The essential guide to hairbrushes

Daily brushing is key for maintaining shiny, healthy hair. But did you know that using the wrong brush could cause more harm than good?

"Some brushes can look after your hair really well and some can destroy your hair," says creative director Alfie Oneill.

"It's not about what you spend on a brush, it's more about the material used, whether it be metal, natural or ceramic."

Giving your tresses some regular TLC will make all the difference, Alfie continues: "Someone who takes real care of their hair with a natural bristle brush and combs and brushes it properly will have better hair for longer."

Plus, you need to know how to use your brush effectively and look after those bristles to ensure a long life for this vital detangling tool.

Here, the team explain everything you need to know about the humble hairbrush…



For creating a silky, salon-worthy blow-dry at home, a high-quality round brush is a must, but the barrel and bristle material will depend on your hair type and the look you want to achieve.

Paul Edmonds says rule number one is to avoid hair brushes with metal bristles: "It's about the worst thing you can do. If you look at one of those brushes under a microscope, they've got really serrated edges, so you're slashing your hair every time you brush it." 

For bouncy waves, he recommends a YS Park round brush with a mixture of nylon and boar (natural) bristles and a ceramic barrel.

"The idea is that it grips the hair really well," Paul explains. "It's really good for giving movement to the hair, so you can get more curl or more volume out of the hair.

"It's got natural bristles but a ceramic base to it so that heats up, and that's good for giving curl to thick, coarser hair."

When shopping for a ceramic barrel brush, be sure to check the label carefully.

"Ceramic and metal brushes look the same," says director Matilda Marshall.

"If you use a metal brush it doesn't control the heat as much and you can really burn your hair. Check that it's definitely ceramic - it'll be slightly more expensive."

Paul advises against ceramic brushes on fine hair, however: "Because it's going to heat the hair up too much." Stick to wooden or plastic barreled brushes if you have fine hair.

Some hair types are more suited to different tools, Paul says: "With natural Afro hair it would be more wide tooth combs - you wouldn't brush it."

For shorter hair or air-dried styles, you may not need a round brush, he adds: "Vented brushes are good for short hair, and they're quite good for brushing hair through when it's styled or brushing out curls."


What size of brush is best?

As a rule of thumb, opt for a smaller round brush for wavy or curly hair styles and larger barrel if you prefer super-straight tresses.

“The smaller the brush, the more curl you're going to get,” says director Matilda Marshall.

“And also the more it's going to lift the root. If you want it straight and flat, you're not going to use a larger brush because it's going to give you too much volume.”

A larger round brush or a flat brush is still best for achieving poker-straight locks, particularly on shorter hair.

“You'd still use a round brush because you can use tension as you can wrap the hair around the brush, unlike with a flat brush,” Alfie explains.


How to protect you hair whilst brushing

Hair is more fragile when it's wet, which is why it's important to towel dry your locks before you get to work with your hairdryer, and to use a heat protection spray.

Always brush gently, starting at the ends and working your way up to the roots slowly to avoid breakage.

To get the best results when blowdrying, take your time, Paul advises: "When people blow dry, very often they'll try and do the whole head in one go. What you need to do is section the hair off first and then break it down into sections."

Let your brush dictate your sections, Matilda says: "Your sections should roughly be the width or thickness of whatever brush you're using - the width of the bristles."


How to look after your hair brush

A high-quality brush will, Alfie says, "Last you a lifetime," – as long as you look after it.

"When you first buy a natural brush, the bristles are really hard, so you have to wash it with moisturising shampoo," Matilda says. "It softens them and then you can get more movement to the brush."

This is especially true if you use a lot of styling products while blow-drying, she continues: "If you use mousse, for example, you have to then shampoo your brushes on occasion, otherwise the product builds up on them."

And be sure to use a comb regularly to remove rogue hair strands, Paul says: "It should be done, I'd say, once a week."

He also warns against scorching natural bristles while using your hairdryer: "It's about putting the airflow over the top of the brush rather than onto the actual brush. If you hold it on the brush, you'll end up damaging the brush and your hair."

But don't think that because a brush is looking a bit worse for wear it's time to trade it in for a new one.

"You have to break in a brush," Matilda says. "One brush of mine is eight years old, and it's got better every year."

If you want to know more about how to protect your tresses, achieve the perfect blowdry or keep your brushes in optimal condition, ask your stylist at Paul Edmonds London for advice tailored to your hair type and style.