Dyson AirWrap Complete review 2019: genius hair styler or overpriced hot air brush?

The Dyson AirWrap Styler curls, waves and straightens hair, but would you be better off (and save stacks of cash) with just a hair dryer and curling iron?

Dyson AirWrap Complete review 2019: genius hair styler or overpriced hot air brush?

T3 Verdict

The Dyson AirWrap Styler is a fantastic multi-tool hair styler for creating a range of looks without having to use several individual hair appliances to achieve the same result. It dries hair quickly and quietly, and comes with interchangeable accessories to help you create a range of looks, but there are caveats…

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Kinder to hair – no extreme heat used

  • +

    Creates healthy looking waves and curls

  • +

    Boosts volume in fine, limp hair

  • +

    Dries hair quickly and quietly

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Requires practise to nail proper curls

  • -

    Curls don’t hold that long on fine, limp hair

  • -

    Not worth the investment for very short hair

The Dyson AirWrap Styler has become one of the world's most coveted multi-tool hair stylers, and builds on the success of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. It's a superb gift for anyone who loves creating different looks with their hair (providing their hair is long enough to be used with it), and who craves a salon-finish at home without having to use several individual hair styling tools to achieve the same result. 

The AirWrap Styler creates waves and curls of differing sizes, and recreates a smooth blow-dry finish with little styling product needed. Cleverly, it does all this without using extreme heat that can damage your hair’s natural shine and cause frizz.

Instead, it uses a technology called the Coanda effect to style hair using high pressure, high velocity air. This is brilliant for anyone with tresses damaged by long-term colouring or by prolonged and unprotected use of hair dryers and hair straighteners, as well as for those wanting to adopt a healthier approach to styling.

The Dyson AirWrap comes in three different guises. At the top of the range sits the Complete edition, which contains all the smoothing, waving, curling and volumising accessories currently available for the AirWrap. The full line-up is as follows:

For the purposes of our Dyson AirWrap review, we tested the AirWrap Complete as it comes with all of the accessories you would get if you bought either of the other two AirWrap editions. Before we get to our actual review, let's take a look at Dyson’s official promo video introducing its stunning, high-tech hair styler… 

Dyson AirWrap review: design

As you’d expect from Dyson, and from a hair styling tool that comes with such a big price tag, the AirWrap Styler is beautifully presented. It comes in a tan faux leather-feel storage case, with dedicated compartments for housing each accessory. The case fastens with a magnetic clasp, and looks neat and well-sectioned when you open it. It's stylish enough to have out on display in your bedroom.

The Complete version comes with all nine Dyson AirWrap Styler accessories:

  • 1 x pre-styling dryer
  • 1 x firm smoothing brush
  • 1 x soft smoothing brush
  • 1 x round volumising brush
  • 2 x 30mm AirWrap curl/wave barrels
  • 2 x 40mm AirWrap curl/wave barrels
  • 1 x storage case
  • 1 x non-slip mat
  • 1 x filter cleaning brush

The Smooth+Control and the Volume+Shape each come with seven accessories. The AirWrap Smooth+Control comprises the 30mm and 40mm barrels, plus the firm smoothing brush, pre-styling dryer, storage case, non-slip mat and filter cleaning brush. It doesn’t have the soft smoothing brush or the round volumising brush.

The Volume+Shape has the 30mm barrels, soft smoothing brush, round volumising brush, pre-styling dryer, storage case, non-slip mat and filter cleaning brush. It doesn’t have the firm smoothing brush or the 40mm barrels.

The 30mm barrels are ideal for creating tighter, more bouncy curls and waves, and are useful for practicing curls and waves when starting out. These smaller barrels also suit fine or shorter hair much better than the 40mm barrels do. To help you achieve a beautifully symmetrical style, there’s one clockwise barrel and one anti-clockwise barrel. 

The 40mm barrels are for achieving looser curls or waves, and are perfect for thicker and longer hair. Again, there’s one clockwise 40mm barrel and one anti-clockwise for symmetrical curls or waves. There are arrows on each of the barrels indicating which direction the hair will wrap around in when the Styler is powered on. 

Dyson AirWrap review: storage case

The Dyson AirWrap Complete comes in a wipe-clean faux leather storage case (pictured)

The AirWrap's firm smoothing brush is used for creating smoother, straighter styles with less frizz and fly-aways – this alone should cut down on the amount of product you need to use pre- and post-styling. The soft smoothing brush aids the creation of a blow-dry finish, with ball-tip bristles that are gentler on your scalp.

People with limp or fine hair will be most interested in the round volumising brush. It directs air into your hair to give it more lift and volume, with the bristles ‘creating tension to shape your hair as it dries’. 

Speaking of drying, all versions of the Dyson AirWrap Styler come with a pre-styling dryer to take your hair from wet to damp (the required state for the most effective form of styling with the AirWrap). It's very quiet and effective in use.

The Styler itself is mains powered, silver in colour, lightweight in the hand, and stands at 272mm (10.7inches) tall. Above the cerise pink band that wraps around the top of the AirWrap Styler is the area where the different styling accessories can be quickly slotted into. 

The control buttons sit toward the top of the Styler’s body. There’s an on/off button, plus controls for cycling through the four heat settings and three speed settings. A blue dot indicates the cool shot (cool air) function, which you’ll need to help each individual curl or wave last longer and not drop so quickly (more on this soon).

The Styler and each of the accessories are easy to use, and can be slotted in and out of the Styler quickly, so you don’t lose much time during the drying and styling process.

The only thing we don't like about the Styler is how it's prone to scratches, so keep that in mind if you're the type of person who roughly handles their tech.

Dyson AirWrap review: the base unit photographed alongside the various curling attachments and brush heads

(Image credit: Dyson)

Dyson AirWrap review: features and technology

To recap, the Dyson AirWrap simultaneously dries and styles hair, making the entire process quicker and without using extreme heat. Instead it uses high pressure, high velocity air, and protects your hair’s natural shine and reduces frizz into the bargain. 

The Styler is powered by the Dyson digital motor V9, which has a 13-blade impeller spinning at up to 110,000rpm and generating 3.2kPa of pressure – enough to create one of the AirWrap’s coolest talking points, an ‘aerodynamic phenomenon’ called the Coanda effect.

The Coanda effect comes into play when you want a smoother finish, as it attracts your hair to the surface of the soft or firm smoothing brush (whichever one you use), pushing air along each strand to create a blow-dry effect. It’s handy for those of us who find it hard to mimic a salon blow-dry technique at home.

When it comes to curls and waves, the Coanda effect is like a vortex, essentially attracting and wrapping your hair around the barrels instead of you wrapping your hair around the barrels as you would with tongs or straighteners. It does this by curving the air to attract your hair to the barrel. It’s sheer magic and fascinating to watch.

Smoothing or curling your hair with Coanda is both weird and brilliant. It’s a completely new way of curling and waving, as you basically do nothing except introduce small sections of your hair to the barrel; just touch your hair to the barrel. The Coanda effect then takes over. 

Airflow is directed in the same direction of your hair, keeping each strand’s surface flat to protect its natural shine and reduce frizz. Again, if you’re into styling your hair more naturally and don’t want to slather it in chemically loaded anti-frizz creams and glossing serums, this is brilliant. 

Another big feature on the Dyson AirWrap Styler is intelligent heat control, as found on the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. Dyson’s heat control tech measures the Styler’s airflow temperature over 40 times a second and regulates the heat to ensure it stays below a safe 150°C. By comparison, some curling tongs can reach temperatures in excess of 200-300°C.

Obviously the more often you style your hair with extreme heat, the more prone it is to breakage, especially if you have fine or tightly coiled hair. That kind of damage can take months to grow out or repair with pricey conditioning treatments. The AirWrap Styler swiftly side-steps all of that nonsense.

So that’s the technology behind Dyson’s new multi-tool styler, but how does the AirWrap perform in real life? Let’s find out… 

Dyson AirWrap review: the pre-styler, in chrome and fuscia

Dyson AirWrap review: performance (straight style, blow-dry)

We tested the AirWrap Styler on colour-treated long, thick and naturally wavy hair that’s prone to frizz and coarseness, as well as collarbone-length fine hair that needs styling with heat to achieve a more voluminous look.

In our opinion, the Dyson AirWrap Styler is at its most versatile and effective when used to simultaneously dry and style medium to longer length hair, and especially tresses with a slight natural wave – this hair type is more easily waved, curled or straightened, whatever styling tool you use. 

The pre-styling dryer worked like a dream on all hair types we tested it on. It’s faster than any other hair dryer we’ve used, and it’s much quieter too. In fact, if you work anti-social hours and don’t want to wake your family or friends with the sound of a hair dryer blasting away, the pre-styling dryer, just like the Dyson Supersonic, is a godsend. 

The volumising brush also worked brilliantly across each hair type tested for our Dyson AirWrap review, quickly creating noticeable lift and body on fringes (both bangs and a blunt fringe) and through the length. This was achieved without using thickening shampoos or pre-styling products.

The firm smoothing brush went through tangles easily, taking damp hair to dry and straight without any hassle. To our eyes, there is a difference here between straight and ultra-straightened: the AirWrap Styler doesn’t straighten your hair to the extreme level proper hair straighteners would. So if you want to achieve an intense glass hair affect, you’ll still need high-quality hair straighteners.

That said, if you have bought a hot air brush in the past because you wanted a smoother, straighter finish to your hair but without subjecting it to hair straighteners, you will love the Styler’s smoothing brush (both the soft and firm variations). It’s certainly a lot more polished than if you were using a standard hair dryer and brush.

The soft smoothing brush, used to create a relaxed blow-dry finish with movement, sports ball-tip bristles that are gentler on the scalp compared to the firm smoothing brush, but the latter are necessary to tame unruly hair. With all of the brushes, hair was shinier and silkier compared to when drying with a standard hair dryer and brush.

Dyson AirWrap review: before and after

Dyson AirWrap review: our hair before (left) and after (right) using the styler to dry and loosely curl our hair

Dyson AirWrap review: performance (curls and waves)

For our money, the barrels are the main event when it comes to the AirWrap Styler’s accessories. As mentioned earlier, there are four barrels in total: two 30mm barrels and two 40mm barrels. Each have arrows printed on them to show the direction within which the Styler wraps hair. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, you use one barrel at a time. Once you’ve chosen the right barrel (so either clockwise or anti-clockwise) for the side of your head you’re styling first, and the size of barrel depending on whether your hair type or desired style, slot it into the Styler, select the heat and speed setting and begin drying-styling.

Depending on the style you want to create, you may need to dry your wet hair with one of the brushes first, instead of the pre-styling drying, before drafting in the barrels. For example, when we created big and loose waves in our naturally thick and wavy hair, we used the firm smoothing brush to dry our hair until it was damp (and frizz free). 

Then we sectioned our hair and used the 40mm barrels to create the loose waves (use the 30mm barrels on fine hair). For voluminous curls we used the pre-styling dryer (so no brush) to dry wet hair to damp, then sectioned it before began curling. Dyson recommends switching the Styler to full power and high heat when creating a curl, and always following it with a cool shot to set the curl, otherwise it’ll drop faster.

Curling hair using the Dyson AirWrap Styler is very odd to begin with, especially if you have been tonging or curling your hair with a straightener for years. Your natural urge will be to twist your head around the barrel. No need! Instead, hold your hair about two to three inches from the bottom and lightly touch the ends to the arrows on the barrel. 

From there, the Coanda effect will wrap your hair around the barrel itself. All you need to do is move the Styler towards your head, without twisting it, so that it can wrap more of that specific hair section around the barrel. Hold the Styler in place until your hair is dry, then hit that cool shot to set the curl. Switch off the Styler and pull it down to release the curl.

That all sounds weird, and definitely takes practise to get right, but once you get the hang of it, this really is a game-changer for easy curling and waving. 

During our testing we found that the barrels work best on smaller sections of hair – if you try wrapping too chunky a section of hair around the barrel, your hair will start wrapping over the edges too and so won’t be styled properly, unlike the hairs that are sat perfectly on the barrel.

Even though the Styler doesn’t use extreme heat to dry and style, the barrels still felt hot when near our ears and scalp. The barrels also get quite hot if they have been in use for a while. So keep this in mind when switching one out to curl/wave the other side of your head – Dyson should look at including a heat proof glove.

In our experience, waves held the longest on our naturally wavy hair – they lasted all day and evening, and into the next day too. Tighter curls held for most of the day before dropping into loose waves come evening. By the morning, after sleeping on them, the curls and defined waves were gone, but our hair still had plenty of movement. We did not use curling mousse, other pre-styling products or hairspray.

Waves and curls dropped quicker in the fine hair type we tested the Styler on, and we think the barrels would be difficult to use at all on very short hair. Take a look at the various Dyson AirWrap Styler tuition videos currently available and you’ll see that none of them feature short hair or Type 4 hair, which is perhaps the biggest indication of what hair types the Styler is aimed at.

Dyson AirWrap review: the four curling barrels, plus the various brush attachments for creating either lift and volume, or a sleeker finish

Dyson AirWrap review: verdict

Dyson wasn’t wrong when it said the AirWrap Styler was a new way to style hair. It’s the culmination of six years of product development, 103 granted patents and 170 pending patents. That’s a lot of research and investment for a hair styling tool.

But it has paid off. The AirWrap is fabulous for dry-styling, smoothing, curling and waving hair, but it doesn’t work to the same enviable standards on all hair types and lengths. If you have longer, thick and wavy-straight hair, we think you’ll benefit the most from the AirWrap Styler.

For shorter hair (we’re talking bobs more than lobs) or fine or limp hair, you can definitely use the AirWrap Styler for smoothing, volumising, curling and waving, but you’ll need to ensure you’re using the correct accessories for your hair type. Choose the Volume+Shape for fine hair and the Smooth+Control for frizzy, unruly hair.

We loved using the Dyson AirWrap Styler on our longer length, naturally wavy hair, and can see and feel the difference each time we use it. Curls are bouncy and shiny, smooth styles are more polished and less frizzy, and overall our hair feels silkier and happier because we’re not cremating it each time we dry and style.

Is this fascinating new multi-tool styler right for you? Any way you slice it the Dyson AirWrap is very expensive. So the answer comes down to your hair type, how much you love styling your hair and how important your hairstyle is to your confidence level. And, of course, how important it is for you to dry and style your hair in a non-damaging way, and faster too than if you were using multiple tools.