Shopping for a hairbrush seems like it would be one of the easier beauty choices we make. Simple, really. I always thought I could pretty much pick whichever one looked and felt aesthetically/physically appealing to me. But, as it turns out, when you consult the pros, hairbrushes (like, say, skincare) are also tailored to our specific types. I spoke to John Barrett, whose chic salons serve as standbys to some of New York and Florida’s most fashionable about how to pick your hairbrush soul mate!
What are the key terms a consumer should know?
Shape — The choice of flat or round depends on whether you want to flatten hair or create volume. Flat brushes are made for detangling and smoothing, while round brushes allows you to create more volume at the base of the scalp and deliver soft, rounded shapes, which is why it’s perfect to use for blowouts.
Bristle type — Boar bristles are most gentle on the hair and scalp. These brushes distribute oil evenly throughout the hair and create shine by sealing in the cuticle. Boar bristles also get better the more they are worn in. Nylon bristles provide a better grip on sleek, straight hair, and are thus best used for detangling.
Barrel type — Ceramic barrels distribute heat gently and consistently, since most of them have holes allowing air to flow on both sides of the brush. Ceramic also tends to add a lot more shine, but creates less volume. Tourmaline barrels are made of crushed gemstones, which contain negative ions that counteract static electricity and flyaways. Finally, Titanium barrels distribute heat evenly and are light and easy to work with.
How do you recommend people shop for hairbrushes?
There’s no one-size fits all brush, so shop for the brush you need. Determine what you want to do with your hair and choose the appropriate shape and bristle that will suit your needs. For example, a wide-tooth comb is best used to detangle hair, while a fine-tooth comb is best to smooth or tease hair, and for blowouts, you go for a round brush.
What is the best type of hairbrush for:
Long hair = large, wide paddle brush, such as the Mason Pearson Popular Mix Brush, $205 (Writer’s Note: These splurge brushes are forever beloved by the pro’s…i.e. John Barrett, and said to last a lifetime, but for a cheaper alternative, try the Wet Brush Paddle Brush, $10.99)
Short hair = small, round boar bristle brush, like the Sephora Collection Bounce: Small Round Thermal Ceramic Brush, $18
Frizzy hair = paddle brush, like the one from GHD, $55
Curly hair = wide-spaced nylon bristle brush, or wide-spaced wood bristle brush, Barrett recommends trying Mason Pearson’s Detangler All Nylon Hair Brush, $110
Any little known facts you’d would want people to know about hairbrushes?
Hairbrush maintenance is important! Your brush needs cleaning since dirty brushes cause hair to look dull and lifeless, since it will leave residue caused by a collection of loose hair, dust and styling products.