The Ultimate Brush Buying Guide!



If you haven’t noticed, here at StyleBell, we are pretty much obsessed with anything hair care. We also love sharing all of our favorite information with you! We decided to make a buying guide for one of the most important and long-standing staples in almost every woman’s beauty routine– hair brushes! We broke it down completely by brush type, bristle type, and material! We hope this helps you make the right choices in buying the brush you need to achieve or maintain your desired style!

Types of Brushes:

Let’s start with the classic vent brush. These brushes are a staple in the beauty business and a must have for everyone and every hair type. If you own a blowdryer, you probably own one of these brushes. Vent brushes have an semi-open base that the bristles attach to. The base usually has slits or cut outs where the air can pass through which is perfect for removing excess moisture from the hair and why I refer to these as step 1 brushes. I would not dare start a blow dry without a vent brush. They cut drying time in half… and after all, time is money in the beauty business. There are hundreds of different vent brushes out there but my two favorites in this category are both from the Cricket Static Free line. The Cricket Static Free Volumizer is amazing. It’s slim design makes it super easy to hold and it has a unique criss-cross bristle pattern to lift hair for increased volume at the root. The Cricket Static Free Tunnel Brush has a unique flared design which helps add a nice shape to the hair while you’re drying and is the perfect platform to start your round brush blow-out with tons of movement at the ends. Both of these brushes have ceramic and ion properties to help reduce static and add shine all while reducing your drying time. Like I said, these brushes are definitely a must have!

Another very famous household brush is the cushioned brush. It seems like when people hear the name cushion brush they picture this super fancy elaborate brush, when in reality, you probably already have 1 or 2 of these brushes on hand. Cushioned brushes are your classic oval brush for daily brushing and most paddle brushes also fall into this category, too. The reason they are referred to as cushioned brushes is because the base of the brush has a pliable cushion that allows the brush to bend and conform to your scalp. Their ability to contour makes them perfect for daily brushing and scalp stimulation, but not so much for drying.

While we’re on the classics. We should mention your classic styling or shaping brushes. Although there are tons of brushes that could fall into this category, the type of brush that is unique to this section is the classic “rowed” brushes. These brushes are typically round and have a wooden or plastic base that are not vented and are classified by how many rows of bristles they have. The more rows, the larger the diameter. I like to use these brushes for finishing touches while I’m styling. Weather it is to smooth the hair while I am using a finishing spray or to brush out a roller set. They’re perfect for rolling out your finishing touches without decreasing your volume. I love the Static Free Row Round Brushes for this as well. They help control the static and fly aways that can come with brushing out a fresh heat style. 

Now we’re moving on to the big guns, the round brushes. The term round brush is used interchangeably with thermal brushes. The reason why I refer to these brushes as the big guns is because this is your ultimate hair weapon to achieve pretty much any smooth, shiny, bouncy style. The rule of thumb with round brushes is the larger the diameter of the brush, the smoother the hair; the smaller the diameter the more curl and bounce you’ll achieve. Although many of our boar bristle round brushes feature wooden bases, most round brushes often have stiff nylon or boar bristles and metal bases, which is why it important to start with a vent brush to remove some of your moisture first to avoid exposing your hair to the heated metal for prolonged periods of time. Although we love the classic round brushes like the Static Free Thermal Brush and Technique Thermal Brushes, our new number one favorite round brush (especially for stylists) is the Alumilite brushes. They are made from lightweight brushed aluminum and are 30% lighter than your average round brush making them ideal for stylists or anyone who suffers from carpel tunnel or arthritis.

Now the types of brushes that are somewhat new on the scene are detangling brushes. This category includes all of these new popular brushes like The Wet Brush, The Knot Genie, and the Cricket Ultra Smooth Detangling brush. These brushes feature special bristles designed to detangle hair without any added breakage from brushing. We became HUGE fans of these brushes very quickly. Our favorite has got to be the Cricket Ultra Smooth — this brush is unique in that it is infused with keratin proteins, olive oil, and argon oil to hydrate, shine and reduce frizz all at once.

Types of Bristles:

Many of our favorite cushioned brushes and round brushes feature what are referred to as natural bristles. This category of bristles pretty much features one type of bristle exclusively — boar bristles. You’ll often see all natural 100% boar bristles on the extremely popular, yet quite pricey, Mason Pearson brushes. The reason why people are willing to pay top dollar for these brushes is their ability to close the hair cuticle which allows for maximum shine and even absorption and distribution of our hairs natural oils. Boar bristles are extremely soft, making them ideal for children’s hair or fragile, over processed hair. 100% boar bristle brushes should be used with caution with heat styling because of their softness and tendency to collapse. If you like the sound of boar bristles but would like some added support and the option of applying heat while styling, a mixed bristle brush would probably be a perfect fit for you.

Mixed bristle brushes, often referred to as porcupine brushes, are typically a mix of a boar and nylon bristle. These brushes are perfect for heat styling finishes or for any other finishing touches like teasing. We love the Cricket Amped Up teasing brush for all of our smaller finishing touches and the Technique Boar Round Brushes for all of our boar heat styling. The BEST part about using a mixed boar bristle brush for round-brush blow drys is how smooth and shiny they make the hair by securing a nice solid grip on each hair strand while drying.

Synthetic bristles pretty much encompass all other types of brushes that are not boar. Any bristle that does not come naturally from an animal would fall under this category. The most common bristles we see are Nylon, Tourmaline and Carbon. Nylon and Tourmaline have become the most popular bristle we see on all of our favorite basic round brushes like the Alumilite and thats feature an ionic nylon and the Technique brushes that have a tourmaline ionic bristle. These ionic bristle help protect hair from moisture loss and infuse ultimate shine into our strands in the process. Carbon bristles are equally as reliable but have the added benefit of withstanding high heat. We occasionally still see some metal bristles on our round brushes, but metal bristles should typically be avoided to avoid damaging the hair while drying. Nylon definitely takes the prize for this category of bristles. 

Base Material:

Because many of our thermal brushes or round brushes feature the metal bases, it is important to know the different types of base materials that are available. The 2 most common metal coatings you will round on round brushes are Tourmaline and Ceramic. We are huge fans of both. These coatings not only help to infuse crazy shine into the hair but they also protect the hair from sitting directly on the hot metal surface that is lurking underneath. We like to think of these coatings as our armor for to help our hair stay strong and shine on!

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