The Best Hairbrushes For Every Hair Type & Styling Need

Ashleigh Cometti gets to the root of the problem with hairstylist and owner of Auckland-based salon Colleen, Lauren Gunn, who shares her tips on finding your perfect hairbrush match

Too many options have you asking: "what the brush?" These handy hairbrush hacks will help to cut through the noise. Photo / Getty Images

 Almost every haircare product is designed with a certain hair type in mind — whether fine, coily, coarse or bleached. So, it makes sense then, that hairbrushes follow the same path.

The right hairbrush can make a world of difference not only when it comes styling, but also to maintaining the overall health of your hair.

Rather than be overwhelmed when shopping the shelves, what with so many shapes, sizes and materials available, arming yourself with a few simple hairbrush hacks will certainly help.

Below, we quiz Lauren on the right hairbrush for every hair type and styling need, from the wallet-friendly to the worthy investments.

SYNTHETIC VS NATURAL — WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

According to Lauren, there’s room for both synthetic and natural brushes in any haircare routine.

“Each have their place and some of my favourite brushes used a combination of both natural and synthetic bristles,” Lauren explains. 

Like the name suggests, natural bristled brushes help to compact the cuticle and distribute nail oils evenly along each strand of hair, Lauren says.

WATCH: Two Truths And A Lie With Hairstylist Lauren Gunn

The result? High shine hair from root to tip. Other benefits include their smoothing effect on hair, and their natural resistance to high temperatures.

At the other end of the spectrum, synthetic brushes are best for controlling hair. “By effectively gripping the hair, synthetic brushes ensure each strand is travelling in the same direction which reduces frizz and makes blow-drying a whole lot easier,” Lauren says.

“Some synthetic bristles are heat resistant and some are not, you discover the ones that are not pretty quickly.”

SKIMP OR SPLURGE?

The saying goes: “an artist is only as good as his tools”, and Lauren says if you have the cash handy, a splurge will always be worth it.

“In the case of hairbrushes and combs, price definitely indicates quality. The expense is directly related to design ergonomics and the quality of materials that make up the brush like the bristles, glue cushion and handle,” she says.

It’s not exactly a case of buy once, love for a lifetime, but if well cared for, a good hairbrush can last a long time, Lauren says. If you think of a hairbrush in terms of cost per use, an expensive hairbrush can quickly feel like a bargain if used daily over a long period of time.

DETANGLING MUST-DOS

It’s time to leave those yanking tendencies at the door. When it comes to detangling, patience is key.

“Always be gentle, especially with wet hair as it is in a slightly weakened state when wet,” Lauren warns.

READ: Get To Know Lauren Gunn, The Owner Of Celebrated Hair Salon Colleen 

If your hair is particular prone to tangling, Lauren suggests investing in a detangling brush and detangling spray (Lauren loves the Oribe Run Through Detangling Primer, $63) which should lubricate strands enough to prevent damage.

“Work through your hair one area at a time, and begin brushing from the mid-lengths down. It can be helpful, too, to brush from underneath your hair and work your way up to the top layers,” Lauren says.

FOR FINE, STRAIGHT HAIR (1A, B, C HAIR TYPE): Evo Hank 35mm Ceramic Radial Brush, $46
You want something that isn’t going to pull or kink your hair, which is precisely where a barrel-shaped brush comes in. This one from Evo is crafted from ionic nylon bristles, which are said to help reduce frizz and boost combability. The barrel itself boasts vent holes, which makes easy work of blow-drying — heat is able to circulate at the root to smooth or lend volume and bounce to ultra-straight hair.

Evo Hank 35mm Ceramic Radial Brush, $46. Photo / Supplied

FOR THICK, WAVY HAIR (2A, B, C HAIR TYPE): Evo Pete Ionic Paddle Brush, $46
Suited to all hair types, this multi-purpose styling brush helps smooth and detangle hair in just one swipe. It’s heat-resistant ionic pins glide through hair to minimise frizz, while its rubber cushion base is gentle enough to tame medium to long thick or wavy hair.

Evo Pete Ionic Paddle Brush, $46. Photo / Supplied

FOR CURLY HAIR (3A, B, C HAIR TYPE): Iles Formula Conditioner Distribution Comb, $16
This chic-looking brush serves dual purpose to evenly distribute conditioner through mid-lengths and ends, while its anti-static properties make it an excellent option to finish any style. The wide-spaced teeth glide through hair easily, helping create a silky finish on dry hair, or to gently detangle wet hair.

Iles Formula Conditioner Distribution Comb, $16. Photo / Supplied

FOR COILY HAIR (4A, B, C HAIR TYPE): Y.S. Park Pro Wood Styler 7 Row, $112
Fun fact: this funky-looking hairbrush from Japanese hairbrush brand Y.S. Park recruits the same durable rubber used for baby dummies and bottle teats as its base, meaning it’s extra flexible and soft to touch, while also being resistant against heat and moisture. Each of the different coloured nylon teeth rows serve a unique purpose, row 1 helps pick the hair, rows 1-2 offer lift, rows 1-4 to curl and use all rows together to smooth hair.

Y.S. Park Pro Wood Styler 7 Row, $112. Photo / Supplied

FOR BLOW-DRYING: Y.S. Park Super G-Series Brush 50mm, $132
Consider this lightweight, teak wood brush as your BFF when it comes to blow-drying. It features alternating natural boar bristles to smooth the hair’s cuticle and create amazing shine, with heat resistant nylon pins to control the hair. Speed up your drying time thanks to the 267 ventilation holes, which promote better airflow when styling hair into undulating curls. For best results, allow a 5cm gap between your hairdryer’s nozzle and the brush to allow the hot air to circulate through the brush and around hair without causing heat damage to either (natural boar bristles have a tendency to burn).

Y.S. Park Super G-Series Brush 50mm, $132. Photo / Supplied

FOR DETANGLING: The Wet Brush Epic Quick Dry Vent Brush, $26
As the name suggests, this open vented brush flexes with the hair to help detangle it when wet. Its contoured shape works out knots without snapping fine strands, and the padded cushion glides along the scalp to side-step any further breakage. Vented brushes also work well when blow-drying hair, as the design channels hot air to hair, meaning it dries faster.

The Wet Brush Epic Quick Dry Vent Brush, $26. Photo / Supplied

FOR A SLEEK PARTING: Y.S. Park Extra Long Black Carbon Metal End Tail Comb, $25
Metal end or rat-tail combs are a must for creating a precise parting, and this one from Y.S. Park makes backcombing, sectioning or styling long, thick hair a breeze. At one end, standard teeth help smooth down strands to prevent fly-aways at the crown, while the pointed metal end can be used to style a centre, side or zig-zag part.

Y.S. Park Extra Long Black Carbon Metal End Tail Comb, $25. Photo / Supplied

All brushes available from Shop.colleen.nz

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