There are five main types or classes of brush (vent brush, Denman, pad/cushion or paddle brush, thermal brush and round brush), each designed for a specific purpose. Brushes are often refered to by brand name Denman is an example and so is Mason and Pearson. It is what you can create shape wise with the correct hair brush that is important. The right brush will give you height, volume, bounce and curl for big hair or smooth, flat, sleek and straight hair. The right hairdressing tools do make a difference.
What often happens is that we have this "old favorite" brush that we use for all things imaginable and expect it to be a jack of all trades when in fact it's the master of none (sorry about the cliché).
To help you choose the best selection of brushes for your styling needs it is a good idea to check out what each of the brush types are really for:
The Vent Brush
So called due to the open "vents" through which air can flow. It's used to create root lift and volume for your hair and to give some direction and movement like flicking out the ends of your hair.
If your hair tends to be a little flyaway or static this is not the styling brush for you as it is the simplest brush to use but gives only the simplest of effects, as it is not far removed from using your fingers to dry your hair. It is a great brush for easing out tangles on medium to thick hair and men's or children's short simple styles or to give a little more height and lift to a style that you might normally dry with your fingers.
The Styler or the "Denman"
"Denman" is a brand name often used to describe this type of brush. They have no vents and a solid cushion backing. The bristles are on one side only and form a slight half circle bend. They are best used on bob shape cuts and mid length hair to achieve a little root and to smooth and straighten the lengths and ends of the hair. Like the vent brush, they are easy to use, but if you can't get the smoothness you want form this type of brush it is because it cannot provide enough tension that is lacking and you will need to a large round bristle brush.
The Pad brush also known as a Cushion or Paddle Brush
Cushion brushes have a soft cushion base with bristles on one side, often slightly curved and are used to smooth, without lift or volume, short to medium hair lengths that aren't too thick or dense. They are very simple to use and are popular with men to create neat smooth shapes without creating lift.
The Paddle brush is very similar to the cushion brush but is distinguished by its size of cushion base from which the bristles protrude. they are larger and flatter than the cushion brush and are used when you have lots or long hair to deal with. They are great to smooth naturally straight hair or to finish off after using a round brush to straighten frizzy, wavy or curly hair .
Simply sweep the brush down the length of your hair with a paddle type motion. This way you won't create volume or highly stylized looks with this type of brush.
Personally I love them for detangling dry hair as they don't hurt as much a big bonus when dealing with children's hair.
The name "round brush" describes itself but the most important thing to realise about it is that it's not just for creating curl. The more open bristle type is used for achieving maximum height and lift. The densely packed real bristle round brush is great at smoothing and straightening your hair with the tension needed for hair that naturally has a wave or curl. The size of the brush you need depends on the length of your hair and the effect you want. Your hair needs to be long enough to rap around the brush once. As a general guide:
- For short hair (up to 15 cm or 6") the center barrel of the brush should be approximately 3cm or 1" diameter or less.
- For mid length hair (15 to 20 cm or 6 to 8") the center barrel of the brush should be approx. 3 to 4 cm or 1" to 1 1/2" diameter.
- For long hair (20cm or 8" plus) the center barrel of the brush should be approx. 4cm or 1 1/2" diameter plus.
These are only rough guides and for all our brushes they we stock are classed small, medium and large for a simple choice for your needs.
To get it right with a round brush:
- You need to practice, but think of the workout your arms are getting!
- Invest in some sectioning clips, so that you can work with only a small piece of hair at a time.
- Angle the flow of air from your dryer, so that it flows from roots to ends, (not across or back towards your head, therefore making the hair frizzy).
- Next time ask your hairdresser to give you a demo on how to do it then ask them to watch you and put you right. They really won't mind showing you.
If you have tried a round brush and it failed to straighten your hair effectively there is this great new brush on the market that is easy to use at home. It looks like a pair of tongs with bristles facing towards each other. You simple clasp a section of hair near the scalp between the bristles and then dry your hair as you slide the brush through the hair towards the ends.
The Thermal Brush (ceramic or metal)
Not a brush type but a version really. You most commonly find round thermal brushes but they also come as vent or styler types. If time is your concern then a thermal brush could be what you need. They work by using a metal or heat conductive material as the center of the brush, this gets hot using the heat from your hair dryer. Therefore as you increase the heat that is drying your hair it will be working not only on the surface of the hair, but internally as well. You can get effects that are rather like setting your hair on rollers when you get really good with one of these!
Be very careful though, it is easy to scorch your hair if the brush gets too hot! We would recommend that if your hair is fine, chemically treated or damaged that you use a good old-fashioned non-thermal brush and not a thermal brush.
Bennie Tognini, top stylist, past president of the Australian Fellowship of Hairdressers and owner of the famous salon "Tognini's" in Brisbane, gives us a few good tips about brushes: " For long hair, Mason Pearson brushes are renown for the pure boar bristles which don't tear hair or leave static. They are extremely expensive but are excellent quality and good for hair. Otherwise, any brush that contains a high percentage of boar bristles with a mix of nylon are also good whether they are flat or round".
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