Any hair stylist can tell you that brushes are not “one size fits all”—each one is designed to carry out a particular function for a particular hair type. Use this guide to find the perfect tools for your hair, whether it’s thick and curly or fine and thin. You might be surprised by the difference a brush can make!
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1. Choose Your Bristles.
Most hair types are compatible with a mixed bristle brush, but as the texture of your hair changes with age, it becomes more important to match your bristle type to your hair care needs.
Ideal for: distributing oils evenly, shiny blowouts
Hair type: soft enough for fine hair; brushes with “reinforced” boar bristle are strong enough for thicker hair
Ideal for: gently detangling, distributing oils evenly
Hair type: medium to thick
Ideal for: brushing into a smooth finish
Hair type: all
Ideal for: detangling and pre-drying hair, a great “first step” brush
Hair type: all, but especially great for medium to thick hair
Quick Tip: To get the most out of your brush, remove hair after each use, clean with warm water and shampoo every two weeks, and replace when bristles begin fraying.
2. Find Your Shape.
The shape of your brush should coincide with both your hair type and your style goals. Each type is designed to assist with a certain “look,” from the sleek and straight to a chic chignon to soft curls.
Paddle (Flat) Brush
Ideal for: straightening hair, drying large areas for a smooth finish
Hair type: long, straight hair or short bobs
Ideal for: creating volume, body, movement, and curl
Hair type: fine
Quick tip: The size of the barrel will determine how much curl you will get. The larger the barrel, the straighter the style.
Ideal for: straightening and separating, detangling wet hair
Hair type: wavy or curly
Ideal for: smoothing and styling, quick blowouts
Hair type: thick
Ideal for: adding height, supporting updos
Hair type: medium to thick
Quick tip: Avoid using a teasing brush if you have fine or fragile hair.
3. Select A Barrel.
Using the right barrel is key to managing dull, damaged, or curly hair and creating smooth, frizz-free shine. Here are some benefits of the most popular brush barrels.
Ceramic: best for daily use, maintains a healthy temperature during blowouts
Thermal: protects hair against heat during blowouts
Titanium: protects hair against heat with a ceramic coating, more lightweight than ceramic
Tourmaline (Ion): smooths hair and prevents static, great for winter months
Vented: smooths while detangling, distributes heat for consistent blowouts
Mason Pearson Hairbrushes, Available at The Cosmetic Market
“These two brushes are very hot sellers,” says Cosmetic Market corporate manager Mary Kathryn Yeiser. “The boar bristle is made from 100% boar hair. The nylon mixture brush is very popular and written-up in all the magazines. It’s the one you always hear about!”