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5 Types of Hair Brushes You Need, and How to Use Them

Harry Josh Pro Tools Magnesium Thermal Brushes

The right hair brush can be a total game changer. Whether you’re styling your hair in an updo, playing up your natural waves, opting for a Hollywood glam blowout or detangling stubborn knots, there’s a hair brush for the job. And often, choosing the right brush and using it correctly will make all the difference in your look.

Should you opt for a round brush? A paddle brush? A brush with boar bristles? It all depends on which result you want to achieve. To help you figure out which type you need, we spoke to Penny James, hair stylist and certified trichologist at Penny James Salon in New York.

  1. 1. Thermal Brush
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    1. Thermal Brush

    Thermal brushes are made with materials that conduct heat, which can help you blow dry more efficiently. This one from Harry Josh® Pro Tools has a magnesium alloy barrel that helps speed up drying time, which translates to less heat damage to hair. Its nylon bristles provide superior grip, which makes it easy to create a smooth, voluminous finish. “This brush is also great for creating good beach waves, by wrapping small sections of hair around the brush,” says James.
    Try: NEW! Harry Josh® Pro Tools Magnesium Thermal Brush

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. 2. Boar Bristle Brush
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    2. Boar Bristle Brush

    Boar bristle brushes are best to bring out the natural texture of straight, wavy or curly hair without snagging or pulling, since the natural bristles are gentle on all hair types. Additionally, they’re excellent at distributing oils from the scalp evenly through the rest of your hair. “Not only do boar bristle brushes do a great job at detangling long hair, but the bristles are spaced out enough for the hair not to get tangled when brushing,” says James.
    Try: Christophe Robin Detangling Brush

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  3. 3. Detangling Brush
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    3. Detangling Brush

    Hair is at its most delicate when it’s wet. To prevent breakage, opt for a brush with flexible plastic bristles that are spaced far enough apart to detangle even the toughest knots without tugging. This one by Harry Josh® Pro Tools also sports ball tips that help massage the scalp and stimulate circulation. “A scalp massage promotes healthy and shiny hair, and this kind of brush is perfect for that,” says James.
    Try: Harry Josh® Pro Tools Mini Detangling Harry Josh® Pro Tools Mini Detangling Brush

    Buy now with free delivery
  4. 4. Mixed Bristle Brush
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    4. Mixed Bristle Brush

    A mixed bristle brush is made of a blend of natural boar bristles and synthetic materials, such as nylon, and is truly the best of both worlds. The boar bristles help distribute oil from the scalp evenly from root to tip, while the nylon bristles help detangle your locks. This makes it a great choice for maintaining medium-to-thick hair. “This type of brush is wonderful to brush out your hairstyle, or to just get the tangles out of your hair,” says James.
    Try: RAINCRY Restore Large Reinforced Brush

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  5. 5. Round Brush
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    5. Round Brush

    With the proper round brush, you can nail a salon-worthy blowout at home. The placement of the bristles helps tame frizz and delivers the perfect amount of bounce to your hair. While smaller round brushes tend to create tighter curls, this one by R+Co is suitable for all hair types, and perfect for straightening hair or creating subtle waves. “It’s a very easy-to-use brush and creates smooth glossy beach waves, or big smooth hair, depending on your hair length and how you work the brush while styling,” says James.
    Try: R+Co Round Brush 4

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Beauty Editor

Mellanie Perez

Mellanie Perez is a freelance lifestyle, beauty and wellness writer and editor based in Houston, Texas and—occasionally—Puerto Rico. She has been on staff at Modern Luxury and Sunday Riley, where she mastered the art of clean copy and tight deadlines. When not preoccupied with getting through the 10 books on her nightstand or getting in her daily workout, she can be found writing essays and poetry, and learning trending dances on Tik Tok. You can see more of her work at or follow her on Instagram.