Here's How to Work Out If You're Using the Right Hairbrush or Not

Updated 04/27/19

It's a stalwart of every hair kit, but quite often our choice of hairbrush comes down to personal preference rather than suitability to our hair type and texture. You might raise a skeptical "so what?"–style eyebrow, but experts agree that decoding which brush is right for you can make all the difference. 

According to Anna Chapman, session stylist and founder of Session Kit (which, for the record, is where all the pros shop for hair tools and equipment), there really is a difference between hairbrushes. "There are so many differing factors to hairbrushes (size, shape, bristle type, etc.), and using the right hairbrush for your hair type is essential to managing your hair yourself at home," she explains. 

Best hairbrush: Model with afro hair
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So how do you know which one to pick? Rather than shop blindly, we've called upon some of the industry's most revered hair experts to weigh in on the matter so you can rest assured that when you swipe that brush through your hair, you're giving it the best possible treatment.

Keep scrolling as we unpack the best hairbrush for every hair type.

Firstly, how do you know a brush is good quality?

For Chapman, the bristles are the most important thing here. "Good-quality brushes never come cheap, and if you're looking for boar bristles, make sure it states wild boar, as that will be the highest quality—I like Mason Pearson as well as the Primp Boar Bristle Brush (£52) from Japan I sell through Session Kit." 

Iconic hair stylist Christophe Robin agrees that boar bristles are best: "Natural boar bristles have a similar structure to our hair and contain the same keratin compound, ensuring no damage to the hair and a very gentle brushing."

If you're not keen on the thought of using boar, advanced engineering means you can get a similar shine from synthetic materials now too. Look for nylon bristles, and in the case of plastic bristles, you want ones that are well-spaced so as not to be too rough on the hair.

Hair Type #1: Afro

There are a variety of brushes that suit Afro hair, and according to Charlotte Mensah, hairstylist and founder of her eponymous hair line, a good Afro hair kit includes different brushes depending on how you style your hair. "Wide-tooth combs are good for separating and detangling damp/wet hair, but make you sure apply conditioner or Manketti Hair Oil (£42) first to soften hair," she explains. Wide-paddle brushes are great detanglers and also massage the scalp to stimulate hair growth. "Metal picks are used to pick out Afro hair and to style various looks like the twist out, whereas styling combs are good for lifting, separating and sculpting all Afro textures," she adds.

Hair Type #2: Fine

It might sound counterintuitive, but according to ghd Global Ambassador Adam Reed, if your hair is fairly fine and a little on the feeble side when it comes to its propensity to breakage, then bigger brushes like chunky paddle brushes are actually better. "Paddle brushes are the gentlest form of brush. The plastic bristles are evenly spread out and cause less tension when detangling to ensure the scalp isn't damaged," he explains. "The big flat shape is great for smoothing and is anti-static, so it's the ideal fix for hair that is delicate or suffering from too much styling."

Hair Type #3: Thick and Heavy

Chapman says that anyone with thick, heavy hair would benefit from a vented brush with large spacing so hair doesn't become easily tangled in the brush. "You need a good-quality wild boar–bristle brush that's medium to large in size—the longer the hair, the bigger the brush," she adds. "Look for something with a strong, thick bristle-and-nylon mix so that you can get a lot of tension when drying, which will help smooth hair while drying, closing all the cuticles flat for maximum shine and long lasting smoothness."

Hair Type #4: Curly

If you have curly hair, you're probably fearful of any kind of hairbrush coming anywhere near your head. But curls need detangling too, and arming yourself with a gentle brush will take out (most) of the headache. It's also really important to brush curly hair, as the natural oils from the scalp struggle to make their own way down the hair shaft, which often results in dry ends. Brushing will gently ease these oils along each strand for hair that's healthy and shiny. Brush curly hair when it's dry (wet hair is even more susceptible to damage), and opt for a soft plastic bristled that will be extra gentle on your hair and its hidden tangles.

Best hairbrush: Eden Fist Handle Metal Afro Hair Pick
Eden Fist Handle Metal Afro Hair Pick $2
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Best hairbrush: Aerin Beauty Large Ivory Comb
Aerin Beauty Large Ivory Comb $31
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Best hairbrush: Aveda Large Wood Paddle Brush
Aveda Large Wood Paddle Brush $22
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Best hairbrush: ghd Paddle Brush
ghd Paddle Brush $20
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Best hairbrush: Philip Kingsley Vented Paddle Brush
Philip Kingsley Vented Paddle Brush $25
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Best hairbrush: Salon Performance Paddle Brush
Salon Performance Paddle Brush
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Best hairbrush: Lee Stafford Tangle Terminator Brush
Lee Stafford Tangle Terminator Brush $13
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Best hairbrush: Balmain Paris Hair Couture Round Ceramic Brush 43mm
Balmain Paris Hair Couture Round Ceramic Brush 43mm $25
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Best hairbrush: Salon Performance Blowdry Brush Large
Salon Performance Blowdry Brush Large $9
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Best hairbrush: Tangle Teezer Thick and Curly
Tangle Teezer Thick and Curly $11
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Best hairbrush: Wet Brush Classic
Wet Brush Classic $12
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Best hairbrush: Christophe Robin Detangling Boar Bristle Hairbrush
Christophe Robin Detangling Boar Bristle Hairbrush $84
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