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 want to detangle knots, smoothen frizz or create a voluminous boost with your hair dryer, 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, he 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 says.
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 hair dryer to prevent rotting would last between six months and a year but if you really look after it, it could be a lot more,” he says.
How we tested
Whether you have long, short, straight or curly hair, we’ve handpicked the best brushes, across a range of budgets, worth adding into your haircare routine, from the affordable to the super luxurious.
The best hair brushes for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Michael Van Clarke no. 1 brush: £29.50, Vanclarke.com
- Best for a volume boost – T3 volume 2.0 round brush: £24.99, Very.co.uk
- Best for detangling – Ghd oval dressing brush: £23, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for flat hair – Moroccanoil ceramic round brush 55mm: £16.85, Lookfantastic.com
- Best gentle brush – Aveda wooden paddle brush: £25, Feelunique.com
- Best for dense curls – Cantu detangle ultra glide brush: £8.99, Superdrug.com
- Best for long hair – Babyliss diamond detangle brush: £9.99, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for a slicked-back ponytail – Cloud Nine luxury dressing brush: £40, Cloudninehair.com
- Best for detangling – Wetbrush flex dry: £13.99, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for blow-drying – Tangle Teezer easy dry and go vented hairbrush: £15, Lookfantastic.com
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, found 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. We couldn’t be without it.
T3 volume 2.0 round brush
Best: For a volume boost
This is ideal for those with medium to longer styles who are looking for a volume boost from the root, or to shape 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 hair dryer, as it was a little harsh on wet or dry hair, 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, which 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
Best: For detangling
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 dishevelled 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 feel 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.
Moroccanoil ceramic round brush
Best: For flat hair
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 hair dryer. It has a striking teal handle that’s sturdy and won’t slip, and there’s also an orange sectioning tip concealed inside the handle, which we found to be a little short for longer hair but helpful nonetheless.
We loved how it left our hair looking shinier than usual, had great grip and didn’t catch. 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.
Aveda wooden paddle brush
Best: Gentle 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 hair dryer, it left our hair feeling super smooth.
Running it across our scalp, it felt like a mini massage, bending to the contours of our head and gliding through locks with ease, tackling even those nightmare knots that make you consider shaving it all off. If your hair constantly moults, it won’t get caught up in this brush either.
Cantu detangle ultra glide brush
Best: For dense curls
If you’re the proud owner of dense curls, this detangling brush does a great job at keeping definition while getting rid of any painful knots. 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, 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.
Babyliss diamond detangle brush
Best: For long hair
This stylish brush can do it all. From easily detangling knotted wet hair to combing through dry strands, it worked quickly and efficiently. The handle is extra long and shaped to a rounded point, making it perfect for separating hair into sections when styling or finding your parting. The bristles bend with your hair so they don’t get caught or leave tresses looking frizzy when using a hair dryer. It’s an excellent all-rounder that works equally as well on dry or wet hair.
Cloud Nine luxury dressing brush
Best: For a slicked-back ponytail
This luxury boar bristle brush makes for a chic addition to your haircare routine. It has a mix of natural and nylon bristles – the former is gentle enough to detangle without pulling painfully, while the latter controls static so you can smooth hair into a low bun or slick ponytail with ease. It can also be used to brush out tight curls to leave a soft, bouncy wave. Best suited to medium to long hair lengths, it feels soothing on the scalp and the natural bristles leave a subtle shine on slick up-dos.
Wetbrush flex dry
Best: For detangling
Wetbrush’s range is catered to detangling knotted hair and its flex dry design is our pick of the bunch. No matter how matted or untamable, this bendy brush glides through strands to leave it knot-free. The curved head helps get rid of post-wash knots, but there’s none of the eye-watering pain. Thanks to the vented design, it’s great for a speedy blow-dry as the hot air doesn’t get trapped at the back of the brush, instead flowing through while it detangles. It’s also handy to ensure hair masks or leave-in treatments have evenly coated every strand.
Tangle Teezer easy dry and go vented hairbrush
Best: For blow-drying
While everyone knows the classic palm-sized Tangle Teezer brush, this newer design is an upgrade. The handle ensures it never slips out of your hand and the vents help to blow-dry tresses quickly. Best suited to thicker hair types, it has pointed teeth-like bristles which smooth bigger sections of hair. It’s lightweight without feeling flimsy and is easy to use with a blow-dryer to guide hot air through wet hair.
Hair brush FAQs
What type of brush is best for different hair types?
If you’re looking to detangle long, thick hair, try a nylon ceramic brush, as the rigid bristles can get rid of knots quickly while leaving smoother strands. For fine or thinning hair, try to use boar bristles, which are super soft and gentle.
Round brushes are fantastic for adding volume from the root, especially when used with a hair dryer. Dressing brushes are useful for smoothing hair into slicker styles, such as a chignon bun or high ponytail, while adding shine. They can also be used to brush through curls if you want a bouncier look.
For afro and curly hair, wide paddle brushes work well without snagging, tugging or painful pulling, as do wide-tooth combs.
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.
For the latest haircare discounts and offers, try the links below:
For more on detangling knotty hair, read our review of the Wetbrush flex dry
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in