Unless you're going for a super chic brushed-out look à la Zendaya at the 2017 Met Gala, most people with curly hair use brushes very sparingly. Typically, they're used to brush out tangles while you're in the shower or when you're wearing your curls straight. But in those rare cases you are brushing curly hair, you don't want to use just any old brush.
Best brushes for curly hair at-a-glance
- Best for thick hair: Wet Brush Original Detangler For Thick Hair
- Best handheld: Tangle Teezer Thick and Curly
- Best paddle: Charlotte Mensah Medium Paddle Brush
- Best for fine hair: Denman Classic Styling Brush 9 Row
- Best for detangling: Jamal Edmonds Texture Tamer Detangling Brush
- Best for reducing frizz: Ibiza Hair AirWave Shower Brush
- Best detangling comb: Briogeo Wide Tooth Detangling Comb
- Best wide-tooth comb: Vernon François Wide Tooth Comb
- Best blow dryer comb: Red by Kiss Universal Detangling Blow Dryer Comb
- Best splurge: Christophe Robin Boar Bristle Detangling Paddle Hairbrush
- Best boar bristle: The Hair Edit Finish & Shine Boar Bristle Brush
- Best for scalp stimulation: Shu Uemura Large Paddle Hair Brush
"Look for a brush with tall bristles, spread apart," says Nicolette Rauchut, a hairstylist at Lrn Beauty in New York City. "This type of brush is more gentle on the hair and can also help distribute the oils from roots to ends."
- Annagjid "Kee" Taylor, celebrity hairstylist, salon owner, and founder of Shear Genius Collection
- Gina Rivera, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites
- Jamal Edmonds, celebrity hairstylist, Mizani educator, owner and creative director of Lamaj in the City and Boutique Lamaj
- Nicolette Rauchut, contemporary hair stylist and extension specialist at LRN Beauty in New York City
Rauchut says it's best to brush curly hair when it's wet. (And be sure to learn how to clean a hairbrush.)
"Apply conditioner to wet hair and brush from the ends up to detangle," she says. "It's best to avoid brushing hair when it's dry. When your brush curly hair that is dry it will make your hair frizzy. If you have to brush your curly hair when it's dry, make sure to apply an ample amount of oil so the strand becomes moisturized. This will also minimize the chance of splitting or breaking."
Depending on what you are trying to achieve, there are several brushes that can work well for curly hair. Shop 12 best brushes for curly hair below.
Best brushes for detangling curly hair
“I like a paddle brush for the purpose of detangling,” says Gina Rivera, hair artist and CEO of Phenix Salon Suites. “The spacing of the bristles is perfect for moving through the hair without placing too much tension on the individual strands. The Wet Brush is one of my favorites for use fresh out of the shower or even in the shower.”
“If you’re detangling while wet, a Tangle Teezer brush is my first choice,” says Rauchut. “While it works with the curve of the curls with flexible bristles, it is also handheld.” This version has longer, stronger teeth than the original Tangle Teezer to work through thick or curly with ease and speed.
This air-cushioned paddle brush protects your hair and scalp from damage while allowing you to focus on detangling. It’s designed by award-winning stylist Charlotte Mensah, who has over 25 years of expertise.
“This nine-row brush is great for those who have curly yet fine hair, as the additional rows of bristles are great for detangling thin hair without tugging on the strands,” explains Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, celebrity hairstylist, salon owner, and founder of Shear Genius Collection .“This will really distribute the oils from your scalp evenly while also detangling the hair,” she previously told Well+Good.
Jamal Edmonds, a celebrity stylist and Mizani Artist based in Washington DC love this brush from his hair-care line. “Detangle like a pro with the Texture Tamer Detangling Brush,” Edmond previously told Well+Good. “It’s lightweight, flexible, and can be used on any texture type.”
“My current favorite is the airwave shower brush,” says Rauchut. “This brush promotes a smooth, shiny outcome. It even helps reduce frizz because of its bristle design—which helps with closing the cuticle.” It features well-spaced bristles, an anti-static design, and an ergonomic handle.
Though not technically a brush, this comb does wonders for detangling curly hair with ease. Its big teeth allow you to get through knots and tangles with minimial snagging. Plus, the handle is in the shape of a hook, allowing you to easily hang it in your shower.
This comb from Vernon François is also an amazing option, especially if you have a lot of hair. Its wide-set teeth are designed to give you full control during the detangling and styling process. It’s ergonomically designed to ensure a comfortable grip.
Best brushes for blowing out curly hair / brushing it when it's straight
This universal comb is designed to fit most hair dryers and is a must for blowing out curly hair. Because it combs while it drys, you can get your hair super straight with minimal effort.
This brush is one of Rivera’s favorites for blow-drying or brushing through curly hair. “It’s great because it doesn’t pull on the hair,” she says. “The boar bristles are very soft compared to synthetic materials. This results in the brush moving easily through your long locks without breaking and pulling. The texture of the bristles also contributes to curls keeping their best shape without appearing frizzy or flyaways.”
Once your hair is blown out, this brush from the Hair Edit is amazing at smoothing fly-aways and adding shine, leaving your hair nice and sleek. It features boar bristles that distribute your hair’s natural moisture and ball-tipped nylon pins that gently detangle your hair and massage your scalp.
This brush is great for blow-drying curly hair smooth, says Rauchut. “It’s extremely durable with Nylon Fiber bristles, which is great for scalp massaging,” she previously told Well+Good. It features heat-resistant nylon fiber bristles with rounded tips that massage and stimulate the scalp, enhance shine, and smooth flyaways.
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