Generally speaking, straight hair types have it easy when it comes to brushing their strands. Unless you’re dealing with a trail of unruly knots, you can easily run any old paddle of bristles through your tresses and get on with your day. Hair types with natural bounce and bend rarely have that luxury and require curly hair brushes specifically designed to deal with their twisty mane.
Similar to how not all curls are the same, neither are the hair styling tools commonly used to tame them. Whether you’re shopping for a hair dryer, hair-dryer brush, shampoo, conditioner or co-washes, if you have coily, kinky or spiralized strands, it’s important to invest in curly hair products, specifically, to ensure your tresses get the treatment they deserve. The same rule applies when shopping for the best hair brush for everyday maintenance.
The different types of hair brushes for curly hair
Comb – Best used for detangling, these thin brushes are designed with a thin row of narrow teeth to work through knots and tangles.
Wet Brush – It’s all in the name: Wet brushes are meant to be used either in or out of the shower on damp hair. They’re designed with flexible bristles to minimize pulling.
Boar Bristle Hair Brush – Boar bristle brushes have, you guessed it, bristles made from boar’s hair. Boar’s hair is similar to human hair, in that it has the same hair protein, keratin. Jenna Spino, a stylist at Maxine salon in Chicago, says these types of brushes work especially well on curly hair because they smooth frizz, add shine without pulling and distribute hair’s natural oils from roots to ends.
Paddle Brush – Gina Rivera, hair artist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites, tells WWD another great detangler brush for curly hair is the paddle brush. This is because the spacing of the synthetic bristles (usually made from plastic) along the flat, wide, air-cushioned brush is perfect for moving through the hair without placing too much tension on the individual strands.
Scalp-Stimulating Detangler Brush – Hair artist and owner of House of Dear hair salon and House of Dear clean hair care products Holly Dear lists these brushes as one of the best types of curly hair brushes you’ll find on the market. “The rows of bristles separate and flex with your hair so that you don’t rip or break hair strands,” she says. These work with all textures of hair and are especially great for scalp health.
Straightening Brush – A two-in-one styling tool that heats like a flat iron, but is built like a hair brush to detangle strands while straightening them simultaneously.
Hair-Dryer Brush – Another two-in-one styler that’s part brush, part hair dryer. Vents along the barrel promote better airflow for quicker dry time, and the brushes are typically rounded for easy styling.
What to look for in the best hair brush for curly hair
When shopping for the best curly hairbrushes, Spino says you must pay close attention to its bristles. “Look for [a brush] that is gentle with flexible bristles to avoid tugging on the hair.” Boar bristles are preferred because they’re soft and gentle, but if you’re opting for synthetic bristles (i.e. plastic or nylon), be on the lookout for ones with rounded tips that won’t cause breakage.
Next, consider what you’re trying to achieve with the brush to help determine what size you’ll need. For example, Spino says bigger brushes, like paddle brushes and large round brushes, are best for at-home blowouts because they can help achieve straighter strands and add volume. If you’re looking for more body and movement, Spino says smaller brushes are preferred. Lastly, if you’re wearing your natural curl and not blowing it out, Spino suggests sticking with a wet brush or something similar in the shower with conditioner or before applying the product. This will make detangling easy and reduce frizz.
Top Curly Hair Brushes
- Best Overall: Denman D-5 Brush 9-Row
- Best Hair-Dryer Brush for Curly Hair: Revlon One-Step Volumizer
- Manta Healthy Hair Brush
- Best for Travel: Tangle Teezer Thick & Curly Hair Brush
- Best Paddle Brush for Curly Hair: Shu Uemura Large Paddle Brush
- Best for Natural Hair: Brush With The Best Detangler Brush
- Best Round: ghd Ceramic Vented Round Brushes
- Best to Use in the Shower: The Wet Brush Original Detangler
- Best Straightening Brush for Curly Hair: Drybar The Brush Crush Heated Straightening Brush
- Best for Kids: Denman Tangle Tamer
- Rizos Curls Detangling Flexi Brush
- Best Luxury: Christophe Robin Detangling Brush
The best way to detangle curly hair
Step 1: Hit The Showers. Got knots? Spino tells WWD the best place to detangle curly hair is in the shower with conditioner applied to damp hair.
Step 2: Use A Wet Brush. Grab your wet brush and gently run its bristles through your strands before rinsing out conditioner. Spino says this tactic “can help avoid some tangles.”
Step 3: Use Product. If hair is still tangled after step two, Spino suggests applying a hair oil or detangling spray to help you glide right through any rough patches. For specific product recommendations, Spino tells WWD she tends to favor Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime because it’s lightweight, absorbs quickly — “giving the hair a little slip,” she says — and can be used before brushing to help detangle and/or after brushing to give hair moisture. Spino also recommends Oribe’s Run-Through Detangling Primer.
Keep scrolling to shop the best hair brushes for curly hair available now.
Denman D-5 Brush 9-Row
As far as PhD., certified hair practitioner and Absolutely Everything Curly founder Gaby Longsworth is concerned, Denman’s D5 9 Row Original styling brush is the best brush for thick, curly hair by far. “It’s a favorite of mine and many other curly girls,” she says. Backed by over 8,700 five-star reviews on Amazon alone, the product has nine rows of nylon bristles (hence its name) that are shaped like round-top pins and staggered along the tool. The sleek styler also features rubber grip pads made from anti-static rubber that smooths strands, and its bristles are chemical-resistant to maintain good hair hygiene. It’s one caveat: “It can definitely pull the hair strands, but it is great to style thick, dense 3b curls like mine and create curl clumps,” Longsworth says.
Revlon One-Step Volumizer
Best Hair-Dryer Brush for Curly Hair
On the hunt for the best hair-dryer brush for curly hair? Meet the Revlon One-Step Volumizer. The styling tool has garnered over a whopping 273,500 ratings on Amazon alone, with an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars. It boasts a 4.25-inch barrel uniquely shaped like an oval for extra lift at the roots, an easy flip at the ends and an all-around smooth finish. Its combination of nylon pin and tufted bristles allows users to get even closer to the root of the hair, plus the barrels’ ceramic coating and ion technology promote even heat distribution, resulting in less hair damage and frizz. There are three interchangeable heat controls (high, medium and low), plus a cooling option. And, the innovative design features unique airflow vents for faster drying time. One reviewer with curly hair called the hot brush “every curly-haired girl’s dream come true,” while another raved that they’ve “never been able to achieve a nice at-home blowout until buying this.”
Manta Healthy Hair Brush
The Manta Healthy hair brush works with hair, not against it, to ensure minimum breakage and maximum health. It’s base and bristles are made from a flexible rubber that glides through hair, responding to any bends and waves. UK celebrity hairstylist and textured hair educator Jennie Roberts tells WWD it’s her number one go-to for curly, kinky and coily hair because it’s so gentle, increases shine and is a great scalp massager. “It really has to be used to see how life-changing this brush is,” Roberts says. “It molds to your hand, so offers great handlingand works for people with problems holding conventional brushes.”
Tangle Teezer Thick & Curly Hair Brush
Best for Travel
The Tangle Teezer brand has been a saving grace for all hair types since its initial launch in the early 2000s, but its Thick & Curly design has been especially beneficial to the curly hair community. The brush is designed with two different teeth lengths made with Firmflex technology to easily comb through strands, detangle knots and reduce breakage. It can be used on dry and wet hair, and one Amazon reviewer with 4C hair notes it’s also “great for applying product.” Another claim to fame for this curly hair brush is its portability. Professional hairstylist and co-founder of MyBeautik.com Laura Roncagli says Tangle Teezer’s classic styler is the best curly hair brush for travel because it’s pocket-sized and doesn’t have a handle. “It’s what you have with you when you travel, go to the beach, the swimming pool, etc.,” she tells WWD. “However, [no handle] also means a little less control over the brush.”
Shu Uemura Large Paddle Brush
Best Paddle Brush for Curly Hair
If you prefer paddle brushes over pocket-sized stylers, Spino says Shu Uemura’s large paddle brush is great for curls and soft waves. It features premium nylon fiber bristles, which are dryer-resistant. Its bristles are also designed with rounded tips to massage the scalp, stimulating volume and growth, enhancing shine and smoothing pesky flyaways. The paddle’s lacquered kotibe wood handle allows for a firm grip and optimal control over the styler, while its rubber cushioned back distributes pressure evenly for seamless motion through the hair.
Brush With The Best Detangler Brush
Best for Natural Hair
The best curly hair brush for natural hair is courtesy of celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood’s brand, Brush With The Best. According to Dear, the label’s Detangler Brush is popular thanks to its ability to “separate the curls without disrupting the curl pattern.” It’s bristles, made from Flexi material, adapt to your hair’s natural twists and bend quickly and efficiently. What’s more, unlike most brushes that are bonded on all four sides, this brush is only bonded on three, enabling fluid movement with each stroke through your strands. And because the brush works through knots and kinks so easily, you can count on less pulling and breakage.
ghd Ceramic Vented Round Brushes
Hair drying is hardly a breeze when you’re styling curly strands in the process, but according to Roncagli, Ghd’s ceramic vented round brushes are the best for at-home blowouts. The brushes are available in four numbered sizes with varying barrels that are coated with vented ceramic to retain heat longer and speed up the blow-drying process. Roncagli says the brushes serve a variety of purposes, but she finds them to be most useful when straightening wavy or curly hair, creating waves on straight hair or when simply adding volume to fine hair. And while the brushes’ price points are a little steep, users say they’re worth the splurge. One Amazon reviewer writes, “This brush delivers. It’s extremely lightweight, easy to hold and manipulate. Picks up hair precisely, heats up quickly and doesn’t yet have a single bent bristle.” Another adds, “You will use this product frequently and for years. You are investing in quality equipment.”
The Wet Brush Original Detangler
Best to Use in the Shower
This writer is relatively new to using the Wet Brush, and while I can only speak to its benefits on soft waves, Spino notes that in her experience, it’s one of the best detangler brushes for curly hair. Thanks to its super soft bristles, the wet brush “glides through the hair, detangling very easily and quickly without pulling,” with the bonus of leaving hardly any hair in the brush afterward, Spino raves. “It’s also great to use in the shower to comb the conditioner through,” she adds, so feel free to use the brush to apply various products.
Drybar The Brush Crush Heated Straightening Brush
Best Straightening Brush for Curly Hair
This writer loves all things Drybar, so when Rivera proclaimed The Brush Crush the best straightening brush for curly hair, I couldn’t have agreed more. “The design is great because it’s like a flat iron and paddle brush in one,” she says. Highlighted features of the heated straightening brush include a 9-inch long cord (which, Rivera says, is much appreciated by professionals and everyday users alike), digital temperature control up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and a 60-minute automatic safety shut-off function. Additionally, Rivera praises the brush’s ionic technology, which seals the cuticles and equates to less frizz and more shine. Plus, its heat settings “can be adjusted easily for any hair type, which lowers the opportunity for damage,” Rivera adds.
Denman Tangle Tamer
Best for Kids
Another Denman brush for curly hair types to consider is the brand’s Tangle Tamer. Don’t let its array of fun colors and design options fool you: The Tangle Tamer means business when it comes to working through knots. It features soft nylon bristles that gently glide through rough patches, and the brush’s anti-static rubber padding reduces frizz. “The gaps between the bristles are wide to cause less damage to the hair while brushing,” Longsworth adds, with Amazon reviewers raving it’s an especially great find for kids with thick, curly hair if morning brushing typically ends in tears.
Rizos Curls Detangling Flexi Brush
The Rizos Curls Detangling Flexi brush is essentially two brushes in one. A control bar is included with your purchase and allows you to separate the rows of bristles and lock the comb teeth in place for stability. The brush can also be used sans-control bar, giving its bristles the freedom to move with your hair. Roncagli says the brush works exceptionally well on knotty hair, as its flexible rake shape “prevents hair loss derived from pulling.” That being said, it’s important to note that the styling tool is meant to be used on wet strands for best results. And because it doesn’t have any padding, Roncagli says you can use it to apply creams, conditioners or oils for untangling, and clean it effortlessly thereafter.
Christophe Robin Detangling Brush
If you’re going to splurge, Rivera tells WWD the Christophe Robin boar bristle paddle brush is the best luxury curly hair brush she’s come across thus far. “It’s a favorite of mine for styling curly hair when it comes to blow drying or just brushing through the hair,” Rivera says, noting she keeps reaching for it because its soft, real-hair bristles don’t pull on strands. Plus, she adds that the texture of the bristles “contributes to curls keeping their best shape,” minimizing frizz and flyaways in the process.