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Dyson Airstrait hair straightener
Photograph: Dyson

Review: Dyson Airstrait Straightener

The wet-to-dry flat iron is an investment, but the time it saves you and your arms is worth every penny.
Dyson Airstrait Straightener
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No heat plates. Lower heat options. Multiple styling settings. Cuts hair routine in half. Can be used on wet or dry hair. Dries and straightens. Has an Auto-Standby mode.
Expensive. Might not work with all hair types. Controls can be confusing.

It's no secret that Dyson has been dominating the hair care space—proving itself three times over with the fast-drying Supersonic blow dryer, the futuristic Corrale flat iron, and the versatile Airwrap (all received high scores from WIRED). I'm constantly trying to persuade everyone around me to invest in at least one of them. A couple of years ago, I bought my mom the Supersonic for Mother’s Day. Last year, I convinced my friends to pool our money together to buy the Corrale for our best friend's 30th birthday.

But when Dyson announced the Airstrait, its wet-to-dry flat iron, I had my doubts. Perhaps it's because I'm still scarred from my Croc Wet to Dry Flat Iron from middle school. It's been over a decade, but I can still clearly hear the sizzle from my wet hair being clamped between the heat plates—resulting in crunchy, damaged strands with each pass. So, you can understand my apprehension toward the Airstrait.

I was slightly relieved to see that it's more of a hair dryer-straightener combo. Instead of squeezing your wet hair between hot plates, it uses airflow to dry and straighten your hair. Still, I wasn't completely convinced. My mix of wavy, curly, and coarse hair requires as much heat as possible to avoid looking frizzy and puffy. And that $500 price tag doesn't help. But as with the company's previous hair tools, I should've known. After only two attempts, I was ready to throw my blow dryer and flat iron in the trash.

Divide and Conquer
Photograph: Dyson

With no heat plates, you're probably wondering how the Airstrait works. Located along both arms of the device are 1.5-mm gaps. Airflow travels via the motor, splits into both arms, and accelerates through the gaps to create two high-velocity downward blades of air. At a 45-degree angle, those blades merge to create one focused jet of air that moves downward to straighten the hair as it dries—resulting in a natural, smooth finish.

In addition to watching your hair dry, you'll also hear the Airstrait working. With the ability to sense when the hair is clamped within the device, it automatically increases airflow. Once your hair is out, it immediately decreases it, like a Dyson vacuum that increases suction when it senses dirt or switches floor type. It also has intelligent heat control to regulate airflow temperature 30 times per second, so it'll never exceed the temp you set.

The Airstrait has diffusers (the gold pieces that stick out from the side) that help keep the air flowing onto your hair instead of onto you. As someone with sensitive skin, I'm always left with a lot of redness after blow-drying my hair. Regardless of how high the heat setting is, I don't experience irritation with the Airstrait. The diffusers are removable, making it easy to clean away any product, like a heat protectant, that may build up over time.

To set the temperature, there's a digital color display to see what mode you're on and buttons underneath to cycle through each setting. Choose from two main styling modes—wet and dry—and three temperature settings for each. With wet mode, you'll have the choice of 175, 230, or 285 degrees Fahrenheit. In dry mode, you can pick between 250 degrees, 285 degrees, and boost mode. You can alternate between low-flow and high-flow speed settings as well. There's also the option for a cool mode, which helps set the style.

If you couldn't tell, there are a lot of ways to customize the Airstrait, which is great! It means there are multiple options for different types of hair. Each button is labeled intuitively, with a red for heat, a blue for cool mode, a raindrop icon for wet hair mode, etc. But I find myself staring at the controls for longer than I'd like to, trying to remember how to get to certain settings. Dyson could have made the display bigger and merged a few of the buttons instead. I highly recommend tapping through all the menus first, so you're familiar with each one.

My favorite feature of all is auto-pause. Minor, but essential, it pauses the machine if it's inactive for more than three seconds and starts up again when you move it. It's ideal for the handful of times I set the tool down to stop and separate sections of my hair or check my phone. More importantly, it keeps the tool from blowing everything away on my bathroom counter.

Wet and Wild
Photograph: Dyson

I hate styling my hair out of the shower, because it takes me forever (40 to 45 minutes). I usually end up going to bed with wet hair and straightening it in the morning. But styling your hair when it's wet is healthier. As Dyson explained during the demo of the Airstrait, when the hair is wet the hydrogen bonds are naturally weakened—making your hair more malleable and easier to reshape. The more moisture, the less heat is required.

The first time I used the Airstrait, I tried it on towel-dried hair. But it's worth noting that, although my hair is short (just above my shoulders), it's also thick and holds a lot of moisture. So, I'd say my hair was definitely more wet than damp. In an attempt to really put it through its paces, I decided to for the lowest heat settings (175 degrees Fahrenheit, and low-fan mode).

I immediately regretted it. I was able to dry my roots and ends quickly thanks to the lock feature, which allows you to shut the Airstrait's arms in place to use as a rough dryer. I held it at the root and end of each chunk of hair for a few seconds (the same way I would with a standard hair dryer) before straightening it. But the rest of my hair was still damp even after multiple passes between the arms. It simply wasn't working. But I know my hair. I set my flat iron to a whopping 450 degrees every time—so I should've gone for the highest settings to begin with.

So, I powered that bad boy up to 285 degrees, set the fan on high, and watched as it dried and straightened a chunk of hair with just two passes. I continued, passing the Airstrait twice through each piece of hair for about six seconds. In total, it only took me 12 minutes to get through all my hair.

It still looked slightly puffy for my liking, so I switched to dry mode (at 285 degrees) and spent another five minutes quickly flattening my hair a bit—leaving me with a smooth and voluminous blowout. I was so shocked at how well it worked that I proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes showing my hair off to everyone in my household and telling them this was the product of the Airstrait.

But just because it works on my short locks doesn't mean it's going to work on all hair types. Dyson stresses that it designed the Airstrait for multiple hair types, so I enlisted the help of WIRED product reviewer Medea Giordano. She tested the Airstrait on what she describes as “very coarse and dry” hair. It's also much curlier than mine.

It didn't do much for her hair when it was wetter, but it worked well on her slightly damp and dry hair—particularly the bottom layer that's coarse and wiry. She was also thrown off by the large amount of steam that came from her unit while using it. (Update May 19, 2023: We reached out to the company and Dyson has clarified that steam is normal for wet-to-dry styling. As the hair is drying, it's releasing moisture.)

Regardless, she prefers the RevAir Reverse-Air Dryer (9/10, WIRED Recommends) for wet to dry hair. Even though it leaves her hair a bit puffier, it's faster and dries larger sections. But the Airstrait does a better job of smoothing it when her hair is damp or dry.

Big Money

If you have a solid flat iron and hair dryer that you use regularly, it's tough to justify dropping $500 on tools you already own. But for those who dread styling their hair because it takes too long, or are constantly complaining about how damaged their hair feels from applying so much heat to it regularly, then the Airstrait is a worthwhile investment.

If you still can't justify that price, there's also the aforementioned RevAir Reverse-Air Dryer. At $399, it's expensive, but it's also better for thicker hair—with seven tension settings and two heat settings (158 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit). There's also the more affordable Drybar Straight Shot Blow-Drying Flat Iron for $180. It's better for thinner hair, and you'll most likely have to use a straightener afterward to flatten it out, but it'll at least replace your blow dryer.

I, on the other hand, will be sticking with the Airstrait. Even though Dyson sent me a review unit, I would—without a doubt—drop my own money on this solely for the amount of time it saves me. I typically have to allocate a full hour to showering and styling my hair. Now I'm done in about 25 minutes. The peace of mind it brings me is worth every penny. It's also a relief that I no longer have to apply as much heat to my hair with a flat iron to achieve a salon-style look.

Best of all, it's officially helped me overcome my fear of wet-to-dry straighteners. Thank you Dyson, I'm sorry I ever doubted you.