Some hair products are non-negotiable. (See: shampoo and conditioner.) But finding the best hair brush can be a game-changer for your hair-care routine, allowing for easier styling, less frizz, and overall healthier hair. That said, finding the right hair brush for your hair type isn’t always so straightforward. Depending on the design and construction—whether it has boar bristles or nylon pins, for example—can make it better for brushing out a certain hair texture or creating a given hairstyle. So, we asked hairstylists to spill the deets (and their top picks) on the best hair brush for every situation.
How to choose the best hair brush
Straight hair, thin hair, long hair—whatever you’re working with, using the right brush can help. “Different brushes have different uses,” says Leigh Hardges, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “Bristle types, shapes, and sizes all have a purpose.” She not only takes the construction of the brush into consideration, but also its weight and how ergonomic it feels in her hand.
The bristles are kind of a big deal. Most of the time, you’ll see either boar bristles, which are stiffer, or nylon, which makes for more flexible bristles. This difference influences how they’re used. “Boar bristles help carry natural oils to the ends of the hair. I like to use boar on clients with fragile, fine hair,” says Hardges. ”Nylon bristles are the workhorses of brushes. They are optimal for heat-styling and detangling.”
That said, you don’t necessarily need 10 different brushes to get a good hair day on the books, says New York City hairstylist Mikel McIntyre. If you’re not sure where to start, he says, “get a good, proper detangling brush and a good, proper style brush—and you’re set.”
How to brush your hair correctly
First, it always helps to begin with a detangling spray, especially if you’re working with damp hair. ”Apply and spread with your fingers, then start to brush from the bottom,” says McIntyre, who’s currently a fan of Verb Leave-In Conditioner Mist. ”You’ll notice a much cleaner blow-dry or air-dry style.” Whether you’re working with damp or dry hair, that brushing technique is essential for the best results. “Always start at the ends and work your way up the section of hair,” says Hardges. ”Otherwise you end up pulling more tangles into the ends.”
How to care for your hair brush
Some brushes can be an investment (we see you, Mason Pearson) so it’s worth taking good care of yours, whichever you choose. Remove loose hair from your brush weekly, and clean it with a mild shampoo if you notice gunk or build-up on the bristles. “If the handle is wooden, be sure to let it dry completely or it will warp,” says Hardges.
If you’re losing bristles left and right, take it as your cue to invest in a new one. With that in mind, consider these brushes to add to your arsenal—or replace your years-old model that isn’t quite cutting it.