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Can the wrong brush be responsible for your bad hair day? Can it cause irreversible damage to your locks? Walk down any drugstore hair care aisle and you'll come face-to-face with a mountain of varieties. It can be a hair-raising field trip for sure.
Experts say that using the right hairbrush for your hair type, texture and style will help you score those highly coveted "good hair days." But how do you know which to choose?
TODAY has done the legwork for you, identifying the most common hairbrushes, and explaining how to choose the best hair brush for you — and why.
We asked professional hairstylists to break it down for us. Find your perfect match with our easy guide — you might be surprised by some of the recommendations!
Pro tip: Remember to clean your hair brush regularly to prolong its life.
The best hair brush for long hair: Paddle brush
Nothing gets the job done for our long-haired sisters quite like a handy paddle brush, Mark Garrison of Mark Garrison Salon told TODAY. And if you like to flip your hair upside down to blow dry or brush from root to end, the paddle will help distribute your natural oils — which Garrison calls “God-given conditioner” — throughout your strands.
This Amazon Choice paddle brush has racked up over 2,000 reviews online and claims to easily glide through dry and wet hair without pulling.
This brush creates voluminous, shiny hair by brushing the oils from roots to ends, according to the brand.
The best hair brush for curly hair: Denman brush
While it's true that most curls shouldn't be brushed at all, the Denman brush is an exception to the rule, according to Garrison.
The strong bristles can cut down on detangling time and even help distribute the oh-so-important products that curly girls hold dear, shared Garrison. And if you find that the brush snags on your hair, simply remove one row of bristles.
The best hair brush for wet hair: Vented brush
Vented brushes are ideal for blow-drying sopping wet hair quickly. "The space between the bristles allows ample air flow from the hair dryer to heat up and dry the hair quickly," said Adam Bogucki, owner of Lumination Salon.
Plus, the comfort-tip bristles that are typical for this type of brush won't snag or pull delicate, wet hair.
Vented brushes works best when you start at the ends and work your way up the head so that the brush is not forced through each section. It’s also great for fluffing up shorter cuts, according to Garrison.
This Amazon Choice brush has over 300 reviews and seems perfect for all hair types. It's meant to help easily detangle hair as you dry it.
This best-selling brush has over 900 reviews and is made of boar bristles which promote hair health by stimulating the scalp and distributing natural oils from root to tip (see more boar bristle brushes below). At the same time, the vented design makes for a quick, easy blow dry with minimal tangles.
The best hair brush for frizzy hair: Boar bristle round brush
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These bristles excel at gripping strands for better tension on each section to create a sleeker style. Just remember to section small areas at a time to reap the gorgeous benefits. Don't rush the process! “It’s especially awesome for smoothing wavy to curly hair,” said Garrison.
Nicole Contrastano, hairstylist at Pierre Michel Salon, recommended always looking for round brushes with boar hair bristles, never just plastic or metal. "Not enough bristles with this type of brush can entangle hair around the barrel," explained Contrastano, "and most people get frustrated and rip or cut the hair out of the brush."
Years ago a client of Contrastano was smart enough to get in a cab with a plastic round brush stuck in her hair, but it took two assistants a couple of hours to unravel her out of the brush, she cautiously warned.
This is the Amazon Choice pick for "boar bristle round brush." It has an impressive 4.6 star rating and comes in both one inch and one and a half inch sizes for different hair lengths.
This brush can be used for volume, lift, shine, styling, smoothing, blowouts, adding waves, curling hair and more, according to the brand.
The best hair brush for a bouncy blowout: Large ceramic round brush
Head in for a blow-dry session and this is the brush you typically encounter. Round brushes inherently enhance volume, curls and waves, especially at the roots. The smaller the barrel, the tighter the waves. Opt for larger barrels for bouncy, voluminous strands.
Stylists love ceramic options because they heat up and act like a curling iron — though, not nearly as hot or damaging — to beautifully set the shape and curve while smoothing and styling.
This round brush is made with boar bristles and nano ionic technology that helps reduce frizz and add shine.
This top-rated round brush is said to have bristles made with ions that repel water, causing moisture to evaporate quickly. Its ceramic base helps it retain heat more efficiently to improve drying time and help smooth hair.
This brush's wavy, temperature-resistant nylon bristles are infused with ions to be soft and gentle on hair, which reduces frizz and makes for a faster blow-drying time.
The best hair brush for bangs: Small round brush
Baby round brushes get right in under bangs for pro-like styling. Plus, they can help battle unruly cowlicks because the small diameter allows you to get in close to the roots, said Garrison. You can also go into small sections at the crown of your head with a blow dryer to work in sexy volume.
Although this brush is technically made for men, it's perfect for getting underneath small bangs to add volume and lift.
This tiny thin brush has holes in it for heat from a blowdryer to get through.
The best hair brush for wavy hair and heat-styled hair: Boar bristle paddle brushes
Ever put in a set of hot rollers or work a curling iron over your hair, only to have your brush pull out most of the style afterwards? This type of brush smooths, straightens and adds shine to hair. The boar bristles distribute natural oils from the scalp through the hair shaft, creating a polished look. "The tightly packed boar (bristles) increases tension to the hair for straighter results," said Matt Fugate, Kerastase celebrity stylist.
Garrison specifically recommended this iconic brush, which was made to be the finishing touch by combing through waves in just the right way. It’s also great for light brushing through natural waves.
If you're not looking to spend $200 on a hair brush, check out these other great boar bristle paddle brushes to try.
This brush from GranNaturals is perfect for thick or long hair. If your hair is thin, this similar one from Dovahlia comes with a comb and is designed to groom thin, fine and normal hair.
This Allure Best of Beauty Award winner will cost you a pretty penny (though not as much as the Maison Pearson brush), but it's a Sephora-favorite and great for detangling straight, wavy, curly, or coiled hair.
The best hair brush for sectioning hair: Rat-tail comb
When you’re sectioning your strands — whether it’s for blow-drying, prepping for rollers or nailing that perfect part — this widely-recognized tool still strikes a line better than anything else, said Garrison.
Use the pointed end of the heat-resistant plastic comb for sectioning hair before styling or drying. The comb side can be used for teasing or smoothing hair down.
The best hair brush for applying treatments: Wide-toothed comb
The wide teeth on this comb evenly and consistently distribute product for salon-like results when you’re applying deep-conditioner treatments, hair masks and color toners. You can also use the comb as a gentler option to detangle wet, fragile and processed hair when you get out of the shower.
This Amazon Choice set comes with two plastic wide tooth combs, one with a handle and one without.
The best hair brush for creating volume: Teasing Brushes
Stumped on how to create volume? The '80s launched this handy little tool into notoriety, and it still lives on in the kits of pros today.
Bogucki advised sectioning hair into two sections: a thin top layer and one underneath. Tease the bottom layer by backcombing to the root. Then, smooth the top section over the teased hair for a polished but voluminous look.
“Teasing works best when it’s done close to the scalp,” said Garrison.
Another handy use? Fugate adds thickness to braids by backcombing sections before braiding. "I also like to mist the brush itself with strong hairspray [...] for pinpoint precision to tame unwanted flyaways," he said.
This little gadget is a brush and comb in one. Its combination of boar bristles and nylon bristles improve styling control, while the handle makes it easy to part and separate hair.
For more expert recommended beauty picks, check out:
- The best flat irons and hair straighteners for healthy hair
- The best silk pillowcases
- The 13 best drugstore lipsticks you can buy