Our Definitive Guide To The Best Hairbrushes & Combs, From $7 To $250

By Lucy Slight
These great hairbrushes and combs help define curls, distribute products and create bounce. Photo / Guy Coombes

Tools for all hair types, styles, budgets and blowouts.

There are many factors to consider when looking for the perfect hairbrush; you might even say, landing on the right one is akin to finding the ideal partner. There will be many things your hairbrush will be well-built for (great teeth,

Tenuous analogies aside, with such a plethora of brushes and combs to choose from, in every which material and at a wide range of price points, there’s no shame to be had if you’re feeling a little perplexed. So how about we break it down, dull the noise and lay it all out plain and simple, so that next time you’re in the market for a companion for your coiffure, you know exactly which way to swipe (your debit card).

The Paddle Brush

Paddle brushes are wide, flat brushes with a large surface area covered in bristles, and a cushioned base for added comfort. They are excellent at detangling and smoothing long, straight hair and help to distribute your natural oils from the scalp to the ends, promoting shine and preventing oil buildup at the roots. Paddles are perfect also for brushing out heat-styled curls once cooled, giving super-soft-looking waves.

Key traits: Dependable, generally well-liked, a smooth talker.

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The Round Brush

Round brushes have bristles that are aligned in a circular pattern and are typically used with a hairdryer for creating volume and waves. Ideal for achieving smooth, bouncy curls and adding volume to hair, a round brush can also help in straightening and smoothing the hair while blow drying. For tighter curls choose a smaller barrel, and a larger one for more volume and bounce.

Key traits: Not the best multitasker, but an expert in its chosen craft.

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The Vented Brush

Extremely lightweight and great for fine hair, vented brushes have widely spaced bristles and openings in the brush head to allow for airflow, which makes them excellent for fast blow-drying. This brush makes detangling wet hair much easier (ideal for kids with knotty hair), and because they speed up drying time, you reduce the risk of heat damage.

Key traits: Gets the job done quickly, no heavy baggage.

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The Denman Brush

Created in the 1930s by John Denman Dean, the iconic Denman brushes were designed with curly locks in mind, helping to define and amplify curls, spirals and natural waves. The brush has rows of nylon bristles set in a rubber cushion with a handle, and comes in various configurations, the classics being the D3 (medium size for short to mid-length hair) and D4 (large size for mid-length to long hair).

Key traits: Has a definite type, doesn’t stray.

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The Boar Bristle Brush

As the name suggests, the bristles in this brush are made from the hair of a wild boar and are often combined with nylon bristles. These brushes are great for distributing natural scalp oils throughout the hair and are suitable for all types. If you’re looking to add shine and reduce frizz with a brush that’s incredibly gentle, this is a fantastic option. The much-celebrated Mason Pearson brush will never let you down, but there are more budget-friendly options available too.

Key traits: Not now, nor ever will be, vegan.

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The Wide-Tooth Comb

Typically made from plastic or wood, these trusty combs have widely spaced, rounded teeth that are perfect for detangling wet or curly hair without snagging or causing breakage. Great for helping to evenly distribute product through your lengths, such as hair masks or conditioner on wet hair, or curl creams and smoothing lotions post-wash.

Key traits: Very straight teeth, plays well with others — especially in the shower.

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The Fine-Tooth Comb

Fans of sleek, precision hair styling absolutely need a fine-tooth comb in their kit. Made from plastic, metal or wood, these combs work best with short or fine hair types, especially when creating tight, slick hairstyles or super-sharp partings.

Key traits: A perfectionist, rather uptight, but very committed.

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The Teasing Comb/Brush

If volume’s the aim, a teasing comb or brush will take your hair to spectacular heights. Designed to add oomph at the roots of your hair, this tool is what you need to achieve a voluminous and textured look, especially for updos and hairstyles that need some back-combing to keep them in place, such as buns and twists.

Key traits: Hardcore into 80s glam rock, quite cheeky.

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