maximum of 22.7 feet per second, so it’s not a hurricane or is that “hairicane”…).
The hair dryer comes with two drying settings, low and high fan speeds, but heat production is constant with only an on or off state. There is an additional cool shot button feature that temporarily cuts heat output and lags just a little but is not a real inconvenience. After releasing the cool shot button, heat quickly returns.
The loudness of the dryer is also rather quiet at 73.9 on the low setting and 79.3 dB on high, and although the fan sounds like it is working hard, it is not.
Included with the CHI Pro are commonly-used attachments, such as a concentrator nozzle and a diffuser. Throwing these in as standard is a nice touch, as many professional hair dryers require you to purchase these accessories separately.
The warranty also makes a strong statement about the confidence CHI has in its products, covering the CHI Pro for two years of guaranteed, hassle-free operation. From the build quality, we expect the CHI Pro to operate well in excess of this time span. In contrast, most hair blow dryers only come with a 1-year warranty.
Finally, the low-EMF profile of the CHI Pro is a major strong point with us since many people are concerned, and rightly so, about limiting their exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Due to the means by which the CHI Pro produces heat, current flow through the device is reduced.
This is mainly the effect of using a ceramic honeycomb core so that the far-infrared heating elements only need to work cyclically to maintain temperatures in the honeycomb. Standard hair dryer designs use heater coils wrapped around a non-flammable scaffold and must have current fed through them constantly to provide heat.
This translates into a constant electromagnetic field being generated around the device, the device that you have next to your head. The far-infrared and ceramic honeycomb design only requires periodic pulses of current to maintain good heat, since ceramic is an efficient material for heat distribution and radiates heat at more constant rates than other materials.
What We Don’t Like About the CHI Pro Hair Dryer
There are some comfort issues with using the CHI Pro hair dryer. The first issue is that users will be required to get used to the weight.
The device is a solid build, but there are no hair dryers out there that weigh 2.4 pounds, although the CHI Pro is evenly balanced. Most of that weight comes from the ceramic honeycomb and ceramic is ceramic, you just cannot get it to be any lighter and there are no other appropriate materials to accomplish the performance that the CHI Pro provides.
The second issue is the button placement on the handle. Although the cool shot button is in an appropriate location, roughly the place where you would find a trigger on a pistol, the high/low/off switch is on the handle front.
Whereas this is convenient for easily switching between settings while holding and operating the dryer, many users report that it is too easy to accidentally switch between settings during use. This is particularly an issue because the CHI Pro requires a good grip due to its weight.
- Temperature settings are different and specific
- Heat is gentle, not harsh
- Works fast
- Airspeed settings are appropriate and not too hard
- The handle has a comfortable grip
- Influenster.com gave it the Best Hair Dryer award in 2016
- The fan motor is loud and sounds like it works too hard
- The dryer is heavy (2.4 pounds)
- The concentrator seems fragile
- The button placement is clumsy and the user can accidentally change settings while holding
CHI Pro Dryer with 11-foot power cord
Drying nozzle attachment
(Stylist not included)
Overview of Features
How the CHI Pro works:
The CHI Pro blow dryer uses far-infrared LED heating to heat up a heavy ceramic honeycomb core. It is the same idea as building a fireplace with fireplace brick: the wood heats up the brick which keeps the fire from spreading outside the hearth and also efficiently dissipates the heat energy to warm the room.
The honeycomb design provides for a large surface area for heat exchange, like a room heating radiator, and allows airflow through the honeycomb to deliver heat to the dryer nozzle. Since the ceramic honeycomb is efficient in dissipating heat, lower fan speeds and a smaller fan can be used to effectively deliver heat from the device.
This efficiency also means that the ceramic does not need to be constantly heated, so the LED far-infrared sources work periodically, pulsing, and reheating the ceramic core. Standard hair dryers that use heating coils wound around a non-flammable scaffold must have current sent through them constantly to maintain heat, which produces a steady electromagnetic field.
In contrast, the periodic heating in the CHI Pro produces lower intensity EMF over time.
The CHI Pro has several buttons to operate the device, a high/low/off rocker switch that changes the fan speed (there is only one heat setting when the device is on), and a trigger-like cool shot button that runs the fan but temporarily stops producing heat. There is some lag in this effect, however, since the ceramic honeycomb does not immediately cool down.
For convenience, there is also a removable rear lint cover for easy cleaning and the heavy-duty power cord is a very generous 11-feet in length, enough to go where you want with the dryer within reason (one customer likes to watch the television while using the dryer with it plugged into the bathroom socket).
Also included with the CHI Pro are a concentrator nozzle and a diffuser wand for different styles of hair drying. The CHI Pro comes with a 2-year warranty covering all device failures with normal expected use.
When we take into consideration all the positives (and the negatives) of the CHI Pro, we feel that it is well worth having one despite its price point. Noting the build quality, the reported durability, and usage lifespan of the device, we feel that investing in one will pay off over several years.
Apart from the low-EMF profile of the CHI Pro, which is a really great thing in and of itself, the hair dryer is made for professional use and works well. Stylists typically do not buy consumer-grade stuff since they tend to burn through such devices rather quickly under constant use and wear and tear.
They also want things that work well and quickly, so the performance points of the CHI Pro are big plusses in our book, drying hair but leaving hair smooth and with little heat damage. Since stylists spend more money on their equipment, any flaky products on the market quickly fall by the wayside and will have no market segment with them.
The CHI Pro is made to please professional hairdressers and their demands for quality equipment, so if you are purchasing a CHI Pro as a consumer, you can be guaranteed to be pleased with the performance and durability of this dryer.