While my mom's hair dryer was a standard style, I've had an ionic model for as long as I can remember doing my own hair . . . but is there any real advantage to that buzz word?
My latest science research found that ionic dryers bond water droplets on the hair shaft with negatively charged ions. It works because, well, opposites attract. Water molecules are positively charged and are attracted to the negative ions from this dryer. This breaks them down into tinier particles that dry quicker and helps seal the strands' cuticles to retain moisture in the process.
Learn the key difference with standard hair dryers when you read more.
Although the claims that ionic dryers work better aren't scientifically proven per se, traditional hair dryers release positive ions instead of negative ones. This means they don't have the benefit of attracting and breaking down the water as quickly, which logically exposes your hair to more heat for more time. We know the damage too much heat can bring, since that opens up hair cuticles and can result in drier, frizzier hair.
Part of it could be clever marketing, but this kind of dryer still works – and sells – better for many people, including myself. If you have both, grab your lab coat (read: bathrobe) and test this out for yourself before sharing results in the comments below!