Don’t Brush Them Off: 5 Facts about Hairbrushes

by Lorraine Letcavage

A brush is just a brush, most people probably assume. Is that assumption correct? Will just any random hairbrush do the job? Well, of course not! In hairstyling, cosmetologists know the key to a polished style begins with great basics. Sure, styling products add value to that fabulous finished look, but don’t give these neglected bristled tools the brush-off without knowing some key facts first.

Shape matters.

The shape of the hairbrush will determine the shape of your style. Think round for waves and curls, paddle and flat for straighter hair, and vented for fast drying time (i.e., shine and less damage). Pick size by hair length- small for short hair, large for longer locks.


Bristles make a difference.

Your hair type should dictate bristle choice in a quality hairbrush. There are 3 main types of brush bristles: boar hair, nylon, and plastic. Others can be a mixture. Here’s what you should know:
Boar hair (also known as natural) – The most expensive type but best for hair health. The tightly packed bristles distribute oils through hair strands and makes for shiny, smooth blow dry finishing. Works well on thick or wavy hair.
Nylon– Less expensive than boar hair, this popular favorite places bristles wider apart. This ensures a solid grip for sleek, straighter hair. Best for fine to medium hair.
Plastic (also known as synthetic) – The most standard of all brushes, it’s an inexpensive basic found in many homes. The strong bristles allow all-purpose drying, detangling and finishing. Salon professionals like Nick Arrojo recommend it as a first step in the drying process, followed by a round natural or nylon brush on damp hair for stylish results. All hair types can use this type.

They can tease you.

Crave high hair? There’s a brush to satisfy that need for height. These teasing brushes are narrow in shape, with a pointed tip. Use it to back brush the root area for increased volume. Great for those cute “half-up” styles popular now. The pointed end is also a tool, perfect for parts and sectioning.


Don’t forget the barrel. 

The hair brush barrel not only secures the bristles, but also packs some punch with features for sleek finishing. Let’s explore some barrel types:
Ceramic– Good for daily use, usually have holes in them to allow airflow to both sides. Ceramic emits a gentle but steady heat to hair.
Tourmaline– Like curling irons of the same name, these barrels are made up of crushed gemstones. These gems release negative ions that reduce static electricity and smooth flyaways.
Titanium– Coated with ceramic, but is lighter and easy to hold.

Maintenance is a must.

Just like hair, your beauty tools need cleaning too. If properly cared for, most brushes can last about 3 years. Without some TLC, repeated strokes will leave residue caused by a collection of loose hair, dust, and styling products. Using a brush like this causes hair to look dull and lifeless. Bounce your brush (and hair) back to life with this simple cleaning method:
Remove loose hair from dry brush by hand or with a comb.
– In a bowl or sink, mix warm water and a bit of shampoo.
– Swish dirty brushes around a bit, rinse, and air dry.
Do this procedure every 2-3 weeks for long lasting brushes.

So a brush is not just a brush after all. It’s a small tool that delivers a big finish, so choose wisely!

Readers, which hairbrush works best for you? Any clear favorites we should consider for best tresses? Help us out!

November 12, 2013

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