Are You Using the Right Hair Brush for Your Hair Type? Stylists Explain How to Choose
tMain image – Artempodrez/stocksy
With so many hair tools on the market now, it can be tricky to know whether you’re using the right one for your hair. And this includes the one I reckon most people use – the hairbrush.
From paddle shaped brushes and round brushes to mixed bristle brushes and individual bristle brushes (who knew?), it can all be rather baffling.
But which one is going to hinder your hair type or behaviour? And most importantly, which one will improve it? Keep scrolling to find out.
Because thanks to advice from hair experts Sian Quinn, Kenna Ehman and Gina Rivera, you can now drop everything and consider this your hairbrush bible. We’ve collectively broken down the perfect hair brushes for every hair type, whether it’s for using post-shampoo, for every day brushing, or for blow drying; all in the name of healthier, happier hair.
So settle in. It’s time to brush up on your brushes…
1. After washing…
Wet hair: The wet brush
Whilst a normal hairbrush usually has bristles that are close together meaning they are quite stiff, the bristles on a wet brush move with the hair. “Wet brushes are a lifesaver,” says Quinn. “They have really flexible bristles to get out tangles and knots.”
The advice is to use it whilst conditioner is still in your hair. “This ensures that the proper amount of moisture is spread throughout so that you can hydrate your hair and the result is less frizzy,” explains Ehman.
PRO TIP: Whilst waiting for your conditioner to sit (Ehman says for at least five minutes), use your wet brush to gently massage your scalp. The flexible bristles will bend in whatever direction you’re going in and this will stimulate blood flow which, when done regularly, helps to keep the hair healthy.
Wet curly hair: The comb
According to Rivera, using a comb on wet hair is best. “You should never brush hair while it’s wet so always use a wide tooth comb.”
This is because, when the hair is filled with moisture it is more fragile and susceptible to breakage. Using a normal brush not designed for water is often too harsh and can cause damage. So, as long as the hair is conditioned first, running a comb through it is best.
Using one that has tightly packed bristles can cause knots, but a wide tooth comb will glide through wet hair more seamlessly and provide enough space for the hair to detangle as it goes.
PRO TIP: When you’re brushing wet, naturally curly hair, start as you mean to go on. “It’s important to brush it into the direction you are going to wear it afterwards,” says Quinn.
2. For everyday brushing…
Normal to dry hair: The boar bristle brush
This is a brilliant one for keeping your scalp happy thanks to its closely packed together bristles. “For scalp health, you want [a brush] that is tighter because it stimulates blood flow to the scalp and helps hair grow,” explains Ehman.
A boar bristle brush is also good for creating soft texture. “They’re great for dressing out a tong set or a bouncy blow-dry and they give a really beautiful soft, fluffy finish to the hair,” Quinn says.
Thick hair: The hybrid brush
Put simply, the term hybrid means ‘a bit of both’. So, in hair brushing terms it means a mixture of two types of bristles, usually boar and nylon, meaning both the moisturising benefits of boar bristles and the control of nylon ones.
“Hybrids are good for controlling frizz and static in the hair,” confirms Quinn.
Try Hershesons Everyday Essentials Brush (£34 from Hershesons UK) which uses both nylon and boar bristles to help beat frizz and smooth down the hair.
PRO TIP: If you find your tick hair tangles easily, hold your hair into a ‘bunch’ a quarter of a way from the bottom, work your brush through the ends, then keep working your way up. This will prevent anymore more tangling.
Very thick or coarse hair: The nylon bristle brush
Nylon brushes are great for controlling coarse hair but Rivera recommends avoiding these if you have very fine, dry hair. “Nylon bristles tend to be more harsh on the hair and can cause dry hair to break off,” she says. “However, they can be beneficial if your hair is healthy and thick.”
Try Kent Perfect For Smoothing Bristle Nylon Mix Handbag Brush (£9 from Kent UK) which helps to move the natural oils downwards and prevent split ends.
Curly or coily hair: The wooden brush or hair pick
Choose a wide toothed wooden brush or hair pick to detangle curls without destroying their shape.
3. For blow drying…
Heat damaged hair: The vent brush
The clue is in the name ‘vent’, meaning that there are air vents between the bristles. This enables air to get through the brush quicker. So, if you’re using a hairdryer, it will reduce your drying time and also the amount of heat being applied to your hair.
Hair that’s lacking volume: Round brush
Perfect for styling hair into shape, round brushes also add smoothness, shine and volume. However, they do involve using a lot of heat, so don’t use one daily.
“If your hair is damaged, I would not recommend styling your hair with heat and a brush very frequently until your hair is in better health,” advises Rivera.
If you’re in the market for a new one though, Quinn recommends GHD. “The GHD The Blow Dryer Ceramic Radial Hair Brush Size 3 (£26 from GHD UK /$40 from GHD US) is my favourite for creating a gorgeous bouncy blow-dry,” she says.
“The ceramic heats up with the direct airflow from the nozzle on your hairdryer which works to smooth down the cuticle of your hair and gives you a really beautiful shine to the finished result.”
Short hair: Round nylon brush
And short haired girls, listen up! “Nylon brushes are my favourite for wrap drying short hair,” adds Quinn. “This technique uses a brush and hairdryer. You blow all the hair in one direction and then in the other which gets the hair to sit nice and flat on the head which is an ideal blow-dry for a bob.”
Long hair: The paddle brush
This is the brush that, quite literally, looks like a paddle. And hairdressers love them. “I love using a paddle brush on long hair as it makes it super easy to maintain a smoother look,” says Quinn.
“You can also use them to aid your blow-dry on longer lengths without putting too much tension on the hair, so you end with a more natural undone finish.” I like the Philip Kingsley Paddle Brush (£25 from Philip Kingsley UK /$40 from Look Fantastic US) which doubles up as a vented brush.
Be careful if your hair often needs detangling. “I love a good paddle brush for most people but if your hair is prone to matting and tangling, I’d suggest a brush with softer bristles to keep it from breaking,” warns Ehman.
So you see, there’s a hairbrush for pretty much all scenarios and hair types. Dry, brittle hair? Go for a boar bristle brush. Need more ‘smooooooth’ in your life? Then a round brush is for you.
Use the above expert guide for process of elimination and don’t forget to be kind to your hair and scalp when brushing, to avoid hair breakage or any trauma to your scalp.
And finally, always use a heat protector when heat styling and use conditioning masks weekly to maintain good condition. A detangling spray is always handy too, to make combing your hair when its wet, smoother. My favourite is Kerastase Nutritive Beautifying Detangling Blow-Dry Mist (£30.15 from Look Fantastic UK /$6 from Sephora US) because it’s lightweight and smells divine.
Meet the experts
Gina Rivera is a hair stylist who skyrocketed to success when the company she founded, Phenix Salon Suites, became the fastest-growing salon suite company in the beauty industry. She has since been featured in Fashion & Style, Modern Salon, the Huffington Post, Glamour, Today.com, O Magazine, and she has over 500,000 social media followers who she regularly shares her pro tips with.
Kenna Ehman is a master stylist and Co-Owner of the Kenna Kunijo Salon. Now with over 13 years of experience, Ehman, is a Cutting Specialist, who is passionate about natural Curly Hair and continues to expand her impressive resume through her work on several film sets throughout London and the United States, and destination wedding hair and makeup services.
Sian Quinn is colour ambassador for Headmasters. The first Headmasters salon opened in Wimbledon Village in 1982 and has grown into one of the UK’s biggest salon groups, consisting of 54 salons and 2 academies, employing over 700 Stylists, 200 Apprentices and 100 Front of House Team.