The Best Brushes for Styling Curly Hair
Image Source: @manesbymell

You may think that brushing curly hair is a no-no because it can cause breakage and it conjures up childhood memories of that big cloud of fluff caused by well-meaning parents vigorously brushing out our curls in the name of neatness! It may come as a surprise to learn, therefore, that using a brush on curly hair can actually help with curl formation. Read on to find out which types of brushes are out there for styling curly hair and when to use each one.

Types of Brushes

Despite the brush aversion many people have in the curly world, there are actually several cases in which a brush can be a key part of your regimen: dry detangling, wet detangling, and styling.

Dry Detangling Brushes

Many curly guys and girls swear by dry detangling to prepare their hair for washing, conditioning, or styling. This can be terrifying because it can: 

  1. Remind us of the aforementioned cloud of fluff and 
  2. Feel like you’re damaging your hair

Here are some tips to make dry detangling work for you:

  • Always work from the ends up to the roots, gently brushing section by section.
  • Use oil, conditioner, or hair cream to help the brush to glide through.
  • If you come across a persistent knot, don’t forcefully drag the brush through; instead, add more oil and try to separate it with your fingers before continuing.

Good dry detangling brushes to try are The Original brush from Tangle Teezer or the Rizos Curls Detangling Flexi Brush.

Wet Brushes

Wet brushes (not to be confused with the brands named above) do what they say on the tin – they are for use on wet hair! Because wet hair is more fragile than dry, these brushes are made to be flexible and gentle on the hair. They generally have clearly separated rows for detangling that glide through the hair. They may also have vents to help air and water flow through them. Some are curved to fit the shape of the scalp, and some have prongs that separate as they move through the hair so as not to pull on the strands. 

Use wet brushes to detangle, distribute the product, and form curl clumps by brushing through when very wet once stylers have been applied. Wet brushes come in a variety of different shapes and sizes; a great one to try is the Curlkeeper Flexy Brush which has an open cushion to eliminate bacteria and product build-up, and flexible silicone bristles which are gentle on the scalp. The wide paddle is good for helping people with wavy hair to style big smooth waves, or for those wanting to create larger curl clumps by brushing under the hair away from the scalp, once stylers have been applied. Stylist Felicia Leatherwood’s Detangler Brush is another curly cult favorite especially with tighter textures because of its flexible bristles that move through your hair without pulling on or breaking your strands. 

In this article, we are focusing on styling brushes, but if you are looking for a tool to help you with detangling then these are the best brushes for detangling curly hair according to curl stylists

Styling Brushes

Moving on to the magical bit! Brush styling can be done on any hair type or texture and of course, can wield varying results. Generally speaking, brush styling can help enhance any curl pattern and smooth frizz. So which brushes should you use and when? Below are a few that are widely loved and can produce wildly differing results.

The Best Styling Brushes for Curly Hair

The Best Brushes for Styling Curly Hair

The Cult Brush: D3 Denman Brush

The most commonly used brush for brush styling is the famed Denman brush. This brush glides easily through coily, curly, or wavy hair (when wet or damp). The D3 with seven rows is the most popular for achieving smooth curl clumps. The other amazing thing about the Denman is that you can dismantle it and remove the rows to create fewer, more widely-spaced rows. This means less tension is placed on the hair which is gentler to the hair shaft and to sensitive scalps. The wider rows can help to create larger curl clumps too if that’s your goal.

What is this best for? 

The Denman D3 is used by all curl patterns and can be modified (like I mentioned above”> depending on your preference. The Denman D4 is good for thicker, coarser, and more coily hair. This has nine closely packed rows and therefore creates higher tension in order to work through denser hair.

How to Use a Denman Brush

When styling with the Denman, style in sections for ease. Clip sections out of the way and divide sections into the width of the curl clump you desire. Try to avoid sections that are too big; this can lead to over-sized curl clumps that may need to be separated later on which can cause frizz. 

When styling, place the brush under the curl clump and brush up or away from the scalp all the way through to the end of the clump, curling it slightly at the end (think about curling a ribbon with scissors”>. This method of styling is especially effective when trying to eliminate ‘bald’ patches at the crown area. You can then gently shake the curl clump by holding it at the root with the fingertips which will clump the hair together and/or you can scrunch the curl clump up gently towards the scalp.

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An alternative method of styling is to hold the brush upside down, brush up or away from the scalp and twist the hair around the brush pulling the brush down so the hair twists around the handle. Pull and twist the brush all the way through until it slips out of the curl clump. This can create smooth ribbon curls, but it also means curls can be more stretched out.

The New Kid on the Block: Behairful Brush

Many curly girls are branching out from their Denman to try the Behairful brush. This brush is flexible in that it can be used for dry detangling as well as styling due to its gentle nylon and boar bristles. 

Users claim that it creates incredible definition and rounded, bouncy curls with a high level of shrinkage as opposed to the looser curls created by the Denman. It can create high tension on the hair because of the closer-spaced rows so if your hair is damaged this may be something to watch out for. 

What is this best for? 

The higher tension can be good for wavier girls though who will need something that doesn’t just slip through the hair without creating any curl or wave.

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The Best Brushes for Styling Curly Hair

The Quirky One: Scrunchitcurls Scrunch It Brush 

If you are looking to create perfectly smooth ringlets, then look no further than the Scrunch It Brush from Scrunchitcurls. The texture of these bristles is combined with a smooth, rounded, aluminum body to create frizz-free silky curls. It also has a small handle on the tip to help you when twisting it through the hair and a pointed sectioning tip on the handle. 

What is this best for?

This brush creates good tension for tighter curl patterns because of its tightly packed row of two vegan bristle types. 

You can use it to style as with the Denman brush above, simply brushing out and away from the scalp and then shaking the curl clump; however, for maximum ringlet impact, use it upside down and twist the curl all the way around the barrel and down so it twists around the smooth, rounded handle. This brush is great for refreshing when you want to target the odd wayward or frizzy curl; simply wet the offending clump and twist and smooth into place with the Scrunch it Brush.

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Do you use a brush in your curly styling routine? Share your favorite in the comments.

Happy curling!

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