Real Simple June 14, 2022

Real Simple


Ask a Beauty Editor: Best Brushes for Thin Hair and Hair Loss


There are multiple factors to consider.

Ever wanted to pick the brain of a beauty editor? Or get beauty product recommendations from someone who has tried them all? You've come to the right place. In our weekly series, beauty editor Hana Hong answers your biggest skincare, hair care, and makeup questions, all submitted by Real Simple readers. Tune in every Tuesday and submit your own burning beauty questions here for a chance to be featured.

Reader question: I have really fine hair that gets tangled easily. Can you recommend some good hair brushes for hair loss? —Lenora Lopez


Brushing your hair might seem like a scary undertaking when you're facing hair loss, but don't flinch at the thought of bristles. Even though seeing the amount of hair loss on your brush can be an unnerving sight, experts agree that brushing finer hair is beneficial to encourage growth. "When it comes to brushing thinning hair, some clients think they need to be super-careful with brushing their locks so they don't cause more hair loss; however, the opposite is more true," says Shelly Aguirre, hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. "You want to stimulate the scalp to encourage MORE hair growth."

But before you brush with abandon, you don't want excessive tugging to yank precious strands out, so let's talk technique. First up, make sure to brush with gentle strokes. Start at the bottom of your hair and work on small sections. "When brushing, you want to make sure to hold onto the hair closest to the scalp to gently detangle without causing pressure," says Jenna Marie Shafer, a hairstylist in New York City. This will help you remove snarls without yanking on your roots. 

Another important thing: Never brush your hair when it's wet. Wet hair is the most vulnerable to stretching while being pulled, so you're risking unnecessary breakage if you brush straight out of the shower.

As for how often to brush your hair with hair loss, most stylists seem to settle on once in the morning and once at night. Excessive brushing can also strain your scalp, so try to keep the frequency to no more than twice a day. If you consistently struggle with tangled hair, try using a detangling spray on damp hair (and letting it fully dry!) prior to brushing. 

Now that you know how to brush your hair with hair loss, let's talk about the type of brush you should be using, which is just as important. "Make sure to use a brush with soft or flexible bristles, like a natural boar bristle brush, as opposed to one with stiff bristles, as this will help you brush through without applying too much stress," notes Shafer. Aguirre adds that natural boar bristles will help the oil evenly disperse from scalp to ends, while nylon bristles can help stimulate the scalp. In other words, an ideal hairbrush is one with a mixture of nylon and boar bristles, plus a large surface area to make the job as effortless as possible.

And just so you don't have to comb through (ha) the overwhelming throng of hairbrushes on the market, we did the vetting for you—from drugstore to high-end—with some of our top picks below.

Best Hair Brushes for Thin Hair


Tangle Teezer Fine & Fragile Detangling Hair Brush

If you don't know anything about the ingenious invention that is Tangle Teezers, they can brush through even the nastiest tangles without any pain. The secret lies in a patented two-tier teeth technology that flexes over tangles rather than pulling, meaning less hair breakage. Even better: This handheld guy here is made with 30% softer teeth to gently detangle fine, fragile, or color-damaged hair. 

Janeke Large Oval Hairbrush With Gold Pins

Rounded pins in this oval hairbrush gently detangle dry hair without damage or breakage, while also reducing static and flyaways. Plus, the pneumatic bristles make brushing gentle on the scalp, so it's especially great for those with thick and textured hair.

Mason Pearson Handy Boar Bristle Brush

While pricey, Mason Pearson has a rep for a reason. This one is Aguirre's top pick since it includes both natural boar and nylon bristles to disperse oil and stimulate the scalp simultaneously.

Denman D81M Medium Style and Shine Brush

If you're looking for a more affordable dupe, Denman makes some great lower-priced alternatives to Mason Pearson. This one also combines both boar bristles and nylon pins to smooth over knots and leave a nice sheen to hair.

Raincry Restore Reinforced Natural Bristle Paddle Brush

This Raincry hairbrush features the ultimate power duo: A pneumatic cushion stimulates blood flow and exfoliates the scalp, while reinforced boar bristles penetrate deeply to the root area.

Conair Performers All-Purpose Brush with Boar Bristles

This 100 percent boar bristle brush is made specially with fine and sensitive scalps in mind. The bristles distribute the scalp's natural oils throughout the hair as you go for an ouchless experience.