Just because we all need a hairbrush doesn’t mean we all need the same type. Yup, one size doesn't exactly fit all, folks. Since we’re paying more attention to what hair care products we need in our collection these days, it’s about time we’re mindful of what type of hairbrush we’re using on our locks, too. Whether you have curly, fine or straight hair, there’s a brush designed to define, detangle and/or smooth your tresses. We tapped top hairstylists to share the different hairbrush types out there, so you can find the right one for you.
11 Essential Hairbrush Types—and How to Find the Right One for You
A guide for all hair types and textures
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Meet the Experts
- Penelope Love is an independent hairstylist for Happy Sunshine Hair in New York. She has 12 years of experience, specializing in low-maintenance haircuts, prevision bobs and layered shags. She’s also known for her color technique, extension services and short styles.
- Tommy Buckett is a lead stylist at Marie Robinson Salon. Known for creating chic and versatile looks with an effortless flair, Buckett's work has been highlighted in national publications such as Allure, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Glamour, Vogue, New York Magazine and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. His celebrity clientele includes Felicity Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Jennifer Garner and Michelle Monaghan.
- Chanel Beck is head stylist and head of education for Mermade Hair, a hair tool company known for their Pro Hair Waver and Blow Dry Brush. She’s also the owner of Koko Blaq Coiffeur salon in Washington and has earned prestigious accolades, such as winning the Marie Claire Choice Awards and being named L’Oréal New Comer in 2023.
- Johnny Wright is a celebrity hairstylist and brand expert for OurX, a haircare brand that lets you customize your routine. He has two decades of experience in the styling world, spending time as Michelle Obama’s personal hairstylist and then Tamron Hall’s key hairstylist for her talk show. His previous clients also include Kerry Washington, Queen Latifah and Samira Wiley. Wright also has written a book called Natural & Curly Hair for Dummies to teach others how to take care of their locks.
- Jesse Blake Garcia is a master stylist and educator for Tricoci Salon & Spa in Chicago. He has 11 years of experience, specializing in coloring, styling and cutting. He also represents brands such as Wella Professional and Nioxin.
- Joel Calfee is a hairstylist and director of education for Wet Brush. He has 16 years of experience, previously working as a regional sales manager for ghd Professionals and an artistic director for Bio Ionic. Now, he oversees beauty brands and leads educational programs and video tutorials to the masses.
Best Hairbrush for Thick Hair
1. Mixed-Bristle Brush
A brush with mixed bristles—aka boar and nylon—can be a great option for thick hair. The nylon bristles help detangle locks while the boar bristles work to distribute your natural oils evenly and improve shine. Beck recommends a paddle brush with big gaps, soft tips and firm bristles for a silky-smooth finish. “Big gaps allow more strands to glide through without worrying that a strand will get stuck,” she explains. “Plus, firm bristles mean no tangles or knots.”
Best Hairbrush for Fine Hair
2. Boar Bristle Brush
If you have fine hair, consider a hairbrush that’s gentle and helps to smooth down your locks. Beck suggests a boar bristle brush, which aims to distribute product evenly throughout, add extra volume and reduce any frizz. Plus, this type of brush is great for polishing any look and retaining moisture.
Best Hairbrush for Thin Hair
3. Soft Bristles Brush
The last thing people with thinning hair need is a brush that’s going to take away even more strands. Consider one with soft bristles as it can stimulate the scalp and brush through without any harsh tugs. According to Love, this brush type also helps to lift hair from scalp while blow drying, creating volume at the roots while still being super gentle on locks.
Best Hairbrush for Frizzy Hair
4. Oval Boar Bristle Brush
Love recommends using a nylon and boar bristle brush that’s oval-shaped on frizzy hair. But the brush isn’t the end all, be all when it comes to keeping your frizz in check. “The most important part [of styling] frizzy hair is to dry it when it’s still wet from the shower,” she stresses. “If hair dries before the heat from the blow dryer hits, it’s impossible to get it smooth again no matter how much heat or product you use.”
Best for Curly Hair
5. Nylon Bristle Brush
Our experts say using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb helps detangle natural hair. But if you’re looking to style, Wright recommends a cushion brush similar to the classic Denman. The rubber base helps to prevent static, while the soft nylon bristles are gentle on the hair and help prevent breakage. He adds, “The bristles can glide through your curls and coils to ensure beautiful definition without damage, frizz or snagging.”
Best Hairbrush for Straight Hair
6. Paddle Brush
Sometimes the size of the brush matters. If you have straight and/or long locks, a paddle brush allows you to go through large sections of hair at a time. The flat and wide design helps smooth and soften strands for shiny, polished tresses. “The nylon bristles also help detangle, while the natural bristles improve shine,” adds Garcia.
Best Hairbrush for Wash Day
Garcia recommends a detangler (also known as a ‘wet brush’) for all hair types. The flexible bristles are gentle on the scalp and manage any tangles without causing breakage or split ends. There are plenty of options out there like the original Wet Brush, which is small and travel-friendly. Or the unique shower brush, which is special for its long design that allows for fast drying and easy for hanging up nicely in the bathroom.
Best Hairbrush for Blow Drying
9. Round Brush
This type of brush is a hairstylist’s staple, and it’s great for getting a salon-caliber blowout at home. “The natural boar bristles mixed with soft nylon provide just the right amount of tension and are designed to minimize breakage. Plus, the vented design will speed up drying time,” Beck explains. The round design helps dry hair quickly and offer more volume at the root. It can also add loose waves or bouncy curls, depending on the size of the barrel you choose. (Basically, the smaller the brush, the tighter the curls.)
Best Hairbrush for Styling
10. Edge Brush
There’s no better tool to lay down your baby hairs (or pesky flyaways) than an edge brush. This one is specifically designed to smooth down and define your edges. The small bristles are often soft and gentle to give you better control at swooping and swirling ‘em into your desired look.
Best Hairbrush for Volume
11. Teasing Brush
A teasing brush is the easiest way to add volume to your locks. If you have fine or flat hair, the tool can give you the illusion of fullness and create texture for any updo. The thin base allows you to section your hair and the mixed bristles can bring your hair to new heights.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Choose the Best Hairbrush for You
Aside from your hair type, Calfee suggests four key factors when choosing your hairbrush: bristles, shape, materials and design elements. We broke it down for you below:
- Bristles: “There are natural and synthetic boar bristles, which are used to smooth the hair. The dense cluster of bristles give extra grip to shape the hair, while also helping to smooth the cuticle as you move it through the hair,” he says.
- Shape: “Flat brushes such as paddles and sculpting brushes can help smooth hair during styling, while brushes with oval or rounded bodies can add shape and volume,” he explains.
- Materials: “Metal brushes can withstand heat and help smooth while wooden brushes absorb heat for those worried about heat exposure,” he says.
- Design Elements: “Vented brushes can help decrease blow-dry times. Scattered bristles on a round brush will give more tug and flexible bristles can be gentler on hair,” he shares.
What Are the Benefits of Brushing Your Hair?
Aside from detangling and styling your hair, there are other benefits to brushing your locks. As Calfee explains, brushing your hair “helps clean the hair with manual removal of build-up and distribute natural oils from the scalps to the ends where hair is most dry.” He also mentions that it can lay the cuticle flat to help seal the hair and improve shine.
Does It Matter What Type of Hairbrush You Use on Wet Hair Vs. Dry Hair?
The experts are pointing to yes, yes and 100 percent yes. “Absolutely! You need one to detangle and one to dry. If you want one that does both, you can look into paddle brushes, but they don’t necessarily work well for all hair types and texture,” shares Wright.
How Often Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?
Buckett previously told us that cleaning your brush is essential and suggests doing it on a weekly basis. When asked why so often, he explained, “Clean brushes work better when they don’t have excess hair trapped in them, or excess product being spread around, which can actually make your roots greasy.” He continued, “Also, using a clean brush will help you with your at-home blowouts because you get a better grip on the hair for tension needed to smooth it out.”
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