It garners praise not only for its versatility but also for detangling without damaging hair. It feels sturdy and can be used on wet or dry hair and short to long lengths.
The design is unique and some first-time users are surprised by how it feels in their hand versus other products.
Sports a design that's built for detangling wet hair without pulling with its paddle shape and flexible bristles. Works well for brushing out wigs. Customer service is responsive.
Bristles don't hold up well when brushing heavy, thick hair. They also have a tendency to bend. Though you can use it on dry hair, it's not as effective as others for this purpose.
Consumers who love natural products will appreciate this hairbrush for its authentic bamboo handle and boar bristles. Works on long and short hair; reduces frizz.
Pricey. The bristles are somewhat short, but some users prefer this. Not the best choice for wet hair. Tends to make hair look "flat," others are better at creating volume.
Made by a company recognized for making quality hair-care products, the Conair has rounded nylon bristles, soft ridged handle, and middle-of-the-road size that's ideal for everyday use and travel.
Bristles are slightly stiff, and a few may occasionally fall out. You don't get to choose the color you get.
An excellent choice for adding body and styling with a hair dryer thanks to its round design, natural boar bristles, and nano ionic technology that smooths hair and reduces frizz.
Falls on the higher end of the price scale, and isn't practical for basic brushing needs. It may be too large for shorter hair lengths. Occasionally sheds bristles.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whether it’s thick or fine, wavy or straight, blonde or brunette, every head of hair needs at least an occasional taming with a brush. You might wield your brush as a styling tool in partnership with your blow dryer, or just use it to remove tangles and smooth down your mane, but either way, a good brush can make the difference between a cloud of frizz and a cascade of silky locks.
Choosing a hairbrush, however, can be an exercise in frustration. Round brushes, vented brushes, paddle brushes... which do you need? And how about bristles? Are natural or synthetic better? And then there’s the handle, weight, and size.
It’s enough to make you give up in disgust and simply reach for the least expensive brush on the drugstore shelf!
But don’t give up; we’re here to help simplify the decision!
If you just want to get your hair under control as quickly as possible, check out our five recommendations and read why they made the cut.
But if you’d like to learn more about hairbrushes in general, including how to choose and use the right one for your hair type and style, then read on.
While there are seemingly endless types of hairbrushes for sale, most fall into one of the following five general categories.
These are used for detangling, smoothing, and adding shine to the hair. Some are completely flat, while others have a slight “cushion.” Large, rectangular paddle brushes are best for long hair, while shorter locks do best with smaller, oval-shaped paddle brushes. Both wooden and plastic paddle brushes are easily available, with many different types of bristles.
These are usually plastic, though you’ll also find wooden vented brushes. Most have plastic bristles. The brush’s head has open grooves in between the bristles, which allows easy airflow from your hairdryer. Vented brushes are used for styling or to speed up the blow-drying process.
Teasing brushes are easier on your hair than teasing combs. A good one has natural bristles in different heights, making it easy to grab onto hair and tease without damaging the strands.
Whatever type of brush you choose, its bristles should be long enough to reach all the way through your hair to your scalp. This helps spread your natural oils along the hair shaft and also boosts the health of your scalp.
These coax loose curl into your hair when combined with heat from a blow dryer. You’ll find a wide range of sizes: the smaller the round brush, the tighter the curl. Round brushes probably have more variations than any other type of hairbrush: they can be made of wood or plastic; have bristles that are natural, synthetic or a mixture of both; can have ceramic or metal plating to warm up the brush for increased styling power; and some even have rotating heads to make styling easier. For most people, proper use of a round brush has a bit of a learning curve, no matter what features it has.
Styling Brushes have rounded heads, but are not fully circular like a round brush. This makes them ideal for styling, adding lift, or encouraging a slight wave. There are wooden and plastic styling brushes, and a wide range of bristle types and configurations, but most have stiff synthetic bristles arranged in rows.
These have a thin head, and as the name suggests, are for teasing hair to add a bit of volume. You’ll find both boar and synthetic bristles, although boar bristles are easier on your hair.
If round brushes always seem to end up tangled in your hair, choose a brush with a blend of plastic and boar bristles, not just metal or nylon. The increased fullness will help keep your hair from tangling in the bristles.
There are four common types of hairbrush bristles.
These are from hogs, or boars. Boar bristles are soft, flexible, and gentle on even delicate hair. This type of bristle spreads oils down the hair shaft, increasing the shine of your mane. Because each individual boar hair is rather flimsy, brushes with natural bristles generally either have very densely packed boar bristles, or have synthetic bristles surrounded by boar hair for increased styling ability.
Genuine boar bristle brushes tend to be expensive. Boar bristles are best for straight, fine, delicate, or children’s hair.
These aren’t as common as natural or nylon bristles, and are normally tipped with a ball of nylon or plastic to prevent scratches to the scalp or damage to the hair shaft.
Metal bristles work for detangling coarse or curly locks. They are also frequently used in wig or hairpiece brushes.
If your hairbrush has ball tips on the bristles, and a ball falls off, it’s time for a new brush. Exposed bristles can scratch your scalp or damage your hair.
They can be nylon, plastic, or rubber – but nylon is most common. This is the most popular category of hairbrush bristle. You’ll find hairbrushes with soft and flexible synthetic bristles that are good for smoothing hair, brushes with stiff, widely spaced synthetic bristles that are useful for detangling wet or curly hair, and brushes with closely spaced synthetic bristles for use while styling or waving hair. Synthetic-bristle brushes are generally fairly inexpensive.
Depending on how thick the bristles are and how closely packed on the brush head, synthetic bristle brushes can work on any type of hair, but are especially good for thick or coarse locks.
No, they aren’t actually from porcupines; that’s just the term frequently used to describe combination bristles – nylon in the middle surrounded by tightly packed boar bristles. This gives you the best of both worlds: the smoothing power of boar with nylon’s ability to penetrate thick hair.
Porcupine bristles are suitable for just about any type of hair, but are especially good for normal to thick manes.
As a general rule, the curlier your hair, the further apart the bristles on your brush. Tightly packed bristles tend to encourage frizz and break up the natural curl pattern.
While the most important considerations when choosing a brush are its bristles and its type, there are other features that add to a brush’s benefits.
These brushes have widely spaced synthetic bristles, and are designed to safely remove tangles from wet hair.
A specialty bristle that is hard to find, widely spaced wooden bristle brushes gently remove snags and snarls from curly hair without breaking up the curl pattern or adding frizz.
Some brushes have a bit of cushion in the portion of the head holding the bristles. This gives the bristles a little bit of give, making the brush easier on your scalp and hair.
Found on most metal and many synthetic bristles, a small “ball” at the bristle’s tip protects your hair and scalp.
Looking to add volume or waves to stick-straight hair? Choose a metal or ceramic-based round brush that’s large enough to create a couple of bends in your hair’s length. This shouldn’t be a daily routine, however – too much heat can eventually damage your locks.
A feature found in some round brushes is a ceramic barrel. The barrel is the portion of the brush head that holds the bristles. When made of ceramic – another option is metal – the barrel heats up a bit under the blast of your blow dryer, helping mold waves and gentle curls in your hair.
Travel brushes are generally quite small, and fold in half for easy storage. You probably wouldn’t use a folding brush as your primary styling tool, but they are a convenient choice to keep in your purse, gym bag, or toiletry kit.
You’ll find hairbrushes, particularly round brushes, with a ceramic ionic coating on the barrel. This helps increase shine.
A copper-plated brush head is said to dry hair faster when used in combination with a blow dryer.
Hairbrush handles are usually either wood or plastic. The handle should be easy to hold, comfortable in your hand, and not put strain on your wrist when bending to reach the back of your head.
Slightly curved styling brushes give bobs and other straight medium-length cuts a sleek look with just a bit of curve at the ends.
You can find cheap plastic brushes for a dollar at the discount store, and you can spend hundreds for a high-end, natural-bristle brush from a well-known stylist.
The majority of people, however, choose a brush somewhere between these extremes.
Generally, you’ll get a good hair brush in the range of $10 to $25. Natural-bristle brushes will be at the upper end of that range, while synthetic brushes will be at the lower end.
While round brushes are most often used to add wave, they can also be used to straighten hair. Just grab onto a lock, hold it taut, and apply heat with your blow dryer.
Whatever type of hairbrush you use, it needs regular cleaning. Snarled hair, oils, skin flakes, dust, and styling product residue all build up in your brush’s bristles, making it unsanitary and less effective.
Aim to clean your hairbrushes and combs at least once per month.
Follow these steps each time you clean your brush:
Use a comb or tweezers to gently lift matted hair up and out of the bristles.
Wet the bristles, and then rub a few drops of gentle shampoo into the bristles and around the brush head.
Scrub the bristles with an old toothbrush to remove product residue and oils.
Rinse the bristles thoroughly. Dry a plastic brush with a towel. If the brush has boar bristles, blot gently, then allow it to air dry bristle-side-down on a towel.
Q. What’s the best type of brush for very short hairstyles?
A. To give your crop or other short do a bit of height, style it with a small nylon-bristle vented brush, lifting from the roots. If you prefer a sleek look, a small paddle brush with synthetic bristles is best.
Q. What kind of brush should I use to add some volume to my thin, straight hair?
A. A round brush with boar bristles will grip fine hair and add some height when combined with a styling product with lots of hold. Always choose a boar bristle brush for fine hair – it’s less damaging to thin locks.
Q. What kind of hairbrush is best for African-American hair?
A. Pamper your natural hair with a rubber-based, nylon-bristled styling brush. These brushes move easily through thick or coarse hair without pulling or damaging the strands.
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