A Field Guide To Hair Brushes

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In theory, a hair brush should be a simple thing: You take something with bristles and you run it through your hair to detangle. And while it can occasionally be as clear cut as that, most stylists say that the best way to maximize your style is to use a brush that's right for your hair type. Not all bristles or shapes are created equal, so we asked Anthony Sorensen, senior stylist at the Frédéric Fekkai Salon at the Mark Hotel in NYC, to take four of the most common types — paddle, round, natural bristle, and synthetic bristle — and tell us which styles each brush is best for — and what type of hair they each work best with.

hair-brush

Flat
Also called a paddle brush, Sorenson says this type of brush is best for detangling or flattening out the ends of the hair during a blowout.

Round
Sorenson says this brush is best for blowouts because "it's universal and can be used on all types and lengths of hair." The size of the brush really matters here as it will determine the type of look that you achieve. "Use a bigger brush to get straighter hair, and a smaller brush to get more bounce," he says.

Natural Bristle
A boar-bristle brush is the gold standard for all stylists because of it versatility. "Natural, boar-bristle brushes works best with all hair types, as they close the hair cuticle well and get a better grip on hair," says Sorenson. Best used for straightening out your roots or achieving a sleek look, he says you want to get as much tension as possible with the section of hair you are working with in order to get the smoothest look possible.

Synthetic Bristle
Made from, you guessed it, synthetic materials, you'll find that these type of brushes tend to be cheaper. That's because, according to Sorenson, they create a lot of static in the hair. As such, he doesn't recommend using them.

Regardless of brush, Sorenson says that in order to get a great blowout, you should take your time, sit down, and divide your hair into small sections. Make sure you are using the right brush, and the right size for the look you want, then get a good grip on the hair to create good tension. "Also, as you are going through sections, never put a wet section on a dry section you are finished with — it just flattens the hair and undoes your work," he says. Another tip: Spend the majority of your time working on your roots while using the brush to blowdry. "Many people tend to focus on the ends to try to get that bounce factor, but I spend 80 percent of my total blowout time on the roots," he says.

Photo: Via Mason Pearson