Hairbrush recommendations, please!
December 2, 2013 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I have thick, between wavy and curly, longish hair that comes to about mid-upper-arm. I have used the same plastic cushion brush for over a decade (yes, I wash it) and have been fine with it. I recently read about ionic and ceramic brushes and am curious: is there a demonstrably better brush for my type of hair?

I just bought an ionic ceramic tourmaline hair dryer/diffuser, and the research that went into that purchase also led to this question. Google results on this subject were all over the map. I'm interested in personally observed results and specific item recommendations or ignore-the-hype recommendations.

More details:
1) I'm not interested in animal products like boar bristle.
2) I only use a brush immediately before and after showers or when putting hair in a tight ponytail.
3) Round brushes and tightly grouped, thin bristle brushes seem to encourage unattractive, high-volume frizz.
3) I have no real complaints about the current, decade-old brush other than that one plastic bristle broke two weeks ago. This is its first blemish.
4) I would be hard-pressed to want to spend more than $10 on a new brush.
posted by vegartanipla to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A wide toothed comb for your wavy curly hair!
posted by Swisstine at 8:24 PM on December 2, 2013

Disclaimer: I have a porcelain brush with tight short bristles but they are boars hair. (I picked the boars hair because of how stiff they are vs other materials). I just wanted to comment that the tight bristles don't seem to cause more frizz than more 'gapped' ones do. I really like the porcelain aspect of my brush because it heats up while I am blow drying and helps to 'iron' the frizz and weird waves of my own wavy hair. I don't think it makes much difference one way or the other when I just brush and air dry ( my hair ends up very frizzy when air dried whether I brush or comb). So to sum up I would recommend the porcelain only if you think you might ever incorporate blow drying.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you said no boar bristles or round brushes but I am going to recommend this Chi brush anyway for several reasons. I bought the larger round brush. I also don't like brushes with dense, short bristles because they wouldn't grip the hair but this one works great.

Maybe you can find a similar one made from synthetic materials. I have the same kind of hair, maybe not as long as yours, and I've found the combination of the longer plastic tipped bristles with the smaller boar bristles, plus the way the brush heats up while I'm blow-drying, gets my hair pretty smooth. They make a similar one in a paddle style, which I've had hair dressers use on my hair with good results.
posted by tamitang at 8:45 PM on December 2, 2013

A Denman-type brush tends to be best for wavy or curly hair; because the teeth have no balls on the end, they cause less snags, breakage, and frizz and do a better job of smoothing and detangling.
posted by windykites at 8:53 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have long (just below my waist) curly hair. When it's wet, I will only use a wide toothed comb, but when it's dry (before showering, or before bed), I use a cushion brush. It doesn't matter all that much what the shape is, but as long as the bristles are cushioned they can move around the tangles and thereby work them out slowly. Having a rubber bead at the tip of each bristle also keeps the frizz from occurring.

This is the secret to not hating your curls, IMO.
posted by blurker at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only brush for me is Goody Ouchless Brush. It works wonders. It gets through my tangles almost instantly. It's a freaking miracle brush on curly/wavy/long hair.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I bought a ceramic ion brush a few months ago and found it was not any better than my previous blow dry method, and in fact it made my hair feel very dry and tangly. I think it's because ceramic, tourmaline, stuffs dry your hair faster. On the other hand, the brush was quite cheap.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by sm1tten at 10:36 PM on December 2, 2013

A wide-toothed comb. Always. And only when wet.

Anything else - and doing any of the above when dry - is pretty much guaranteed breakage, split ends, and that "halo" that wavy and curly-haired people tend to have. It's amazing how much healthier your hair gets from such a simple change.

Then again, really tight ponytails break hair, too. After 30+ years of that myself, I broke that habit. My hair is happy for it, I understand my future hairline will be, and I have a lot less headaches from the weight of the hair.
posted by stormyteal at 10:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have Medusa ringlets. Devachan recommends finger combing as the best way to get snarls out of hair.
posted by brujita at 11:05 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

My hair is long and wavy/curly and the only way I end up with waves/ringlets instead of some kind of frizzy failed pseudo-Afro is by using one of these in the shower and then letting the whole lot air dry.

Cushion brushes tend to skate over the top of my tangles without actually dealing with them. On the other hand, combs just stop dead. These brushes are somewhere in between. The bristles are plastic with a not-particularly-aggressive end ball; the backing is rubber. Even lubed by running water, it's hard enough to haul the brush through my hair that I always end up breaking handles before the bristles start to fail. But at under $5 apiece I can't moan.
posted by flabdablet at 11:42 PM on December 2, 2013

It sounds like we have similar hair types. When my hair is dry, I run from brushes screaming. When it's wet, I use a Denman D-31. $10, will last another decade. Instead of the plastic cushion base, its got a couple layers of smooth rubber that seem to really reduce breakage, and it gently removes shed hair like a charm. As a bonus, it seems to really help with non-frizzy curl formation.
posted by femmegrrr at 11:43 PM on December 2, 2013

That D-31 looks very much like what I used to use before finding that everywhere I used to buy them had switched over to stocking only the Lady Jayne I linked to, except that my old brushes had nine rows and the D-31 only looks to have seven. That style of round-ended tapered bristles did work better for me than the slightly ball-ended ones on the Lady Jayne.
posted by flabdablet at 11:48 PM on December 2, 2013

I have hair similar to yours and love wooden bristled cushion brushes. I find the wooden bristled seem to keep the natural oils spread through my hair better, my curly hair is very dry, and I seem to get less static and split ends. Don't know how to link on my tablet but a Google search will bring up hits. Prices vary but you should be able to find some in your price range.
posted by wwax at 5:15 AM on December 3, 2013

I have wavy/curly thick hair. I often straighten it, but when I am going to rock the curls I just use a comb like this in the shower to detangle and distribute conditioner. That's it. I scrunch in some moroccan oil and plop dry it in a hair turban. Presto! Nice curls, no frizz, super healthy lovely hair. Brushing is a bad scene for curly hair.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:35 AM on December 3, 2013

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