Is this $600 wet-to-dry ghd styler really worth the hype?

In the maelstrom of TikTok, Reddit and YouTube reviews, finding, researching and selecting a big-ticket item can be overwhelming. Our “Worth the Hype?” series aims to cut through the noise to deliver a comprehensive, independently chosen and ad-free product review.

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Key points

  • Pros: Combines drying and straightening in one tool, claims to minimise damage
  • Cons: Can’t achieve much wave or bounce, can be time consuming on thick hair

Confession: I hate washing and drying my hair – give me a basket of ironing any day of the week. Blessed as I am with a voluminous mane that kinks and frizzes the second it so much as sniffs precipitation, finding a solid straightening solution has been a constant since puberty. And now I’m a mum, anything that promises to streamline my beauty routine while a small human tugs at my leg for more snacks has my attention.

I first noticed the ghd Duet Style in my social media feeds at the tail end of summer, when a busy calendar of work events would dictate that I’d soon need to stop leaving my naturally wavy locks to air dry, and, you know, actually do my hair. Having owned a ghd straightener in my 20s, I knew the company made good quality hair tools. But, with a price tag of nearly $600, would the Duet Style make my life easier? I needed to know.

The $595 ghd Duet Style promises dry, straight hair without damage … but is it worth the price tag?Credit: Aresna Villanueva

A quick search will bring up a few wet-to-dry tools on the market but where ghd promises the Duet Style excels is that its technology, which uses hot air (at 150C) to dry the hair as the plates smooth it (120C), promises to minimise damage to the hair, if the styler is used according to the instructions. Which is to say, if you “pass” the same piece of hair through the styler four times, ghd promises your hair is just as healthy as if it air-dried. But what if, like me (that is, a fallible human), you occasionally veered off script? Well, read on.

What does the ghd Duet Style do?

Unlike other “smart tools” such as the Dyson Airwrap, the ghd Duet Style does not have a brush head. Instead, it has two flat paddles, more like your old-school straightener (ah, the comfort of familiarity). The paddles are divided into sections, with central air vents surrounded by the straightening plates. On dry hair, the Duet Styler, hence the name, can flick to straightener mode (at a hotter 185C) by hitting the “shine shot” button (warning: do not attempt to iron wet hair). But, let's face it, the promise of wet-to-sleek is why we're here.

A press of the “on” button – there are no varied temperatures or speeds, like other styling tools – starts up the motor, which pings when it’s ready to use. Using a decibel meter on my iPhone, I measured the Duet’s output at 75dB, about the same as a vacuum cleaner (by comparison, my Dyson Supersonic hair dryer also measured 75dB, while my Hot Tools drying brush measured 77dB on the highest setting).

The idea is you take small sections of wet hair (it takes some trial and error to nail the size) and run them through the paddles several times, until the section is dry and straight. Having some good sectioning clips will help. Also, it’s recommended to use a styling serum or oil, such as ghd’s Sleek Talker ($60).

Is the ghd Duet Style easy to use?

Sort of. The first time I use the Duet Style, it takes me 45 frustrating minutes to do my medium-length hair. I applied the oil, sectioned my hair and fired her up. Yes, it left the sections of hair pretty pin straight, but it definitely took more than four passes, and there was a fair bit of smoke in the bathroom by the time I finished, not to mention my left hand getting quite burnt from handling my heated hair over and over. (I later asked ghd about this; they suggested using a comb in your other hand, or, if you can, go hands-free, as I did on subsequent uses, and it worked OK.)

Queen of ‘glass hair’ … Gwyneth Paltrow, in 1996.Credit: Getty/Wireimage

Another very weird thing happened the first few times I used the Duet Style – I couldn’t stop clenching my teeth, possibly due to the vibration of the motor (this does not happen with any of my other styling tools). On my second go, post-haircut, I managed to finish the job in 30 minutes. Was my hair straight? Yes. Did the style last until the next morning? Better than my normal attempts at a “regular” blow wave. Did I enjoy the experience? Not totally.

What’s the most surprising thing about the ghd Duet Style?

Even though it looks like a hardcore straightener, and the paddles are quite large, it is possible to do some soft waves, but it pays to watch some tutorials online and practise, practise, practise. If you’re a devotee of pin-straight hair, a la Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1990s, then you are in luck.

Is the ghd Duet Style worth the cost?

One person’s hair holy grail is another’s hot mess. If you are the kind of person who is prepared to put the time into mastering the Duet Style, and that means fewer salon visits or minutes spent styling your hair, this may be a great investment that pays for itself in about 10 professional blow dries. If, however, you like to wear your hair curly or wavy, then the $600 price may seem just a bit steep. Given this is the first generation of the Duet Style, it’d be worth waiting to see if any improvements are made on the next iteration to make it more versatile, for the price.

The ghd Duet Style is available from Mecca for $595.

Every product review is purely editorial and independently chosen. The writer was loaned a ghd Duet Style unit for the purpose of this review.

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