Some women spend money on gel manicures. Others on lash extensions. I choose to spend my disposable beauty income on blowouts. Pre-COVID-19, I'd hit up a local salon for my weekly blowout, but a few weeks into the pandemic, tired of wearing baseball caps and pulling my hair back with elastic headbands, I went into my closet and pulled out The Dyson Airwrap Complete Set that was gifted to me last year.
I'd seen the commercials and knew the Airwrap promised salon-like results and the ability to replace an entire arsenal of hot tools — including your blow dryer, straightener, and curling iron. So, I watched a Dyson YouTube video and got to work testing it out.
What is the Dyson Airwrap?
The Airwrap is a hair-styling tool by Dyson that can dry and style your hair simultaneously. It features various attachments to achieve different looks, including a blow-drying nozzle that helps to pre-dry hair for curling, rounded and flat brushes that allow you to dry your hair while brushing through it, and curling iron barrels to help you achieve bouncy curls.
The Airwrap uses a special technology similar to jet engines that creates a vortex to pull the hair towards the barrels or attachments, keeping strands firmly against their surfaces while also monitoring and adjusting the heat so your hair never burns.
Why is it always out of stock?
The Dyson Airwrap has been a viral phenomenon within the past year alone, but it's actually been in high demand since its launch in 2018. It continues to sell out, adding customers to a six-month waitlist.
Alternatives to the Dyson Airwrap
If you can't wait for the Dyson Airwrap to restock, these similar options will tide you over in the meantime.DryBar The Double Shot Oval Blow-Dryer Brush
DryBar’s Double Shot Oval Blow Dryer makes getting ready even easier for all hair types. It combines a blow-dryer’s heat with a structured round brush to create a smoother, shinier blowout that won’t damage your hair.$150.00 from Sephora $150.00 from Ulta $150.00 from AmazonGreat PriceRevlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer This hair dryer and volumizer has two heat settings and a cool setting so that you can style your hair in many different ways. This is just $2 more than the all-time low we've seen.$34.88 from Walmart Originally $59.99Save 42%More places to buy $59.99 $22.28 from Amazon $54.99 $22.28 from TargetHot ToolsProfessional 24K Gold One Step Blowout
The Hot Tools Profesional 24K Gold One Step Blowout delivers professional results with one simple tool. Its rotating heat control evenly dries your hair at three different speed settings, and its charcoal-infused bristles are perfect for refreshing second-day hair.$74.98 from Ulta$69.98$29.47 from Amazon
Is the Dyson Airwrap worth it?
In short, yes. After testing it for three months, I can confidently say that if my Airwrap caught on fire tomorrow, without hesitation, I'd pull out my credit card and spend the $499 to purchase another one.
That I can dry my entire head of hair in less than 15 minutes (as opposed to 40 on a good day), and that I'm left with a professional-looking style that truly looks and feels healthier, is enough to justify the investment on my end. My hair never feels hot to the touch, even when using the higher heat/speed setting, thanks to some high-tech features like built-in temperature control.
I've been able to store away my damaging flat iron, as I no longer have the need to rid my hair of any remaining kinks or frizz. I use this tool more as a dryer/straightener, but the fact that it can produce big, bouncy curls in just a few minutes is just another reason it has become my go-to hair appliance.
The set I use — known as The Complete Set ($549) — comes with eight attachments, yet I tend to reach for just three of them — the pre-styling dryer head (snap it on the cylinder and it works like a traditional blow dryer nozzle), the smoothing brush (to straighten) and the round volumizing brush, to curl under ends.
Right now, there are three versions available: one for coarse hair (Smooth and Control with six attachments, $499), one for fine hair (Volume and Shape with five attachments, $499), and one that contains the attachments for both, which is the one I tested.
Why is the Dyson Airwrap so expensive?
The technology is pretty much beyond anything I'd ever written about in my 20+ years as a beauty editor. After a bit of research, I discovered it took six years and 200 engineers to design over 600 different prototypes. I reached out to one of those engineers with a few questions about the device.
Why is a vacuum company in the hair business?
"Our research showed consumers were looking for a multi-functional hair tool that could be a one-stop solution for all their styling needs," says Veronica Alanis, a senior design engineer at Dyson. "Hair dryers can be slow and heavy, straighteners can damage hair due to extreme heat, while curling irons snag and tear hair. So we created a 3-in-1 product using the same motor found in our vacuums, albeit a bit redesigned. We harnessed what we call the Coanda effect, where high-speed air in the cylinder creates a jet engine-like vortex through slots in the barrel, attracting hair to the tool's surface. The styler also has a built-in bead thermistor that measures the temperature and that data is fed back into a regulating microprocessor to ensure the heat being put out never rises above 302 degrees."
Okay, so I'm starting to understand why it's so expensive.
How do you use the Airwrap?
"To begin, let your hair air-dry or grab the oval-shaped attachment — called the pre-styling dryer — and begin drying until it reaches about 80% dry," says Alanis. "Then decide which look you're going for and choose your attachment — you can make your hair straight, add a little bounce, or create curl. If you're going for a wavy or curly look, snap on the appropriate-sized barrel, then take a 1-inch section of hair and allow the device's airflow to grasp your hair and wrap it around the cylinder. Hold for five to ten seconds, then hit the cool button to lock in the wave before releasing. Repeat wherever you want curl or bounce on your head."
There's a bit of a learning curve here, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it.
Why does your hair have to be 80% dry?
"Hydrogen bonds break down in wet hair and need to be reformed in order to style hair. That can happen by using air or heat — in Airwrap's case, it's a combination of both. Because they're used together, you need less heat to achieve the style, limiting your exposure to damage. If you're styling on totally dry hair, you're taking air out of the equation so in order to manipulate the hydrogen bonds, you'll need to use more heat," says Alanis. "It may take trial and error to figure out the correct level of dampness that works best for your hair type. You want just enough moisture left in the hair so that the hydrogen bonds are not completely set. At ten to twenty percent damp, your hair should feel almost cold instead of wet. Also, if you're finding you have to hold each curl on the barrel for over a minute to get it completely dry, your hair is probably too wet."
Why do the barrels have arrows?
"The arrows show which way the air is flowing, which is the way the curl will wrap, either away or towards the face," says Alanis. "From our work with stylists, we've heard hair looks the most natural when you go in alternating directions, one section toward your face and the next away. To do this, you'll need to swap out the barrels as each barrel's air flow only goes in one direction. Looking at the arrows in a mirror will help you figure out which way the curl will move."
How do you keep it clean?
"The kits all come with a filter brush. Simply pull the shroud off of the bottom of the machine and use the brush to clean out the filter. This will keep the airflow strong and your machine working like new," advises Alanis. "You can also can run the filter under warm water and let air dry. To clean the barrels, wipe from top to bottom using a damp, warm cloth. To clean the brushes, pull out any hairs with your fingers or use a comb."
What a professional stylist thinks of the Dyson Airwrap:
Curious as to what a stylist had to say, I asked one who uses the Airwrap for her thoughts.
"I test tons of hair tools yet I've never seen or used anything like the this," says LA-based celebrity stylist Irinel de Leon, whose clients include Chrissy Teigan and Hailey Bieber. "Curly hair is very fragile and mine is no exception. This product regulates heat temperature, so it minimizes damage. It has cut my styling time in half, and thanks to all the attachments, there's a lot of versatility when it comes to styling. The volumizing bristle brush is a game-changer for unruly areas, leaving hair straight and smooth. Toggling between this and the firm smoothing brush helps me achieve a blowout that can last for over five days when my hair is curly."
For reference, de Leon has never been paid to endorse a Dyson product.
Cons to consider
I wish the cylinder had an indent for a more natural grip, but Alanis explained that adding such a feature would reduce the airflow path within the machine, hindering the product's overall performance. I also wish there was a more economical version available so everyone could experience this product.
I'd be happy with fewer tools — one styling barrel and one smoothing brush would be enough for me — if that meant lowering the price. However, de Leon added she'd love for Dyson to consider adding a larger brush attachment to round out ends along with a boar's bristle brush attachment for use on thicker hair.
The bottom line
After speaking with a Dyson engineer and learning more about the technology in the Airwrap, it's clear to me that there's a reason it costs $500. But is that cost justified? Well, it's been 10 weeks since my last blowout — at $25 a week, I've saved $250 thus far, which has put me halfway there in terms of the purchase price of the Airwrap.
The fact that it not only works well but takes the place of three other hair appliances is another reason I'd recommend it. Plus, it comes with a two-year parts-and-labor warranty, longer than the one on the dishwasher I recently purchased. You'll need to fill out some forms to activate it, but it's worth the effort for the peace of mind.
If you're looking for a less expensive option, both the Drybar Double Shot Blow-Dryer Brush ($150) and Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($34.88) come with a round, nondetachable nylon and tufted bristle brush and use ionic technology to eliminate static and frizz and promote faster drying. You won't have the benefit of multiple attachments or curling barrels, but if all you're after is a simple way to dry and style your hair with at least a bit of shape, these are good alternatives.
All things considered, though, the Airwrap is definitely worth it for anyone who does their hair frequently.$549.99 from Dyson $549.99 from Best BuyColleen SullivanColleen Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in beauty, home, fashion, health and wellness. She is a contributing writer at Today.com, HGTV, and MyDomaine. Before starting her freelance career, she was an editor at Health, Working Woman, and Vogue magazines. While at Time Inc., she was the creator and editor-in-chief of a lifestyle makeover magazine called Change, which would have made it to the newsstand if not for the recession. As side gigs, she pitches television concepts to production companies (she recently sold an idea about the college admission process to Sony) and teaches a graduate level beauty and fashion journalism class (via Skype) at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.Colleen Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in beauty, home, fashion, health and wellness. She is a contributing writer at Today.com, HGTV, and MyDomaine. Before starting her freelance career, she was an editor at Health, Working Woman, and Vogue magazines. While at Time Inc., she was the creator and editor-in-chief of a lifestyle makeover magazine called Change, which would have made it to the newsstand if not for the recession. As side gigs, she pitches television concepts to production companies (she recently sold an idea about the college admission process to Sony) and teaches a graduate level beauty and fashion journalism class (via Skype) at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.