11 best hair brushes
Tame unruly tresses and keep hair looking healthy with a high-quality styling tool
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It’s easy to take hairbrushes for granted as something which you may – or may not – run quickly over your hair before rushing out of the house, but choosing the correct one for your hair type can transform your hair – adding gloss and polish.
A good brush will improve the health and shine of your hair by distributing sebum from the roots of your hair, down the shaft and through to the ends.
Hairbrushes are often designed for different uses – for example, radial brushes should be used to blow-dry your hair, rather than to run through dry hair. A lot of brands offer their hairbrushes in different sizes – the larger ones are for thicker, longer hair.
It’s fine to brush your hair every day, but always treat your hair gently – if you brush too rigorously, it will damage the hair and create split ends.
And it’s generally better to gently brush wavy or curly hair when it’s wet, rather than dislodging dry curls.
We tried out the best brushes for blow drying and for use on wet and dry hair.
ghd ceramic vented radial brush: £17.50, ghd
This is an incredibly effective brush for a quick blow-dry. The barrel of the brush is ceramic, which means that it retains the heat of the hairdryer and dries your hair faster than if you were simply rough-drying your hair. We managed to blow-dry our thick, wavy hair into soft, voluminous waves in around 15 minutes. It looked as good as any professional blow-dry – with minimal effort and at a fraction of the price. It has an intuitive design – you simply place the brush at the root of your hair and direct the heat at the barrel before moving it through your hair. This brush comes in four sizes: choose a smaller barrel (size 1) for shorter hair. We used a size 3 brush, designed for longer hair.
Charlotte Mensah medium size paddlebrush: £22, Charlotte Mensah
Hair stylist Charlotte Mensah specialises in natural afro, mixed and curly textures, but this paddle brush is recommended for all hair types. This brush worked beautifully on wavy and curly hair – even when dry. It maintained the volume and body of our curls, giving a natural, wholesome look. The teeth are placed further apart than in most paddle brushes, which might explain why it doesn’t deflate curls in the same way as other brushes. The air-cushioned head is designed to protect your scalp from any damage. It is also heat-resistant so can be used when blow-drying.
Tangle Teezer the wet detangler: £11, Boots
It’s no surprise that this is already a cult buy. This hairbrush is specially designed for use with wet hair, which is much more fragile, and easier to stretch and break. The teeth of the hairbrush work by flexing over tangles and knots, which reduces breakage. It’s the perfect size to just pop in your bag when going swimming. It can also be used to brush conditioner through your hair – making sure that it reaches all strands and goes right to the bottom of the hair shaft. It helps detangle and separate wavy hair – and we found that our curls were more defined once our hair had dried.
Raincry volume magnesium brush: £47, Net-A-Poter
This is designed to create curl and volume when blow-drying your hair. This slightly weighted radial brush felt very luxurious and high end. It is made using a magnesium alloy, which is designed to heat and cool faster than ceramic – reducing styling damage over time. It dried our hair quickly, in the same way as ceramic (rather than noticeably quicker) and created pretty curls after a couple of practice runs. The nylon bristles are designed to remove excess product from the hair.
Aveda wooden paddle brush: £24, Aveda
This brush is a real treat to use. It has a long handle, made of sustainable wood, which fits comfortably into the palm of your hands. We found that it tamed dry hair beautifully, creating a glossy and professional look, rather than distorting curls and creating frizz. As well as detangling, its extended bristles massage the scalp. The stylists at Aveda recommend that you start brushing at the ends of your hair, before working your way up to the roots. It also creates a good lift when blow-drying hair.
Saks curling brush, extra large: £11, Saks
This curling brush, designed to be used with a hairdryer, comes in three sizes – depending on how large you want the curls to come out. This is ceramic-coated, ensuring that hair dries quickly in the heat. We found it light, fuss-free and easy to use, creating generous and voluminous curls very quickly. It is great for a quick boost for your hair.
Olivia Garden finger brush combo medium: £17.50, Amazon
This paddle-brush has a unique shape. We rested our hand on the back of the brush as we drew it through out hair. This means that the brush is very close to your scalp – and the bristles make you feel as if you are having a luxurious head massage. The brush has a combination of boar and ionic nylon bristles – which are designed to reduce static electricity. This is a fun novelty brush, which is good for detangling.
Lily England detangling hairbrush: £9.95, Lily England
This attractive gold brush, which is nicely curved so that the handle fits perfectly inside the palm of your hand, is gentle enough to work on wet as well as dry hair. The bristles are very flexible, so they move effortlessly through your hair. We found that it worked well on wet wavy hair, so that our hair dried naturally with separated curls.
Braun satin hair 7 IONTEC brush: £27.99, Amazon
This hairbrush is relatively high tech – you even need to put batteries in to make it work. It releases millions of ions – charged atoms or molecules – which are meant to stop static and frizz, while boosting shine. It made a pleasurable “swishing” sound, and felt gentle on the hair. We would recommend this for straight hair, as it created some frizz and flyaways when going through wavy hair.
Van Clarke No 1 brush: £19.50, Van Clark
This is handmade with flexible bristles made of Japanese nylon. It glided through our hair softly, without damaging the hair shaft – which meant that our hair didn’t snag or pull. It can be used to detangle hair when it is wet or dry, because it is very gentle, as well as to style hair during blow-dries. This hairbrush is designed to make sure that hair stays thick and healthy for longer – so is good for anyone who is trying to grow their hair.
Mason Pearson junior hairbrush: £72.35, Amazon
Mason Pearson hairbrushes are about as classic as they come. This is the kind of hairbrush you can imagine your grandma reminding you to use as a little girl – and each brush should last a long time, which might go some way towards justifying the price. These brushes have been mainly handmade since 1885. This specific hairbrush has a mixture of boar bristle and nylon tufts, and is recommended for thick or long hair. It added gloss and shine, but flattened wavy hair, which means it would work best with long, straight hair.
The Verdict: Hairbrushes
The GHD ceramic radial brush is our best buy because we loved the curl and volume it created in our hair while blow-drying. Tangle Teezer’s wet detangler is great for gently brushing wet hair and Charlotte Mensah’s brush works beautifully on wavy hair.
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