“Well that’s just weird,” said my husband, staring at the bendy, bristly, familiar-but-not shape I was gleefully squishing and rolling in my hands. “Is it a brush?” Not just any brush, dear husband—no, this was the Manta, a British-born hair brush so genius it’s won basically every award the U.K. can bestow upon a beauty product. And now, it's made its way here to the U.S.
With its silicone pad, rotating bristles, and easy-grip knob, the Manta is a (and I don’t use this word lightly) revolutionary tool that puts all other brushes to shame. It’s somehow both the gentlest brush that’s ever made its way through my hair and the most effective detangler. It was invented by a British hairdresser, Tim Binnington, after watching his wife struggle with brushing her hair post-chemotherapy. Her hair was so fragile that brushing her hair was not only painful to her scalp, but would yank out the delicate strands.
By combining the flexible, flat silicone with 360-degree rotating bristles, he was able to create a brush that molds and flexes to the shape of your head and feels like someone gently running their fingers through your hair. Instead of ripping down your mane, it works through it to easily get rid of snarls without taking out a giant pile of your strands.
I was introduced to it by my friend Jess Richards, owner of Brooklyn beauty boutique Shen. Jess has a rep for finding very cool products long before anyone else and she discovered this treasure after falling down an Insta-hole one sleepless night in 2019. “I found the Manta during my witching hour of 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. when I can’t sleep. That’s how I find a lot of cool products, actually,” she says. “You know how you just start clicking into things? Not sure how I got to it but I knew I had to have it.” She then spent eight months(!) convincing and negotiating with the brand to bring the Manta stateside. She’s the only retailer in the U.S. with it and in the one week that the Manta has been on her site, she’s blown through her entire stock and had to rush order more.
She credits the innovative design to its success—there’s truly nothing quite like it. “Because of the way you hold it, it’s like an extension of your hand,” says Jess. “You just pass it over your head and it smooths and brushes out tangles as it molds and flexes to the shape of your head.”
How to Use the Manta
Once I got my hands on my very own (and finished squishing and rolling it while giggling hysterically at its bendiness), I immediately understood the hype. I’ll preface this by saying I’m not usually someone who brushes her hair regularly. I have short-ish hair with an undercut and the natural texture that comes from years of frying it with bleach. I like that messy, undone look and feel like most brushes make my hair look flat. However, as we previously established, this isn’t most brushes.
On Wet Hair in the Shower
First off, you actually start by using this on wet, clean hair in the shower. According to Manta’s brand ambassador and session stylist Zoe Irwin, this is key in order to get the best results and maintain your hair and scalp health. “When your hair is wet, it’s at its most vulnerable state, so if it is quite knotted and you use a regular detangling brush, it doesn’t have the flexibility of the Manta and is more likely to tear through a snarl, rather than massaging it out," she says. She advised me to apply my conditioner from mid-lengths to ends, then hold the Manta in my palm and gently run my hand through the hair. Usually at this point I would be staring at knots of hair stuck in the brush (or "hair monsters," as my husband likes to call them) but when I looked at the bristles of the Manta, there was one single strand. It had worked out all the little snarls without pulling out great big globs of hair. Magic!
For those of you with longer hair, one cool trick Zoe taught me was to cup the brush in your hand so it makes a U-shape, then grab a section of hair and pull it gently downwards. “You get this 360 detangling because your hair will be going through the multiple bristles. The effectiveness of it is heightened,” she says.
On Dry Hair
The Manta can be used on dry hair, too, by running it over your scalp and down through the lengths to smooth and add shine. It’s also fab to refresh a blow out—just flip your hair over and start brushing hair in the opposite direction to restore volume without messing up your style. And, if you’re like me and prefer your hair with a little texture, you can use the Manta to tame the ends of your hair so they don’t puff out and look frizzy. It creates shine and neatens everything up without undoing those off-duty model waves.
As a Scalp Treatment
But, perhaps my favorite use for this little guy is as a scalp treatment. I don’t know about you, but I love a good scalp massage. My favorite part of going to the salon (sob) is when I’m getting my hair shampooed and my stylist is working his fingers over my scalp. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The Manta is the next best thing to that experience.
Zoe says that stimulating your scalp is actually essential to making your hair stronger: “The more that you can increase blood flow to the hair follicles, that’s when you’re going to get more hair growth and you are going to get healthier hair." There are two key ways to do this with the Manta. In the shower, simply grip it and run your hand all over your head, “moving” your scalp (as Zoe says) to get the blood flowing and remove dead skin and product that can build-up and cause your hair to look dull.
Or, use it on dry hair first thing in the morning. “Start at the nape of the neck and brush upwards, then move your Manta around the head in a sweeping motion. This will relax the scalp and relieve tension, but also really stimulate the follicles and increase blood flow," notes Zoe. "The differences I have seen in the thickness of my clients hair that have done this is incredible." As someone who has been doing this every morning for the past week, I can wholeheartedly agree with that statement. My hair has never looked better—which is saying something, considering I haven’t had a haircut in three months and am starting to resemble a member of the 1980 Olympic hockey team.
If you don’t have time for a full massage session, you can also simply press the brush into your scalp. Start at the nape of your neck and push down firmly, then lift it up, move on to the next section, and repeat. Zoe likens it to the sensation of an acupressure mat, stimulating the skin and relieving tension with each press. That’s also a great option for those with curly or textured hair who don’t want to run a brush through their curls.
The Manta comes in three colors (black, white, and a very chic burgundy Zoe designed herself) and costs $30. Currently, Shen is the only place in the U.S. that stocks it and Jess expects another sell-out run on the next shipment. Which is to say, get it while you can party people. If you struggle with knots, dullness, frizz, or generally meh hair, I can’t recommend this squishy genius of a tool enough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go brush my hair.