Hairbrush (noun). a brush for smoothing and styling the hair. But is the humble hairbrush really that simple? First, let’s start with its origins.
Way back when, in a time of kings and noblemen, the hairbrush was an indulgence reserved only for the wealthy, and to have one displayed one’s prominent social status. In this era, the hairbrush was usually a cherished gift, handcrafted with bristles that were individually hand stitched and handles carved from wood.
The first known producer of hairbrushes was Kent Brushes back in 1777 - 240 years later, Kent Brushes are still a leading manufacturer of hairbrushes.
Interestingly, the no-poo (no shampoo) regime dates back to the same time. Women would massage a scented pomade like substance created from fats or oils into their hair, then add a dusting of ground bones to absorb any excess oil (dry shampoo for the bygone era) before brushing through hair to condition and remove dirt. This regime also aided in creating those elaborate hairstyles of the 18th century.
It wasn’t until after the industrial revolution that hairbrushes became mass-produced, and Mason Pearson created the first rubber cushioned brush. The idea of Mason Pearson’s air-filled brush is that it contours to an individual’s scalp to achieve the right amount of scalp stimulation.
Then in the late 1890s the hairbrush was improved again, this time with ventilation chambers and synthetic bristles for a more hygienic and efficient way to brush hair, particularly for the afro type hair - thank you Lyda Newman!
And finally, in 1965, saying au revoir to hot rollers, French expat Patrick Ales created the round brush and invented “le brushing” the technique used to create full bodied coifs, or as we know it today the blow out.
Today we have a wide choice of hairbrushes to choose from. One to simply smooth and groom, and one to coif and style? Can you do both with one brush or do you need two? Use our handy guide to find out which brush does what and how to use it to achieve the best result.
Paddle Hair Brush
The everyday hairbrush for thick or long hair. The paddle hairbrush is big and broad and being a flat brush it’s anti-static, which is perfect in winter when wearing woolly hats and scarves. The paddle brush smooths and grooms and doesn’t really offer any styling help, although it is the perfect prep brush for straightening hair with a flat iron.
Our favourite go-to professional paddle hairbrush is the EVY Professional Quad-Tec Paddle Brush. The mineral infused bristles gently massage the scalp to improve circulation and emit ionic energy to eliminate static and flyaway hair.
Cushion Hair Brush
Stimulate your scalp and encourage hair growth with a cushion hairbrush. A good all-round brush for short to medium hair, the cushion brush controls static and frizz while smoothing and grooming. The cushion brush is designed to contour to your head and fight resistance to prevent stretching and breaking hair. Best for straight dry hair, but a smaller cushion brush like Denman Classic Brushes can be used to dry and style hair with a hair dryer.
Vented Hair Brush
If you have fine or shorter hair, or are after more movement and bounce, then the vented hairbrush is for you. Available as a flat brush, the bristles are tipped so they won’t pull or snag hair, reducing hair breakage. The vented brush also allows you to dry your hair faster when used with a hair dryer. The air goes through the vents to allow maximum air flow, while the bristles separate and lift hair to provide volume. Use to dry hair from the tips to the roots, working your way up the hair rather than down for a quick, easy blow dry.
The vented brush is also available as a round brush, to dry and style. Try the ghd vented barrel range, a ceramic vented hairbrush to not only cut drying time down but to also create a soft curl.
Round Hair Brush
Round hairbrushes are ideal for creating body and best used when blow drying hair. Use a small round brush on short styles or fringes and a larger round brush on mid-length to long hair. Typically made from ceramic, the round hairbrush is designed to mimic a curling iron. The barrel heats when used with a hairdryer to create soft bouncy curls.
For a smoother, shinier finish use a hairbrush made from natural bristles. Delicate on hair, they pick up more of your hair’s natural oils and carry them along the length of your hair. With more bristles than a nylon hairbrush, they keep the tension as you move the brush through your hair to create a looser curl. Great for straightening long hair. We love ghd natural brush barrel range.
Detangling Hair Brush
Detangling by name and by nature. The detangling brush was designed to remove knots and untangle without damaging the hair. If your hair is long, thick or curly and you’re not already using a detangling hairbrush, the Tangle Teezer Original will soon become your hair’s best friend. With two-tiered bristles, the longer bristles cut through snags while the shorter bristles leaves hair feeling soft.
Use the Original on dry or wet hair, or use The Wet Detangler in the shower to draw shampoo and conditioner through the hair for a deep, even cleanse.
See how easily The Wet Detangler works to evenly distribute conditioner on curly hair here.
Teasing Hair Brush
Lift roots and create fuller looking hair with a teasing brush. It can be used on all hair types and is best used to style up-dos and create texture. Go easy on the teasing, too much can cause breakage and be sure to brush out with a detangling brush.
Using the correct hairbrush will help you create the style you’re after. Always go gentle on your hair when brushing and choose the right type of brush for your hair type so you don’t weaken your hair. Don’t forget to show your hairbrush a little TLC every once and while and wash it with a little shampoo, allowing natural bristle brushes to dry naturally.