The Dyson Airwrap Is A Breakthrough For Curly Hair

Photographed by Kara Birnbaum
My typical style is a classic twist-out.
I’ve murdered a lot of blowdryers in my 10 years with natural hair. The crime was never premeditated, but it keeps happening again and again, so I guess you could say I’m a serial hot tool killer. Here’s how it all goes down: I pull out my blowdryer from under the bed where it has been gathering dust and start smoothing my hair with the comb attachment, section by section. Before long, one of the prongs on the comb snaps off as I attempt to untangle my kinks. I take a deep breath and continue. A few more bristles break in half before the comb attachment pops off entirely and I'm forced to finish the job with a random hairbrush.
Once the ordeal is over, two hours later, I always ask myself: Why don’t brands make better blowdryers for girls with Afro hair? Currently, there aren't any luxury dryers on the market with attachments that cater to straightening coily hair. So, when Dyson unveiled its new Airwrap this fall, complete with four spinning curling wands, a mini version of its award-winning blowdryer, and two smoothing brushes, my ears perked up. The tool already has 52 five-star reviews on Sephora, and it would probably have more, but it's been sold out for weeks. However, I've yet to see a woman with Afro hair put it to the test.
From the jump, I assumed the fancy gadget wasn't going to work for me: I don't trust any hot tool that automatically sucks up hair because it's just one mechanical failure away from a bald spot, in my opinion. But the firm plastic bristles on the brush attachment looked like they could do the job of stretching and smoothing my 4B hair. So, I decided to test it out.
The Airwrap comes with two different smoothing brushes: soft and firm. I chose the firm brush, which “creates a straighter style with less frizz and flyaways,” according to the brand's site. One of Dyson's videos shows a woman with curly hair using the tool, but she has a soft 3B texture, which is a lot different than what I've got going on — so, TBH, I wasn't expecting much.
I started with freshly-washed, damp hair as the instructions suggested. Before getting out of the shower, I sectioned my hair into twists to keep it detangled. Starting in the very back, I sprayed my Rucker Roots Leave-In Heat Protectant all over before combing it through each section. Then, using the high heat, high fan setting, I worked the firm brush attachment through my ends, working my way up to the roots.
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Cruel
My hair after using the Dyson Airwrap.
From the first swipe, I could already tell that this tool was different. The heat coming through the bristles dried my hair while stretching my curls to maximum length. But unlike the flimsy combs of drugstore dryers, the bristles on the firm brush attachment were super strong and could easily take on my Afro hair, sliding through any tangles and snags seamlessly. I found the best method to getting good tension was to pull my hair taut and work the brush down the hair shaft slowly. I passed the brush over each section multiple times, twisting my hair in different directions to get all the angles. After a few passes, my hair was stretched past my shoulder blades (OK, hang time!).
However, I still needed more straightening at the roots (curly girls know that is the hardest place to get laid). So, I decided to give the round volumizing attachment a try. Usually, I steer clear of round brushes because my hair gets super tangled and knotty when it's wrapped around the brush. But, in this case, the soft bristles allowed me to get much closer to my roots for maximum smoothing. Switching out the two brush heads was very easy. There’s a button on the back of the dryer that you use to unlock the current brush head and snap in the new one. Just be careful because the tool is hot, and while the round brush has a cool-touch tip, the firm brush definitely does not.
By the time I finished one side of my head, I noticed my hair was starting to frizz up again (granted, that could be because I was sweating from all the hot air in my window-less bathroom). So, I went back over the entire section with the round brush on a cool setting to lock everything in.
The entire process took about an hour and a half, which shaved 30 minutes off my normal drying time. No bristles were harmed, and no brush heads hit the floor. Some of the pet peeves I have about other blowdryers — like my arms getting tired or the tool getting so hot that my hair is literally smoking — I didn’t experience with the Airwrap. Overall, it was as easy to use as a hair brush, and it got the job done. My hair was just as smooth as when I use another comb attachment, but a lot less fried thanks to the tool's temperature gauge.
I can definitively say that the Airwrap is much better than any other blowdryers I've tried. When I sent a video of the results to a friend with curls, she was shocked that I was able to get my hair so straight with just a blowdryer. And while I would still need to flatiron, braid, or wrap my hair before leaving the house, this tool gave me an ideal starting point.
appearance by Jessica Cruel.
Can the Dyson Airwrap handle Afro hair? Yes. Would I use it again? Yes. Is it worth the $549 for the full set that includes both brush attachments? That depends on who's asking. Since I only blowdry my hair once or twice a year, I could go to the salon for a full silk press and trim for the same price. But if you blow out your natural hair on a regular basis, I would say this is a great investment. And, at the very least, it’s good to know that there is a luxury blowdryer that can work with any hair texture.
Check out the Dyson Airwrap, which won a 2018 Beauty Innovator Award in the Hot Tools category, in action in the video above — then head over to our awards page to see the rest of the winners.
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