Are you using the right hairbrush?
Knowing whether you’re using the right brush can go a long way to ensuring your hair is healthy and strong…
From paddle, round, and dressing brushes to teasing combs and wide tooth wonders. From boar and horsehair to nylon and stainless steel bristles. From handles made of Ebony, Rosewood, and Beech to those made of plastic and polyacetal. With so many hairbrushes on the market, it’s easy to get your tresses tangled in a knot deciding which is best suited to your hair type, length, and condition. Truth is, there is far more to hairbrushes than meets the eye, and choosing the correct brush can mean the difference between strong shiny locks and broken dull strands.
Boar bristle brush benefits
Most round brushes have nylon bristles. While these do the job of sliding through knots and minimising pulling, especially on thick hair, they don’t have much impact on the overall condition and shine of your locks. You should be looking for a brush that will smooth out cuticles, lift away dirt, and distribute the oils from your scalp to the ends of your hair. The most commonly used material to prepare natural bristles of a brush is boar hair. Although more expensive, boar bristles can dramatically improve the health, texture, and condition of your hair. Boar bristle brushing is a conditioning treatment that adds shine. The unique structure of the boar bristle carries sebum – the oil produced by the scalp – from the scalp to the end of the hair shaft. By coating each hair strand with a tiny amount of sebum, a boar bristle brush repairs dry hair and adds lustrous shine. These bristles are also best for straightening and heat-styling hair as they give you more control.
Glamour queens of the 1800s such as Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, and Katharine Hepburn all swore by boar bristle brushes to keep their locks glamorous.
How to select a hair brush
When selecting a hairbrush, you need to take your hair texture and length into consideration, as well as your individual hair needs. The flat brush is normally used for detangling hair, for example after sleeping or showering. A round brush can be used for styling and curling hair, especially by a professional stylist, often with a blowdryer. The longer your hair, the bigger the round brush should be. Blow-dry fringes with a small to medium round brush while a paddle brush should be used to straighten hair, flatten long hair, and tame flyaways.
Combs are better suited to curls than straight locks and steer clear of plastic combs as they cause hair breakage. Keep in mind that the curlier your hair, the wider toothed combs and brushes you will need. Everyone should have a detangling brush for after wetting your hair and extra caution should be practiced when brushing hair that’s wet or damp as this is when hair is at its weakest.
The best hair brush for your hair
What hair brush do we recommend investing in? Wet brushes are amazing detangling brushes and can be used safely on wet hair. The magic of the wet brushes is in their specially formulated flexible bristles with soft tips. Flexible bristles are thin, strong, and very flexible. They have intelligent flexibility – flexible on one stroke and firm on the next. The adaptive flexibility of these bristles combined with the gentle soft tips eliminates all tugging, tearing, pulling, and ripping. No split ends, no hair loss. We also love the range of round blow-dry brushes, paddle brushes, and combs from GHD. They stock carbon combs (hard rubber), which are really the best kind of combs out there. We find plastic combs pull the hair unnecessarily. Carbon combs have a wide-toothed design, which allows for delicate detangling on damp hair, which is fragile and more prone to damage. Vent brushes are also high on our list. Everyone should have a vent brush. They have vents or openings between bristles, which allow more heat from the blow dryer to get directly to the hair quicker, reducing heat damage.
Vent brushes accelerate the blow-drying process by allowing warm air to circulate directly at root level. These brushes provide excellent grip and control, safely detangling all hair lengths and types without snagging.
Hair brushes for wigs, extensions & afros
Wigs and hair extensions need extra TLC when it comes to brushing. We recommend a special brush – one without the typical ‘balls’ on the ends of the bristles. Choose a soft bristle brush to detangle your hair without damaging it.
Brush at the bottom, as you would with your natural hair, detangling that area first before you move up to work on the top sections. Be gentle with your extensions too, as pulling will cause serious breakage, both to the extensions, as well as to your natural hair.
Top tip: Do not brush your wig when it is wet. This will stretch and permanently damage the hair fibres. Use only brushes and combs that are designed specifically for synthetic wigs. Your regular hairbrush or comb is not will stretch and stress the fibres.
Hair Brushes throughout history
Hairbrushes are not just a styling tool of the modern era. Brushes have been in existence for as long as people have had hair. Centuries ago folk would use bone, porcupine quills, flint, and shell fragments to brush their hair and assist in removing nasty critters like lice, mites, and fleas. Evidence such as portraits, paintings, and sculptures show that Ancient Romans and Greeks used brushes to style, curl and braid their hair, while excavations from Egyptian tombs have unearthed combs and brushes made of dried fishbone. Documents from the Vikings also shown that men cared for their hair by using combs made of antler (from deer).
The earliest United States patent for a modern hairbrush was by Hugh Rock in 1854. A brush with elastic wire teeth along with natural bristles – yes, you read right, elastic wire – was patented by Samuel Firey in 1870. In 1898, Lyda A. Newman invented an ‘improved hairbrush’, which allowed for easy cleaning and had bristles separated wide enough to allow for easy combing.
Facts about hair brushes
- Brushing your hair and scalp daily eliminates waste materials from your hair including uric acid crystal deposits, catarrh, and other acids and other impurities that gather and stick to the scalp.
- Studies on hair also show that combing hair leads to loss of protein which is thought to be small parts of the hair cuticle chipping away.
- Regular brushing helps to stimulate the blood capillaries, in turn increasing the blood circulation and transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the stem, root, and bulb of the hair and stimulates various oil and hormone-producing glands.
- Combs and brushes should be washed weekly. Remove all hair and other materials on the brush or comb before soaking in hot water and dish detergent for 20 minutes before rinsing. Air dry.
Expert tips on how to protect your hair
Brushing your hair regularly is an important part of maintaining and rejuvenating your hair, especially when this process is associated with a scalp massage. When brushing, however, it’s important not to damage your locks by keeping the following in mind:
- Hair strands are incredibly fragile and prone to breakage when they’re saturated with water since the protective cuticle is slightly raised. Never brush your hair or untangle while wet as this will lead to hair breakage.
- For slightly damp hair always use a wide-tooth comb and don’t pull too hard on your hair.
- Always brush your hair first thing in the morning. The natural oils from your head that accumulate overnight are more abundant before exposure to sunlight and chemicals. Brushing before your day begins helps comb through all these natural oils, distributing them down your hair shaft, which helps them condition your hair naturally.
- Brush your hair in slow easy strokes for at least three to five minutes twice a day to stimulate keep your hair healthy and shiny.
- Always brush from the ends working your way to the roots. If the brush feels like it is stretching or breaking your hair; it probably is.
- That age-old advice of brushing your hair 100 strokes before bed goes out the window with research proving that when it comes to brushing, less is more. Too much brushing leads to friction on hair causing breakage and cuticle damage. This makes the hair frizzy and lustreless.