Hair Care

A Brush Guide for Every Hair Type According to the Experts

by akesha / last updated March 12, 2020

best hair brush

Every hair type has its own set of styling needs and there’s a brush or comb to help meet all of them. HJ asked a selection of top hairdressers for their brush choices when it comes to styling different hair types, whether they’re embracing natural curls and waves, adding volume or keeping straight hair super-sleek.

If your client has thick hair

“If you use the wrong tools on thick hair, it can become frizzy and the style won’t last. For a long straight look on thick hair, I use a lightweight paddle brush that curves with the head. It’s the best brush type for making long hair sleek and because the paddle is curved it can add a soft bend to the ends of the hair. For something more voluminous, as in this image, it’s all about the technique, keeping the cuticle smooth and manipulating the hair into the style you want.

If the client wants something softer, I use a large round brush. If they want something tighter that will last longer, I drop a barrel size and use a medium-sized brush. For a softer style, take a section and use a large brush, then leave the brush in the hair while it cools and repeat all around the head. When hair has cooled remove the brushes then using your fingers, gently shake the hair to encourage movement and finish with a soft-bristle brush to ruche the hair and create texture.” Sharon Malcolm, Sharon Malcolm Hairdressing, Newtownards

If your client has loose curls

“When it comes to enhancing natural, loose curls a large-barrel brush is something you really should have in your kitbag. It allows you to create voluminous styles and enhance the natural curls of the client in question or alternatively smooth out the hair, creating straight, sleek styles and an even curl pattern.

I use this type of brush regularly within the salon as it also allows even heat distribution through the pin holes, meaning you are not focusing on one solid section constantly, in turn reducing heat placement. This also cuts your drying time while leaving hair with a healthy shine.” Kevin Paul Finnell, creative director, F&M Hairdressing, Glasgow

If your client has wavy hair

“We use many different types of brush and comb to create different results and levels of manageability for clients with wavy hair. It is always about understanding the curl pattern and what will happen to it when brushed. We often use wide-toothed combs to detangle and prepare the hair followed by either a ceramic or natural bristle brush to create smoothness, shine, control and manageability.

Finally, I always love to use a soft-bristle dressing out brush to define and expand waves in a very natural and touchable way.”
Robert Eaton, creative director, Russell Eaton, Leeds and Barnsley

If your client has straight hair

It’s all about choosing the right brush for the job, especially when it comes to naturally straight hair. A good place to start is with a classic paddle brush for detangling. Remember thick hair needs a larger brush surface area. If it’s the silky-smooth poker straight look, you’re going for, then use a soft bristle brush for finishing the look. Try lightly spraying the brush with a soft-hold hairspray first, then gliding the brush over the hair for a beautiful mirror finish. Or to give the client a different look, just like the delicate waves we created in this image, blow-dry with a large round brush, preferably with natural bristles to add volume and movement.”
Rachel White, Bloggs Salons, Bristol

If your client has fine hair

“To create fabulous volume on fine hair, we have to work a little harder. It’s essential to work on the base of a good haircut. I find my guests with fine hair manage their hair better when it’s shorter, which will also make hair look fuller. Too many layers will remove weight but some movement to add texture helps give the hair some life. I find a metal or ceramic round brush works best on fine hair, and size matters—the smaller sizes will build more volume and be easier to wrap the hair around.

I also love a simple paddle brush which works well on shorter hair. Brushing the hair side to side, even over the parting and away from where the hair naturally sits will create body and life in the hair. My last tip is to always blow-dry in the opposite direction from where the hair naturally sits and just before you flip the hair back, give it a cold shot to set.”
Louise Garbutt, creative director, Gina Conway Aveda Salons

If your client has very curly/Afro hair

“The most important rule is never to try and comb or brush very curly hair when it is dry. If you do, it will cause frizz and possibly breakage, as curly hair tends to be drier and more brittle than straighter hair. I always use a damp towel after washing curly hair, gently patting hair so as not to remove all the moisture.

When the hair is still damp, to detangle very curly hair, I would opt for a wide-tooth comb or a specialist detangling brush, running it through the wet hair until it is tangle-free and the curl pattern is evened out. For this look, hair was combed using a wide-tooth comb on wet hair to get rid of any tangles and conditioner was distributed throughout the hair using the same comb. The natural curl was defined by twisting hair right down to the scalp then releasing while blow-drying. Hair was dried using a diffuser on a high-heat but low-speed setting.”
Tristan Eves, Tristan Eves, Petworth, West Sussex

Lead Image courtesy of F&M Hairdressing

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