How to Use Every Type of Hair Brush

There's something for every need.

How to Use Every Type of Hair Brush
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Let’s be honest: Every inch of the beauty industry is over-saturated — including the hair brush category.

On one hand, that means that we have more than enough options for what we brush and style our hair with. But on the other, it means figuring out which to use can be somewhat confusing, if not overwhelming.

With this in mind, we sat down with a few celebrity hairstylists to learn how to use every type of hair brush once and for all.

Keep reading to learn if you’ve been using the right one, or if it’s time to upgrade your haircare routine.

01 of 09

Detangling Hairbrush

Wet Brush
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To shop: $15; ulta.com

A detangling brush does exactly what it implies: It unfurls tangles with specially-designed bristles. “The Wet Brush Pro Detangler is a great option that can be used on wet or dry hair and across a variety of hair types,” says stylist Nick Stenson, who is the Senior Vice President Store and Services Operations at Ulta Beauty and founder of Nick Stenson Beauty. “A detangling brush works best when the hair is wet with a moisturizing conditioner — like the Nick Stenson Beauty Leave-In Conditioner — so the brush can flex and move with your hair.” Additionally, Stenson says it's best to begin detangling at the ends and work your way up toward the scalp.

02 of 09

Wet Hairbrush

Tangle Teezer
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To shop: $15; amazon.com

Taking detangling hair brushes one step further, wet brushes tackle tangles specifically on wet hair. While Wet Brush is the most recognizable wet brush brand, the Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Detangler Hairbrush for Wet & Dry Hair is another great option.

“Wet hair is more prone to breaking and the prongs on a wet brush have more flexibility, which prevents them from putting too much tension on the hair,” says Leo Izquierdo, Co-Founder of IGK Hair Care. Like Stenson, he says to begin brushing at the ends, gradually working your way up to the scalp.

You don’t have to wait until you’re out of the shower to use a wet brush, though. “For those who have really tangly hair, I also recommend using a detangling wet brush in the shower while you have conditioner still in the hair and then rinse it out,” says hairstylist and colorist Jason Lee, who is the founder of Mela & Kera. “This will help remove all tangles.”

03 of 09

Boar Bristle Brush

Le Mason Peason Brush
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To shop: $275; saksfifthavenue.com

Boar bristle brushes, like the renowned Mason Pearson Handy Bristle Brush use natural bristles, which are known for their gentle, shine-enhancing effect. “They are perfect as a finishing brush to smooth out styles and polish the hair strands,” Izquierdo says. 

Before picking up a boar bristle brush, you’ll want to ensure the hair is fully detangled. “Then, in sections, gently brush through the hair to polish the strands with the hair’s natural oils and any styling products,” Izquierdo explains. “To combat static, follow the brush with the palm of your hand gently wrapped around the section of hair.”

While all hair types can benefit from boar bristle brushes, Izquierdo says that those with finer hair may want to steer clear. “Because boar’s bristle brushes work to distribute oils through the hair, they aren’t often the best choice for finer hair textures,” he explains.

04 of 09

Mini Boar Bristle Brush

Mini Boar Bristle Brush
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To shop: $15; loveamika.com

Whether you’re looking to enhance volume or touch up the edges of your hairline, Lee says that a mini boar bristle brush can help. “When I think of a mini boar bristle brush, I think of the round brush version,” he says. (The Amika Cork Brush is a popular choice.) “The smaller the round brush the more body, volume, and movement you will get out of your hair when blowdrying with it.”

But when working with edges, a flat, slim mini boar-bristle brush (aka an Edge Styler, like the Baby Tress Edge Styler) works best. 

05 of 09

Round Brush

Round Brush
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To shop: $21; ulta.com

If volume is your top priority — and especially if your goal is to create an at-home blowout — round brushes are your best bet. “The Cricket Technique Tourmaline Thermal Round Brush is a great option for creating volume and body with minimal static,” Stenson says. “When using a round brush to style with a dryer, always use a heat protectant and start by sectioning the hair. Those with straight hair should either let hair air dry or loosely dry their hair about 80% of the way before styling, while curlier textures can begin a bit damper, but should comb hair straight first.”

Alternatively, you can use a round heat styler, like the Dyson Special Edition Airwrap Multi-Styler, which comes with a round volumizing brush attachment. That way you don’t have to hold both your arms above your head trying to perfect your DIY blowout. 

In addition to volume, Izquierdo says that round brushes boost shine, too. “Round brushes are designed to create tension in the hair during blow-drying, which allows you to achieve the smoothest styles with the shiniest results,” he explains. 

06 of 09

Cushion Brush

Cushion Brush
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To shop: $35; ulta.com

Also known as paddle brushes, cushion brushes, like the T3 Professional Smooth Paddle Brush, have stiff bristles embedded in a cushion, which allows the combing action to cater to the shape of your head. “Cushion brushes stimulate the scalp, brush out dandruff and dead skin cells, and are effective for removing built-up product from the scalp and root area,’ says Adam Federico, R+Co’s Vice President of Technical Education.

Cushion brushes can also boost in-shower cleaning and treatments. “Thoroughly brush the scalp before washing your hair to ensure thorough scalp cleansing, as well as allowing the cleansing process to rinse away any debris and dandruff from brushing,” Izquierdo says.

07 of 09

Curved Brush

Curved Brush
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To shop: $19; ulta.com

You don’t have to use a cushion brush to cater to the shape of your head, though. Curved brushes exist, too. “A curved brush is designed to fit the shape of a human head and is commonly made of lightweight plastic with vents, making them great for drying hair quickly and tossing in a travel or gym bag,” Stenson says. “They also work to distribute hair oils from the scalp down, so you should brush in this pattern as well.” His go-to? The Olivia Garden iDetangle Brush, which he applauds for its “ergonomic shape and ball-point bristles, great for managing thick or curly hair.”

08 of 09

Vented Brush

Vented brush
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To shop: $20; ulta.com

Speaking of vented brushes, they don’t only come in curved silhouettes — there are flat, round, square, and oval options, all of which speed up drying time and cut down on heat damage. The Wet Brush EPIC Professional Quick Dry is a popular pick.

“Suitable for all hair types, a vented brush features similar bristle placement to a standard detangling brush, but with vented slots between the rows of bristles,” Izquierdo says. “This allows you to use the brush while blow-drying to evenly distribute heat and avoid heat damage.”

When using a vented brush, Izquierdo says to place the vented brush on one side of a panel of hair, with the nozzle of your blow-dryer on the other side. “The brush will distribute the hair for even blow-drying, while the vents will allow the hot air to pass through, creating a gentler blow-dry,” he explains.

09 of 09

Nylon Bristle Brush

Nylon Brush
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To shop: $28; ulta.com

While boar bristle brushes can benefit all hair types, the bristles are softer, which means they may not be as effective for thicker, fuller hair types. Thankfully, vegan versions (aka nylon bristle brushes) exist. 

“Nylon bristle brushes are often stiffer than boar bristle brushes and used to reduce static and detangle thicker and fuller hair,” Stenson says. “The Briogeo Vegan Boar Bristle Hair Brush gently detangles straight, wavy, coiled, or curly hair by massaging the scalp and working through each strand to create healthy-looking styles.”

And even though nylon bristles are stronger than boar bristles, Izquierdo says that they’re still best used on pre-detangled strands.

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