T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer review

The T3 Featherweight StyleMax holds plenty of promise, but doesn't always deliver.

Apr 27, 2024 - 02:45
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T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer review

T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer: two-minute review

The T3 Featherweight StyleMax is a, tech-packed hair dryer from the innovative LA-based haircare brand. It comes with four nozzles included, and offers custom heat and speed automation. It's powered by T3's Digital IonAir technology, which combines an ion generator, smart chip and custom fan to deliver fast drying times and reduce frizz. This is meant to result in efficient and hair-friendly drying, with less heat damage. I tested one out to see how it compares to the rest of today's best hair dryers. Does it live up to the brand's promises? 

Unfortunately, not quite.  It dries hair relatively quickly, depending on the Style Mode and attachment, but these drying times aren't exceptional. The Styling Concentrator attachment delivered the best results on my fine hair, giving me a sleek and bouncy style without compromising too much on drying speed. 

The Diffuser also performed well, enhancing my natural curls with volume and body. However, the Smoothing Comb didn't work as well as I'd expected and hoped, and I often burned my scalp while using it. A problem I experienced much more with the T3 Featherweight StyleMax that I have with any other dryer I've used in the past. Similarly, the attachments have a tendency to become excessively hot during use, making it difficult to change mid-style, or even rotate the best angle. Elsewhere, the Volume Boost made very little difference. More's the pity. And while the Style Modes are useful and versatile, they can be difficult to master and a little confusing.

Despite these issues, the T3 Featherweight StyleMax has several things going for it. The Cool Shot button is great for locking styles in place and you don't have to press and hold it like you do on so many of its rivals. The hair dryer's overall performance also led to softer, healthier-looking hair over time. 

Overall, the T3 Featherweight StyleMax is a mixed bag. It offers a range of advanced features and attachments that make it versatile and appealing for various hair styling needs. Yet, its performance and design quirks put me off from using this as my everyday hair dryer. Instead, I'll likely reserve it for special occasions when I have extra time to complete my style. 

T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer review: price & availability

  • List price: $199 / £170 for Featherweight StyleMax + 4 attachments
  • Available in the US and UK

Price-wise, the Featherweight StyleMax is at the top end of T3's hair dyer range, sitting alongside the T3 Aireluxe with a list price of $199.99 / £170. That puts it in TechRadar's upper-mid price bracket.

There’s an impressive amount of tech built into the Featherweight and this, coupled with its wide range of features and attachments (it comes with four) goes some way towards justifying its cost. The performance falls a little short of what I’d expect for that amount of money, but you can’t really put a price on healthy hair so if you can afford it, it’s not a bad investment. In TechRadar's T3 AireLuxe review, that model gained 4.5*, and at the same price it's hard not to recommend that as a better place to put your money... although it's true that model doesn't come with so many functions and settings.

The Featherweight is significantly cheaper than high-end models like the Zuvi Halo and Dyson Supersonic, and on par with older premium dryers like GHD Air and the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium range.

You can buy the Featherweight StyleMax in the US and UK directly from the T3 website. It's also available via Amazon and Ulta in the US, and Amazon and Beauty Bay in the UK. 

  • Value for money score: 3.5 out of 5

T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer review: design

  • Five heat modes + Cool shot
  • Volume Boost button
  • Customizable presets for different hair types

The design of the T3 Featherweight StyleMax is a cross between the traditional, long-barrel hair dryers of old with the shorter, more compact shape of modern stylers, like the Dyson Supersonic and Zuvi Halo. It measures 7.6 x 2.9 x 11.2 in / 193 mm x 740 mm x 284 mm (W x D x H) and weighs 1.04lbs / 471g without any nozzles attached, and not including the chunky, 2.7m / 9ft cord. 

If you're looking for something to travel with, this probably isn't it – it's a bit bulky for slinging into a suitcase. The brand does have a travel-sized option that might be better for frequent flyers – head to TechRadar's T3 Afar review for more on that one.

Included with the Featherweight are four attachments: a Drying Concentrator, for rough drying your hair; a Styling Concentrator that smoothes as it styles; the SoftTouch 3 Diffuser for adding volume and definition to curls and waves; and a Smoothing Comb designed to lift roots, or stretch and detangle curls and coils. 

T3 Featherweight hair dryer with attachments

(Image credit: Future)

The design of the Featherweight StyleMax is a blend of traditional and modern, and looks like an elongated version of the T3 Fit hair dryer – the brand's compact option. There's a choice of three colors – white, graphite, and satin blush. I reviewed the white model, which has rose gold accents around both the grill at the front of the barrel, and the filter on the rear. The dryer is largely made from plastic with metal on the grill, and rubber at the bottom of the handle where it joins the cord. I'm not a fan of the bubble-like curved barrel. It doesn't look bad, but it does feel a bit cartoon-like, which is a bit at odds with the higher asking price. 

Technology-wise, the Featherweight StyleMax uses the brand's Digital T3 IonAir Technology. This comprises an ion generator that 'saturates' a super-wide airstream, powered by a custom-designed fan. A smart chip then keeps the heat consistent. This ionic technology uses negative ions to break the water molecules on your hair into smaller particles that evaporate faster, and this is what helps to dry the hair quickly.

The majority of control buttons are then found on the rear of the handle, below the filter. These controls, in order from top to bottom, are as follows: 

  • Hair input indicator icon
  • Hair Input and Style Mode selection button
  • Heat settings
  • Speed settings 
  • Power button 
  • Volume Booster  

Close up of buttons on T3 Featherweight hair dryer

(Image credit: Future)

Starting at the top, the hair input indicator icon consists of three wavy lines of increasing thickness. These each represent a different hair type ranging from fine on the left, to medium in the middle, and coarse on the right. You input your hair type using the Hair Input button and the corresponding wavy line will be illuminated. 

This Hair Input button then doubles up as the Style Mode selection button. Around the button are four icons which correspond to the four Style Modes. Moving clockwise from top left, these icons are: 

  • Rough Dry: for use with the Drying Concentrator.
  • Smooth: for use with either the Styling Concentrator and a paddle brush, or the Smoothing comb. 
  • Volume: for use with the Styling Concentrator and round brush.
  • Diffuse: for use with the diffuser.

The Drying Concentrator delivers a wide airflow to quickly, and roughly, dry your hair. The Styling Concentrator nozzle has a thinner outlet, compared to the Drying Concentrator, and this helps direct airflow onto individual sections. You can use this with a paddle brush to create smooth and sleek styles, or pair it with a round brush to create volume, body and bounce. 

The SoftTouch 3 Diffuser diffuses air to add volume and definition to curls, waves, and layered styles, while the Smoothing Comb directs the airflow through vented teeth to lift roots, smooth strands, and stretch and detangle curls and coils. These attachments all twist and lock easily into place on the grill.

When you select a Style Mode, the Featherweight will automatically select the most appropriate heat and speed settings to suit both the attachment, as well as your hair type and styling needs. At any point you can up the heat or drop the speed etc. manually using the standalone heat and speed buttons. 

T3 Featherweight hair dryer

(Image credit: Future)

These heat and speed buttons are each surrounded by indicator lights that correspond with the relevant settings. There are five thin light strips around the heat button, which correspond with the dryer's five heat settings. The speed button is encircled by three light strips which represent the Featherweight's low, medium and high speeds. 

The last button on the rear of the handle is the Volume Boost button. Pressing this boosts the speed and strength of the air flow to help you add volume into the hair and at the roots.  

And finally, the Cool Shot button is found under the grill on the front of the handle. The majority of the best hair dryers I've tested over the years require you to press and hold the Cool Shot button but once you've pressed the one on the T3 Featherweight it stays on until you turn it off. This is a small but hugely welcome addition. 

  • Design score: 4.5 out of 5

T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer review: performance

  • Switching modes can be confusing
  • Mixed styling results 
  • Often burned my scalp or hand 

To test the T3 Featherweight StyleMax, I trialled each mode and attachment in turn multiple times over the course of a month. I timed how long it took the hair dryer to dry my fine, long, naturally curly hair, and how well it created each of the promised styles. I also experimented with manually adjusting the settings to see how differences in temperature and speed impacted the results.

To get started with the dryer you need to input your hair type. Start by pressing the Power button. Then press and hold the Hair Input button and cycle through the three options until the correct hair type line is illuminated. Next, select your preferred Style Mode by pressing the selection button again until the corresponding icon is illuminated. It helps to have the relevant attachment connected before making this selection, but it's not necessary. 

T3 Featherweight hair dryer

(Image credit: Future)

Two seconds later the dryer will start. There is always a two-second delay when switching settings, so don't be alarmed if the dryer seemingly turns itself off and doesn't come back on straight away. The lights surrounding the heat and temperature buttons show which settings have been automatically selected. If you don't feel like the heat or speed is adequate you can manually change the settings, but this will disable whichever Style Mode you've chosen. 

It took an average of 4 minutes 58 seconds to dry my hair using the T3 Featherweight StyleMax without any nozzles connected. Despite being a rough dry, my hair was surprisingly soft and relatively frizz-free, compared to how it looks and feels when I rough-dry it with other hair dryers.  

Next up, it took 6 minutes 12 seconds to dry my hair using the Drying Concentrator with the Rough drying mode selected. My hair was soft with a small amount of frizz but I got frustrated with how long it took to reach this result. Especially as there was little difference compared to drying my hair without an attachment. For me, the Drying Concentrator adds very little to the dryer and I regularly found the speed too low for my needs. 

The Styling Concentrator produced the best results, without having to sacrifice too much on drying speed. It took 5 minutes 9 seconds to create a sleek style with my paddle brush, and 5 minutes 45 seconds to finish a bouncy blow dry with a large, round brush.

Concentrator nozzle on T3 Featherweight hair dryer

(Image credit: Future)

The diffuser works very well and my curls were soft and full of body and bounce, while the Smoothing Comb helped to add a small amount of volume when blow drying my hair straight, or when separating my curls. My biggest complaint about the Smoothing Comb is that I often burned my scalp while using it. 

In fact, I burned my scalp more while using the T3 Featherweight than I ever have during all of my years writing hair dryer reviews. Just as I regularly had to turn up the speed to achieve the power I wanted, I often had to turn down the heat, or be much more careful about how close the hairdryer got to my head during styling. 

Similarly, the attachments become too hot to touch during styling so you have to wait until they've cooled down to remove them. This makes it difficult to switch attachments mid-style. For example, if I want to create a blow dry with the Styling Concentrator and then add volume at the roots with the Smoothing Comb, I have to wrap a towel around my hand to remove the first nozzle before attaching the second. This isn't a major problem, but it is an inconvenience. 

Speaking of volume, this button doesn't seem to make a huge difference. It increases the speed of the airflow to give your hair and roots extra lift but I noticed very little difference between when it was enabled and when it wasn't. And considering my fine hair needs all the volume it can get, this was disappointing. 

Overall, none of the Style Modes or settings produced a ready-to-go finish. I still had to run straighteners over my hair to remove any of the remaining frizz. However my hair felt much softer than it does normally and by the end of the review period, it looked and felt healthier.

  • Performance score: 3.5 out of 5

Should I buy the T3 Featherweight StyleMax hair dryer?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

First reviewed: April 2024