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Everyone with hair has probably asked the same question at least once: is brushing your hair bad?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer for this question. How much benefit or detriment you get depends on how you brush and what sort of brush you’re using.
For more information, check out our brief guide below:
Pros and Cons of Brushing Hair
Here’s a basic overview of pros and cons of using brushes:
- Distributes oils
- Adds volume
- Can cause fizziness
- Can damage hair
- Can cause poufiness
Benefits of Using a Brush
There are a few benefits to using a brush.
The main one is that it can help distribute the natural oils in your hair.
Your scalp produces oil which is meant to help keep both the skin on your head and your hair moisturized. But not every hair type reacts to this process the same way.
For straight hair, the oils tend to move down naturally, so they don’t need much help being distributed. On the other hand, for curly or wavy hair, this process doesn’t happen as smoothly.
That’s why a brush can be helpful. Brushes, particularly natural fiber ones, like boar bristles, can bring the oil from your scalp downwards. This results in softer, shinier hair.
Brushes also add more volume, since they separate the strands more than a comb does. Of course, with certain hair types, this can also result in poufy, frizzy looking hair. For example, you definitely don’t want to brush out curls if you need them to look styled.
Downsides to Using a Brush
The main downside to using a brush is the damage it can cause.
One way brushes cause damage is by creating friction with your hair cuticle.
The hair cuticle is the outer layer of your hair strands. When you use a brush, this is the part that comes in contact with the bristles. If you brush too much or too roughly, this layer can become damaged from the harsh contact.
This is particularly of concern for finer hair types. Fine hair has less layers on each strand, so it has less protection.
The other way brushes can cause damage is by breaking the hair.
If you apply too much force or tug too hard on a knot, your hair will break. This can lead to flyaways and frizzier looking hair.
Luckily, this issue is one that you have in your control. Make sure to brush your hair gently, and avoid using a brush on wet hair. Wet locks are more prone to breakage, so even light tugging can cause damage.
The other downside to brushes is that they can ruin your styling.
Again, for curly hair, brushes are rarely a good choice. While they can help distribute the oils in your hair, they also create a styling disaster. Since they separate hair strands, they’ll turn perfectly spiral curls into a poufy mass.
Do you Have to Brush your Hair?
If your hair is down and unstlyed, you absolutely have to brush your hair.
If you’re wearing a protective style, like box braids, they you don’t have to worry about this. The same is true for locs and similar styles.
But what happens if you don’t brush your loose hair? Without detangling, your hair will become a knotted mess that you won’t be able to untangle. And all those knots will build up dirt and product residue, etc.
It will reach a point where you have no choice but to cut any strands that are knotted.
To avoid this, it’s important to detangle your hair. This doesn’t have to happen every day, but it should happen regularly.
If you think using a brush isn’t worth the potential damage, there are a few things you can do.
The easiest one is to switch to combing. Combs are a great alternative, since they offer the same benefits, but tend to be gentler overall.
They don’t separate the hair as much either, so you can keep curls and similar styles intact. This is especially true for wide-toothed combs.
They will still cause damage if you’re being too rough though. So make sure you’re not tugging and pulling too much.
Another option to minimize damage is to use a detangling spray. These are great because they help sort out any knots. That way you don’t have to tug and pull as much when you encounter one.
How to Brush your Hair
The way you brush is also important.
Rather than starting from the scalp down, start at your ends. You want to catch any tangles first, and gently brush those out. From there, you can move from the top down, to distribute oils and catch any other tangles.
And keep in mind that you don’t want to use to much force. Take it slow, and don’t brush more than you need to.
For really stubborn knots, take them apart by hand instead. Gently pulling the hair apart will help to loosen the tangle, and sort it out with less risk of breakage.
Also, remember to avoid using a brush on wet hair, whenever possible. If you do have to brush wet hair, use a wet brush, or a detangling brush. These cause less damage since the bristles are flexible.
These brushes are also good for regular use. They’re great if you prefer a brush to a comb, but want something safer to use.
Is a Brush Right for You?
While brushes can cause damage, it’s important to remember that you have a lot of control over that.
If you’re using a brush correctly, you won’t have that many problems. You can also choose brushes that are safer for hair, like wet brushes or detangling brushes. And for really stubborn hair, a detangling spray can work wonders.
As with any other element of styling or hair care, there isn’t really a set good or bad. The point is to do what’s right for your hair type. So rather than asking, is brushing your hair bad, consider whether it’s the best option for you.