Donna Kim-Brand


Growing up, I only ever had one neon plastic brush, shared with my sister and mother…and I only used a comb to get a clean part. Nowadays, there are brushes of all shapes and sizes of handles and heads, made out of any number of materials, natural and synthetic. And then there are the bristles- dense or sparse, natural or fabricated, pointed or bulbous tips, firm or willowy in strength, stable or rotating. And the range of designs and decorations, oh my!  Combs are nearly as complicated, with wide-tooth detangling models, rat-tails shapes for parting and every color, shape and size in between.
These days most people tend to have one or more brushes or combs of their own, both for hygienic reasons as well as to match their needs based on hair type, length, style and time available for styling. Add in travel sizes and you can take your style tools with you.
Here are some of the types you can choose from for different functions.
Multi-tasking brushes:

  •  Natural boar bristle brush- good for creating tension when blowing out on curly tresses and adding curls on straight hair.
  •  Round bristle brush- good for smooth drying while bringing out your volume, natural wave and shine. Choose the size of the barrel depending on hair length and degree of curl you desire.
  •  Paddle brush- the flat broad shape gives a good head massage while detangling hair when wet and speeding up the drying process by giving access to more of your head and hair at once. And who doesn’t swoon when someone else brushes their hair? Feels so good! Also good for long hair.

Brushes for drying:

  • Electric metal or ceramic barrel brushes simultaneously dry and curl as you brush, with rotating models making the process easier. This is my favorite brush these days, although I used it more often when my hair was longer.

Detangling brushes and combs:

  • Wide-set bristles, often rubbery with bulbous tips will plough through wet tangled hair as will wide-tooth combs. Use due care to avoid breakage.

Taming frizz:

  • Natural bristles tend to reduce frizz while synthetic bristles seem to build up static electricity that both shocks and causes flyaway hair. If you are in dry heated environments you are more at risk of this problem. You can lessen electrified hair by dampening with water or using anti-frizz product.

Teasing & back-brushing:

  • Brushes for teasing or gaining volume by back-brushing tend to have a small bristle surface, and may be either round or one-sided. They are not terribly effective for normal brushing, as hair can too easily get tangled in the brush.


  • Both brushes and combs can be used to shape and style your hair, with our without mousse or styling gel. Just be careful trying to brush your hair after spraying hard-hold hairspray. It will probably look disastrous, and your brush or comb may even get stuck in your hair helmet!

As for cleaning your brushes and combs, it’s a habit you should engage in at least once a month or as needed. The more oily your hair or more product you use, the more often you may need to clean them. Effective cleaning of your hair tools is actually a double act using both a brush and comb. Start with pulling as much hair out of your brush as you can with your fingers. Then, while running warm water over your brush, run a medium to wide tooth comb in one direction to snag any remaining hair nestled in the bristles. Now add shampoo or baking soda to the base of your brush and scrub in between the bristles with your comb to loosen any caked-on gunk, and rinse.
Now pour shampoo or baking soda over your comb and use your brush to scrub along the prongs until clean. Rinse and shake out excess water, especially from wooden brushes and combs. You’ve extended the life of your natural bristle brushes and ‘cleaned up your act’. Now you’re refreshed and ready again to use your tools to style your lovely tresses!

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