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Review: Drybar Straight Shot Blow-Drying Flat Iron

Drybar's hybrid tool won't replace your straightener, but it can cut your routine in half for certain hair types.
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DryBar Straight Shot Blow Drying Flat Iron
Photograph: DryBar
Drybar Straight Shot Blow-Drying Flat Iron
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Has three different temperature settings. Uses gentle heat. Cuts time off hair routine. Works well with wavy hair, short and long. Replaces my hair dryer.
Doesn't replace my straightener. Tufted bristles accumulate debris. Can be tough to dry roots. Slight learning curve. Might not work on all hair types.

my wavy hair is only manageable when it's straightened. Every other method has failed at taming the unruliness. Letting it air-dry results in nice curlicues, but over time it gets super frizzy and knotted. It also sheds like crazy. Using a hair dryer gives me the same results as sticking my finger in an electrical socket. This is why my hair is usually in a ponytail or bun.

If I want to look somewhat presentable, I have no choice but to break out the straightening iron after I shower. But I have to complete a lot of steps before I can even think about heating it up: washing it, detangling it, blow drying it, and brushing it. The entire process usually takes me around 40 minutes (an hour on slower days). It's exhausting. I'm constantly looking for ways to cut down my routine—which includes constantly scouring the internet for new hair tools or products.

I was ecstatic when two-in-one devices like the Revlon One-Step hair dryer started to crop up. Due to my lack of hand-eye coordination, I've always struggled to use a round brush and hair dryer simultaneously to achieve the salon-style blowout. But I couldn't grasp the mechanics of the One-Step either. I returned to my previous routine, feeling defeated.

While scrolling through Drybar's website one day, I stumbled upon the Straight Shot Blow-Drying Flat Iron. A hairdryer and straightening iron hybrid, it packs the airflow of a blow dryer into the build of a flat iron. I was thrilled to find a multipurpose hair tool that would replace the two I already use regularly. Having used it for two months now, I can report that it doesn't replace my straightener, as I hoped it would, and there's a slight learning curve. But it helps me style my hair in record time.

Practice May Be Required
Photograph: DryBar

The Straight Shot is a lot larger than the 1-inch flat iron I'm accustomed to. It measures 4 inches on each side, while on the inside are two 1.25-inch wide titanium plates. The plates don't spring open automatically, though. Similar to a curling iron, there's a clamp you have to press down on to open the tool each time. It's different, but I like that it gives you the ability to open it as little or as wide as you need to, depending on how thick your hair is.

It works the same as a traditional flat iron. Simply section your hair, power it on, and clamp your hair in between the plates starting at the root. Then, slowly pull the hair tool down until you reach the ends, and repeat as necessary. If you're having flashbacks of witnessing your hair sizzle while using the wet-to-dry straighteners from the mid-2000s, you can rest assured the Straight Shot consists mostly of air vents placed strategically throughout. So, the heat plates are assisted by hot air.

Having gone through a lot of different flat irons over the years, all of which vary in plate size and heat settings. I assumed using the Straight Shot would feel similar to the ones I've used before—somewhat slim, lightweight, and ergonomic. And it is, for the most part. But I was slightly taken aback when I unboxed it to find a behemoth of a hair tool. It took a few tries before it started to feel intuitive.

If, like me, you consult TikTok before making purchases, you might notice that almost every video highlights how effortless the Straight Shot is. But I didn't have the easiest time in the beginning. The first time I used it, I ran into a bunch of issues. It was difficult to clamp my thick, long strands between the plates properly; the hot air was irritating my skin (caused by aiming it too close to my neck); and I couldn't fully reach my roots. This thing was too large and unwieldy. I was quickly losing hope.

But with my hair still damp, I soldiered on. Eventually, I figured out exactly how much hair to squeeze between the plates, the right temperature for my hair type, the proper pace when sliding the tool downard, and how many passes each piece needs to get the hair fully dry. I'm now at the point where the process feels automatic, but it required some patience to get there.

There are a couple of issues I couldn't fix, though. Since the hot air blows outward, there's really no way to keep it from blowing directly onto my neck and ears, regardless of how I angle it. I have very sensitive skin, so it leaves them super red and slightly irritated. Its large outer plates also make it difficult to reach my roots—specifically the bottom layer. I'll usually try and get it as close to the root as possible and hold it there for a bit longer than I do the rest of my hair.

Goodbye, Hair Dryer
Photograph: DryBar

For the past few months, I've been using the Straight Shot on my long locks (past my shoulders). But I've since chopped about six inches off and am now rocking a bob. I can confirm this tool works well on both lengths.

Drybar says the hair tool is good for wavy, curly, straight, and all hair types. But I'd say “all hair types” is a stretch. I have Type 2 hair—wavy, fine, frizzy, and coarse—which fits the type this tool is designed for. But it gives me more of a voluminous blowout than pin-straight hair, despite being part flat iron. And that's on the highest temperature setting.

You'll have the choice between cool, medium, and high temperature settings. But in an effort to reduce heat damage, it only goes up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. I crank up my blow dryer to high and my flat iron to 450 degrees, so I was skeptical this would work. But it's just hot enough. If your hair is similar to mine, or even thicker, you should keep it on high. Otherwise, you might not see any results at all, or it will take an eternity to dry.

It also packs Ionic Technology—which is meant to reduce frizz and shine while styling—and nylon tufted bristles around each plate that the company says “provide the perfect amount of tension to create an enhanced straightening effect.” I still need my flat iron to smooth over the puffiness and flyaways (depending on the look I want to achieve), and I'm not sure the tufted bristles do much other than snag my hair. And OK, I know that bristles are supposed to lift dead hair and skin cells off my scalp, but it's still gross to watch it build up.

I do, however, feel like my hair looks and feels healthier. This could be because I'm washing it regularly, since it doesn't take me as long. With damp hair, I'm done styling in about 10 to 15 minutes. With towel-dried hair, it takes me a little over 20 minutes. So it does cut my styling time in half. But it could also be because I'm not applying nearly as much heat to it.

Weigh Your Options

If your hair is really thick, the RevAir Reverse-Air Dryer (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is a better alternative. It's more expensive, at $399, but the vacuum-style machine packs features that might be more suitable for you—including seven tension settings and two heat settings (158 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit). It also has small openings to dry your scalp and dries the rest of your hair with air downwards to prevent frizz.

There's also the Dyson Airstrait (8/10, WIRED Recommends) for $500. It has no hot plates and dries only with hot air, so it's a great option if you're worried about heat damage. It also comes with a wet and dry mode, so you can use it as a blow-dryer and flat iron simultaneously with wet hair or dry hair. It works a lot better on my thicker hair, and the ability to switch to dry mode has completely eliminated the need for my straightener. But it's very expensive.

If you're still leaning toward the Straight Shot, it's worth reiterating that unless you have thinner hair, it most likely won't give you the same stick-straight look as a flat iron. It did, however, give me the same blowout I get with a round brush and hairdryer in about half the time. If you go with this option, I'd still hold on to your flat iron. But at least you'll be able to part ways with your blow dryer.