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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 come face to face with a mountain of varieties. It can be a hair-raising field trip for sure.
But fret not, TODAY Style has done the legwork for you, identifying the most common hairbrushes, and explaining how to know which ones are right for you — and why. Some of these uses may surprise you!
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Vented brushes are ideal for blow-drying sopping wet hair fast. "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.
The beauty of this? Damp hair is much easier to style with polishing brushes (more on those later), without needing to put much muscle and time behind it. Plus, the comfort-tip bristles that are typical for this type of brush won't snag or pull delicate, wet hair either.
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Wet Brush Speed Dry Hair Brush, $13, Amazon
Boar-Bristle Paddle Brushes
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.
GranNaturals Boar Bristle Paddle Hair Brush, $13, Amazon
Head in for a blow-dry session and this is the brush you typically encounter. Round brushes 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.
A word of caution: Always look 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 Nicole Contrastano, hairstylist at Pierre Michel Salon, "and most people get frustrated and rip or cut the hair out of the brush."
Years ago a client 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.
Suprent Nano Thermal Ceramic & Ionic Round Barrel Hair Brush, $17, Amazon
The pointed handle sections hair while the thin brush gently backcombs at the roots for added volume. This tool comes in handy when styling bangs and aiding hot tools, too.
Stumped on how to create volume? Bogucki advises 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.
Another handy use? Fugate adds thickness to braids by backcombing sections before braiding. "I also like to mist the brush itself with strong hairspray like Kerastase Lacque Couture for pinpoint precision to tame unwanted flyaways," he said.
Spornette Little Wonder Boar-Nylon Bristle Teasing Brush, $6, Amazon
Other Points to Consider
Brushes that cut drying time
Look for copper-plated or copper-barreled brushes. They help dry hair much faster as the barrel warms up and helps distribute heat throughout the hair shaft. Less time blow-drying means less damage to your strands!
Curly and wavy hair benefits most from a brush with wide bristles because it helps tame frizz without breaking up natural texture, said Bogucki. Mixed-bristle brushes work well for medium to thick dry hair because the nylon bristles work to detangle strands, while the boar bristles distribute oil and create a soft texture. Meanwhile, someone with fine hair may need a brush with wide-spaced pins and a natural rubber cushion to easily gild through hair without ripping it out.
Now brush up on these tips for your bounciest blow-dry yet!