10 Tricks To Choosing (and Maintaining) Your Hair Brushes

Aly Walansky
Hair Brushes

Image Source/Getty Images

Every hairstylist seems to have their bag of tricks, drawers full of brushes of various shapes and sizes to fit every occasion. As we’re not likely to have quite that array at home, our best bet is finding the right brush for our own specific hair needs. Much like skin care, this is a very personal process! Whether you need a brush for your blowout or you’re trying to tease the crown of your hair, we’ve put together some expert tips and tricks for choosing the right brush for you (and keeping that brush in the best shape possible).

Untangle the unruly masses:
Paddle brushes, like the Tangle Teezer, are great to brush out any type of hair after the shower; it untangles the most unruly hair without pulling or breaking the hair, according to Meri Kate O’Connor, Colorist at Eva Scrivo. Any type of paddle brush that has plastic balls on the end of the bristle are more likely to catch the hair strand and cause breakage.

The perfect self-style:
A mixed nylon and boar bristle brush (like the Mason Pearson) is a staple for doing a simple smooth blow dry on yourself, and is a little easier than a round brush since there isn’t as much wrist movement, says O’Connor. This brush is also great to brush your hair with at any time because the bristles help to circulate blood flow to your scalp, encouraging growth as well as to distribute the natural oils from your scalp down your hair shaft, helping to keep hair healthy. The Mason Pearson has a lifespan of 20+ years, and comes with a cleaning brush, and using it on a weekly basis can help to ensure your brush lasts a lifetime. A cheaper alternative to the Mason Pearson is the Bumble and Bumble flat classic hairbrush.

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Increase shine:
A boar bristle brush sleeks and smooths the hair and increases the shine, says Terrence Michael Renk, Global Artistic Director for MarilynBrush.

Give the hair shape and style:
Blow drying with a round boar bristle brush gives the hair shape and shine. This brush comes in the most broad range of sizes, which can be tricky to choose which is best. A smaller brush is best for short hair, curly hair, coarse hair, bangs, and places where you need the most tension on the hair. A medium size brush works for medium length hair, helping to give hair a bouncy blowout. A large size brush is best for long hair, or to refresh a blow out. They have the least amount of tension so it is best to use this size on fine hair, says O’Connor.

Maximum hair movement:
The directional blow dry brush. The Denmin is a perfect tool for a true bob and short haircuts, resulting in low volume and sealing the hair cuticle, says Mercedes Parrilli, international artist for George the salon Chicago. This results in a hairstyle with maximum movement and sheen.

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Cushion your curls:
Incredibly beneficial for curly hair in keeping the texture intact, the ball-tipped nylon bristles will help get through tangles without damaging the hair, says Parrilli.

Avoid metal brushes:
Metal brushes are best left to the professional. The metal heats up the hair too fast, turning into a curling iron. This can lead to drying out your hair which leads to split ends and breakage, says O’Connor.

Be sure to wash brushes regularly:
Dead hair and scales from the scalp can clog the cushion pad and build up on the bristles of your hairbrushes. Renk recommends first to remove strands of hair with a brush cleaner. Grease from your hair that gets in contact with the cushion pad causes deterioration. Make a lather of lukewarm, soapy water. Do not use detergents or ammonia. Dip brush in at a forward angle. Shake your hairbrush to remove moisture and leave to dry with handle up and pad pointing downwards. Never dry bristles with a towel.

Know when it’s time for a new brush:
Once the bristles break down on your brush creating a dip, it’s time to toss it and get a new one. This can be prevented by holding the dryer at least 1 inch away from the brush, as well as keeping your brushes somewhere the bristles cannot be smashed, like a jar, says O’Connor.