There are some products you just hate to love. The Dyson Airwrap, a multi-featured hair-styling tool, is a prime example. I wanted to hate it for price alone—a cool $500—so that I didn’t have to yearn for it. And yet, like all the Dyson products I’ve tried thus far, I quickly warmed to it. That’s good for Dyson, bad for my pocketbook.
When it comes to hair gadgets, there are many gimmicks out there that claim to make styling easy and effortless (the Air Curler, anyone?) and if you weren’t aware of Dyson’s reputation for making quality products for the home, it would be easy to write off the Airwrap as something out of a late night infomercial. I mean, it uses air to suck strands of your hair around the curling barrels, and somehow produces a lasting result without subjecting your hair to too much damaging heat? It’s a tough sell, but I’ve used it enough times now to know that it works, even though it does take some getting used to.
The Airwrap isn’t new; it was released in 2018, but a reputable competitor has yet to present itself. It would probably cost you less to buy a hot air brush, a curling iron, and a hair dryer separately, but no company has been able to combine all three of those products into a system that works as well. Plus, with this machine, you don’t need any real hairstyling skills to get a polished look. It does most of the hard work for you.
The Airwrap styler is a 10.5-inch wand with different attachment heads that click in to the top. The wand is light, and the power button, fan speed, and heat settings are all within reach of the grip, so you can easily maneuver the wand for one-handed styling. It comes in three versions: Volume and Shape for fine and flat hair, which comes with 1.2-inch curling barrels, a soft smoothing brush, a round brush, and a hair dryer attachment; Smooth and Control for frizz-prone hair, which comes with 1.2-inch and 1.6-inch curling barrels, a firm smoothing brush, and a hair dryer attachment; and the Complete set, which comes with all of the above accessories for about $50 more than the base price. The Complete option makes sense if you’re a hairdresser, or if you’re intending to use the Airwrap in a home with several different people and hair types. Each of the attachments can be bought separately if you end up wanting something that wasn’t included in the kit you chose. You can also buy longer curling barrels and smaller versions of the smoothing brushes.
It’s a multi-function styler, but the Airwrap really shines as a curling iron. Its secret is in its air flow. It employs what’s called the Coanda effect. Using its internal motor (remember, Dyson is famous for its powerful vacuums), it creates a vortex of air inside the hollow barrel powerful enough to draw your hair to it. All you have to do is place the end of your hair near the barrel, and the machine does the gripping and wrapping for you, so you don’t have to worry about touching a hot curling barrel.
Heat can damage hair of all types, and traditional curling irons typically heat up to around 400 to 430 degrees Fahrenheit. The Airwrap uses less direct heat, and it continuously measures the temperature so it never goes above 302 degrees.
The Airwrap is designed to be used on damp hair, which is unusual for hair gadgets. Most flat irons and curling irons need to be used on dry hair, or else you run the risk of them frying your strands. But the Coanda airflow safely does the drying and styling in one, without singeing any hairs. After washing your hair, you can use the dryer attachment (which has the same open design as Dyson’s larger Supersonic hair dryer) to get your hair from soaking wet to damp before going in with the curling barrel. Jon Reyman, Dyson’s global styling ambassador, told me that coarser hair can be mostly dry before using the Airwrap, but softer hair should be left damp.
I found it worked best for my coarse hair after a few strokes through with the hot air brush, which left it just slightly damp to the touch while smoothing out my natural frizz-prone curls enough to make nice large waves that didn’t need touching up at the roots. To get more of a beachy wave, I wrapped the hair around the barrel myself and then turned the Airwrap on, which helps to manipulate the hair into a wave pattern rather than a spiral. Like I would after using any curling device, I let the curls set and then run my fingers through my hair so I’m not left with super-tight princess curls.
Each size barrel comes with two versions, one oriented clockwise and the other oriented counter-clockwise, so you can make curls that go in both directions. This makes it almost effortless to create a face-framing hair style. If you’ve ever curled your hair with a traditional curling or flat iron, you know that it can be hard to get each side to curl away from the face; I always struggle with my right side. If you’re a pro at doing hair, you might be laughing at this silly detail. But with two separate barrels, there’s none of the awkward maneuvering required to get that perfect face-framing style just right.
Smooth It Out
While the Airwrap is at its best as a curling iron, it also takes some of the aggravation out of blowing out hair. An at-home blowout can be tiring and frankly painful for your arms, especially if you have a lot of hair. You’ve got one hand on a brush, one hand on your blow dryer, and have to angle everything just right to get your hair properly smoothed down. But with the Airwrap, you can do it basically with one hand—just know that if you have coarser hair, it helps to put some tension on the bottom of the hair so you don’t have to repeatedly go over one section multiple times.
The brush attachments, like any hot-air brushes on the market, blow hot air through the brush to dry and smooth your hair in one swoop. The Dyson, of course, has an edge. The teeth of the brush pivot so air flows downward, not through the hair, which is more efficient, Reyman claims.
Blowouts are typically the first step in the long process of straightening curls. But with the firm smoothing brush and a quick swipe of the round brush, my hair was almost smooth enough for the outside world to see. I still think it needed a quick run through with a flat iron to smooth out some of the puffiness caused by the brushes, but not nearly as much as is typically needed. Reyman confirmed that more coily hair, like mine, will likely need a finishing touch after using the brushes.
Typically, I need to plan ahead of time if I want to straighten my hair. I start the night before, washing it to get any product out. Then I brush out all the knots, wait for it to air dry almost completely, then put it in two braids for sleeping so that when I wake up the next day and am ready to straighten it, most of the tight curls have loosened. But with the Airwrap, I can wake up in the morning and decide I want to wear it straight that day. After washing it, I can dry it and smooth it out in one step, then go over it with a flat iron to fully straighten it. This isn’t a simple affair, of course; it’s still going to take me the better part of an hour. But reducing a two-day ordeal to around 60 minutes of work is a win in my book.
Much like the Dyson Corrale hair straightener that I reviewed recently, the Airwrap is a solid hair tool that almost anyone who frequently styles their hair will love. If you’re regularly blowing out or curling your hair, your mane will benefit from being subjected to less heat, and you’ll benefit from spending far less time in front of the mirror. You’ll just have to decide if the upsides are worth the hefty price tag.