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Tips for Choosing the Perfect Hairbrush

I'm sure you've noticed that hairbrushes come in all shapes and sizes. They are also made from a variety of materials. So, which one is right for you? With so many options available, it is important to know which types work for your specific hair type, length, and styling needs. Don’t let choosing a hairbrush become a hair-raising ordeal—check out these tips to find the one that is perfect for you!

Flat Paddle

Flat paddle brushes are tailor-made for smoothing hair immediately after blow-drying. Flat paddle brushes are typically made from boar’s hair or widely-spaced plastic bristles and feature a broad surface to cover large sections of hair. The bristle placement of the flat paddle hairbrush helps to counteract the effects of blow-drying by distributing your natural scalp oils.

A flat paddle brush is great for smoothing hair.

A flat paddle brush is great for smoothing hair.

This brush is great for shoulder-length to long hair and is designed to get rid of wispy strands and impart a glossy shine. Avoid this type of brush if you have layered hair. It will cause your layers to fall flat.

It is important to remember if you are using a boar bristle brush to be careful. Because these natural bristles are so rigid, running one through dry hair can cause breakage if you don't detangle your hair first.


Oval hair brushes with bristles set in an air cushion base are the perfect match for medium-length tresses. They have evenly spaced plastic or metal bristles with ball tips to help smooth dry hair without tugging or breakage. They can also be used to untangle wet hair. If you struggle with styling your fine and thinning hair, this is the brush for you!

A cushion hairbrush is perfect for shoulder-length hair.

A cushion hairbrush is perfect for shoulder-length hair.

You can also find cushion hairbrushes with natural bristles that offer the same benefits as their plastic or metal bristle counterparts. Just remember not to use natural bristles on wet hair—they can cause nasty split ends.


A round or barrel-shaped brush can be used to blow-dry all different textures and hair lengths. The barrel size you select will be dictated by your hair length.

Smaller diameter brushes are designed for smoothing or curling shorter hair. Longer hair requires a larger brush diameter. Long, fine hair tends to wrap around a small barrel, creating an unfortunate tangle of hair and brush.

A round hairbrush give hair movement and curls when used with a blow dryer.

A round hairbrush give hair movement and curls when used with a blow dryer.

Choose from a variety of materials like wood, plastic, natural and metal bristles. Metal bristles create curls, shape, and movement by retaining the heat of the hairdryer. Wood bristles add volume to limp hair, control frizz, and stimulate the scalp’s oil production.

Plastic bristles are the least desirable—they tend to scorch fine hair during drying, and the bristles tend to wear out quicker than other materials. Natural bristles work best on thick, healthy hair that is not prone to tangles and knotting.


Narrow hairbrushes are used to backcomb hair, much like rat-tail teasing combs. These brushes consist of two or three rows of dense bristle tufts. Narrow hairbrushes can feature synthetic, natural or mixed bristles.

Narrow hairbrushes are used for backcombing.

Narrow hairbrushes are used for backcombing.

Backcombing is a styling technique used to create height on the crown. If you prefer the look of teased hair, be aware that it can cause considerable hair damage if performed over a long period of time. Rest your hair between periods of backcombing and remember to use a deep conditioning product to prevent breakage.

Wide Bristle

Wide bristle brushes are usually equipped with sparse, rigid plastic bristles. These brushes come in handy when you want to untangle wet hair. Wet hair shafts are much more susceptible to damage, so it is best to use a wide bristle brush that won’t snag or become entangled. The wide bristles gently loosen and separate wet hairs in a similar manner to a wide-tooth comb.

Wide bristle brushes can be used to gently loosen tangles in wet hair.

Wide bristle brushes can be used to gently loosen tangles in wet hair.


Many of us use vented brushes for everyday use. However, they are specifically designed to use with a blow dryer. The vents allow air to circulate through the hairbrush and hair strands, adding volume as you direct the brushstrokes up and out from the scalp.

When paired with a blow dryer, vented hairbrushes are great volume boosters.

When paired with a blow dryer, vented hairbrushes are great volume boosters.

If you desire full, bouncy hair, a vented hairbrush may just be your new best friend!


Thermal hairbrushes are also another good option for blow-drying and styling your hair. The barrel is made from special materials, like tourmaline ceramic over aluminum. They hold and evenly distribute heat without damaging your hair. This barrel material also eliminates “hot spots” that can literally burn your hair shafts.

Thermal hairbrushes are designed to work with the heat of your dryer to give you a smooth finish, fewer frizzies and less static. For women in a hurry, thermal technology also cuts down drying time!

Thermal hairbrushes are specially designed to use with a blow dryer.

Thermal hairbrushes are specially designed to use with a blow dryer.

A quality hairbrush is essential for maintaining hair and scalp health. Think of your hairbrush as an investment and purchase the best one you can afford. Your hair will thank you by giving you fewer bad hair days!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 26, 2012:

Emma, there are even more tips regarding shopping for hairbrushes that I didn't even have time to mention. I wanted to keep the Hub as concise as possible! I also use a wide tooth comb while my hair is wet, but find I need help to get added volume while drying. Do check out some of the hairbrush styles I mentioned -- the possibilities are almost limitless! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on November 26, 2012:

How interesting - I like to think I look after my hair, but I have never considered the type of brush I use. In fact I tend to just use a wide toothed comb and blow dry my hair.

I think I will go hair brush shopping!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on October 25, 2012:

Jackie, I never really knew the difference until I researched this Hub. Like you, now I will know which type of hair brush to buy next time. Thanks for reading and contributing! :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 24, 2012:

This is really great to know. I bet I have twenty hair brushes; every style and size and I wonder sometimes which is really best. So now I know there are different reasons, thank you!