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Shark FlexStyle vs Dyson Airwrap: Which offers the healthiest, shiniest, longest-lasting results?

shark flexstyle vs dyson airwrap lead composite image

We pit two of the biggest names in hair styling against each other to see which comes up trumps

If you curl your hair often and are interested in curling methods that use air instead of heated plates, you’re probably already aware of the two big names dominating this market: Dyson, which relaunched its bestselling Airwrap in 2022; and Shark, which introduced its rival FlexStyle to the world in 2023.

In their own way, air stylers are as revolutionary as straightener brand GHD when it launched its ceramic-plated innovation. Dyson’s original Airwrap changed the perception of hair styling, by introducing hot air, rather than heated barrels, as a means to curl hair. Both the Airwrap and FlexStyle stylers use airflow rather than direct heat from a metal plate to style the hair, reducing damage to the hair allowing it to be styled quickly from damp rather than drying first.

Dyson’s Airwrap remains a best seller – if/when you can get your hands on it; it’s often sold out – with a recent Forbes article reporting four Airwrap sales per minute. Shark’s FlexStyle is also very popular. So which of these two is best for you? We’ve put both stylers through their paces to help you choose the best automatic hair curler for your hair, your budget and your styling needs.

Airwrap vs FlexStyle: Everything you need to know

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Heating method

Both the Dyson Airwrap and the Shark FlexStyle use air, rather than direct heat, to style the hair into curls and ringlets. A classic curling tong or wand comprises a heated metal barrel around which you wrap hair, but the Airwrap and the FlexStyle instead make use of an aerodynamic phenomenon known as the “Coanda” effect. Here, a high-speed airflow blowing through slots attaches to the surface that it’s blowing across, causing the air to flow in a circle. If you place a lock of dry or damp hair near the styling barrel, it will wrap around the tool as if by magic, where it then dries and takes on the shape of the barrel.

The big selling point of an air-based curling method is hair health. The air-styling method eliminates direct contact with a hot metal surface and allows hair to be styled at lower temperatures than a typical metal barrel – this reduces dehydration, breakage and damage to the hair. As an extra benefit it also allows hair to be styled from damp, doing away with the step of having to dry just-washed hair before you curl. This will be welcome news to those who curl their hair regularly, and a great time-saver.

There are other automatic hair curlers on the market that promise to take away the effort of curling, but the majority use a motor to wrap hair around a heated barrel rather than air. At present, it’s only the Airwrap and FlexStyle models that use the Coanda effect.

Winner: Draw

Both curlers use the Coanda airflow method to dry and style hair, with the same advantages: healthier hair, styled directly from damp.

View the Dyson Airwrap View the Shark FlexStyle

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Features and settings

The Dyson Airwrap has three heat and three airflow settings, selected via two separate switches on the handle, enabling you to pick the combination that suits your hair best. The Airwrap also has a cold shot, operated using the power button on the handle, to help set the curl in place.

dyson airwrap on wooden table - dyson airwrap vs shark flexstyle

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The Shark FlexStyle, too, offers three temperature and three speed settings, which can be independently selected using the two buttons on the tool’s handle, and a cool shot to set your curls. The FlexStyle uses flat push-buttons built into the handle rather than switches on the Dyson, but overall operation is very similar.

Dyson’s V9 digital motor packs 1,300W of drying power into the Airwrap, while the FlexStyle’s 1,400W motor is slightly more powerful. Both tools have smart heat monitoring to constantly measure and adjust the temperature of the airflow to avoid heat damage or scorching. The Airwrap additionally includes ionic technology, where the element produces negative ions to speed up the drying time and seal in moisture for a soft and glossy finish.

Winner: Airwrap

Both tools have independent heat and airflow settings and smart heat monitoring; the Airwrap’s additional ionic technology just edges out the Flexstyle here.

View the Dyson Airwrap View the Shark FlexStyle

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Attachments and accessories

Both the Airwrap and the FlexStyle come with an array of attachments for versatile styling. The FlexStyle, in particular, presents itself as an all-in-one alternative to your hair dryer and curling tools; the box includes a paddle brush, an oval brush for creating voluminous waves, curling barrels to create waves and ringlets, a concentrator nozzle for sleek styling and a diffuser for gentle drying. There are also two curling barrels, both 31.75mm in size, with airflow slots in opposing directions; you need to switch out the barrels to change the direction of your curl.

The FlexStyle’s biggest innovation is the drying unit, which pivots around a joint to switch easily from a vertical to a right-angled setting – hence the “Flex” in the name. The curling barrels and brush attachments are used with the tool in the vertical position; in the right-angled setting, the device is a hair dryer. You can use the FlexStyle in hair dryer mode to rough-dry hair in preparation for curling, or with the diffuser or concentrator attachments to style the hair fully.

The Dyson Airwrap also offers a range of attachments, including barrels in two different sizes (30mm and 40mm) for looser or tighter curls; two paddle brushes and one round brush; lus a smoothing attachment for rough-drying the hair before you style, and smoothing away any flyaways on your finished style.

The Airwrap multi-styler certainly can be used to create different styles, including brushed blow-outs and smoother styles, but the focus is clearly on curling. The two sizes of curling barrel allow greater versatility in the curls you create – and, unlike the Shark FlexStyle, on the flick of a switch you can reverse the direction of the airflow, making it far easier to style your curls in alternating directions for a more natural look. With the FlexStyle, you need to stop and change the barrel itself to do the same.

shark flexstyle hair dryer zoom in - dyson airwrap vs shark flexstyle

Both tools come in a smart presentation box to keep your attachments neatly together. The Airwrap is available in a range of colours and finishes, including a new limited edition Pink/Rose Gold model, as well as Blue/Copper and Copper/Nickel finishes with a matching box. The Shark FlexStyle arrives in Metallic Stone or Black/Gold options, with a black box in each case.

Winner: FlexStyle

The Airwrap and the Flexstyle both come with an array of styling accessories; the Flexstyle offers more all-round styling options while the Airwrap’s focus is on curling.

View the Dyson Airwrap View the Shark FlexStyle

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Using the tools

Both the Airwrap and the Shark FlexStyle offer fast and healthy styling. To use both stylers, wash the hair and rough-dry it until damp (aim for about 90% dry). Comb through the hair to remove tangles and spray with a heat-protective product to keep damage to a minimum, then section the hair into roughly 1-inch sections.

To use the curling barrels on either tool, slide your barrel attachment onto the drying unit and select your preferred heat and airflow settings. With the tool switched on, hold a section of hair close to the attachment and it will wrap itself around in the direction you’ve chosen; keep the hair in place for around 15 seconds for it to dry, then press the cool-shot to help set the curl in place for longer. Switch off the tool again and release the curl.

shark flexstyle hair dryer on wooden table with parts - dyson airwrap vs shark flexstyle

As mentioned, you can simply flick the arrow switch at the top of the Airwrap to change the direction of airflow; with the FlexStyle you’ll need to change the barrel itself. The Airwrap also comes with the option of a larger 40mm barrel for a looser curl that can be gently pulled into waves after curling,

Both the Dyson Airwrap and the FlexStyle’s paddle brush attachments are useful for creating smooth styles, while the round or oval brushes are great for a Hollywood glamour blow-out. The FlexStyle additionally offers concentrator and diffuser attachments of the type you would use with your usual hairdryer, and the Airwrap has its smoothing attachment to reduce flyaways and finish your paddle-brushed styles.

dyson airwrap on wooden table with different parts - dyson airwrap vs shark flexstyle

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Styling a full head of hair, depending on length and thickness and the look you’re trying to achieve, takes around 20-30 minutes. The curling barrels on both stylers are quite intuitive to use: simply hold the barrel at the point at which you want the curl to begin, and it will do the rest almost by magic. For a bouncier curl, start closer to the roots; for a looser ringlet, start nearer the ends.

Both stylers left hair feeling soft and healthy after styling; the Airwrap’s ionic technology produces a slightly shinier finish, however.

Winner: Airwrap

The Airwrap’s two sizes of curling barrel and airflow direction switch make it both versatile and intuitive to use, and the ionic technology leaves curls with an extra-glossy finish.

View the Dyson Airwrap View the Shark FlexStyle

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Price

The biggest downside to the Airwrap is its price; at almost £500, it’s a significant investment, and you’d need to curl your hair fairly often to get your money’s worth. On the flip side, if you are someone who curls their hair regularly, then you may well consider that the softer, healthier curls produced by the Airwrap make that price worth it.

The FlexStyle generally retails at around £300, a fair saving on Dyson’s premium price. The downsides here are that both curling barrels are only one size, and need to be manually switched to change the direction of the airflow and hence the direction of the curls. This makes the FlexStyle a bit more of a faff to use – though, with its brushes and hair dryer attachments, it offers a more comprehensive styling package.

Winner: Flexstyle

There’s no two ways about it – while the Dyson produces superior curls, the Flexstyle costs 40% less than the Airwrap, and includes a more versatile range of styling accessories.

View the Dyson Airwrap View the Shark FlexStyle

Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Verdict

If money is no object and you’re primarily looking for a tool that will create healthy, glossy, salon-quality curls then the Dyson Airwrap is our recommendation. The Airwrap’s round and paddle brushes also offer options for creating smooth styles and voluminous blow-outs.

If you’re looking for a more versatile tool to replace your hairdryer then, with its clever pivoting design and concentrator nozzle and diffuser attachments, the Shark FlexStyle meets that brief. The FlexStyle also has blow-out brushes that allow you to change up your look. But for those mostly in the market for curls, this tool’s single-barrel size and lack of an automatic change of direction mean the Airwrap remains the better choice.

How we test

At Expert Reviews, we understand the importance of supporting what we recommend with real-world testing and analysis. We’ve personally tested both the Dyson Airwrap and the Shark Flexstyle to style hair from damp, using the brushes and curling barrels as directed in the instructions. All of the brush attachments were tested alongside the curling barrels, on all three heat and airflow settings for each tool.

We evaluated the ease of use of each multi-styling tool, and the finish and feel of the hair once it had been styled. We confirm whether curls saw out a typical day of wear, and how well styles lasted with the other attachments last, too. We also confirm the weight and dimensions of each product and the attachments supplied in the box.

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