When was the last time you thought about your hair brush? While easy to overlook in favor of the latest
hair products or color inspirations, choosing the right brush is one of the most important things you can do for your 'do.
Selecting one that's optimal for your hair type will give you the best results — like less breakage and more good hair days. And there are tons of styling hacks that the right brush can deliver with a simple swipe. Translation: Have the right tools on your bathroom sink, and you'll get better results in the morning —
without heat or products. Have we convinced you yet? Excellent. Now, let's get started.
Picking the right brush is no easy task, so we called in reinforcements. Walking us through classic staples, new innovations, and everything in-between is red carpet hairstylist
Ryan Richman. He works with Ashley Tisdale, Lorde, and Sarah Hyland — and is the man behind our beach-wave tutorial. Ahead, you'll find his expert breakdown on which brushes you need in your life, how to use the ones you already own, and so much more.
The Sculpting Brush Hair Type: Any When To Use It: If you're blowdrying your hair at home and can't quite figure out how to control a round brush, pick up this instead. The bristles smooth and soften hair while reducing static once fully dried. Best For: Styling wet hair for an at-home blowout. Bio Ionic SilverClassic Sculpting Brush, $30, available at Nordstrom.
The Detangling Brush Hair Type: Any When To Use It: If you have unruly hair, but love giving yourself a fresh, morning blowout, this is your go-to. The bristles are gentle for tug-free styling and it releases tangles with ease. Best For: Styling wet or dry hair and detangling. Harry Josh Pro Tools Detangling Brush, $20, available at Dermstore.
The Thermal Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: If you love a weekly blowout, but want to cut down for your budget, this thermal round brush will get you by. Great for thick, coarse, fine, and even curly hair, the thermal ceramic barrel mimics the results of a fancy blowout. Thanks to the size of the base, infrared heat, and negative ions, your hair will be smooth and loaded with volume in a shorter amount of time. Best For: Adding volume and lift to any style and texture. You'll cut down on drying and styling time with this two-in-one product. Amika Blowout Babe Thermal Brush, $100, available at Sephora.
The Tangle Teezer Hair Type: Medium to thick for detangling, medium to fine for volume When To Use It: On the more robust side of the detangling-brush spectrum, the Tangle Teezer is best suited for getting knots out of thick hair, since its plastic bristles are super-firm. But most stylists use it for more than that: Medium to fine hair benefits from a light scalp massage as the last step in styling, which creates serious fullness. Best For: Building volume on dry, fine, or medium hair; detangling thick, full hair while wet or dry. Don't use with heat (the bristles could melt).
The Original Detangling Hairbrush,
The Extension Brush/Wig Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: Don't let the name fool you: Extension-removal brushes have many other uses. "This brush is amazing and was my favorite for years," Richman says. The sharp, metal bristles don't have plastic balls at the ends, which means they detangle even the worst knots, easily. But the real glory of this brush is in styling — you can comb through natural or iron-created curls and waves to soften them without pulling out the texture. Translation: You can take barrel curls from pageant to cool without ruining the shape. Best For: Detangling and styling the lengths of dry hair. Don't use on the roots or with heat (that metal would get hot).
The Metal Round Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: The easiest round brush to use, this one moves through hair easily and quickly since the sparse bristles create less tension than their boar counterparts. "The metal base heats up like an iron, which means this brush helps to tame thick hair," Richman says. "It takes the bulk out of thick hair and makes it smooth." Best For: This brush is great for heat-styling on wet or dry hair. The additional heat it delivers also helps dry your strands faster. But be careful — overdo it and you could damage weak or fine hair.
Bounce: Medium Round Thermal Ceramic Brush,
The Plastic Vent Brush Hair Type: Fine hair and short cuts (no longer than a bob) When To Use It: While the vent brush was very popular in the '90s, it takes a backseat to most brushes today — at least in the hairstylist community. It is, however, still great for styling short cuts, especially pixies, since its wide bristles detangle and style without making hair fluffy or poufy. Best For: Styling wet or dry hair, and detangling during a blowdry.
Stylista Styler Brush,
The Boar-Bristle Brush Hair Type: Fine to medium hair When To Use It: Marcia Brady brushed her hair 100 times before bed to make it shiny and healthy, and while we don't recommend going to such great lengths, she was on to something: Natural boar bristles help stimulate the scalp, distributing oils through the hair while detangling. Boar is also the key to getting the soft, brushed-out texture of vintage waves (à la Grace Kelly). Best For: Styling dry hair.
Boar Bristle Hairbrush, Pocket Size,
The Scalp Brush Hair Type: Thick, curly, and any type that tangles easily When To Use It: This "shampoo brush," as it's sometimes called, is used during a shower to gently massage shampoo into the roots. It allows you to get a deep clean without the knots and tangles that can accompany a vigorous shampoo application with your hands. Plus, you can use it to break up dry curls (similarly to the extension brush) and detangle without removing curly or wavy texture. Best For: Massaging shampoo into roots, and detangling wet or dry hair.
The Boar Round Brush Hair Type: Fine to medium When To Use It: Richman warns that this round brush is, by far, the most difficult one to use during a blowdry, since its dense bristles create a good amount of tension and pull on the hair. But once you master it, you'll get smooth results that look natural. It's great for adding volume, defining layers on long hair, and achieving a professional-looking at-home blowout. Best For: Best used with a blowdryer on wet or damp hair.
Extended Cork Round Brush,
The Teasing Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: Do yourself a favor and ditch the plastic teasing comb under your sink. "A good teasing brush has different levels of staggered boar bristles," Richman says. This arrangement allows you to get the best volume. Gently backcomb, and then brush over the hair for a smooth finish. Best For: Building volume on dry hair.
The Mixed-Bristle Paddle Brush Hair Type: Medium to thick When To Use It: The boar-and-nylon-mixture paddle brush is a mainstay in every stylist's bag. Why? The nylon bristles easily comb through hair, while the boar bristles distribute oils and create a soft, brushed-out texture. Best For: Styling hair dry, with no heat.
The Plastic Paddle Brush Hair Type: Fine, wavy, and curly hair When To Use It: This large brush covers a good amount of surface area to detangle quickly. Curly and wavy hair can benefit from the wide bristles, which will tame frizz without breaking up the hair's natural pattern. Best For: Detangling wet or dry hair, with heat or without.
The Wet Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: Does your hair tend to get really knotted in the shower? "This is...just a really simple cushion brush that's very effective at detangling without any pain," Richman says. It's not ideal for grooming or styling, but it will loosen tangles very easily, he adds. Best For: Detangling wet or dry hair. The Wet Brush Earth Collection Brush, $15.99, available at The Wet Brush.
The Boar Paddle Brush Hair Type: Fine to medium, long When To Use It: "An all-boar paddle brush is great for someone with long hair who wrap-dries their hair," Richman says. Wrap-drying is the technique in which you blowdry the hair close to the scalp, instead of lifting it and pulling it away from the head. This provides exceptionally smooth results. But the boar bristles are best suited for medium to thin strands, as only nylon bristles can properly get through thick hair. Best For: An ultra-smooth and sleek blowout. Wigo Cushion Boar Bristle Wood Brush, $24.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
The Mixed-Bristle Round Brush Hair Type: Medium to thick When To Use It: The nylon in this combo brush makes creating a blowout much easier than it would be with a full boar-bristle brush. "The nylon bristles help to get through the hair a little better," Richman says. "Having the nylon mixed in makes it really good for thick hair." Expect a softer texture than you'd get with a metal barrel. Best For: DIY blowouts.
Porcupine Rounding Brush,
The Denman Brush Hair Type: Medium, thick, and curly When To Use It: This brush is a true hit-or-miss among the natural-hair community. Some love it for its detangling abilities, while others claim it adds more frizz to their manes. Conveniently, you can add or remove rows depending on your length. Once you find the best number for you, you'll be able to style your hair like a dream. Best For: Wet detangling and defining curls. Denman Classic Styling Brush, $12.59, available at Sally Beauty.
The Makeup Brush Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: No, this isn't some sort of mistake, but rather a pro trick that does actually warrant the use of a makeup brush specifically designated for your 'do. Hear us out: When it comes to smooth, shiny styles there's nothing better to calm flyaways and evenly coat hair with hairspray than a fluffy face brush. Simply mist it with hairspray and brush over hair. Et voila! The perfect application of product for smooth locks. Best For: Taming flyaways. Elf Blush Brush, $3, available at Elf.
Hair Type: Any type When To Use It: When you're wearing a wig, make your part look realistic by sweeping on concealer with a small, angled number like this one. Best For: Making fake hair look unbe-weave-able. Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57, $24, available at Sephora.
The Edge Brush Hair Type: Textured When To Use It: Gone are the days of keeping a gross toothbrush caked up with gel in your arsenal. Reach for this nifty gadget when you're assembling an updo, or after a fresh blowout. Basically, any style that commands attention cries for this tool. Best For: Laying down baby hairs. Camryn's BFF Gentle Edges Brush, $2.99, available at Amazon.
The Volumizing Brush Hair Type: Fine When To Use It: Many of us have had days when no matter what we do, our hair falls completely flat. This brush eliminates flyaways and static while giving hair the TLC it needs for maximum body. Best For: Second-day hair. Cricket Static Free Volumizer Brush, $7.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
The In-Shower Brush Hair Type: Any When To Use It: Choose your favorite weekly hair treatment, cover your strands from root to tip, then use this wide-toothed brush to distribute the product evenly. After rinsing, not only will your hair feel soft as hell, but it'll be completely tangle-free. Best For: Detangling wet hair Wet Brush Shower Flex, $7.99, available at Wet Brush.
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