How to select brushes and combs for long hair

Written by adrienne warber
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How to select brushes and combs for long hair

Long hair is fragile and requires special care to prevent damage. Mild shampoos and moisturising conditioners are not the only things that keep long hair healthy. You also need gentle styling tools. Rough styling tools cause split ends and breakage. You can select the right combs and brushes for long hair with a little research and styling tool knowledge.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • List of retailers

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  1. 1

    Learn about different types of brushes and combs recommended for long hair. Ask your hair stylist for recommendations and consult long hair care websites such as (see Resources). Combs are generally made from plastic, wood, resin or horn.

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair
  2. 2

    Select wide-tooth combs for detangling. A wide-tooth comb will glide through your long hair without catching on fragile strands. Wide-tooth combs remove tangles better than combs with medium and fine teeth.

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair
  3. 3

    Pick a medium-tooth dressing comb for smoothing straight or wavy hair. Only use the medium-tooth comb after detangling your hair with the wide-tooth comb.

  4. 4

    Feel a comb for any rough or sharp areas before you purchase it. Hair catches and breaks on rough areas on some plastic, wood or horn combs. A cheap wood comb may have small splintering areas. Some horn and bone combs have sharp teeth. A quality comb will be smooth without any areas that could damage hair.

  5. 5

    Look for brushes with 100 per cent boar bristles for general grooming. Boar bristles distribute sebum in the hair and create shine. Buy a brush with soft bristles for fine hair, delicate hair or a sensitive scalp. Thick hair requires firm bristles. Long hair specialist Dr. George Michael recommends boar bristle brushes with a wood base to prevent the build-up of static electricity during brushing. A boar bristle brush set in a rubber cushion on plastic base is also safe for long hair.

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair
  6. 6

    Choose a brush with seamless plastic pins for styling. Use these brushes for detangling, styling and creating volume in long hair.

  7. 7

    Examine the bristles of a brush before you purchase it. Quality boar bristles and plastic brushes have rounded tips that do not scratch the scalp.

  8. 8

    Buy handmade, seamless plastic combs instead of manufactured plastic combs. The combs available at the grocery store are factory manufactured plastic combs with a thin seam on the tips of the teeth. Often, the seam catches on delicate long hair and promotes breakage. Handcrafted seamless plastic combs are shaped by a person who makes sure that the entire comb is smooth and snag-free. Seamless combs are very gentle to fragile long hair because of the smooth construction and static-free feature.

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair
  9. 9

    Consider a horn or wood comb. Long hair benefits from horn and wood combs because the horn and wood spread the scalp’s natural oil, sebum throughout the hair during combing. After you use a horn or wood comb, your hair looks more like it has been brushed rather than combed.

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair
  10. 10

    Compile a list of retailers who sell gentle combs and brushes. Search local beauty supply stores and salons. Buy styling tools directly from the manufacturer and from hair speciality retailers online (See resources).

    How to select brushes and combs for long hair

Tips and warnings

  • Handmade, seamless plastic combs are generally the safest option for long hair.
  • Pick a handcrafted “bone” comb if you blow dry your hair. “Bone” combs are made of organic resins, a material that is both static-free and heat resistant.
  • Smooth the seam on a plastic comb with an emery board to prevent split ends.
  • Only use a wide-tooth comb on long, curly hair.
  • Mason Pearson and Kent are considered the leading manufacturers of quality handcrafted boar bristle brushes and handmade seamless combs.
  • Do not brush wet hair with a bristle brush. Wet brushing stretches and damages hair.
  • Avoid nylon bristle brushes which are harsh on hair and scalp.

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