Tom's Guide Verdict
The Shark FlexStyle offers a relatively affordable option as a multi-hair styler, especially when compared to the Dyson Airwrap, although its price point will still put a decent dent in your funds. Despite that, you get a well designed and versatile multi-styler with plenty of attachments, so it’s well worth the investment if you want an easy way to style your own hair.
Cheaper than its Dyson counterpart
Hair dryer and styling wand in one
Good selection of styling attachments
Separate left and right barrels for curling
Bulky carry case
As loud as a typical hair dryer
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The Shark FlexStyle is advertised with one goal in mind — a hairstyler for “all hair kind”. And the FlexStyle delivers on that promise with a versatile and easy-to-use gadget that comes with a variety of attachments offering an affordable rival to Dyson’s Airwrap.
The two companies have been competitors for a long time, with Shark in the US nipping at the heels of UK’s Dyson with vacuums since the early 2000s. And the FlexStyle is no different, taking a few notes from Dyson’s first-generation Airwrap — using two curling barrels (for each side of the head) that Dyson has since combined into one.
Just like the Airwrap, the Shark FlexStyle also uses air to reduce the amount of heat being applied to your hair. It can also be transformed into a hairdryer with a simple twist at the end of the styling wand, and it comes with attachments to suit both modes. The included attachments differ according to the country you’re buying it in and the bundle options available in that location. That said, a selection of brushes and a diffuser are included as standard no matter where you are, helping it to stand apart from its Dyson counterpart.
The inclusion of the diffuser shows that Shark is taking its claim for “all hair kind” seriously. Most of the included attachments available with the FlexStyle are well suited for straight or wavy hair, but natural curls are typically lost when using the paddle brush or curling barrels, so adding a diffuser into the mix is a great inclusion, especially as the Airwrap doesn’t offer one at all.
It also one-ups the Dyson Airwrap in price across all regions, with the Shark FlexStyle’s starting cost making it a much more affordable multi-styler in the US, UK and Australia.
Shark FlexStyle review: price and availability
Initially launched back in August 2022 in the US, the Shark FlexStyle has been steadily making its way around the globe, coming to the UK not long after its initial launch, and finally hitting the Australian market in June 2023.
The Shark FlexStyle’s rose gold and a black/pink swatches are available in all regions, and there’s a limited edition copper/black version that’s only available in the US. All color options are available directly from the Shark website for each region, and there’s a number of third-party sellers that also stock the FlexStyle in the US, UK and Australia.
For the US and the UK, prices start at $279.99 / £269.99 for the build-your-own bundle, which comes with up to four accessories of your choice. From there prices go to $299.99 / £279.99 with the unit and a number of pre-selected attachments, and then $349.99 / £299.99 when buying it bundled along with the carry case. The US also has a $319.99 bundle option that includes the FlexStyle and six attachments.
In Australia, there’s only one pricing option at this time, and the AU$499 set comes with six attachments (including the two curling barrels), a carry case and the styling wand/dryer itself.
When compared to the current model of the Dyson Airwrap, which had a launch price of $599.99 / £479.99 / AU$949, the Shark FlexStyle’s starting price is hard to argue against. It’s important to note that Dyson’s second version combined the two barrels into one that can switch directions, so while the Airwrap and FlexStyle come with a similar number of attachments, Dyson’s curling barrels are two attachments built into one. That might offer a bit more value for your money, but it's still a steep difference of $300 / £200 / AU$450.
Regardless, the price of the Shark FlexStyle is still a fair bit of money to invest in a hairstyling tool, and it’s value is there if it’s something that’s used regularly. However, for something more affordable that will dry and brush out your hair at once, the Revlon One-Step is a good alternative, priced at just $60 / £49.99 / AU$99, but it doesn’t offer the styling ability of its more expensive counterparts.
Shark FlexStyle review: specifications
|From $279.99 / £269.99 / AU$499
|700g / 1.54lb (styler itself)
|285mm / 11.2 inches in length
|2.8m / 9.19ft
|Accessories included with test unit
|Left & right curling barrels, diffuser, oval brush, paddle brush, styling concentrator and carry case
Shark FlexStyle review: design
Since the Shark FlexStyle uses hot air to reduce the amount of heat applied when styling, its wand is a tube that allows said air to flow from the bottom of the device to the top through small vents. All the controls you need are within easy reach of your thumb, placed along the length of the wand. These include its on/off switch — which is a sliding button — plus three other one-press buttons for heat settings, airflow control and a short blast of cool air.
Where Shark’s FlexStyle really stands apart from the Dyson Airwrap is in its flexible design. While the Airwrap’s styling wand is rigid, the FlexStyle’s can swivel into an L-shape, turning into a traditional hair dryer. It’s a really simple design, with a small switch that you’ll need to hold down to lock the wand into its dryer mode. This eliminates any accidental swaps when you’re drying or styling.
A similar switch is also used to lock the attachments in place when you want to style your hair. Of the six included with our test unit, four are suitable for use when in styling wand mode and two can be used in dryer mode, though the hairdryer can be used without any attachments if necessary. Attaching any of these is easy — they just require a simple twist at the top of the tube.
All the attachments have cool-touch locations, so if you need to swap between them mid-styling, you won’t have to wait for them to cool down. This is especially handy for the curling barrels, which you need to swap between if you want your curls to alternate directions on opposite sides of your head. Shark’s competitor Dyson has since perfected the curling barrels so they can rotate in different directions on the one attachment, but FlexStyle still uses the two-barrel design Dyson originally used back when the first Airwrap was first released in 2018.
Overall, it’s a well designed multi-styler — it’s not too heavy at 700g (compared to 610g for the Airwrap), but it feels like a quality build with a rose-gold finish to its outer plastic shell. The power cord is also a good length of 2m, offering plenty of room to move while styling, and it never got in the way while we were testing the styler. On the other hand, the Airwrap’s cord is a little longer at 2.68m.
The only concern we can anticipate in the long run is wear and tear of the clips that hold the attachments in place. We’ve been testing the FlexStyle for about two months now and we’re yet to see any evidence of this happening, however, it might be something to watch out for. And this issue isn’t unique to the Shark FlexStyle — any multi-styler with clip-in attachments will likely be prone to wear and tear after long-term use.
Our test unit also came with a storage case, which initially had cardboard inserts to hold each attachment in place. It’s nicely designed, with a faux leather exterior and soft-lined interior. As nice as it looks, it’s rather bulky and will require some dedicated space somewhere to stow away. That said, if you remove the cardboard inserts, you’ll get plenty of space to add in clips, brushes and other styling tools you already own that you might like to keep with the Shark FlexStyle.
Shark FlexStyle review: performance
Before diving into the performance of the styler, it’s best to mention that this review is based on the Shark FlexStyle being used on very thick, long hair (mid-back length) that is dyed, damaged and straight.
Handily, each attachment included with the Shark FlexStyle is clearly explained in a styling guide that’s included with the machine. It breaks down the suggested temperature, airflow, length of use, and additionally has hints and tips for styling that are easy to follow and incredibly useful, especially for beginners.
As such, this made the learning curve for using the autowrap curlers a lot smaller. It explained that the curlers worked best on small sections of damp hair, and what end length to leave for the curlers to pull in. Once that curve was overcome, using those curling barrels took only around 20 minutes to style hair that would normally take upwards of an hour with a hair straightener to add in the same curls.
Like the Airwrap, the air around the FlexStyle’s curlers pulls in the tip of the hair and wraps the length of it to the 240mm barrel — all I needed to do was keep it upright and move it slightly close to my face across 10 seconds for each section of hair. The cool-shot button helped to set the curls, though I found that hairspray is required to get some decent longevity out of the style. This may not be the case for every person — use of additional products will depend on the hair type.
The curling barrels easily got the most use during our testing period, being used to style hair in both up-dos and while down and flowy. They added bounce to otherwise flat hair, and worked well with both side and middle partings, so long as I used the correct curler for each side of my head.
Alongside the curler barrels are two brushes — one paddle and one round. Both feature long plastic teeth as well as finer bristles that can handle knots with ease, whether the hair was wet or dry. This meant that we could get out of the shower and have my hair dried and styled with a smooth and straight or voluminous style within 15 minutes. This method, however, doesn’t avoid flyaways.
To avoid flyaways, the styling concentrator was fantastic, mimicking the concentrated air you’d get from Dyson’s Coanda smoothing dryer attachment. However, unlike Dyson’s attachment, it’s not a barrel, so it only smooths hair by pressing the flyaways down with a blast of hot air.
The one attachment that couldn’t be thoroughly tested was the diffuser, as while it’ll help straight or wavy hair dry with some natural-looking waves, it’s best observed on curly hair.
It’s important to note that during our testing, most of these attachments either used the highest or second-highest heat setting to style hair. So there’s still a considerable amount of heat being applied, and it’s recommended to still use a heat protective spray, especially when using the curling barrels or the styling concentrator.
Across all three levels of air flow and in both wand and dryer modes, the Shark FlexStyle emits a high-pitched noise that is about as loud as any other hair dryer. It’s not a comfortable sound at all, but given how quickly it styles hair, we didn’t have to listen to it for long, but it could disturb other members of the household or even your neighbors.
If the sound doesn’t bother you, then we can honestly say that theShark FlexStyle does everything it says on the tin and offers performance that’s well worth the money you pay for it.
Shark FlexStyle review: verdict
Shark’s entry into the hairstyling game might have taken some… OK, a lot of notes from Dyson, but the FlexStyle offers it at a fraction of the cost. Promoting hair diversity with a selection of attachments that match that message, the Shark FlexStyle is a well designed multi-styler that will cut down the time spent on styling hair. Coming with clear instructions and styling tips, it’s a hair tool that can be used by both beginners and professionals to achieve styles at home in less time.
The design and quality of the Shark FlexStyle is also fantastic, offering a versatile unit that is easy to use with simple snap-in attachments. While it uses an old two-barrel attachment design for its curlers – that has since been improved on by the Dyson Airwrap – and it’s got an awful high-pitched noise that is hard to ignore, it’s a big first step for Shark in the hair styling arena.
Petra mainly writes for TechRadar, but will sometimes be found contributing for Tom's Guide. She's got a keen eye for a bargain, and is especially interested in finding the best deals on gaming hardware. Outside of work, you can find her watching sci-fi movies, playing games on her Nintendo Switch or crocheting.