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- The best hairbrushes for you are based on your hair type and desired style.
- It’s recommended that you have multiple brushes for different purposes, like detangling and styling.
- Three hair experts weigh in on the brushes they recommend across all hair textures.
Few hair brushes are one-size-fits-all. Choosing one requires a knowledge of your own hair texture, the styles you’re looking to create, and the options on the market that can help you achieve them while preserving the health of your strands. But in case you haven’t yet considered all this before pursuing the hair accessories aisle of your local drugstore, look to the experts who can pinpoint the exact brushes made for you.
With knowledge and experience working across all hair types, the stylists ahead are breaking down several brushes for each kind of crown. After all, you should be using more than one across different needs and styling approaches. “Everyone needs multiple brushes,” shares Clariss Anya Rubenstein of boutique salon Gloss in Los Angeles, “Detangling, a brush used for styling (such as a round brush if you’re going to do a blowout), and a brush to use on your dry hair.” With further insights from curl expert April Kayganich and certified trichologist/inventive colorist Bridgett Hill, the below advice covers four different types of tresses, including straight, wavy, curly, and coily (or Type 1-4, respectively). Read on for which brushes will yield the best styling results – with some overlap between types, as well – without sacrificing hair health.
Here are the best hair brushes for every hair type
- The best brushes for straight hair
- The best brushes for wavy hair
- The best brushes for curly hair
- The best brushes for coily hair
The best brush for detangling
“It is important to have the correct detangling brush for your hair type so that it is effective in brushing the hair through thoroughly without causing breakage,” says Rubenstein, whose clients include Gemma Chan, Mindy Kaling, and Kaley Cuoco. For fine to medium hair, she recommends the Wet Brush Original Detangler, an option that’s garnered nearly 40,000 five-star reviews on Amazon alone. Kayganich calls out this option, as well, adding that it can also work across multiple hair types. “I will say the Wet Brush is amazing because the bristles are smaller and prevent breakage/there is less breakage when detangling.”
The best brush for heat styling
When applying heat to your strands, Rubenstein suggests tools by Olivia Garden. “For pin-straight hair, I typically style with a ceramic round brush,” she explains, referring to the brand’s Ceramic + Ion Thermal Hairbrush. “The ceramic heats up, without overheating like a metal brush, and acts as a roller in order to create some bend and volume in the hair.” The brush comes in a range of barrel sizes — from a half-inch to three and a half-inch — depending on the length of your hair and preference in how big or tight of a wave you want to create through heat styling. Kayganich also adds that she recommends all the Olivia Garden brushes “for doing round brush blowouts on natural hair.”
The best brush for smoothing
As a trichologist, Hill not only brings her hairstyling experience to this discussion but also a deep knowledge of scalp health. For her, one of the best brushes for smoothing and controlling Type 1 hair comes from noted beauty brand Mason Pearson. “The quality of natural boar bristles and the ventilated cushion design is gentle enough to stimulate the scalp and glide through the hair, creating a root-to-end detangling experience for straight hair all while distributing sebum from the scalp to the ends,” Hill says. The brand’s boar or boar-and-nylon mix brush will both work for this, she adds.
The best brushed for wavy hair
The best brushed for detangling
Hill says that those with wavy hair, be it fine, medium, or thick, should have brushes for detangling, heat styling, and controlling hair fibers for polished looks. For the first of these, she recommends the Tangle Teezer. “It creates a gentle tension to allow the teeth of the brush to detangle wavy hair to remove knots and is sturdy enough to be used to work hair masks and treatments throughout the hair fiber.”
The best brushed for smoothing
“If I’m using a round brush to smooth wavy hair, I love Ibiza boar bristle brushes,” says Rubenstein. “They give hair great tension, smooth frizz, and they have a cork handle to make it easier on your hands and wrists.” Hill, too, appreciates the made-in-Spain brand that’s “known for their ‘grip and slip’ design and natural boar hair and nylon bristles.” Hill says the brushes (available in three barrel sizes) work across multiple hair types, as well, as they “offer the perfect amount of tension while respecting the integrity of the hair fibers.”
The best brush for beachy waves
Those with wavy hair might have a range of different strand textures, including S-shaped curves, bends, and loose curls. And there are brushes you can use that will help maintain that natural just-got-back-from-a-beach-day quality. “If I’m brushing through wavy hair but want to maintain a beachy texture I would use a Mason Pearson Mixed bristle brush and reactivate the wave using product and my fingers,” says Rubenstein, specifically calling out the brand’s boar-bristle-and-nylon version. While the brushes may be seen as more of an investment haircare item, it does come with praise from multiple follicle experts. “Mason Pearson is incredible for maintaining hair health,” adds Rubenstein.
The best brushes for curly hair
The best brush for slicking
“When slicking down the curls, a taught tightly compacted bristle placement is required to achieve an ultra-sleek look,” says Hill. She recommends the Goody Styling Essentials Wood Grain Hairbrush for creating this polished finish for both those with curly hair and tight coils, as well. “This is an inexpensive brush that can withstand the use of heavy styling products, as gels, lotions, and serums are typically applied heavily to achieve smoothness.”
The best brush for straightening
If the goal is to straighten your naturally curly or Type 3 hair through heat application, Hill recommends the Ion Golden Wood brushes, an affordable option that can help maintain hair health while styling. “The mixture of the boar/porcupine brush are compactly positioned to provide the tension to elongate and stretch the curl while minimizing damage.”
The best brush for shine
Another brush option for providing smooth and sleekness when heat styling curls, is the Chi Turbo Round Brush. “The ceramic barrel allows for heat to be evenly distributed along the hair fiber and the natural bristles promote sheen and evenly spreads the heat protectants along the hair fibers while styling,” explains Hill of this selection. The boar bristle brush comes in three barrel sizes, depending on the desired wave.
The best brushes for coily hair
The best brush for protective styling
For hair with tighter curls and coils, Kayganich — who works with all hair types but is known as a “texture specialist” — says brushes aren’t always her go-to tool. “I actually prefer not to use brushes if I can avoid it, but if I do want to use a tool, I prefer finger detangling first then using a wide-tooth comb,” she explains. “If my client is someone that does a lot of protective styling like two-strand twists, or to add emphasis to their hair pattern if they are wavy, they can all benefit from the same type of brush. I usually recommend the best brush by Felicia Leatherwood for anyone that has wavy to coily hair.”
The design stands out for its flexible bristles that are only attached to each other at one end of the brush, allowing the rows of teeth to move partially independently as they glide through the hair shaft.
The best brush for thick hair
For those with the thickest of manes, Kayganich says one of her favorite brushes rings up on Amazon for a cool $6: the detangling brush by Sabado. “It’s gentle on hair and I love that it spreads out like a fan,” she shares. “This would probably be my favorite for very dense hair or hair that is super curly and very coily.”
The best brush for all hair types
While there are a few brushes listed above that cross over as recommended tools for those with or without curls, Hill adds that there’s a category of hairbrushes that work for everyone: scalp brushes. “It is necessary to activate the scalp muscles and improve circulation as well as remove debris from the base of the hair follicle,” says the trichologist.
Hill suggests using scalp brushes as a part of your hair-health routine. Pair with an oil- or serum-based pre-shampoo treatment and The Scalp Exfoliator and Massager by Tangle Teezer, she says. “[It will] aid in assisting the active ingredients to penetrate deeper due to the design of the brush’s teeth,” says Hill. “The ergonomically designed handgrip on the brush allows for better control to activate and keep the scalp muscles firing. The dual teeth also allow for stimulating massage and soothing capabilities.”
The best brush…may be no brush
As previously mentioned, Type 4 hair may not need as many, or the same kind of, hairbrushes as other types, depending on an individual’s desired style. “I really think not using a brush is actually the best approach,” says Kayganich. “We have to feel the hair. What is the texture? Is it fine, medium, or coarse? You can have super coily, tight hair that is super fine and a brush would break it.”
She explains that water can weaken hair, which is composed of hydrogen bonds, and therefore hastily brushing through it isn’t advised. “When you introduce a brush without letting your conditioner sit in your hair and aid with detangling, you’re more prone to breakage,” she adds. Essentially, an understanding of your personal hair type is imperative for not only choosing which brush to use but if to use one at all.
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