InStyle February 14, 2023



The 10 Best Brushes for Curly Hair, According to Hairstylists


Give your curls the TLC they deserve.

Whether your natural hair type is subtle waves or kinky coils, anyone with curly hair knows that brushing curls can be tricky. (Especially if you've ever been told that you should never brush curly hair.) But it turns out, you just need to make sure you're using the right brush for your needs.

Since there are so many different types of brushes available to buy online, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why we asked six different hairstylists for the brushes that are the best at untangling knots, separating curls, and smoothing hair texture on their curly-haired clients. Based on their recommendations and factors like bristle type and brush size, we put together this list of the best brushes for curly hair.

Ahead are the best brushes for curly hair, according to hairstylists.

Best Overall: Denman Classic Styling Brush

What we love: The multifaceted brush can be used to define, smooth, and polish curls.

What we don’t love: Some shoppers say the bristle pad separates from the brush after a few weeks of use.

Considered the gold standard when it comes to brushes for curly hair, Denman has been creating tools with curly hair in mind for over 80 years. Though the brand makes dozens of brushes, none compare to the Classic Styling Brush D3. Made with seven rows of sculpted, round-edged nylon bristles, the styling brush seamlessly separates, shapes, and defines curls in minutes.

Best used on wet hair, the brush makes detangling a pain-free process — this is thanks to the bristle placement. The staggered design allows each bristle to effectively grip hair without creating painful tension, so the brush glides through hair rather than getting caught. Whether you decide to air-dry or blow dry your hair after, curls will look bouncier and sculpted.

While we haven’t experienced this, some shoppers say the bristle pad separates from the handle after a few weeks. In the off chance that this happens, Amazon offers free returns on the product. 

Weight: 8.8 oz | Dimensions: 8.27 x 1.38 x 1.75 in | Bristle Material: Nylon

Best Value: Wet Brush Original Detangler Hair Brush

What We Love: It detangles the toughest knots without pulling or tugging.
What We Don't Love: It does not have the most comfortable handle.

If you're looking for an affordable brush for curly hair, look no further than this option that's perfect for detangling in the shower. Los Angeles-based hairstylist Joshua Stinnett recommends using the Wet Brush while conditioning to "separate curls and snarls with ease."

The unique IntelliFlex bristles bend and flex through the hair without any harmful pulling or tugging, which will lead to 45 percent less breakage. "Curly hair is naturally more dry and brittle, so this is a good maintenance technique to keep those locks hydrated and separated before you even get out of the shower," adds Stinnett.

Weight: 3.53 oz | Dimensions: 8 x 3.5 x 1 in| Bristle Material: IntelliFlex

Best for Detangling: Tangle Teezer The Original

What We Love: It not only effortlessly detangles hair, but it also conditions hair and adds resiliency.
What We Don't Love: Cleaning the brush can be difficult.

Since curly hair can easily tangle, it's important to have a brush that can tackle stubborn knots. The Tangle Teezer uses flexible, two-tiered teeth to glide through knotty hair without any painful pulling. The long teeth work to remove knots and breakage while the short teeth smooth the hair for glossy, frizz-free results. The brush is also formulated with tra-cylane and bamboo to condition and add resiliency to hair cuticles. Michelle O'Connor, artistic director at Matrix, loves that the palm-sized brush can also be used for dry styling and blow-drying hair, so it's truly a multipurpose tool. Its compact size also makes it ideal for traveling or on-the-go use.

Weight: 2.29 oz | Dimensions: 3 x 2 x 5 in | Bristle Material: Silicone

Shop now: $10–$13;

Best for Scalp Exfoliation: Curly Hair Solutions The Original Flexy Brush

What We Love: The brush is easy to clean, thanks to its open cushion design.
What We Don't Love: The large paddle is difficult to maneuver.

Another one of O'Connor's go-tos for curly hair is the Flexy Brush. Like a few others on this list, it's great for detangling and brushing in the shower — except this one also functions as an excellent scalp massager. "It is amazing for exfoliating the scalp and stimulating blood circulation," O'Connor says. Even though its silicone bristles are flexible, the brush is still durable enough to go through thick, curly hair with ease. The open cushion design also prevents buildup while in the shower and makes it easy to clean.

Weight: 2.88 oz | Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 in| Bristle Material: Silicone

Best for Blow-Drying: Olivia Garden NanoThermic Ceramic + Ion Square Shaper Hair Brush

What We Love: It's made with insulating materials that retain heat and hold styles for longer.
What We Don't Love: The top part of the brush can get hot.

If you're pulling out a hairdryer, Norris recommends reaching for this brush. "It has both a flat and rounded side so you can both straighten or work on volume, waves, and flips with just a twist of the wrist," she says. It also features an ergonomic handle that's comfortable to hold for long periods of time, a retractable pick to easily section off hair, and a ceramic barrel that can help decrease frizz and static. The ceramic barrel allows the brush to heat up faster and retain heat for longer as well. There are six different barrel sizes to choose from depending on your preference, hair type or desired look.

Weight: 2.1 oz | Dimensions: 10.2 x 1.6 x 1.6 in| Bristle Material: Polymer and Tourmaline

Shop now: $24–$33;,

Best for Straightening: Fromm Glosser Intuition Hair Brush

What We Love: The nylon pins exfoliate the scalp while the boar bristles distribute natural oils.
What We Don't Love: The bristles are short and don't provide a ton of grip.

Even people who love their curls want to straighten them out once in a while. For the best results, you can blow-dry them straight with this boar-bristle paddle brush. "[It] features nylon pins to cut static, smooth flyaways and exfoliate the scalp," notes Amy Abramite, creative director, salon educator, and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. "[The boar bristles] also moisturize the hair by distributing the body's natural oil from [the] scalp to ends while simultaneously smoothing the hair texture and adding gloss, luster, and shine." The bristles and pins lie on a cushion base that prevents tugging and keeps hair protected from breakage.

Weight: 4.8 oz | Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 2.5 in | Bristle Material: Boar and nylon

Shop now: $21;,

Best Comb: Revlon Essentials 2-Piece Tangle-Free Comb Set

What We Love: The wide teeth are incredibly gentle on the scalp.
What We Don't Love: It can be a bit flimsy.

If you'd rather comb your hair than brush it, you'll want to make sure you have a wide-tooth option on hand. Similar to the one that Abramite recommends, this comb set from Revlon is great for all kinds of styling and detangling. "[A wide-tooth comb] will gently detangle wet hair without disturbing the curl pattern," says Abramite. "Because the teeth are spaced far apart, it will keep curls defined without unraveling each individual curl, preventing frizz for the optimal coil." The flexible, wide teeth are also much gentler on the scalp than those of a traditional comb and they won't tug or pull. The combs can be used on both wet and dry hair and the set includes two different sizes.

Weight: 2.72 oz | Dimensions: 0.63 x 3.63 x 10.5 in | Bristle Material: Plastic

Shop now: $6;

Best for Shower: Pattern Shower Brush

What We Love: It's the perfect size to detangle hair section by section and it helps give curls great definition.
What We Don't Love: The bristles aren't very soft.

Faith Huffnagle, director of education at the custom hair care brand Prose, recommends this brush from Black-owned brand Pattern (Tracee Ellis Ross actually owns it) as a good option to use in the shower. The flexible bristles help detangle curls and get rid of knots without snagging, according to Huffnagle, while the removable pad makes it easy to clean buildup from hair products. Although this Pattern brush is designed for the shower, it can certainly be used on dry hair as well to eliminate frizz and add volume.

Weight: N/A | Dimensions: N/A | Bristle Material: Nylon

Shop now: $17;,

Best for Soft Curls: Ibiza EX4 Boar Bristle Brush

What We Love: The bristles are heat-resistant and reinforced for salon-quality results.
What We Don't Love: Thebristles can get too soft over time.

This round brush from Ibiza (which also happens to be the brush behind Jennifer Aniston's hair) features a comfortable cork handle and is great for anyone who wants smooth hair or soft waves. "The natural boar bristles create beautiful smoothness with lots of shine and no static," says Stinnett. "The close spacing of these bristles gives you lots of tension, so you can really get the grip needed to smooth out the hair and add that dryer heat without the hair flying all over the place. You can also use these to create round brush curls or just a soft bend for movement." It is lightweight, easy to maneuver, and even heat-resistant.

Weight: 2.4 oz | Dimensions: 10 x 3 x 3 in | Bristle Material: Boar and Nylon

Shop now: $50;

Best Splurge: Mason Pearson Popular Hair Brush

What We Love: The combination of boar bristles and nylon teeth provides great grip.
What We Don't Love: The bristles can make dry hair static-y.

At $240, this Mason Pearson Brush is definitely an investment piece — but it's worth it if you want professional results from the comfort of your home. Multiple hairstylists recommend the high-quality brand whose brushes are handmade in England and designed to last for years, as long as you care for them properly (each comes with a cleaning brush to make it easier). This particular style uses a mixture of premium-grade boar and nylon bristles, which "creates good tension in damp hair to smooth even the curliest of hair types," according to Huffnagle. In addition to being effective at detangling, the unique bristles are also incredibly gentle on the scalp and will get the job done without catching or pulling on stands. It also features a pneumatic cushion that conforms to the contours of the scalp for more optimal brushing.

Weight: 2.4 oz | Dimensions: 10 x 3 x 3 in | Bristle Material: Boar and Nylon

Shop now: $240;

The Denman Classic Brush (view at Amazon) is a one-tool wonder. From de-frizzing to styling, this versatile brush is a great choice for all types of curls. If you prefer to spend a little less, The Wet Brush (view at Amazon) is both affordable and incredibly effective at untangling wet or dry hair thanks to ultra-soft Intelliflex bristles that bend and flex through the hair easily.

What to Look for in a Brush for Curly Hair

When shopping for a hair brush for curly hair, there are some important factors to consider. For starters, most hairstylists recommend brushing curls while they're wet to easily work through knots. "For detangling, you want to make sure that the bristles don't have seams or areas where the hair can snag and get caught," explains O'Connor.

Brush size: If you're styling curly hair (like with a hair dryer), you'll have to decide what look you're going for, because that helps you determine the best size and diameter for your brush, according to Paul Labrecque, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa. "One that's larger in diameter works well for straightening, and those with smaller diameters are ideal to assist in creating waves or bigger, looser curls."

Bristle type: Natural bristles (like boar) are great for smoothing and straightening hair, especially during blowouts. "Boar bristle is natural and gentler on the hair while maintaining enough tension to stretch and straighten without harm," says Abramite. On the other hand, flexible synthetic bristles (along with wide-tooth combs) work best for detangling hair and encouraging frizz-free curls, according to Huffnagle.


How often should you clean a hair brush?

Just like makeup brushes, hair brushes should be regularly cleaned to get rid of dirt, oil and product residue. How often you clean your brush will depend on how much product you are using. If you're regularly using lots of products, you should aim to clean it weekly. If you're not using a ton of products, cleaning your brush every two or three weeks will do.

What is the best way to clean a hair brush?

To thoroughly clean your brush, you should first remove any excess hair. We recommend cleaning it with water and a cleanser such as antibacterial soap or shampoo. Gently scrub at the bristles then rinse with water and let it air dry.

What is the best way to brush curly hair?

For defined, frizz-free curls, it is best to brush your hair when it is wet. Although brushing or combing dry curls every once in a while is okay, it can cause breakage and disrupt the curl pattern. You should section off hair into pieces and always work from the bottom up for best results.