What are the Different Types of Hairbrushes?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2019
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Hairbrushes have many different uses, not only to style the hair, but also to keep them healthy and vibrant. They come in many different shapes and sizes, which may be used for different purposes, or for different types of hair. Having the right hairbrushes will make creating certain hairstyles much easier, while having the wrong hairbrush can make some hairstyles almost impossible to achieve. Similarly, having the wrong type of hairbrush for your type of hair can lead to difficulties in everyday brushing.

There are six main types of hairbrushes: the paddle brush, the wire brush, the oval brush, the cushioned brush, the sculpting brush, and the thermal brush. The thermal brush may also be either flat or round in shape. All of these hairbrushes are widely available, and come in different materials, levels of quality, and sizes. For people interested in keeping their hair well-styled, spending the time to find the right hairbrush can be a great investment, as a good brush will last for years, and will see regular use.


The paddle brush is used primarily for smoothing hair down and straightening it out. They also act to move healthy oils from their origination at the scalp all the way down the hair to the ends, keeping the ends well moisturized. A paddle brush is ideal for people who want their hair to flatten down, since they tamp down volume. The paddle brush is also used to style different layers, since they don’t add any volume. Paddle brushes are generally quite wide, and are flat.

The wire brush is meant for people with thick hair, since they are a bit rough and can hurt those with fine hair. Wire brushes have small metal spokes that catch the hair and help straighten it. Because of their roughness, wire hairbrushes are not all that common in use for human hair, but are used extensively for dolls, and for animals like horses that have rougher hair. Some wire brushes may have plastic balls on the end to make them a bit gentler, in which case they be used on a wider range of hair.

The oval hairbrush is often used for men’s hair, and generally do not add volume, being used just to straighten out the hair without breaking the ends or catching on snags. Often an oval hairbrush will have no handle, simply consisting of an oval back that can be gripped, and fluffy brushes attached. This type of hairbrush is sometimes referred to as a military hairbrush, as it is popular among military men. The cushioned hairbrush, on the other hand, is built to protect longer hair from breaking from the stress of brushing. Their cushioned backs give a substantial amount of give while brushing, resulting in much less tension.

The sculpting brush is built for backcombing, and is one of the styles of hairbrush that adds the most volume. Sculpting brushes are best used for shorter hairstyles, or for round layers in the hair. Thermal brushes, on the other hand, are meant to be used with heat, usually from an electric hairdryer. Flat thermal brushes help smooth and straighten the hair, while round thermal brushes can be used much like rollers, to create curls.


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