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It’s easy to buy the first hairbrush you see on sale at the drugstore (no judgment) or even the grocery store beauty aisle, but have you ever stopped to think about how your brush affects your hair? The truth is, the wrong brush can wreak havoc on your strands, leading to breakage or stubborn knots.
Still, brushes don’t come with the same descriptive labels as shampoo bottles, so how can you be expected to know which one is best suited for your hair? Take into consideration brush shape, bristle material, and price point to curate the ultimate roundup of hair brushes.
For example, you'll want a round brush for va-va-voom, while a flat paddle brush can smooth strands and speed up drying time. Boar bristles are known for being some of the softest on the market, so they won't tug on the hair and cause breakage. Also consider how long you'll be working with the brush—if you're doing a blowout or have unruly hair that takes a long time to style, you'll want a lightweight tool to give your arms a break.
Read on to learn more about the best hair brushes on the market now.
Best Budget: Conair Velvet Touch Cushion Brush
Hair Type: All hair types | Shape: Oval | Bristle Material: Ball-tipped plastic | Wet or Dry: Both
If an expensive brush isn’t in your budget, there’s plenty of brushes out there that can do the trick. Even though this brush is inexpensive, it's praised to last just as long as higher-end brushes and works great for all hair types.
The brush is extra cushioned, so it allows for more comfort when brushing and less pulling. The bristles are made of plastic, but because they’re ball-tipped, they still glide through your hair without tugging or causing breakage.
Best for Fine Hair: Mason Pearson Nylon & Boar Bristle Hair Brush
Hair Type: All hair types | Shape: Oval | Bristle Material: Boar | Wet or Dry: Dry
When you have thin hair, most brushes are way too harsh. Boar bristles glide through the hair without pulling or snagging, keeping your scalp pain-free. The bristles are made to distribute the natural oils throughout your hair to keep your hair from looking greasy where you part it.
We're willing to call this brush the holy grail of boar bristle brushes, it's that good. Pricey, yes, but its high quality means you’ll have it for years on end. It also comes in different sizes—large, medium, handy, and pocket—so pick one that'll suit your grip well.
Best for Curly Hair: WetBrush Original Detangler
Hair Type: All hair types | Shape: Oval | Bristle Material: Ball-tipped plastic | Wet or Dry: Wet
Hair is at its weakest point when wet, which is why brushing is generally recommended on dry locks only. Curly-haired folks are the only exception to this rule. Anyone with naturally curly hair can attest that brushing dry locks can wreck curl patterns and lead to frizz. Instead, brush through your curly locks when they're wet with The Wet Brush, which is specifically designed as a detangling brush for wet hair.
What makes the Wet Brush so special is its innovative IntelliFlex bristles. These special bristles allow the brush to glide through wet hair without causing snagging or pulling.
Best for Thick Hair: Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row
Hair Type: Thick | Shape: Rectangular | Bristle Material: Nylon | Wet or Dry: Both
When you have thick hair, it sometimes feels like nothing can fully get through your mane and remove every tangle. Because of how gentle brushes with boar bristles are, it’s best to go with something tough, like nylon, instead.
This particular brush can help smooth and shape hair because of its curved shape and flexible base. It comes in three different sizes, but if you’re rocking long hair, definitely try the nine-row version because it will be easier to get through your strands without trouble.
Best for Blowouts: Drybar Half Pint Small Round Brush
Hair Type: Short-medium length | Shape: Round | Bristle Material: Plastic | Wet or Dry: Wet
For a salon-quality blowout, you need the correct brush. Cult-favorite blowout destination Drybar created this brush to help you achieve the perfect at-home blowout.
The round shape makes it easier for you to get the sleek and smooth styling you want without any trouble. The ceramic barrel, which is designed with vents so your hair dries quicker, heats up while drying to help lock in your style. The half-pint version is better for short to medium hair, so if you have longer hair, try out their Drybar Full Pint Round Brush.
Best for Type 4 Hair: Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush
Hair Type: All hair types | Shape: Rectangular | Bristle Material: Plastic | Wet or Dry: Wet
For tight coils and curls, detangling can be a serious chore, but this innovative brush offers a solution. Widely spaced flexible bristles glide easily through your hair without tugging or breaking delicate strands. Users report significantly less shedding. For best results, use wet hair while conditioning.
Best for Damaged Hair: Kent Ladies Finest Satinwood Pure Soft White Bristle Narrow Brush
Hair Type: Fine, thinning | Shape: Rectangular | Bristle Material: Boar | Wet or Dry: Dry
Boar bristle brushes are great for those with delicate hair as well, but make sure you choose one with extra soft bristles. This type of brush will stimulate the scalp, increasing circulation to the hair follicle, which is ideal for hair that needs a little TLC. All-natural bristle hairbrushes are gentle, but if your hair is thinning or especially fragile, look for a softer cut of bristle. This particular brush is made from satinwood and beech and is filled with pure soft white bristles, so it gets the job done without hurting delicate hair.
Best for Defined Curls: Pattern Shower Brush
Hair Type: Curly | Shape: Rectangular | Bristle Material: Plastic | Wet or Dry: Wet
This brush is heavyweight and durable, yet gentle on hair. It's thoughtfully designed to gently detangle and help curls clump and find each other for great curl definition. We also love that the rubber pad slides out, so you can deep clean your brush to get rid of old strands and build up.
What Our Editors Say
"Pattern's Shower Brush makes detangling my thick, long curls a pain-free process. The well-made bristles allow the brush to gently and effectively work through even the toughest tangles in my hair. The brush also does an excellent job of clumping curls, which helps me achieve incredible definition." — Olivia Hancock, Associate Editor
Best for Bangs: Spornette No.312 Deville Hair Brush
Hair Type: All hair types | Shape: Round | Bristle Material: Boar | Wet or Dry: Both
To smooth short hair and tame unruly bangs, choose a small round brush with boar bristles. Boar is great for creating tension. It catches every hair, making it a dream for styling short strands. Whether the end goal is smooth and sleek or a boost of volume, this little wonder will get you there.
A good brush shouldn't have to be pricey, which is why we’re giving top honors to the Conair Velvet Touch Cushion Brush. For less than a latte, you can snag this long-lasting brush that works for all hair types. Its bristles are ball-tipped, allowing it to glide through your hair without tugging or causing breakage. If you're looking to achieve a salon-level blowout at home, opt for the Drybar Half Pint Small Round Brush. Its round shape makes it easy to create sleek, smooth styles, while the vented ceramic barrel helps to dry hair faster and lock in your style. Curly types should opt for the Pattern Shower Brush, which will detangle and define your waves, coils, or kinks with ease. It’s designed to be extra gentle, so you can trust it won't damage your hair while you work through knots.
What to Look for in a Hair Brush
The Right Shape
When it comes to shopping for hair brushes, hairstylist and salon owner Anthony Nader recommends first making sure the brush shape will fit your specific hair needs. “If you want to achieve more volume with a blowout, aim for using a medium to large round brush,” he says. However, if you’re looking to achieve a quick and effortless blowout with minimal drying time, he recommends investing in a large, flat cushioned paddle brush. “The larger the brush, the more area you can cover in a shorter amount of time,” he says.
When it comes to bristle material, Nader is a big fan of bristles made of boars hair. “These are soft, so your strands will glide through them with ease,” he says. “They help reduce the amount of tugging on strands, which can cause hair breakage, and they're fab for promoting blood flow which is beneficial for hair growth.”
Blowouts can take some time, especially if your hair is on the thicker or more unruly side. With that in mind, shop for an ergonomically designed brush that fits comfortably in the hand and is easy to maneuver. This will make your blowout experience less of a hassle and help prevent sore wrists and hands post-blow dry.
Does brushing make hair grow?
Brushing your hair won’t make it magically grow overnight, but Nader considers brushing to be the alarm that wakes up the blood cells underneath the scalp's surface. Stimulating these blood cells leads to a healthier scalp and strands, creating the right environment for optimal growth.
How do you clean hair brushes?
According to Nader, cleaning your hair brush shouldn’t be a complicated process. “I just mix warm water with clarifying shampoo and let the brushes soak for an hour, that way all the buildup can disappear," he says. "Then, I rinse them in cool water and lay them out in the sun to dry.”
How often should you brush your hair?
When it comes to brushing, Nader’s rule is to never brush more than twice a day. “Any more than that, and you’re asking for trouble,” he says. He explains that over-brushing causes the sebaceous glands in the scalp to work overtime, leading to oily roots and the need to wash hair more frequently.
Is it bad to brush hair when it's wet?
Nader doesn't recommend brushing your hair when it’s wet. “Each hair strand will stretch and won't bounce back to its original length, which causes breakage and frail, wispy ends,” he says. If you have to brush wet hair, opt for a wide tooth comb, as these are much less damaging and will help to gently detangle any knots.