Although there’s an entire aisle in the drugstore devoted to the different types of brushes and combs, let’s be honest, most likely you have one hair brush you use day in and day out. You use it on dry hair, wet hair, tangled hair, and everything in between. (Hey, we do it too!) But there’s a reason there are so many options to tame your tresses: They all do different things. To help sort out the brush conundrum, we tapped Celebrity Hairstylist and Creator of The Beachwaver, Sarah Potempa, to make sure you’re using the right hair brush every time.
A paddle brush is one of the most common types of brushes. It’s characterized by, you guessed it, a large paddled head. According to Potempa, this type of brush is actually great for hair. “If you have finer hair, try brushing the ends of your hair so you don’t lose any volume up top!” she says. “This is also a great brush to bring into the shower to use with condition to smooth away any tangles.”
Typically found in the paddle form, Potempa says this type of brush is best suited for people with thick hair because the bristles are more sturdy. On the other end of the spectrum, natural brushes are best suited for people with normal or fine hair because they aren’t as harsh on your hair as synthetic brushes.
Most commonly used when hair is—as the name says—wet, this type of brush generally comes in the paddle form. “Using a brush with water can work great for all types of hair, thick, curly, or straight!” explains Potempa. “You can use it while your hair is wet or dry. It’s best to use a paddle brush in the shower or with water and conditioner to reduce tangles. It tends to be easier to detangle with the help of the conditioner.” For a classic option, look no further than Wet Brush Paddle ($11, thewetbrush.com), which combines the best of a paddle brush and a detangling brush.
Boar bristle brushes
Another popular option is the boar bristle brush, which is characterized by tightly packed boar bristles. “The combination of nylon and boar bristles eliminates frizz and distributes your natural oil for a healthy shine,” she explains. She says The Beachwaver Co. ‘On Set’ Styling Brush ($42, beauty.com) is a great option for someone looking for sheen. “The cushion base is gentle on your hair and scalp and helps add a polished finish,” she adds.
Truly the brush for everyone, a round brush is ideal for anyone looking for a blowout-like look. “A round brush is most effective when paired with a blowdryer,” says Potempa. “This combination will give your hair smooth finish, volume, and a lot of movement.” T3 Antigravity 2.5-inch Brush ($25, t3micro.com) has a ceramic barrel that helps retain heat to further help style hair.
Another type of brush that can be used on any hair type, the vented brush is best used when blow drying. “These tend to be found mostly in round brushes with spaces between the bristles for air to flow,” she says.
In the world of combs, the wide-tooth comb is bread and butter. “A wide-tooth comb could be used with all hair types but especially for long, curly hair,” says Potempa. “The wide space between the teeth will allow the comb to run through your hair easily and will also assist with detangling. With a wide-tooth comb, you won’t have to pull so hard, which will result in less breakage.” This brush is also ideal for dry or wet hair, she says.
When it comes to combs, a rattail comb is not one that comes into play too often on a day-to-day basis. “A rattail comb has a long thin side,” Potempa says. “This is best for when you want to get a perfect part and creating clean sections in the hair.”
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