The Airwrap and the Coanda effect is an intriguing concept, but the barrels and the wand's airflow effect didn't always do a good job grabbing our hair. We had some other problems, too. Let's talk about this thing's performance.
As someone with thick, wavy, layered hair, the Airwrap regularly grabbed some of my hair and missed other pieces, resulting in an odd, uneven curl I regularly had to re-do. I also found I had to use less hair that I usually would because it had a hard time grabbing onto my hair. Even though I saved time by not having to fully dry my hair with a separate appliance, I wasted time having to use smaller pieces of hair during the styling phase.
With a traditional straightener or curling iron, I would have much more control over how my hair attached to the tool, and its higher heat would more effectively straighten (or curl) it how I typically like it.
The other tools, like the firm smoothing brush, did in fact smooth my hair, but it still had some waves and texture, so don't expect it to "straighten" your hair like a traditional high-heat straightener. That was less of a disappointment, since the Airwrap doesn't claim to straighten like a straightener, but I still prefer the result of a regular ol' straightener.
I have tightly coiled, thick hair, so I was doubtful that the Dyson Airwrap could do anything for me. It turns out that I was only half wrong. The Airwrap's firm smoothing brush attachment was the most useful tool. I brushed it through my hair from root to tip, and my hair got straighter with each pass of the Airwrap. Natural hair like mine can be deceptively delicate and prone to heat damage, but the Airwrap's was gentle on my strands while still being hot enough to straighten out my curls.
The Airwrap let me down when it came to curling the straightened hair into bouncy beach waves. (Yes, I realize it sounds weird to add curl to hair that was curly to begin with. The haircare struggle is real.). The Airwrap barrels had difficulty grabbing my hair to curl it, even after I had re-dampened it in the hope of helping the process. Once it did get a hold of my hair, the result was a sad imitation of what a curl should be. And the barrels barely did a thing to my hair when I hadn't straightened it beforehand with the firm smoothing brush attachment.
The Airwrap would make it easier to straighten my hair on the few occasions I do so. However, I would still need to use a curling iron to add some bounce. One of the Airwrap's biggest selling points is the fact that it doesn't use potentially damaging, high levels of heat. But for hair like mine, you have to pull out the big guns, and the Airwrap ain't it.
I have fine, straight hair and while Dyson's 1.2-inch barrel did achieve curls, they were wispy and it didn't quite grab the ends of my hair completely. The blowing air made it feel like I didn't have much control over how my hair attached to the tools. The small sections I had to work with made me feel like it would take a really long time to achieve a fully curled head of hair.
On the flip side, the soft smoothing brush and the round volumizing brush worked really well. My hair felt soft, voluminous and dried quickly. I can't see myself paying $550 for a kit with all these attachments when I'd really only be interested in one or two. I can't even see myself paying $500 for a kit with just a few attachments, either. It did, however, really make me want to buy a $60 heated drying brush.
None of us had a great experience with the Dyson Airwrap, and regardless of what it claims, it didn't ultimately make it easier for us to style our hair. Yes, the Airwrap uses lower heat than many styling tools, but sometimes you need higher heat to achieve the result you want. The "auto-wrapping" curling barrels were a disappointment, too, since they didn't do a great job grabbing any of our hair consistently.
The Airwrap is a neat concept with promising claims, but it fell far short of expectations. For $550 that isn't good enough.
Ashlee Clark Thompson and Molly Price contributed to this review.