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Hairbrush Basics

Hairbrush Basics

From the bristles to the body shape, there's a lot that goes into a great hair brush. They're essential tools for your routine and each design does a different task. Make sure you've got the best brushes for your hair type and styling needs!

Bristle Types

There are two main bristle types: boar and nylon. Boar (widely considered the best bristle in the biz) is known for its strength and control; nylon is right for gentler brushing.

Boar bristles (yep, from the animal) are very sturdy and typically densely packed on the brush. This makes boar bristle brushes like the highly rated Spornette Italian Collection Boar Rounder effective at removing dirt or product from your hair. Some boar brush devotees swear by brushing their hair clean between shampoos. The tough bristles give a great head massage while distributing your scalp's natural oils throughout your hair to moisturize and add shine. Boar bristles are resilient which makes for efficient detangling, straightening or brushing through thick, coarse or curly hair.

Note: Some boar bristle brushes combine materials. Look for 100% boar; boar reinforced with nylon bristles; or porcupine bristles with boar and nylon.

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Nylon: Nylon bristles slide easily through thin, fine or fragile hair. Most nylon bristles are flexible and won't pull or tug at tangles such as the Phillips Light Touch 6.

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Brush Body Technology and Types

Hair brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Each of these elements makes a difference in your styling experience.

Ceramic: Ceramic coated brush bodies increase the effects of negative ions produced by your hair dryer. (But, not all hair dryers emit negative ions! If you want to learn about the pros of a pro hair dryer, check out our Hair Dryer Buying Guide.)
Ceramic hair brushes distribute heat evenly and then hold it longer for a faster blow dry. That means less frizz, more shine and healthier hair from less time under the hair dryer.

Tourmaline: Tourmaline further enhances the benefits of ceramic. More negative ions means static-free smoothness and noticeably improved hair condition.

Vented: A vented brush has openings that allow air to flow through the body for a drastically faster drying time. Less time drying means healthier hair - talk about a win-win.

Thermal: Thermal Hair Brushes capture and hold the heat from your hair dryer, speeding up your drying time. All thermal hair brushes are vented to allow airflow through the body of the brush (though not all vented brushes are thermal.) For the smoothest, shiniest results, choose a thermal hair brush with ceramic or tourmaline in the body or bristles.

Round Barrel: Round brushes are musts for getting body and volume from your blow-dry. Find the bristle type that's best for your hair (info above) and then choose your technology and extra features (like vented) for a salon grade styling experience.

Paddle: These wide, flat brushes have a lot of surface area which is effective for smoothing and straightening your hair. Use a paddle brush before you flat iron for an easier straightening experience.

Cushion: Cushion brushes feature bristles secured into a rubber or synthetic pad. The size, shape and thickness of the cushion determine the amount of "give" from the bristles. More give means more flexibility which is gentler on your hair. If you have thick, coarse or curly hair, you'll need a brush with less give. Fine, thin or fragile hair needs a kinder one so opt for more cushion.

Styling and Finishing: Styling hair brushes are multifunctional tools for putting the final touches on your look. They're designed for sculpting, shaping and finishing rather than brushing (longer strokes) or blowouts. The more precise your style or the shorter you hair, the smaller the styling brush you'll want. If you're creating waves or curls, select a round brush. Straight stylers, stick to a paddle or classic version.

Teasing: With the right technique, teasing hair brushes can help take your hair to new heights. Bonus: many of their handles double as combs that can be used for parting or sectioning hair.

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