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Dyson is the high-end hair care brand everyone aspires to, but what if I told you it’s not necessary to spend an arm and a leg to get Dyson-like quality from your hair tools? Shark, long a Dyson vacuum competitor, forayed into the world of hair recently with its HyperAir dryer, rivaling the look and performance of Dyson’s Supersonic. Its latest FlexStyle hair system aims to dethrone the Dyson Airwrap.

This is a curling iron, blow-dryer, and blow-dry brush in one, and at $270, you’re saving roughly $329 over the Airwrap. You can choose three attachments (don’t worry, the two curlers count as one). But there are also bundles for curly and coily hair that include the barrels, a diffuser, a concentrator, and an oval brush, and one for straight and wavy hair that swaps out the diffuser for a paddle brush. If you realize you need another attachment later, you can get any of them separately. It doesn’t work quite as well as the Airwrap in some ways, but it comes pretty darn close.

Shark Week

Shark FlexStyle diffuser attachment

Photograph: Shark

The Dyson Airwrap skyrocketed in popularity because it was unlike any other hair tool we’d seen before with its auto-wrapping curlers that used less heat than traditional curling irons (causing less damage to hair). The curling wands are the big draw, but the Airwrap has different brush attachments for blowouts and lightly drying hair too.

The FlexStyle employs the same Coanda effect Dyson uses. This creates a vortex of air inside its 1.25-inch curling barrel that draws hair that wraps around it naturally for curls. Like the Dyson, Shark uses less heat because it doesn’t need a scorching hot barrel to force hair into a shape. Heat on hair every day or even multiple times a week will result in hair damage—this will at least cut down some of that.

In my tests with the FlexStyle, my hair automatically wrapped around the barrel nearly as well as on the Airwrap, but I did have to coerce my hair here and there. The FlexStyle includes two barrels, one for curling toward the left and one for curling toward the right. This is similar to the first version of the Airwrap, but the second edition ditched them for a singular barrel that can switch directions by twisting a lever at the top. One barrel makes the hair-styling process easier, but this alone isn’t worth the Airwrap’s high price. 

Outside of cost, I prefer the FlexStyle over the Airwrap for one reason: It works really well as a hair dryer too. I have curly hair, and I don’t straighten it every day. I need a powerful hair dryer with a diffuser. The Airwrap doesn’t have that. Its drying attachment isn’t meant to keep fragile curls frizz-free. So the Airwrap is a tool I can only use when I want to straighten and then curl my hair; I’d have to spend more to get a good dryer. 

Shark’s HyperAir dryer, with its impressive adjustable diffuser, is already one of my favorite hair dryers. You get the same diffuser with the FlexStyle, just slightly smaller. (You can shorten the diffuser prongs for shorter hair and dry your ends, or lengthen them for longer hair and reach your roots.) When curling or brushing, you’ll use the handle straight up and down. When drying, the handle swivels into the shape of the number seven, like the hair dryers you know and love. There are four heat settings and three airflow settings, plus a cold shot button.