Expert rating
Airwrap Style Curling Cylinders
Intelligent hair dryer transformation
Instant style upgrade
Paddle and oval brushes are very similar.
Still very expensive
Not all models come with a case.
Our verdict
The FlexStyle isn’t just a serious alternative to the Dyson Airwrap. It’s a great multi-styler in its own right.

Price when reviewed

Best prices today: Shark FlexStyle

If you’ve been pining for a Dyson Airwrap but can’t justify the expense, this Shark hot air multistyler could give you what you want without emptying your wallet. We tested the Shark FlexStyle.

Design and build
7-piece set
Twists to become a hairdryer
Self-wrapping airwrap style curlers
The FlexStyle is a stylish five-in-one styling kit. It’s a hair dryer, volumiser, straightener, diffuser and curler in one.

One of its main selling points is that its curling wands are inspired by the Dyson Airwrap. Shark calls them “self-wrapping curlers” and, like Airwrap, they use the Coanda effect to draw strands of hair around the curler.

This means that, unlike a traditional hot curler, you won’t burn your hair or fingers when using them. They are kinder to the hair and much easier to use than traditional rollers. They will make waves and curls a realistic option for people who have never been able to manage these styles before.

shark flexstyle hair dryer

The FlexStyle comes in two colour options: black and rose gold, or “stone”, a combination of gold and beige. We’re testing it in the latter.

In the box, you get the styling handle which, in a clever twist, and indeed a clever twist, turns into a hairdryer in the shape of a 7. To this, you can add the hair drying accessories: a styling concentrator and a diffuser.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

Then there are the styling accessories. There are two auto-wrap curlers (one for each side of the face), an oval brush for smoothing and adding volume, and a paddle brush for straightening.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

The FlexStyle’s handle is cylindrical, with a diameter of 14.5cm and a length of 29cm. In hairdryer form, it’s a compact 22cm but, when in its styling mode with an attachment on the end, it measures almost 44cm, which is longer than most individual stylers.

Still, it’s about the same size as the Airwrap. I didn’t find it cumbersome to use, but other reviewers disagreed on this point, so you may want to keep that in mind.

It weighs almost 700g, including the cable and plug, but only weighs 400g without them. It feels light in the hand and is easy to hold while styling. This is perhaps why the length didn’t bother me.

The controls are simple, but with enough options to tailor the settings to your needs.

Above the on/off switch is a heat button that allows you to toggle between four heat settings: none, low, medium and high. And above that is the airflow button, which has three power settings. Indicator lights that glow red mean you can check the settings at a glance.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

Tucked away from the rest of the controls is the Cool Shot button, which is used to set your style. It should be easy to find with a finger while styling your hair, but it took me a while to be able to do so without looking first.

It has a long 2.44m swivel cord which will give you plenty of room to manoeuvre.

FlexStyle performance
The attached files are easy to use
You will need to prepare and watch tutorials to become an expert.
The hairdryer is light and efficient.
I’m someone with limited patience when it comes to styling, let alone skill. That’s partly why I wanted to try the FlexStyle. It’s an expensive kit and if I can use it, almost anyone can do it.

If you’re new to wave styling, you’ll appreciate FlexStyle’s foolproof system.

If you’re considering buying it, one of the main reasons should be for the Airwrap style auto-wrap curlers. So these were the first attachments I tried. The marketing tells us they are easy to use, but is it true?

I had never successfully used a curling iron before, except to give myself some minor burns. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up a curling barrel.

There are two barrels, conveniently labelled left and right. Use them on the indicated side of your head and your hair will curl away from your face. By way of comparison, the updated Airwrap allows you to change the direction of airflow on the curling wands, but if you’re new to wave styling, you’ll appreciate FlexStyle’s foolproof system.

All you need to do is separate a section of hair and hold its end in the curling cylinder. The airflow will pull your hair into the barrel and wrap it around the barrel.

The process of curling hair is simple, effective and genuinely a small scientific marvel. I’m far from an expert, but the following waves took me just a couple of minutes to achieve on a kind test subject, who has long, thick, straight hair.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

My own hair is thin, loose and useless, neither silky straight nor reliably wavy. But I was still able to achieve consistent waves that lasted all day with minimal fuss.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

The FlexStyle comes with a styling guide to help you use the attachments. Even so, I would advise that if you want to make the most of it and create more complex styles, you should find a tutorial to watch online.

I followed my colleague Hannah’s advice in her excellent review of the Airwrap. I used it on slightly damp hair only, gave it a spritz of salt spray beforehand and, for longer lasting results, set the curls and used hairspray afterwards.

Although it’s easy to use, you will still need to develop your skill and take the time to style your hair properly each time. If you do, it will pay dividends.

The hair curling process is simple, effective and genuinely a bit of a mini scientific marvel.

The oval brush attachment turns the FlexStyle into a styler similar to the Revlon One Step. You can use it to straighten your hair and give it more volume. Essentially, it’s a blowout tool. Then there’s the flat brush, which is used for straightening. On my hair, these attachments were effective but had about the same result. However, if you have longer, thicker hair, I imagine there could be a bigger difference.

The FlexStyle is a good hair dryer. It’s not noisy, but it’s also not as powerful as the Dyson Supersonic or (my personal favourite) the Zuvi Halo. However, it’s light, effective and a great choice for travel, as it can save a lot of space on other styling accessories.

The concentrator works well for creating smooth styles and the diffuser has a great feature: it can retract or extend the ends to suit the length of your hair. Dyson Airwrap doesn’t include an official diffuser attachment, so FlexStyle might be a better option if you want to keep your natural curls.

Emma Rowley / Foundry

In use, the attachments snap into place satisfactorily and there’s a release button to remove them. The FlexStyle feels sturdy and well made.

Price and availability: Is the FlexStyle worth the cost?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the FlexStyle is expensive at $299.99 / £299.99. But it’s a great all-round styling kit. However, not all styling accessories will be useful for all hair types. People with curly or coily hair may find there are fewer useful tools.

But there’s a way around this if you’re in the U.S. You can head to Shark’s site and choose the three accessories you want for $279.99. Or you can buy a $299.99 set for straight and wavy or curly and coily hair. There is currently no price advantage to buying from any retailer. Any price variation depends on the accessories.

UK buyers do not yet have a customisation option. This gives the Dyson Airwrap the advantage in this market. Order the Airwrap on the Dyson site and you can do a hair type test and get a personalised selection of attachments.

You can buy the FlexStyle from Shark, Currys or Boots, among other retailers, and you will get the standard set of attachments as described above. The only difference in price depends on the colour scheme you choose. The black FlexStyle comes with a case and costs £20 more. If you want the stone colour scheme, you can buy a separate case from Shark for £22.99.

If you’re in the US, the FlexStyle doesn’t come with a case, although you can find many compatible options on Amazon. Shark also doesn’t offer a smaller official travel bag if you want to take an accessory or two with you.

If you’re looking for something even cheaper, then you could consider the Revlon One Step Hot Air Brush for $59.99 / £59.99, but this doesn’t offer any additional attachments for versatile styling.

The FlexStyle will be popularly known as the more affordable competitor to the Dyson Airwrap. But it is by no means a cheap option, either in terms of build quality, performance or, to be fair, its price. For most people, it will be an enviable styling kit in its own right. We recommend it.

If you want to see how it compares to the Dyson Airwrap, take a look at our detailed review.

Categorized in: