Dyson Airwrap vs Shark FlexStyle: Which to buy?on November 6, 2023 at 19:05 Tech Advisor


Since its 2018 launch, the Dyson Airwrap has been the go-to hot air multi-styler – if you could afford it. But in 2022, Shark released a (somewhat) more budget-friendly alternative, the FlexStyle.

The FlexStyle comes with a similar number of accessories – including the famous, and famously easy-to-use hot-air curlers, which Shark terms auto-wrap curlers and Dyson, of course, calls its airwrap technology.

Both stylers can give you a similar range of hair styling options. But the way they work and the accessories they come with are slightly different. So, should you save your money and go for the FlexStyle, or invest in the Airwrap?

We tested both side-by-side to see how they compare. You can read our reviews of the Airwrap and the FlexStyle for more detailed thoughts on each one but for a comparison between the two, read on.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

What do you get when you buy?

The first thing to establish is, when you buy one of these multi-stylers, what do you actually get? Your hair type may play a role in choosing between the two tools.

Airwrap accessories

There are two options when you buy the Airwrap. You can opt for a standard kit – and we’ll tell you what’s in that in a moment. Or, you can customise the tools you want so you get a set of accessories that will work with your hair type.

The way to do this is to head to the Dyson website and take its quiz. After you’ve answered a series of questions on your hair – its type, length, thickness and ability to retain a style – Dyson will suggest a set of hair tools.

It’s particularly important to do this if you have curly or coily hair, in which case some of the standard tools may not work well for you.

Take the quiz at Dyson US or Dyson UK.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

But if you opt for the standard-issue kit, this is what you’ll get:

Corded handle

30mm Airwrap barrel

40mm Airwrap barrel

Firm smoothing brush

Soft smoothing brush

Round volumising brush

Coanda smoothing dryer

Filter cleaning brush

Storage case

The Airwrap comes in a number of colour options. These will change over time and you may have to shop around – or even wait around – to get the colourway you want.

FlexStyle accessories

The FlexStyle options are a little different and include ways to customise your kit, but it varies depending on whether you’re in the UK or the US.

In the US, buyers can choose a straight and wavy set or a curly and coily set. These come with a standard four accessories each. Or, for $20 less, you can choose the three styling accessories that best suit your hair type. As well as the accessories listed below, you can opt for a wide tooth comb, a round brush and two 0.95in curlers. All options are available from Shark.

UK buyers have the option of a comprehensive 5-in-1 kit or a more specialised (and £20 cheaper) four accessory kit for either straight and wavy or curly and coily hair. You can see all the options on the Shark website.

The other option is to customise your FlexStyle kit. You’ll get to choose four accessories and it also costs £20 less than the five accessory kit. However, there are no short and long barrel options for different hair lengths like there are for the Airwrap.

If you go for the standard 5-in-1 kit, these are the accessories you’ll get:

Styling handle/ hairdryer

Two 1.25in auto-wrap curlers (each rotates in different directions, for either side of your face)

Oval brush

Paddle brush


Styling concentrator

The diffuser is a win for Shark, as Dyson does not include this as an optional accessory.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

There are only two colour options: black and rose gold, or beige and gold. The black and rose gold colourway is the only one that comes with a storage case.

If you want to buy it separately, the case costs $49.99/ £39.99.

Which has the best features?

One of the key reasons to buy either styler is the hot air curling tech. The rollers are far easier to use than a traditional curling iron, as they use the Coanda airflow effect to draw a strand of hair around the curler. This means they won’t burn either your fingers or your hair.

The button placement on the Dyson is more intuitive, with the cold shot located on the power button, rather than as a separate button that you need to hunt for as on the FlexStyle. It also doesn’t help that the buttons are right at the bottom of the FlexStyle’s handle, as this isn’t where you’d typically hold the brush.

The FlexStyle is also louder than the Airwrap, which is surprisingly quiet.

Hannah Cowton & Henry Burrell / Foundry

Beyond that, the FlexStyle’s best feature is its hair dryer transformation. A twist of the handle turns it from a long styler into an easy-to-use, 7-shaped dryer. However, the hinge means that the device feels less sturdy than the Airwrap.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

In terms of accessories, the FlexStyle’s diffuser is adjustable for different lengths of hair, which is a nice touch.

Among the Airwrap’s best features – and only available in newer models – are the curlers themselves. Instead of having one that rotates clockwise and one anti-clockwise, as the FlexStyle does (and which can be easy to muddle up), you can change the direction of rotation on the Airwrap’s curlers.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

The Airwrap also wins hands-down when it comes to the storage case. It’s much sleeker and higher quality than the one that’s compatible with the FlexStyle – and it comes with every model.

Weight and dimensions

The Dyson Airwrap measures 27 x 4 x 4.8cm (10.6 x 1.6 x 1.9in) and weighs 611g (1.3lbs) with the cord included.

The FlexStyle is a bit more complicated to measure because of its twist design. Extended, it’s almost 44cm (17.3in) with a diameter of 14.5cm (5.7in). In hair dryer form, it’s a compact 22cm (8.7in) long. It weighs almost 700g (1.5lbs), including the cord and plug.

The Airwrap comes with a 2.62m (103in) swivel cord. The FlexStyle also has a swivel-set cord, which is 2.44m (96in).

Which performs best?

For the head-to-head, we pitted all the attachments that both devices have against each other: the dryer attachments, the curling barrels (the 30mm version for Dyson), the straightening brushes (the soft smoothing version for Dyson) and the blow-drying brushes.

Most people invest in a hot air styler like these for the curling attachments. Dyson’s box includes two size options as standard, 30mm and 40mm. However, Shark only includes one size option (clocking in at 31.75mm), which means less versatility.

There are still two barrels, but this is because you need to switch them out to change the airflow direction. The older Airwrap model is like this – so bear that in mind if you’re buying refurbished or sceondhand – but the version we tested has a new innovative build that allows you to switch the airflow mid style. That’s a big tick for Dyson.

Despite Shark’s tool feeling hotter, the more effective airflow on the Dyson coaxed more hair onto the barrel than the FlexStyle did. I used both tools on high heat and medium airflow, but I had to whack up Shark’s device to full, as I was not getting as much hair wrapped around it as I would have liked.

The left-hand side of my head as you’re looking at the image below was styled using the Airwrap, whilst the right-hand side was done using the FlexStyle. This was on hair that had been dampened to 80% dry, with heat protection spray and some salt spray for hold.

Hair styled by the Dyson Airwrap (left side of the photo) Vs Shark FlexStyle (right side of the photo)

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

The results are largely similar here. Both give a decent level of volume and definition. Due to the slightly bigger size of the Shark barrel, the curls are ever so slightly looser – but we are quite literally splitting hairs over how small the differences are.

For the stress test, I went out and about on a hot evening in London, and did a (relatively sweaty) pilates class, for which I put my hair in a loose ponytail. Here are the results after all those activities, around five hours after originally styling:

Post workout – Hair styled by the Dyson Airwrap (left side of the photo) Vs Shark FlexStyle (right side of the photo)

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

As you can see, my hair has dropped quite a bit with both, as I’d expected. However, there is slightly more definition from the Dyson – although the smaller barrel may have helped with that.

When it comes to drying your hair, the FlexStyle has the advantage. The innovative folding feature makes navigating around your bonce much easier, and there is simply no denying that this device feels hotter – and science dictates that more heat dries your hair faster.

Science also tells us that more heat equals more damage, so if the health of your hair is a major concern, the Airwrap is almost certainly the kinder tool. The Airwrap can still dry my hair relatively quickly, just not quite as speedily as Shark’s tool.

The straightening brushes produced very similar results, although they don’t replicate the same level of sleekness as a flat iron. Shark’s brush head took less time to run through my hair due to its larger size, though the inclusion of the prickly bristles means that it isn’t quite as good at gliding through knots as Dyson’s brush.

The blowout brushes are quite different designs. Dyson’s is basically like a small barrel brush that you’d typically use for blowdrying, whilst Shark’s is much larger and seems to take inspiration from the Revlon OneStep, with a mix of different bristles.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

While both give a lovely bouncy look to the hair, the overall finish will come down to your preference. If you want more control over your flicks and the option to add a few loose blow-dried curls, then the Airwrap is the winner for its compact size. It’s also better if you style your fringe/bangs this way.

However, if you’d prefer a sleeker blowout that takes less time, the FlexStyle is the better option – although this brush does feel slightly harsher on the hair than the Airwrap.

Overall, the Airwrap has the edge when it comes to longevity and performance, but only just. You’ll still get excellent results from the FlexStyle.

Pricing and accessories

After reading our comparison rundown, you may already know which multi-styler to go for. But if you’re still undecided, their price points may sway you.


The Dyson Airwrap costs $599.99 in the US and we’ve found it in stock at Dyson, Best Buy and Kohl’s. The model most commonly available is for long hair, but you can take the quiz at Dyson to customise your styling kit.

In the UK, the Airwrap will set you back £479.99 and it’s available from Dyson, Very and Boots. But you can take the hair diagnostic test at Dyson to customise your accessories.


The FlexStyle is available in the US from $259.99 if you choose your own three accessories from Shark. For $299.99, you’ll get four accessories, and you can opt for either the straight and wavy or the curly and coily set. You can buy the FlexStyle from other retailers but it tends to be more expensive and you can’t always get your choice of accessories.

In the UK, the FlexStyle starts from £269.99 for the four accessory straight or curly sets or the build your own model, and goes up to £299.99 for the five accessory set with a case. You can see all the options on the Shark website. We’d advise buying from Shark to get more choice – plus, there are regular sales on that can get you money off.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

Which is better: the Dyson Airwrap or the Shark FlexStyle?

Taking all things into account, the Dyson Airwrap has the edge.

Like other products from the brand, it comes with a premium build quality that is sturdier and more intuitive than the FlexStyle. The fact that it produces less heat means it should be less damaging to your hair, without sacrificing on the longevity of style. The 30mm and 40mm barrels also mean you’ll get versatility when creating curls.

That being said, the Airwrap is almost double the price of the FlexStyle, so it’s only an option if you’re prepared to make an investment. You’ll still get impressive results from Shark’s hot air tool – and it may even be a better option if you like to preserve your natural waves or curls thanks to the diffuser attachment.

Still can’t make up your mind? Check out our reviews of the Airwrap and the FlexStyle. Or, for recommendations for more hair care technology, have a look at our round-ups of the best hair dryers and best hair straighteners we’ve tested.

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