Hair-Styling

Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System review: Is the Dyson dupe worth the hype?

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or a long time, the world of hair dryers stayed on a linear path. They looked the same, and for the most part, they performed the same, with newer models adding science-backed features like ionic technology to bring smoothness and shine to locks.

Then in 2016, Dyson threw an innovative grenade into the mix with its much-lauded Supersonic hair dryer, which transplanted the bladeless technology it used in its fans to a hairdryer, the likes of which the world had never seen.

Resembling a Quidditch goal, Dyson’s designers moved the motor from the handle to the head, making it easier to hold for lengthy periods – though you wouldn’t need to hold it for very long thanks to a V9 motor which pushes out an impressive 41 liters of air per second.

The Supersonic operates at whisper-like levels and comes with an air temperature monitor to make sure it’s not frazzling your strands – excellent news considering heat damage is the number one concern with heated hair tools.

For six years, the Supersonic remained in a class all of its own. Until, that is, October 2022 when Shark released a serious contender to Dyson’s bestseller: Shark FlexStyle.

Shark’s story is similar to Dyson’s: the companies both specialized in domestic appliances like vacuum cleaners before striking out into the world of beauty electricals. Now it seems they’re competing on another playing field.

Does Shark give Dyson a run for its money on the hairdryer front? At Shark’s £299.99 vs Dyson’s £329.99, there’s only a £30 difference between the two.

We tried out the new Shark FlexStyle to find out.

Packaging

Shark

Everything is delivered in a rectangular cardboard box with a pleasing heft. If this were a gift, you’d be seriously excited.

Inside sits a black carry case holding the styler and all its accessories: the FlexStyle comes with a styling concentrator for smoothing straight hair; a diffuser for curly hair; two auto-wrap curlers for the right and left side of your head; an oval brush for volumising and a paddle brush for straightening and smoothing. Why so many parts? Shark wanted to create a device that could be used by everyone, no matter their hair type. For All Hairkind, as the spiel goes.

All parts are held securely with cardboard boxes; there isn’t a scrap of plastic here, and little glue, aside from the carry case’s zip protective stickers. A considered effort for the environment from Shark.

Design

Shark

The FlexStyle is a super compact tube-like design that makes it perfect for taking on holidays and overnight stays. The slim body feels like a torch or a microphone. All the controls are lined up along the front – the on/off button, heat and speed settings (three each) and a cool shot button further up – all easy to operate single-handedly. About a quarter of the way down from the top is a diagonal rose-gold hinge – turn the device over and you’ll see a slide button that turns the top 45 degrees into a hairdryer, just hold down and swivel until it looks like the Figure 7.

Oval brush function

Shark

If you’re drying your hair from towel dry (as recommended by every hairdresser from Land’s End to John O’Groats), you won’t need much heat. Both heat and wind speed can be adjusted easily on the controls; a couple of minutes on top whack was enough to get my hair dry enough for the styling stage.

I added volumising mousse to my roots and mid-lengths before twisting the top back to styling mode and reached for the oval brush, which transformed the FlexStyle into a hot brush.

All attachments click in easily: to remove, hold down the unlock button on the top edge. After a few minutes of brushing through sections of my hair, rolling up at the roots for volume, and I was left with a headful of sleek, straight, salon-quality hair. Fast and effective.

Auto-wrap curlers function

Shark

My fringe needed fine-tuning so I went for the auto-wrap curlers next. There are two, one for the right side and one for the left. Simply attach to the styler and hold towards the ends of your hair; the curler will suck your strands towards it and around the barrel by itself -slowly move the curlers up towards your roots for full-throttle curls.

It turns out they’re not great for adding bounce to fringes, leaving me with curtains last seen in the mid-90s. But they are fantastic for adding texture to the end of lower lengths (technical term: flicky bits). The automatic heat and curl technology even made my dry ends, in dire need of a trim, appear healthy. With a bit of time and patience, the auto-wrap curlers can help you achieve beachy waves as well as red-carpet curls.

Noise

Shark

The FlexStyle doesn’t roar, nor does it whisper; curiously it whistles. It’s not super loud but I couldn’t hear the radio over it, so it’s definitely noticeable, even on the lowest speed setting.

Where to buy the Shark FlexStyle

Shark

Verdict

If I had to pick one word to describe Shark’s FlexStyleit would be: impressive.

To be able to style in five ways with one single tool is poetically versatile, plus the fact everything fits into the carry case means storage is taken care of. The heat and speed generated from such a slim unassuming tool gets a big thumbs up too. My hair felt fully dried without feeling as though it had been fried. It works quickly which is a godsend if you suffer from chronic lateness (guilty).

I also liked the fact that I could control the heat myself; Dyson’s Supersonic automatically adjusts heat for you, which is protective but has the downside of taking an age to dry my hair. With FlexStyle’s controls just a thumb-stretch away, I’m in the hot seat.

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