It's the kind of product you come across when you pop into Sephora to quickly re-up your favorite tinted moisturizer, but end up walking out with thinking, "maybe, just maybe, it really will make it easier to style my thin/coarse/straight/curly/whatever hair."
In some respects, the Airwrap delivers. The packaging and products themselves are beautiful, in true Dyson form. The $550 "Complete" kit I tested comes with six attachments. There are also two $500 kits with four attachments each, the Volume + Shape version is geared toward folks with fine, straight hair, while the Smooth + Control version is for thicker, coarser hair.
All of the attachments connect to a single styling wand easily, making it convenient to switch from drying your hair with the "pre-styling dryer" to curling or smoothing it with one of the other accessories.
But here's the thing -- while the Airwrap does use lower heat and it's more efficient than switching from the hairdryer to the straightener (or whatever styling tools you typically use), the lower heat often didn't deliver the results my colleagues and I wanted in the end.
I tested the Airwrap alongside Ashlee Clark Thompson and Molly Price. I have type-2 wavy hair, Ashlee has type-4 coily hair and Molly has straight hair. (Not sure what I'm taking about? Or curious to find out your hair type? Start here.)
Also, the curling barrels that "auto-wrap" your hair via the Coanda effect (a fluid dynamics phenomenon you can read more about here) were imprecise and difficult to control.
The Airwrap is a fun product to try out, particularly to see the Coanda effect in action, but none of us walked away ready to buy -- or recommend -- it to most people. That's especially true given its high price. I strongly suggest you test it out in a store (if possible) before adding it to your shopping cart.
What's in the box?
Let's take a look at what you get for your $550. Not surprisingly, Dyson's packaging and the product itself looks great.
It comes in a cute leathery case with a black felt interior so you can safely store all of the different attachments after each use. You'll need a significant amount of space in your vanity to fit this whole case, so keep that in mind. Inside the case is a series of neatly arranged gray and pink accessories. They include:
- Pre-styling dryer: Skip your regular dryer and use this one instead (Dyson says you should dry your hair to damp before styling)
- Soft smoothing brush: Create body (for fine hair)
- 1.6-inch barrel curler: Create loose curls (for thick, coarse hair)
- 1.2-inch barrel curler: Create tight curls (for most hair types)
- Firm smoothing brush: Straighten hair without adding frizz (for thick, coarse hair)
- Round volumizing brush: Adds volume (for fine hair)
That's a lot of stuff and all of it connects easily to the wand. Line up the attachment with the top of the wand and press it down until you feel it snap into place. Pull down and hold the "unlock" lever on the back of the wand to remove each accessory. The wand has a built-in plug that you connect to a wall outlet just like a hair dryer, or any other styling product.
Its integrated motor blows air at low, medium and high intervals. You also have options for cool, warm and hot temperature settings.
The Airwrap uses air to style your hair, rather than high direct heat -- that's its neatest feature. This is where Dyson takes advantage of the Coanda effect, a phenomenon wherein, according to UK-based S&C Thermofluids LTD, "a jet flow attaches itself to a nearby surface and remains attached even when the surface curves away from the initial jet direction." It's most apparent when you're using one of the curling barrels.
Dyson gives you two of each curling attachment because the air flowing from the wand blows out from the barrels in different directions. You would typically curl your hair away from your head, so you need one barrel for each direction. Arrows on the barrels help show you which one you need for which side.