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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, BestGroomingTools.com )
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.