Hairbrush - Lead
Credit: Getty Images

If you thought you got brushing your hair down pat back in elementary school, think again. Because if it’s healthy hair you’re after, there’s a whole lot more to grooming your strands than just haphazardly running a brush through ‘em every once in a while. That’s why we enlisted Kelsey Osterman, senior stylist at New York City’s Cutler Salon to go back to the basics and teach us the real rules.

VIDEO: 8 Ways to Keep Frizzy Hair Under Control

1. Choose your brush wisely.

If your hair is prone to tangles, a densely-packed boar bristle brush is not your friend, says Osterman. A paddle brush is the all-around best option for pretty much any hair type. “It detangles but is still gentle because the teeth of the brush are further apart and not too dense,” she says.

2. Be wary of wet hair.

You’ve heard it before, but consider this your final warning: Don’t brush your hair when it's wet. According to Osterman, doing so can cause major breakage since dampness weakens the hair shaft. If you’re in a rush, slick back your post-shower strands into a low pony using a widetooth comb. According to Osterman, the thick plastic prongs are less likely to damage wet hair.

3. Work your way up.

Brushing your hair from the bottom up feels unnatural at first. But starting low allows you to tackle tangles along the hair shaft without the risk of pulling your follicle out of its root. Beginning at the bottom, separate your hair into horizontal sections and brush each layer one at a time until your strands are silky smooth, Osterman says.

4. Give your scalp some TLC.

Osterman strongly believes that healthy hair begins at the scalp (and we do, too!). That’s why she tells her clients to pay special attention to their roots while brushing. “The aim is to drag the oils of your scalp through the rest of your hair,” she says. Sound like a recipe for greasy strands? Not so, says Osterman. “The oils of your scalp are ‘healthy oils’ that will actually strengthen your hair, not weight it down.” So when you’re done detangling, throw in a few long, fluid strokes from roots to tips to amp up shine.