Choosing the right hairbrush is a crucial part of professional hair care. Hairbrushes come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own purpose and hair type. For example, should you use a wide and rectangular brush to blow-dry hair or a cylindrical hairbrush to style long hair? Which is the best brush to deal with curly or textured hair?
Every professional hairstylist knows the importance of having the right tools at hand. Using the right hairbrush makes styling easier, allowing you to achieve superior results. This means you can provide your clients with superior results because you have the right brush when working with their hair.
This article is a complete guide to choosing the correct professional hairbrush. You will learn what defines a good brush and how using the right hairbrush protects your client’s hair, preventing breakage and split ends.
Assess the hair types you will be working with
When choosing the right professional hairbrush, it is important to assess the types of hair you will be working with. Different hair types require different brushes to achieve the desired results. Therefore, before picking up a brush to blow-dry or style hair, take some time to assess the client’s hair.
Classed as type 1 hair, straight hair can be fine, coarse, or thick. Usually, straight hair lacks volume and will fail to hold curls. The straight hair surface is able to reflect more light, therefore it usually produces a glossy shine.
Wavy hair is type 2 and tends to be S-shaped (as opposed to curls which are shaped like 9’s). The waves can be fine, thick, coarse or medium texture, laying closer to the scalp. One of the major challenges of wavy hair is that they often get frizzy, giving your hair an irregular texture.
Type 3 hair is categorised as curly hair. Usually, curly hair looks like a string of 9’s or miniature springs. Curly hair is quite complex because each individual hair fibre has its own pattern. Curly hair springs can be very tight or loose, normally coarse, thick or medium textured.
Categorised as type 4 hair. Commonly referred to as afro-textured hair, is usually very soft, dry, spongy, fine, coarse or wiry. The strands start at the scalp with tight coils evolving to zigzag-shaped angles. These are the characteristics that essentially distinguish textured hair from other curl types.
Brush qualities for each hair type
Each type of salon hairbrush has qualities for specific hair types. Therefore, selecting the right brush is vital to achieving optimal results, as well as preventing breakage and snagging. For each hair type, we have identified the best brush to use.
Brushes for straight hair
Paddle brushes are ideal for long and straight hair because, with a single stroke, you can cover a lot of hair. In addition, the pillow-like base and widely-spaced bristles with small bumps on the tips make the brush gentle on the hair. Causing less tension and making it easier to detangle and smooth the hair. This type of brush also helps distribute oils evenly.
Brushes for wavy hair
Choose a brush with boar bristles positioned wide apart to style and shape wavy hair. The natural bristles are gentle and help stimulate the scalp to produce natural oils and distribute them evenly on the scalp. This brings out hair's natural texture and boosts the body making it look voluminous. Little tip: always ensure you use a vented boar bristle brush when you're blow-drying wavy hair.
Brushes for curly hair
The best brush for curly hair should have thin, flexible bristles spaced widely, so it would detangle hair strands without causing frizz. This type of brush helps to distribute oils evenly, which is a problem with curly hair. The widely-spaced bristles will separate hair strands without causing damage or losing shape. You can also use a wide-toothed comb on wet curly hair to help prevent breakage.
Brushes for textured hair
When working on thick hair with kinks and tight coils, it is best to use a detangling brush. These usually have clusters of short bristles evenly spaced to minimise damage from brushing textured hair. It’s important that the bristles would be spaced widely in five to seven rows bristles. This type of brush will also help distribute oils on the scalp, achieve curl style and definition. It’s always best to style textured hair while damp or loaded with conditioner.
What makes a good brush?
Using the right brush when styling hair is necessary to protect hair and scalp health, detangle, reduce frizz, and achieve the desired styling results. While it is crucial to choose the right brush for the correct hair type, there are certain characteristics you should look for when choosing the best brush.
Penetration of the hair
Bristles must easily pass through hair strands to separate them and stimulate the scalp. Therefore, nylon bristles on a padded base penetrate thick hair better than brushes with natural bristles.
Tension for the right style
A blow-drying hairbrush should have small bristles among longer nylon ones with rounded tips. This allows the stylist to wrap hair around the brush to create the appropriate tension. This styling process helps remove frizz, leaving hair shiny and smooth.
Control of the process
The hair styling brush should have a good, ergonomic handle to achieve the best results. This allows you to have complete control over the styling process and achieve the results your clients desire.
Define the construction of the brush
Professional hairbrushes can be made from natural materials, or synthetic materials. The different materials give the brushes different qualities, for example, synthetic bristles tend to cause less static than natural bristles. Additionally, stiffer bristles are better for detangling than softer bristles made from natural fibres.
- Nylon bristle: Nylon bristles with rounded tips are commonly used for detangling, blow-drying, and styling. The stiffer bristles help penetrate thick and fine hair and cause less static. Hairbrushes with nylon bristles are better for adding volume and body to hair.
- Boar bristle: There are various types of professional hairbrushes with boar bristles. These can be 100 per cent boar hair or a combination of natural and synthetic. The bristles of the boar hair create tension and effectively hold hair. They are better for stimulating natural scalp oils and helping to create shiny hair.
The brush size is a crucial consideration when choosing the right hairbrush. Generally, the longer the hair, the larger diameter of the brush required. For example, short hair – about chin-length – needs a brush under 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. On the other hand, long hair requires a brush with a diameter of over 3 inches (7.5 cm).
The form of a brush
You should choose the suitable brush form depending on what you want to achieve. Here are some brush forms and their uses:
- Round brush: Typically used for blow-drying hair and styling loose curls and waves.
- Vented brush: This type of straight brush has vents allowing for fast drying as the hot air flows through the brush.
- Paddle brush: This has a wide, flat base allowing you to smooth hair and brush straight, long hair quickly.
- Curved brush: Often vented and curved to fit the shape of a head, these brushes are ideal for drying hair quickly.
- Detangling brush: Typically, an oval shape with short bristles, this type of brush is ideal for brushing knotted hair without damaging the ends.
- Ceramic brush: This stylist’s must-have hairbrush is made from materials that conduct heat, like titanium, ceramic, or tourmaline. Ceramic brushes are perfect for frequent blow-drying.
- Cushion brush: Typically with five to ten rows of bristles in a straight line, a cushion brush is ideal for removing static and preventing frizz. This type of flat brush is also excellent for styling.
Most professional stylists’ hairbrushes have ergonomic handles and soft grips. Apart from the traditional hairbrush with a long handle, some brushes are held in your palm with a grip between your fingers.
Paddle or barrel size
Professional hair stylists need several sizes of paddle and barrel-type brushes. A paddle brush and a large barrel brush are typically best for styling long hair. A smaller barrel brush and cushion brush are ideal for shorter hair.
Define what you want to achieve with the brush
It doesn’t matter if the hair is long, wet, dry, or cropped cut – the key to getting a good style is choosing the right hairbrush. Therefore, when choosing the brush, you must know what you want to achieve – detangling, smoothing, drying, or adding volume.
Styling hair – curling/straightening/detailing
When styling hair, choosing the right brush for the job is important. A round brush is ideal for curling as it helps create curls and waves. However, a vented or paddle brush is best for straightening as it helps smooth out the hair. For detailing, a cushion brush with short bristles is perfect for creating texture and definition.
Other brushes and combs for styling hair include the following:
- Detail brush: A small, narrow hairbrush designed to add volume and texture to limp or fine hair.
- Dressing out brush: Similar to paddle brushes, these flat brushes have soft nylon or boar bristles to create sleek styles.
- Pin tail brush: This type of comb or brush has a long-pointed handle suitable for separating and lifting sections of hair.
When detangling hair, it’s important to choose a brush with soft bristles to prevent damaging the ends of the hair. These brushes are typically for wet or dry hair and glide through hair without tugging, snagging, or pulling.
Some professional hairbrushes for detangling combine boar bristles and nylon bristles for gentler action. This type of brush reduces static while getting knots out of hair. Additionally, the boar bristles ensure a natural shine to hair.
Blow-drying hair is an important part of styling, requiring the right brush to achieve the desired results. Ceramic brushes are ideal for blow-drying as they have heat-resistant bristles and are made from heat-conducting materials. These brushes help to dry hair quickly and evenly while adding volume and shine. Additionally, ceramic brushes can be used on wet or dry hair for a smooth finish.
Other brushes suitable for blow-drying include vented hairbrushes, curved brushes, and round brushes. For example, a round brush can help to style waves and curls when using a hairdryer.
Make sure you pick gentle brushes that do not irritate your customer’s skin
When selecting a professional hairbrush, it is important to ensure that the brush is gentle on the skin. Brushes with soft bristles are ideal for preventing damage to the ends of the hair and reducing static. Additionally, some brushes combine boar bristles and nylon bristles for gentler action.
When choosing the right hairbrush with nylon bristles, ensure they have moulded rounded tips. These will prevent sharp bristles from scratching and potentially damaging it. Cheaper brushes may have rounded tips. However, these tend to fall off quickly and can damage the scalp.
Sort your brushes by use
Using the right type of brush is necessary to achieve the best hair styling results. Therefore, it is best to sort your brushes by their use. This way, you will always have the right brush to hand when styling or blow-drying a client’s hair.
- Cushion brush
- Paddle brush
- Mixed bristle brush
- Detail brush
- Pintail brush
- Dressing out brush
- Detangling brush
- Paddle brush
- Wide-tooth comb
- Vented brush
- Round brush
- Ceramic brush
- Vented brush
- Mixed bristle brush
- Paddle brush
Choosing the right professional hairbrush is important. As a salon professional or an owner, you have to be ready to serve every type of hair, therefore, you need to include all types of brushes in your kit.
If you want to provide the best service possible and exceed your client’s expectations, using the correct brushes for the right type of hair will be essential for your salon's success. This way, you not only style your client’s hair but will also help to maintain the health of hair and scalp, which essentially will result in better customer satisfaction metrics.
So, why don’t you visit our professional hair brushes page and start selecting the best tools for your new professional salon hair brush collection?