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The 20 Best Hairbrushes for Every Hair Type

Regardless of your hair type, finding the right brush is a hair-care essential. Coily curls require different treatment than straight, fine locks, and thick hair reacts differently to brushing than thin hair. With various bristles, shapes, and sizes to consider, identifying the best brush for your hair type can be challenging.



“When selecting a hairbrush based on hair type, thick hair typically benefits from a paddle brush for detangling and smoothing, while fine hair may prefer a brush with softer bristles to avoid breakage,” says Syrenthia Quinones, Mane Addicts’ Head of Education. “Curly hair often thrives with wide-tooth combs or brushes with flexible bristles to prevent frizz and maintain curl definition.”


In addition to Quinones, we also sought insight from celebrity hair stylists Ted Gibson and Michael Dueñas, as well as Janell Stephens, founder of the world's largest Black-owned & female-led hair care brand Camille Rose Naturals. Combining our research with their advice, we’ve compiled a list of the best hair brushes on the market. Read on for our favorite picks, along with helpful information on how to find the best brush for your hair type and texture.


Best Brushes for Thin/Fine Hair

Fine hair can be fragile, so Quinones and Dueñas suggest using a soft-bristle brush to avoid breakage. Gibson emphasizes the importance of delicacy, noting that raising the cuticle can help achieve a more voluminous look: “When you have fine hair, you want that cuticle to be raised ever so slightly, because when that cuticle is raised with finer hair, you get the opportunity to have more hair.” He adds that boar bristles are ideal for thin hair, as their soft texture can help smooth the hair while adding volume.


Best Brushes for Thick Hair

“Thick hair typically benefits from a paddle brush for detangling and smoothing,” says Quinones. The larger the paddle, the more hair the brush can tackle at once. Long bristles are also ideal for those with thicker hair, as they have enough length to reach and stimulate the scalp.

Gibson recommends those with thicker hair use a combination brush, which has both boar and nylon bristles, which he says “is important for girls who have medium to thicker, coarser hair that need smoothing and detangling at the same time.”


Best Brushes for Coarse/Curly Hair

Curls are not a one-size-fits-all category, and keeping them defined can be a challenge. When caring for your curls, our experts agree that flexible bristles are a must, as they can move with the hair rather than against it. Curly hair also thrives with “wide-tooth combs or brushes with flexible bristles to prevent frizz and maintain curl definition,” says Quinones.


Best Styling Brushes

Gone are the days of limp, flat hair—volume is taking over. While traditional hairbrushes are designed to detangle, styling brushes are better suited for maintaining your hair’s natural definition, delivering salon-worthy results.


According to our experts, round brushes are typically the best choice. Quinones explains: “For styling brushes, round brushes are popular for creating volume and smoothness during blowouts. Look for those with ceramic or tourmaline components for even heat distribution and reduced damage.” If you’re aiming for the perfect at-home blow dry, Dueñas says that vented brushes, which allow air to flow through, could also help ensure even drying.

But regardless of what styling brush you go for, Quinones emphasizes the importance of heat-protectant products, as they can help you minimize damage and avoid excessive heat exposure.


Best Detangling Brushes

Regardless of your hair type, knots are the worst. However, tugging through tangles can be just as painful, so finding a brush specialized for the job is crucial. When searching for the right detangling brush, you want to consider two things: bristles and handle.

Nylon bristles are a bit sturdier than boar bristles, which Gibson says makes them better suited for navigating tangles. The best detangling brushes also have widely spread bristles, which can separate knots without being too harsh. And since you’ll likely be brushing for a while, finding an ergonomic, easy-to-grip handle is also worth considering.


How to Shop for Hairbrushes Like a Pro


Bristles

“Bristles should be your number one concern,” says Dueñas. “There are different bristles for different hair objectives and goals.” There are two main types of bristles to keep an eye out for: nylon and boar.

Boar brushes are gentle, because they are designed with softer bristles. Given their soft texture, these bristles are better suited for smoothing rather than detangling. Gibson recommends entirely boar bristles for those with finer hair, as he finds that these bristles help smooth the hair while adding a bit of bounce.

These brushes also absorb some of the hair’s natural oil, removing any excess and evenly distributing it throughout the hair. Just keep in mind that these softer bristles are more likely to retain debris from your hair.

Nylon bristles are stiffer, making them more suitable for detangling thicker hair. Since the bristles are a bit tougher, they also have more of a massaging effect. Many nylon bristles also have small, ballpoint caps on them to make them a bit gentler on the scalp.

Gibson’s favorite brushes are mixed bristle brushes, which are made of a combination of nylon and boar bristles. “When I use a combination brush, the nylon helps to detangle and the boar helps to smooth, so you get this dual kind of situation,” explains Gibson. He says to steer clear of styling brushes with metal bristles, as these typically apply a damaging amount of heat to the hair.


Shape

The majority of hairbrushes can be classified as either round or paddle. If you’ve ever received a blowout at a salon, it likely involved a round brush. These brushes are ideal for volumizing and adding body, specifically to finer hair. Many round styling brushes, (like the Revlon One-Step Volumizer Original Blow Dry Brush) are also heated, so they function as a dual blow dryer and brush in one.

“I’m a huge fan of a round brush; I think a round brush can create a girl's life, especially now that we’re going back to a little bit bigger hair,” says Gibson. “So it's back to round brushes, it’s back to hot rollers, it’s back to things to give hair a lot of bounce and a lot of movement.”

While round brushes are effective at adding volume, paddle brushes excel at detangling, straightening, and smoothing. Using a round brush incorrectly can even create more knots and tangles. “You can’t really pull the knots out because your hair is literally wrapped around the brush,” explains Stephens. Paddle brushes are also more straightforward and intuitive to use, making them better for those who are a bit less experienced with hair styling. While round brushes can achieve salon-worthy outcomes when used correctly, they may require some additional technique.


Size

The ideal brush size depends on the hair length and style you’re looking for. As a general rule of thumb, there should be a positive correlation between barrel size and hair length.

Gibson suggests that those with shorter, coiffed hair may want to look for a smaller round brush. “You want to use a brush that is maybe a quarter-inch in diameter because you want there to be a lot of movement from the base of the scalp,” he explains.

For those with mid-length hair that falls between the chin and shoulder, Gibson recommends a medium-sized barrel, as it allows for some additional lift from both the scalp and the rest of the hair. If you have longer hair, Gibson suggests using a larger one. The same can be said for paddle brushes—a larger surface area is better equipped to handle longer hair.


Handle

Hair brushes come in a variety of materials, the most common being wood, plastic, and rubber. Gibson finds that wood handles are more comfortable to grip than plastic, which can be beneficial for those like himself who are styling for long durations of time. Wooden brushes also tend to be more sustainable than plastic ones, although as a trade-off they are more expensive.


Questions You Might Ask

Is it better to brush your hair while it’s dry or wet?

While our experts tend to advise against brushing wet hair, they agree that certain tools minimize damage. Since your hair is the most vulnerable when it’s wet, wider-spaced bristles are the least invasive. If you do opt to brush your hair in the shower, Quinones says to look for wet-specific brushes.

“Brushing wet hair requires extra care to prevent breakage, so opt for brushes specifically designed for use on wet hair,” she explains. “These brushes typically have flexible bristles and gentle detangling.” Dueñas says the L’Ange Hair Siena Wide Curved Vented Hair Brush, one of our favorite detangling brushes, is particularly gentle on wet hair.

Gibson strongly recommends using a wide-tooth comb rather than a standard hairbrush. “When hair is wet, it tends to pull the elasticity of the hair, so it can stretch and also break,” he explains. He warns that this can be especially damaging for color-treated hair that’s light in shade, as it’s particularly fragile when wet.

When it comes to textured hair, though, Stephens says brushing in the shower could be helpful, particularly when you have conditioner in it. “Water is the number one moisturizer, so with your [conditioner] and water running on your hair, it definitely aids in that detangling process.” She adds that, for those with textured hair or curls, dry brushing could potentially be more harmful.

For the best results when brushing your hair in the shower, Stephens suggests starting at the ends and working your way up to the scalp.


Is it worth splurging on a brush?

When deciding how much to spend on a hairbrush, consider your personal preference and budget. “While pricier brushes often boast higher-quality materials and construction, there are plenty of affordable options that can provide similar results,” Quinones says. “Consider your hair's specific needs and how much you’re willing to invest in your hair care routine.”

How often should you replace your hairbrush?

Hairbrushes don’t last forever, yet replacement frequency is largely dependent on how regularly you use it and how well you take care of it. For example, a hairstylist giving multiple blowouts each day will inevitably need to replace their brush more often than someone using it for more standard detangling.

“Generally, it’s a good idea to replace your brush every 6-12 months, or sooner if you notice signs of wear and tear, such as broken bristles or a warped handle,” Quinones says.

Gibson adds that properly caring for your brush can also make or break its longevity. “I think it's important to clean your brush on a regular basis,” he says. “Cleaning your brush involves removing all the hair, shampooing it, and then rinsing it off.”


Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Jamie Fischer, a commerce writer for Real Simple. To compile this list of the best hairbrushes, she researched products from top brands while considering their shape, materials, hair type compatibility, and usage on wet or dry hair. For expert advice on what consumers should know when purchasing hairbrushes, Jamie consulted four hair experts: Ted Gibson, influencer, celebrity stylist, and salon owner; Michael Dueñas, celebrity hairstylist, groomer, and photographer; Syrenthia Quinones, head of education at Mane Addicts; and Janell Stephens, founder and CEO of Camille Rose Naturals.

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