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May 06, 2022

How To Choose The Right Hair Brush

Your good-hair-day success rate is largely dependent on the brush or comb you use. The proper tool can tame frizz, prevent breakage, enhance shine or even stimulate growth, ultimately influencing the health of your hair. But with so many combs and brushes to choose from, how do you pick the right one(s)?

It all comes down to your hair type (shape, texture, etc.) and styling goals. Whether you’re looking to maximize volume, stay tangle-free or achieve a perfect middle part, here’s how to untangle all the options to find your perfect match.

How to choose the right brush or comb

The first step is to figure out your hair type and what it needs—then work from there.

If your hair is fine…

Fine hair is delicate and therefore more prone to breakage, so think soft. Natural boar bristles will provide the TLC you need, distributing the scalp’s natural oils throughout the hair and smoothing gently without damaging your strands.

If your hair is coarse…

Chances are you have a lot of hair, which sometimes translates to a lot of tangles (remember this Princess Diaries moment?). Thus, you’re going to want to look for a bigger brush that will help you cover more ground (and potentially cut down drying time). Enter paddle brushes: These sturdy tools come in a variety of bristle types and help distribute oil through your hair (when it comes to coarse strands, we like nylon).

If your hair is curly or coily…

Tangle-prone curls and coils need gentle tools that won’t snag or pull. Look for flexible brushes that bend and move with your hair and combs with wide, rounded teeth. If you’re going for a sleek style, boar bristles are great for distributing natural oils through the hair and adding shine. Whatever tool you use, make sure your hair’s wet, damp and/or product-saturated before you run it through (dry-brushing textured tresses may produce extra-frizzy results).

Types of combs + how to use them

Wide-tooth comb

Best for: all hair types
What it does: Wide-tooth combs are ideal for detangling and distributing product, thanks to their thick, widely spaced teeth. We love this versatile tool so much that we designed our own! Crafted from premium (as in, sturdy) acrylic, the Odele Comb gently and effortlessly detangles any head of hair, in or out of the shower.
How to use: Holding the comb lightly in your hands, run it through your hair to remove tangles or evenly disperse products like our Moisture Mask and Leave-In Conditioner.

Rattail comb

Best for: all hair types
What it does: This dual-sided styling tool is all about the details, like creating parts or small sections of hair.
How to use: Run the thin handle along your scalp to precisely part or section an area of your hair. The comb side can be used to tease, smooth or work through tiny knots.

Pick comb (aka hair pick)

Best for: curly + coily hair
What it does: Separates and lifts curls to create volume and fullness.
How to use: When you feel like rocking your biggest, fluffiest hair, use a hair pick’s long teeth to lift up from your roots until you achieve your desired shape. For the best results, make sure your hair is fully dry and moisturized before picking!

Types of brushes + how to use them

Paddle brush

Best for: all hair types
What it does: Picture a brush, and the image you see is probably a paddle. These popular brushes are great for detangling, smoothing and blow drying large sections of hair—extra handy if you have a long, thick mane.
How to use: Gently brush through sections of your hair to smooth and get rid of tangles.

Detangling brush

Best for: all hair types
What it does: Detangling brushes are masters at—you guessed it!—detangling. They’re designed to quickly and painlessly work through tough knots.
How to use: Section wet or dry hair and brush on through.

Cushion brush

Best for: fine hair that needs a gentle touch
What it does: Trying to achieve that slicked-back look? A good cushion brush can help gently smooth hairs into place and add silky shine. (If you have a sensitive scalp, look for a brush with rounded-top bristles—these will gently stimulate your scalp without scraping at the skin.)
How to use: Comb dry hair from root to tip to detangle and add body. For a bigger volume boost, try brushing sections of your hair from the middle toward the roots (a clever technique called back combing).

Round brush

Best for: all hair types, depending on bristle material (see below*)
What it does: The perfect assistant for your at-home blowout, round brushes are made for volume. Depending on how you angle the brush, they can be used to straighten or curl the hair.
How to use: The key is to work in small sections… and on 80 percent dry strands. This guide will have you round brushing like a pro.

Bristle brush

Best for: all hair types, depending on the bristle material*
What it does: Flat hair keeping you down? Bristles are ideal for adding body and bringing out your natural texture. But that’s not all! Because bristles are similar in structure to human hair, they’re highly effective at smoothing, adding shine, preventing breakage and stimulating the scalp to promote hair growth. Whoa.
How to use: Use on dry, detangled hair. Brush starting from your scalp to the ends of your hair (this will spread your natural oils down the hair shaft for major shine).

*Need a bristle type breakdown?

Boar: A great choice for any hair type (especially fine), boar bristles distribute your scalp’s natural oils through your locks, resulting in smooth and shiny hair.

Natural: Modeled after boar bristles, but made with other natural fibers. Great for all hair types.

Nylon: Also modeled after boar bristles, nylon bristles are a synthetic option best for thick hair and anyone looking to reduce static.

Mixed: Best for thick hair, mixed bristle brushes combine the oil-distributing effects of boar bristles with the scalp-stimulating power of nylon.

Curved brush

Best for: medium to thick hair
What it does: Take this brush with you on the go. They’re lightweight and vented for fast drying… and fast blow-drying.
How to use: Keep in your gym locker or beach bag (alongside your Dry Shampoo!) and run through your hair whenever you need.

Teasing brush

Best for: all hair types
What it does: Straight from the ‘80s, these rad brushes are all about adding volume.
How to use: Section by section, gently backcomb your hair from the ends to the roots until you reach the desired volume. Because they’re a bit smaller, you can also use your teasing brush to target flyaways.

Thermal brush

Best for: all hair types
What it does: Isn’t technology amazing? These electronic tools (like the Revlon One-Step) release hot air while brushing to provide a blowout without the round brush + hair dryer combo.
How to use: First things first: heat protectant. Working on damp—but not wet!—hair, wrap a one-to-two inch section around the brush. Wait 10 or so seconds and release.

Beard brush

Best for: beards!
What it does: It’s basically a bristle brush for facial hair—taming, smoothing and distributing sebum for better shine.
How to use: Apply a beard oil or balm (if that’s your thing) and run the brush through your hair from root to tip. Voila!

The Drop

Now that we have that sorted out… when was the last time you cleaned your hair brush? We’re wondering at @odelebeauty.

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Written by Lindsay Holden