How to soften hair brush bristles

Written by ilana waters
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How to soften hair brush bristles
Softening hardened bristles may prevent you having to buy a new hairbrush. (hairbrush image by Alexandra Stukkey from

These days, many individuals are looking to save a few dollars, and one way to do so is by cutting costs on hair styling tools. To avoid having to spend money on a new hair brush, consider reviving your old, hardened one by softening the bristles. Doing so on a regular basis can extend the life of your brush by months, if not years, says Katty Samaniego, hair designer of Anthony Garubo Salon and Day Spa in Maplewood, NJ.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 cup warm water
  • Shallow container large enough to hold the hair brush
  • 1 teaspoon olive, vegetable or canola
  • Coffee stirrer or small spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Hair dryer

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  1. 1

    Pour oil into the warm water and agitate with a coffee stirrer or small spoon.

  2. 2

    Pour mixture into the shallow container and place hair brush inside it, bristles down. Although the oil and water will not stay mixed together for more than a few seconds, warm water helps the oil penetrate the bristles.

  3. 3

    Allow the hair brush to soak in the mixture for at least five minutes.

  4. 4

    Remove hair brush from the mixture and pat dry with a paper towel.

  5. 5

    Dry hair brush with the hair dryer for approximately 5 minutes on "medium" setting. If desired, you can use a low setting for approximately 7 minutes. Hair brush bristles should now be soft enough for continued use. If bristles are still hard, repeat steps 1 through 5 a second time.

Tips and warnings

  • Only attempt this method on brushes with natural bristles; those made with synthetic fibres will not be able to regain their original texture.
  • If you are prone to having an oily scalp, or oily hair, skip step 2 and soak the hair brush in warm water only.
  • Do not dry the hair brush for longer than 5 minutes. If excess moisture remains on the brush, allow 24 hours for it to air-dry before use or before making a second attempt to soften the bristles.
  • If the bristles do not soften after a third attempt, you probably need to replace the hair brush.
  • Do not use the hair dryer's "high" or "very high" settings when attempting to soften the bristles. Doing so will weaken the hair fibres and potentially damage the brush handle material.
  • Do not use hot or boiling water to make the mixture. Doing so will likely harm the bristles and eventually cause them to fall out of the brush.
  • Do not leave room while hair dryer is in operation. Monitor dryer and hair brush until drying process is complete.

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