TL;DR: a 5-in-1 multi-styler that effectively and efficiently styles hair with less heat damage
The Shark FlexStyle has been making some serious waves since it launched back in September 2022 – and not just on people’s hair. On TikTok alone, the tag #SharkFlexStyle has racked up an incredible 209.6 million views so far, and you only need to watch a few of the ‘how-tos’ and reviews to understand why it’s still trending.
First off, the Shark FlexStyle – or the Shark FlexStyle 5-in-1 Air Styler & Hair Dryer, to give its full name – uses very similar technology to the oh-so-popular Dyson Airwrap yet costs significantly less that the Airwrap’s not-so-popular £480/$600 price tag.
Second, the handle is split into two parts that swivel and click satisfyingly into place so you can easily switch from a dryer to a styler – something the Dyson doesn’t do. And third, it comes with various attachments to smooth, straighten, curl, define, and volumise hair, including a Curl-Defining Diffuser (another thing the Airwrap doesn’t offer), that comes as standard in the UK or as part of a bundle in the US.
Sounds great, but the simple fact is that while Shark FlexStyle is cheaper than the Dyson Airwrap, it still costs a pretty penny. So, is it worth the investment and the hype? Read on for T3's verdict.
SHARK FLEXSTYLE REVIEW: PRICE & AVAILABILITY
In the UK, the Shark FlexStyle 5-in-1 Air Styler & Hair Dryer is now available in Black/Rose Gold with a Storage Case for a recommended retail price £299.99 from Shark UK. A new stone-coloured version of the Shark FlexStyle (reviewed here) is now available without Storage Case for £279.99 from Shark UK. Both versions are available from selected third party retailers including Boots, John Lewis and Argos.
In the US, the Shark FlexStyle is available in three bundles from Shark US: the ‘Straight & Wavy’ bundle, $299.99; the ‘Curly & Coily’ bundle, $299.99 (both with four attachments each); and the Build Your Own Shark FlexStyle, $279.99, which lets you select three attachments from a choice of six, including the new Wide-Tooth Comb attachment (not yet available in the UK).
SHARK FLEXSTYLE REVIEW: DESIGN
I tested the new Stone version of the Shark FlexStyle and personally found it to be very aesthetically pleasing. Sleek and stylish, it weighs in at 661g with attachments so it’s not the lightest styling tool around, but it doesn’t weigh your arms down during use.
While the handle of the Shark FlexStyle is longer and wider than the Dyson Airwrap, I found it comfortable to hold. In addition, the swivel cord measures 2.44 in length, which was certainly long enough for my use. Near the bottom of the handle, you’ll find the on/off switch right, an Airflow button with three settings of Low, Medium, and High, and a Temperature button with four settings of Low, Medium, High, and No Heat. Finally, a cool shot button is located a few inches above the other buttons.
The handle can be used alone without any attachments for fast yet basic rough drying, or you can add an attachment for precision styling while drying. Being in the UK, my Shark FlexStyle came with five attachments as standard, including a Styling Concentrator, an Oval Brush, a Paddle Brush, a Curl-Defining Diffuser, and two 1.5 inch Auto-Wrap Curlers measuring six inches in length (one for either side of your head so that curls fall away from your face).
Finally, while the Stone-coloured Shark FlexStyle does cost £20 less than its Black/Rose Gold counterpart, it doesn’t come with a storage case, which I would have preferred to help keep the main unit and attachments together. Fortunately, storage cases are sold separately, and I will be investing in one once they’re back in stock.
SHARK FLEXSTYLE REVIEW: FEATURES & TECHNOLOGY
The Shark FlexStyle boasts a 1,400W motor compared to the Dyson Airwrap’s slightly less powerful 1,300W motor, delivering super-fast drying performance in record time. Unlike traditional hot tools – such as the best curling wands and straighteners – that expose hair directly to heat hot enough to break you out in a sweat, the FlexStyle uses a combination of air and heat to help you style while you dry, causing significantly less damage to your hair.
Coupled with the fact that the FlexStyle measures temperature 1,000 times per second to ensure it never gets too hot, the FlexStyle should help you cut down on styling time and prevent your hair from burning to a crisp.
Without a doubt, one of the stand-out features of the FlexStyle’s handle is its ability to rotate and switch from dryer to styler with a quick twist (which you can see me trying in this TikTok video). Simply slide the hinge lock downwards to swivel the top of the handle into its full-length ‘styling wand mode’, or rotate it back again so the handle forms a 90° angle and resembles a regular hairdryer.
One of the reasons why the Shark FlexStyle is so pricey is that it shares the same airflow-based Coanda Technology in its Auto-Wrap Curlers at the Dyson Airwrap. Swirling airflow is blown out of the slits in the detachable curlers to attract hair around the barrel and make it cling to the surface, thus making curling faster and easier – once you get the hang of it.
SHARK FLEXSTYLE REVIEW: PERFORMANCE
While the Shark FlexStyle performs many of its functions brilliantly, I did have a couple of small issues with it. That said, none of them are dealbreakers, and I certainly wouldn’t describe this 5-in-1 multi-styler as a jack of all trades and master of none.
First up, the lightweight handle is comfy to hold and the swiveling dryer-to-styler feature is an arm-saving stroke of genius, always staying securely locked in position until you want to change it. However, I do find the buttons on the handle to be a bit problematic.
Personally, I would prefer it if all the buttons were placed together in one area, rather than the cool shot button being located a few inches away. In being spread apart, I find there is less space for me to place my hand around the handle and grip it without sometimes accidently hitting the Temperature or Airflow buttons.
Furthermore, this design flaw becomes especially problematic when using the Auto-Wrap Curlers. This is because you need to flick the ‘on’ switch to power up the tool and attract hair to the curlers, then move your hand further up the handle to locate the cool shot (which you have to hold down to keep working), before moving your hand back down to turn it off without knocking the Temperature and Airflow buttons.
This issue wouldn’t be so bad if the Temperature, Airflow, and Cool Shot buttons were raised, like the on/off switch, rather that lying flat to the handle, which makes them really hard to locate if you can’t see them in the mirror. As a result, I’ve had a few incidences where I heated my hair for far longer than the recommended time, and got pretty hot in the process.
My top tip to get round this is to turn the tool on, check it’s on the right airflow and temperature settings you want, and then place a finger on the Cool Shot button before you start wrapping your hair. This will ensure you’re ready to press it when needed.
Despite claims of reducing heat damage to hair, be aware that the tool can still get very hot when placed on the maximum temperature setting. Ultimately, I preferred using it on the medium temperature setting to achieve my desired hairstyles, but the fact is the Shark FlexStyle doesn’t need to be hot to achieve great results as the airflow does most of the work.
There’s no doubting the Shark FlexStyle is incredibly powerful, which can make it a little noisier that some of the best hair dryers, and a lot noisier than regular styling tools which are usually silent. However, the vast reduction in styling time – along with the super-glossy styling results – were enough to not let the noise bother me.
The handle itself can be used alone without an attachment for basic rough drying, comparing well to the Shark Style iQ Ionic Hair Dryer & Styler, which has 1,600W of power. It took me less that three minutes to remove the excess moisture from my long, super-thick hair and get it to around 80 per cent dry before I could add one of the attachments to style and finish my chosen look. Here’s how the different attachments fared:
Styling Concentrator: Designed to effortlessly dry and smooth your hair, the concentrator has a rotating nozzle and a flat edge for easy, ultra-precise styling from all angles. Suitable for all hair types, I mainly use it to smooth out my curtain bangs and remove frizz before placing my fringe in a Velcro curler. It does the job brilliantly, and I have no doubt this concentrator would work well if I wanted to blow dry my entire head of hair with a round brush. If I had the patience, that is (I don’t).
Paddle Brush: I loved this attachment for its ability to tame frizz, smooth strands from root to tip, and deliver sleek, straight, shiny locks without the need for straighteners or much heat. Smoothing boar and nylon bristles do all the work by creating added tension, yet it’s never pulled on my hair or got tangled up. It just glides through, straightening while drying to noticeably speed up styling time. I definitely appreciate the fact that the bristles travel down the rounded sides of the attachment to make styling easier and more professional-looking, and that I don’t have to place my tresses between two hot plates to get them straight.
Oval Brush: When placed atop the handle in ‘styling wand mode’, the Shark FlexStyle resembles the popular Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer, and performs just as well, if not better. I find it doesn’t pull on my hair anywhere near as much as the Revlon styler does, and my hair never gets tangled either. The Oval Brush also features a combo of boar and nylon bristles to defrizz and smooth hair while helping to add volume to the roots and create lovely, rounded locks, whether you want your ends to flick out or in. Great for bouncy blow dries, the only issue is it’s too big in size to really style your fringe, but then you’ve got the concentrator for that.
Curl-Defining Diffuser: Purposefully designed to lift and define natural curls and coils, this diffuser also has extendable prongs to reach and lift roots. My hair only has a slight wave, so I tried this on a friend’s naturally curly, long hair and she was mightily impressed with the way it quickly dried her hair from root to tip on a low heat (using the prongs in the fully extended position), while defining her curls and reducing frizz.
Auto-Wrap Curlers: Having never used a Dyson Airwrap before, I’d never used Coanda Technology either, so I needed a lot more time, practice, and watching of video tutorials to get to grips with the Auto-Wrap Curlers. The trickiest part was getting my hair to wrap successfully around the barrel with the use of air power, and I found the process hit and miss to start with. The key is to hold your hair out at a 90° angle from your head (this helps to prevent other strands of hair from getting sucked up), with your fingers about four inches away from the ends of your hair. You’ll also need to experiment with the thickness of the sections of hair you use (depending on your hair type), as well as the level of dampness of your hair. If it’s too dry or too damp, you’ll struggle to get your ends to wrap around effectively.
Described as best for straight and wavy hair, Shark claims you’ll get ‘hassle-free curls in seconds’, but even after getting my technique down, I still find the process a bit of a faff, especially with the need to continually turn the tool on and off for every piece of hair you style. To be fair, you have to do the same thing with the Dyson Airwrap. However, while Dyson has upgraded its Airwrap barrels by condensing two barrels into one with the placement of a knob at the top that enable you to change the direction of your curls a simple twist, you unfortunately need to remove the FlexStyle’s entire Auto-Wrap barrel and attach the second one (both conveniently marked with arrows to show the direction of airflow) in order to change the desired direction of your curls. Again, this is a bit of a faff, but you can get round it by styling one side of your head at a time.
While I can’t compare the performance of the Shark FlexStyle with the Dyson Airwrap, I can say that now I have my Auto-Wrap Curler technique down, I absolutely adore the results. Yes, my curls drop significantly, even with lots of styling mousse and hairspray, and that’s probably because my hair is so long and thick. But the beautiful, bouncy, blow dry-like results I’m left with for the rest of the day are stunning. In short, using the Auto-Wrap Curlers makes me feel like a 90s supermodel, which is no small thing, and that means I’m happy to put in a little effort when using them.
SHARK FLEXSTYLE REVIEW: VERDICT
The Shark FlexStyle is a 5-in-1 multi-styler that completely replaces the need to buy many different hair stylers. Yes, it’s still expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than the Dyson Airwrap, and you’ll be saving money in the long run with this one-time investment, as well as reducing waste.
The powerful airflow means you don’t need to apply half as much heat to your hair as regular hair tools, resulting in smooth, sleek hair that shines with health. Indeed, you may never want to let hair straighteners and curling irons near your hair again.
While the design of the Shark FlexStyle isn’t perfect (nothing is), you’ll soon overcome any initial teething issues, such as the placement of buttons, with time and practice. Most importantly, the salon-worthy results it delivers are more than perfect, meaning you won’t have to splash out on expensive blow-outs. Highly recommended!