Shark FlexStyle review design and attachments
£299.99

Shark FlexStyle review: How does the premium multistyler live up to the Dyson Airwrap?

19th May 2024 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber
Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Shark FlexStyle, even though our FlexStyle review errs on the side of negative.

The rotating barrel is enough, on its own, to set the styler apart from many other hair tools on the market. It dries quickly and effectively and it offers a wide range of styling options and versatility.

However, the FlexStyle is not without its flaws and while its almost half the price of the Airwrap, at £300 it’s still an incredibly expensive piece of kit. At this price, we shouldn’t have had to make as many allowances as we did.

All that said, in our hunt for a true and worthy alternative to the Dyson Airwrap, the FlexStyle is the closest we’ve got for such a like-for-like product.

The addition of the diffuser extends its appeal, and it’s a lot cheaper so if you’re in the market for a multistyler and you’ve already reserved yourself to the fact you’ll need to pay a hefty sum for the privilege, the FlexStyle would still be a decent investment.

Buy FlexStyle from Shark
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Fast
  • Rotating barrel
Cons
  • Time-consuming
  • Lacks performance
  • Difficult to store
Where to Buy
Boots £299.99
Shark (SOLD OUT) £299.99
Prices are accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change.

For our Shark FlexStyle review, we put the new multistyler to the test to see if it’s worth the money – and if it can compete with the Dyson Airwrap


UPDATE: The Shark FlexStyle is currently £30 cheaper when bought from Shark, or Boots. It’s not a huge saving, and the styler still costs £269.99 but if you’ve had your eye on this multi-tool for a while, this could be a good time to buy!

Also, if you buy from Boots and you’re an Advantage Card holder, you’ll get £25 worth of points taking your total saving to (technically) £55.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

Original Shark FlexStyle review continues below

At the end of September 2022, Shark released the latest hair tool in its growing beauty range – the Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Hair Drying System.

Not only can it be used like a standard hair dryer, and has a cool rotating barrel feature, but it comes with a series of attachments that allow you to create a range of styles, from curls to waves, bouncy blow dries, and straight, sleek looks.

In many ways, the FlexStyle is Shark’s take on the Dyson Airwrap.

Just as Dyson and Shark regularly compete for a share of the cordless vacuum market, they are increasingly competing in the hair tool space.

First Shark released its Style iQ hair dryer as a rival to the Dyson Supersonic, and this latest release – complete with the same Coanda effect used on the Airwrap – is a rival to Dyson’s iconic multistyler. Yet is almost half the price.

Discover how it works, if it’s worth the money, and how it compares to the Dyson Airwrap in our Shark FlexStyle review below.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

Shark FlexStyle review

What is it? The Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Hair Drying System is a multistyler that comes with six attachments for creating different hairstyles.

Attachments: The FlexStyle comes with two 1.25-inch curlers, an oval brush, a paddle brush, a diffuser, and a styling concentrator.

Price: £299.99

Where to buy: Shark UK | Boots


How we tested

For our Shark FlexStyle review, we put the multistyler to the test over the course of a month, using each attachment multiple times to see how easy they are to use, how effective they are at creating different styles, and if the FlexStyle is worth the money. We also compared it to the Dyson Airwrap to see whether it’s a worthwhile alternative.


Shark FlexStyle review: Design

Shark FlexStyle review grillemamabella

To use the FlexStyle as a standard hair dryer, you rotate the top-third of the barrel towards you, so that it sits at right angles to the handle

The FlexStyle comes with a base unit upon which each of its six accessories is attached and locked into place. The model we tested for our Shark FlexStyle review had a silver-coloured base and each of the attachments was made from off-white plastic.

This appears to be the US design – and makes the styler look cheap and dated in our opinion – but the UK version comes in black and gold and looks much more luxurious.

To use the FlexStyle as a standard hair dryer, you rotate the top-third of the barrel towards you, so that it sits at right angles to the handle. You can then use it like you would a normal dryer, or you can attach the diffuser to this rotated barrel and use it to define and dry your curls.

To swap the attachments in and out, you twist each one into place until it clicks. The click you hear is the lock mechanism being enabled. To remove each attachment, you then have to slide the lock button to the unlock position and twist and pull the attachment from the base.

If you are unclear about how this works, arrow indicators on the barrel not only show you how to rotate the barrel but can also guide you through the act of adding and removing the attachments. You then use the button at the base of the barrel to move between the FlexStyle’s three heat and three airflow speed settings. A separate cold shot button can then be found above the main button.

These buttons are well placed near the bottom of the barrel and you can easily switch between different modes without having to move your hand from its natural styling position. You do need to use slight force to use this button but this does stop you from accidentally switching modes by accident.

Shark FlexStyle review design and attachmentsmamabella | mamabella

The barrel of the FlexStyle is relatively slim and this means it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. However, it’s a long appliance and this makes it a little unwieldy to use, and a pain to store easily. As does the size of the attachments, which are all on the large side

The downside to its positioning, however, is that the settings buttons are right next to the air vents for the motor and it’s easy to block the airflow at times when switching between the heat and speed options.  

The barrel of the FlexStyle is relatively slim – slimmer than the Dyson Airwrap – and this means it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. However, it’s a long appliance, measuring 11.5 inches before any attachments are added and this makes it a little unwieldy to use, and a pain to store easily.

As does the size of the attachments. All of the attachments are on the large side – the brushes, in particular, are chunky – and the longest of the lot is the 6-inch Auto-Wrap curlers which, when attached, takes the full length of the styler to 17.5 inches.

The FlexStyle comes with a 3-metre cable, which is standard for stylers and dryers these days, but around a third of the way down this cable is a power pack. Not only does this make it difficult to wrap or coil the cable neatly when the styler is not in use, but it also adds a significant amount of weight to the already cumbersome styler as you’re moving it around your head.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

Speed 

Shark FlexStyle review How to Use the AutoWrap Curlersmamabella | mamabella

From a speed and time point of view, it took us more than an average of 20 minutes to style our hair using the Auto-Wrap curlers

The best and easiest feature of the Shark FlexStyle to use is the standard hair dryer.

It took us an average of 2 minutes and 47 seconds to rough dry our hair from wet (straight from the shower) to bone dry. This puts its speed on par with the Dyson Supersonic.

Using the oval, and paddle brush to style as we dried increased this time somewhat to an average of 3 minutes and 50 seconds, and 4 minutes, respectively but this is to be expected because we’re ultimately saving time styling after the fact.

What we hadn’t expected, however, was how complicated and time-consuming it would be to use the AutoWrap curlers. We explain more about their performance in the section below, but from a speed and time point of view, it took us more than an average of 20 minutes to style our hair using the Auto-Wrap curlers.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

Ease of use and performance  

SharkFlex Review Hot Round Brushmamabella | mamabella

You can add volume by holding the round brush (pictured) at the roots, in a similar way to the oval brush. You can also rotate it through the hair, and flick the hair up at the ends to create more versatile finishes

The easiest attachments to use, besides the standard hair dryer feature, were the two hot brushes. 

The best volume and bounce we got with the oval brush was when we spent time holding it at the roots before running it through the hair up and away from our head. It’s also possible to create waves and curls by rotating the hot brush slowly as you move it through the hair.

THE COANDA EFFECT

The AutoWrap Curlers on the Shark FlexStyle use something known as the Coanda effect.

This is also found on the Dyson Airwrap.

The effect is created when the swirling airflow, blown out of slits in the styler’s detachable barrels, spins in such a way that attracts and makes the hair “cling” to the surface of the curler.

It’s an effect seen when air passes over a plane or F1 car in a wind tunnel.

The style didn’t hold particularly well without the use of products – we swear by the Color Wow Volumizer – but this is common for our shoulder-length, fine hair.  

To use the paddle brush, you simply run it through small sections of hair in the same way you would use a regular hair brush, keeping it face down to smooth the cuticles and reduce the amount of flyaways.

You can add volume by holding the brush at the roots, in a similar way to the oval brush. You can also rotate it through the hair, and flick the hair up at the ends to create more versatile finishes.  We were impressed with how smooth and straight the paddle brush left our hair, and it was nice to not have to resort to using straighteners for once! 

To set our natural curls, we used the FlexStyle’s hair dryer feature to remove about 50% of the water from our hair. We then scrunched our curls with our hands before holding these curls in place inside the diffuser. 

To create more defined curly hairstyles, using the AutoWrap Curlers, we removed the majority of the water from our hair – around 80%  – before holding individual sections at right angles to our head and allowing the curling attachment to grip and wrap the hair around the barrel.

We had the most curling success when we let the hair remain wrapped around the barrel for around 10 seconds for each section. We would then switch the dryer off and as the curl dropped from the barrel, we’d catch it and hold it up against our head until the hair felt cool to the touch.

To create even longer-lasting curls, switch the dryer off and catch the curl as you pull out the dryer. Hold it up towards your head until it feels cool to the touch.

To master these curls, you need to make sure that your hair isn’t too wet, but isn’t too dry and gauging this can be difficult. For us, when our hair looked dry from a distance but felt cool to the touch (suggesting there is still moisture left in it) produced the best results. This takes a fair amount of trial and error, though, and it can be frustrating!  

This whole process is time-consuming and the final result is disappointing. The airflow has a tendency to pull in hair from other sections, or to blow it in various directions while you’re setting each curl. This causes frizz and flyaways. Elsewhere, the curls don’t hold – or they didn’t for us – and when you’ve spent ages styling the curls for them to drop within half an hour, it can be annoying.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

FlexStyle vs Dyson Airwrap 

FlexStyle and Airwrap curling barrelsmamabella | mamabella

Given their similarities, and having used both stylers regularly now, we’re in a good position to compare the Shark FlexStyle with the Dyson Airwrap to see how they measure up

Given their similarities, and having used both stylers regularly now, we’re in a good position to compare the Shark FlexStyle with the Dyson Airwrap to see how they measure up.

Price: The FlexStyle bundle costs £299.99 in the UK. The Dyson Airwrap starts at £479.99 with limited-edition models coming in at £499.99. 

Colours: The FlexStyle in the UK comes in a black and gold design. The Dyson Airwrap is available in a limited-edition blue and rose gold design, a fuschia and nickel model, and two copper and nickel versions. 

What’s in the box: The FlexStyle comes with six attachments – two 1.25-inch curlers, an oval brush, a paddle brush, a diffuser, and a styling concentrator – as standard as well as a storage case. The Airwrap comes with a storage case, a 30mm Airwrap Long Barrel, filter cleaning brush, firm smoothing brush, Coanda smoothing dryer, soft smoothing brush, 40mm Airwrap Long Barrel and a round volumising brush.

You can also buy extra attachments for the Airwrap. Each one costs £30 and includes attachments better suited to fine hair – a 0.8-inch (20mm) Airwrap barrel, and small versions of the firm, soft and volumizing brushes; plus a wide-tooth comb for curly and coily hair.

FlexStyle Airwrap closeupmamabella | mamabella

The FlexStyle in the UK comes in a black and gold design. The FlexStyle pictured is the US model. The Dyson Airwrap is available in a limited-edition blue and rose gold design, a fuschia and nickel model, and two copper and nickel versions

Speed and performance: The FlexStyle hair dryer took an average of 2 minutes and 47 seconds to take our hair from wet to dry. This is the same as the speed on the Dyson. Using the oval, and paddle brush on the FlexStyle extended the drying and styling time to an average of 3 minutes and 50 seconds, and 4 minutes, respectively.

The Dyson Airwrap dried and styled the hair much faster with all three brush attachments – the soft smoothing brush, the firm smoothing brush, and the round volumising brush. The times were 3 minutes 45 seconds, 3 minutes 49 seconds and 3 minutes 2 seconds. 

The Airwrap outperformed the FlexStyle in terms of the amount of volume created using the round volumising brush, and the style lasted longer. The FlexStyle’s oval brush created similar results to the Dyson but our hair fell flat within 30 minutes. The FlexStyle did take the edge in terms of having a diffuser, however. 

Both stylers were equally frustrating and time-consuming when it came to using the automatic curling barrels. However, the Airwrap took the lead in this test because it lets you switch the direction of the curl using a button on top of the barrel. To change the direction of curls on the FlexStyle, you need to swap a new barrel in and out each time.

Shark FlexStyle vs Dyson Airwrap, which is better?: Although it’s a lot more expensive, the Dyson Airwrap performs better almost across the board and is slightly easier to use.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

Shark FlexStyle review: Verdict

Shark FlexStyle review diffusermamabella | mamabella

The addition of the diffuser on the FlexStyle (pictured) extends its appeal

There’s a lot to like about the Shark FlexStyle, even though our FlexStyle review errs on the side of negative.

The rotating barrel is enough, on its own, to set the styler apart from many other hair tools on the market. It dries quickly and effectively and it offers a wide range of styling options and versatility.

However, the FlexStyle is not without its flaws and while its almost half the price of the Airwrap, at £300 it’s still an incredibly expensive piece of kit. At this price, we shouldn’t have had to make as many allowances as we did.

All that said, in our hunt for a true and worthy alternative to the Dyson Airwrap, the FlexStyle is the closest we’ve got for such a like-for-like product.

The addition of the diffuser extends its appeal, and it’s a lot cheaper so if you’re in the market for a multistyler and you’ve already reserved yourself to the fact you’ll need to pay a hefty sum for the privilege, the FlexStyle would still be a decent investment.

Buy FlexStyle from Boots

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