10 best hair brushes for for every length and style

Bad hair day? We don't know her

Louise Whitbread
Thursday 11 February 2021 18:02
<p>Need helping detangling knots, smoothening frizz or creating a volume? We've got a tool to suit</p>

Need helping detangling knots, smoothening frizz or creating a volume? We've got a tool to suit

When it comes to your hair, which type of brush you use plays an important role in how healthy it looks and feels. Whether you’re looking to detangle knots, smoothen frizz or create a voluminous boost with your hairdryer, there’s plenty of choice. 

Picking the most suitable one for you is completely personal, explains Adam Reed, UK editorial ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel. 

If you’re unsure where to start, Reed recommends speaking to your hairdresser and asking them which brush they use and why, “Some people love a nylon ceramic bristle because it gives you a nice grip and control, this could be in the form of a round brush, paddle brush or a dressing brush,” he told The Independent.

You may be well overdue for an upgrade of your current brush, particularly if you’ve been using it for years. When shopping for a new one, according to Reed, a good brush should cost on average between £15 and £60. 

“Good, strong bristles come at a cost, A brush that is kept well, cleaned, washed once a week and dried with a hairdryer to prevent rotting would last between six months and a year but if you really look after it could be a lot more,” he says.

If you have long, short, straight, curly or hair that’s in between, we’ve handpicked the 10 best brushes, across a range of budgets worth adding into your hair care routine, from the affordable to the super luxurious.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Michael Van Clarke no. 1 brush

Created by renowned hairdresser Michael Van Clarke, who has worked his magic on celebrities and royalty for more than two decades, it’s well worth splashing out on this everyday essential, thanks to bristles made from Japanese nylon that detangle without pulling or snagging delicate strands.

Our tester has been using this brush for years on her fine hair that is constantly knotty. It glides through even the most unmanageable of tresses, which we often find after a restless night’s sleep or blustery winter weather, without causing any pain. It’s compact too, small enough to fit into a cross body bag with no bother, so is perfect for on the go touch-ups if the weather catches you off guard. We couldn’t be without it.

T3 volume 2.0 round brush

This is ideal for medium to longer styles looking for a volume boost from the root or shaping a tighter curl. The aluminium and ceramic coated barrel is great for adding body and it’s easy to control. We used this exclusively with our hairdryer, as just on wet or dry hair, it was a little harsh, and the added heat will help create bouncy flicks on the ends or smoothen strands straight.

The handle is non-slip too, which we found to be a helpful touch, especially if you use hair oil beforehand, that can make hands slippery. It comes in handy when trying to style a fringe too, as it’s narrow enough to grip shorter strands with complete control and no frizzy after effects.

ghd oval dressing brush

The chicest brush we tried, this oval-shaped one comes in a sleek black box, with silver detailing on the handle. It easily detangled our disheveled morning mop and it’s made with anti-static nylon bristles, so it’s not the softest but it doesn’t cause any discomfort either.

Our tester also used it to brush through tonged hair to create a more natural looking wave. It didn’t pull on tresses, nor felt scratchy on our scalp and was an easy way to create smooth styles, especially if you have thicker, longer hair that can be harder to brush into a polished up-do style.

Kent Brushes perfect for – small natural bristle brush PF05

While we wouldn’t use this on wet hair, on dry hair it’s ideal for smoothing hair into ponytails, low buns, space buns and top knots with ease. Those with straight hair will benefit most from this as it has a tendency to make curly hair voluminous but full of frizz.

If sleek, straight styles are your go-to, this is an affordable everyday essential. It’s the smallest brush we tried and the beechwood handle has a rubber grip too, making it compact with good grip. We were also impressed with how well it kept flyaways at bay, especially baby hairs that often never stay put.

Moroccanoil ceramic round brush 55mm

If you like oodles of volume, especially if your natural hair tends to fall flat, this round brush works wonders, especially when used at the root to guide your hairdryer. It has a striking teal handle that’s sturdy and won’t slip, and there’s also an orange section tip concealed inside the handle, which we found to be a little short for longer hair but helpful nonetheless.

We loved how it left hair looking shinier than usual, had great grip and didn’t catch on hair. It’s lightweight too, so if you have a lot of hair, your arm won’t be aching after 20 minutes of heated styling. Eye-catching and effective, it’s a fuss-free, easy tool to ensure good hair days everyday.

Aveda wooden paddle brush

The hair experts at Aveda have created this paddle brush that’s flat and wide with a typical air-filled cushion and plastic bristles that gently detangle knottiness in dry or wet hair without making your eyes water. When used with a hairdryer, it left our hair feeling super smooth. After running it across our scalp, it feels like a mini massage that bends to the contours of your head and if you have fine hair, like our tester, it glides through locks with ease, tackling even those nightmare knots that make you consider shaving it all off out of frustration. If your hair constantly moults, it won’t get caught up in this brush either.

Cantu detangle ultra glide brush

If you’re the proud owner of dense curls, this detangling brush does a great job at keeping definition and getting rid of any painful knots that can often take ages to brush out. It doesn't leave hair frizzy and works just as well on short hair as it does on longer lengths. There’s no snagging either, which can often happen with tighter coils.

It’s affordable, durable and a helping hand if you’re prone to breakage, so if you have thicker hair texture, it’s a no brainer buy. The colorful red base is fun and bright too, so you’re a lot less likely to lose it if you’re a bit forgetful. The non-slip grip handle also comes in handy to ensure it doesn’t slip or get stuck in a knotty patch of hair.

Manta hairbrush

The manta hairbrush is the brainchild of Tim Binnington who created the unique design for his wife who had lost her hair due to illness and as it began to grow back, wanted something gentle that wouldn’t cause any breakage. Suitable for all hair types, our reviewer with short, curly hair loved using this, but it’s so gentle you can also use it on fine, fragile or thick hair, including extensions. The easiest way to use it is by sliding the handle between your fingers and using your palm to guide it through hair, giving yourself a mini scalp massage at the same time. As there’s no long handle, it’s ideal for putting in your handbag.

Mason Pearson junior mixed bristle BN2 hair brush

Using a combination of boar bristles and nylon tufts, this brush by well recognised brand Mason Pearson, is densely packed and designed for fine, thick, short and medium length hair. While it feels rough to touch with your hands, on the scalp it’s soothing without being scratchy and we found it an effective tool for creating neat ponytails and buns, with not a single flyaway to be found. Certainly an investment, if looked after, it can last years and we were pleased to report that our hair felt and looked healthier after weeks of use.  We especially loved how closely it gripped each section from root to tip.

Paul Mitchell 427 paddle brush

For a speedy blowdry that adds volume and won’t leave you with clumps of knots, this is a comfortable and easy to enjoy brush. It has ball-ended nylon pins and ventilation via the air-filled cushion that’s flexible, and has a nice flat back so you won't roll off surfaces.

This is also great for brushing out tight curls into effortless waves and it has a lightweight yet sturdy handle that feels secure whether you’re working with dry or wet hair. It’s one of the biggest brushes we tried too, and gathers lots of hair so with one stroke so you can blowdry your hair much quicker. 

The verdict: Hair brushes

We can’t fault Michael Van Clarke no. 1 brush for its compact design and fuss-free, painless approach to detangling hair that’s prone to knots. Effective on wet and dry hair, it’s a brilliant everyday essential that stands the test of time.

The Cantu detangle ultra glide brush deserves a special mention too for its ability to manage a curly mane without leaving frizz and its affordable price tag is hard to beat. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.