Image by/from Evan-Amos

A hairbrush is a handle brush with rigid or soft spokes used in hair care for smoothing, styling, and detangling human hair, or for grooming an animal’s fur. It can also be used for styling in combination with a curling iron or hair dryer.

A flat brush is normally used for detangling hair, for example after sleep or showering. A round brush can be used for styling and curling hair, especially by a professional stylist, often with a hair dryer. A paddle brush is used to straighten hair and tame fly-aways. For babies with fine, soft hair, many bristle materials are not suitable due to the hardness; some synthetic materials and horse/goat hair bristles are used instead.

Special brushes are made for cats, dogs and horses. Two different brushes can be made specifically for either short haired pets, or long haired pets. For an equine’s tougher hair, a curry-comb is used.

Various types of brushes are used for different purposes, or have special features that are beneficial to certain hair types. For example:

The effects of brushing will be different depending texture and whether the hair is wet or dry. Straight hair typically looks smoother when brushed. Curly hair tends to expand when brushed while dry.

Common materials used for the handle are ebony, rosewood, New Guinea rosewood, beech, ABS plastic and polyacetal. Common materials used for bristles include boar bristle, horsehair, nylon, stainless steel and goat hair.

The earliest U.S. patent for a modern hairbrush was by Hugh Rock in 1854.
A brush with elastic wire teeth along with natural bristles, was patented by Samuel Firey in 1870 as U.S. Patent 106,680. In 1898, Lyda D. Newman invented an “Improved Hairbrush,” which allowed for easy cleaning and had bristles separated wide enough to allow for easily combing. She was awarded U.S. Patent 614,335.


There are many factors to consider when choosing the right hair brush. First, consider the hair type you have. If you have fine, straight hair, then you are going to want to use a hair brush that is made for fine hair and is designed to move in one smooth motion for creating a structured look. Those with curly hair will also need a hair brush that is designed for curly hair and has the appropriate sized gaps between each of the bristles to help prevent tangling. Different types of hair will require different styling tools and hair brushes.

Another factor to consider is how dense the bristles should be. Denser bristles will create a more intense and defined cleaning process and are usually best used on coarse or thin hair types to remove small sections of extra product from the scalp without damaging the hair. If you have medium to thick hair type, then a finer bristled brush is advisable for cleaning small sections of your scalp without damaging the rest of your hair. For very thick or very long hair types, you may find that a stiff bristle brush is the best option.

The length of the handle and the number of different attachments are important factors in determining which hair brush is most appropriate for your styling needs. A longer-than-usual handle will provide increased versatility, and you can move it closer or further from your head while styling. Attachments can vary from inexpensive tweezers for minor corrections to professional-looking metal combs for deep conditioning. These attachments are an important part of your styling tools, so choose them carefully.

The construction of modern hair brushes is designed to avoid breakage and damage to the scalp. Hairbrushes that are constructed using high quality synthetic materials are more likely to last for a very long time.

Once you find the right hair brush for your needs, be sure to take care of it properly. Cleaning and caring for your styling tools is an important part of maintaining your beauty arsenal. Although styling tools are meant to be cared for professionally, it is also possible to learn the right way to care for your own tools. Many stylists provide free advice on the right way to care for styling tools so that you can extend their life and improve their performance.