8 Great Hair Brushes: Which Is Right for You?

There seem to be almost as many different types of hair brushes as there are types of hair—round ones, square ones, plastic ones, wooden ones, skinny ones, thick ones, sturdy ones, and flimsy ones. Brushes with nylon bristles and brushes with boar bristles, brushes that cost a lot and brushes that cost a little. Beyond the obvious aesthetic differences, different styles of brushes are actually made to accommodate different types and styles of hair. Are you using the right model for yours?
  • Best All-Purpose Brush

    The Rolls-Royce of hair brushes, Mason Pearson’s design remains virtually unchanged since 1885. The natural boar bristles are the best choice for distributing beneficial oils down the length of the hair shaft.

  • Best for Styling Layers

    For hair with layers, use a thin brush that will lift hair section by section. Spornette’s Little Wonder Teasing Brush is also precise enough for backcombing and teasing shorter styles that require volume.

  • Best for a Blowout

    To create a smooth blowout with lots of volume, use a round barrel brush with compact bristles to lift hair and create tension while drying. Many round brushes are made of ceramic or tourmaline and vented in the center, which speeds up drying and protects hair from heat.

  • Best for Thick, Coarse Hair

    Densely set bristles can have trouble grabbing and working their way through very thick or coarse hair. A better choice is a brush with hardy, wide-spaced nylon bristles. The balls on the end of the bristles assure that they’re gentle to hair.

  • Best for Long, Straight Hair

    Large, wide paddle brushes are best for keeping long, straight, or wavy hair smooth and sleek without adding volume. The extra surface area makes the task of brushing long hair go by more quickly.

  • Best for Detangling

    Wet hair is fragile and susceptible to breakage, so for working out snarls and snags from any type of hair, use a wide-toothed comb instead.

  • Best for Curly Hair

    If you choose to brush curly hair, models with wood bristles are ideal, since they’re gentler on fragile hair, won’t separate the curls, and won’t generate static. (Olivewood Hair Brush with Wood Pins, $29.95,

  • Best for Fine or Thin Hair

    To be extra kind to delicate hair, look for a brush with especially soft natural bristles set in a rubber cushion, which makes bristles more flexible in the hair and gentler on the scalp.


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