For as long as I can remember, brushing my hair has been a challenge. I even sometimes delay showers just so I don’t have to brush through my tangled hair after. Judging by all the memes out there about the wonders of dry shampoo, I doubt I’m alone in this plight. In hopes of making detangling hair quicker and more pleasant for us all, we tested 12 of the most highly rated hair brushes to see which ones would glide through hair and leave it smooth and unsnarled in mere minutes.
During our extensive testing process, we found three clear front runners: Urtheone Boar Bristle Hair Brush(available at Amazon), which earned our Best Overall spot; the Briogeo Vegan Boar Bristle Hair Brush (available at Amazon), which earned a Best Upgrade title; and the Wet Brush Original Detangler Hair Brush (available at Amazon), which we elected the Best for Wet Hair. All three brushes feel high-quality, performed well, and were relatively easy to clean—but ultimately, the Amazon pick won out because of its durability and reasonable price.
These are the best hair brushes we tested ranked, in order:
Urtheone Boar Bristle Hair Brush
Briogeo Vegan Boar Bristle Hair Brush
Wet Brush Original Detangler Hair Brush
Mason Pearson Popular Hair Brush
Drybar Super Lemon Drop
Tangle Teezer Wet Detangler
Denman Classic Styling Brush
Pattern Shower Brush
GHD Paddle Brush
Revlon Detangle & Smooth Berry Cushion Hair Brush
Conair Pro Hair Brush with Nylon Bristle
Goody Clean Radiance Oval Cushion Hair Brush
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This Urtheone brush immediately stood out because it’s the only wooden-handled brush in the pack. While that may not be great if you’re someone who likes to brush your hair while in the shower, I loved this attribute because it made the brush feel especially well made. It wasn’t too heavy or awkward in hand—instead, it felt durable and the extra weight seemed to help it through tangles in both dry and wet hair.
I’m also fond of the rectangular shape of this brush. Because I have a lot of thick, wavy hair, I gravitate towards paddle brushes with a wider surface area—exactly what this brush has—although you can choose from a few other sizes.
This brush has a mix of nylon and boar bristles—something I’d never tried before. This combination of bristles proved useful, as the nylon did most of the detangling, while the boar raked dry skin flakes and other small particles out of my hair better than the brushes that only contained nylon bristles. Boar bristles also supposedly distribute oil better than plastic ones (though I'm not sure how I would notice this).
If there’s any downside to the combination of bristles, it’s that the tiny boar bristles in between the nylon ones held onto hair and debris, making this brush more were difficult to clean.
Though this didn’t affect the scoring process, it’s worth noting that this brush comes with some fun extras, including a wide-tooth rat tail comb and some small, colorful hair elastics.
This oval brush scored close to our overall pick, but has one important difference: It’s prettier. While that may not matter to some, I loved this. The soft purple hue looks nicer on your vanity, plus it’s a bit smaller, which makes it easier to both store and tote.
Though the bristles are made of vegan and “cruelty-free” nylon, they look and feel just like traditional boar bristles. They also perform just as well—this brush scored less than a quarter-point behind the top pick. The soft ballpoint tips were gentle on my scalp and didn’t snag on wet or dry hair, curly or straight.
If there’s any downside, it’s that the surface area of this brush is smaller than others, so I had to make more passes through my hair to tackle my entire head. Certainly not a deal-breaker, but this adds extra time to the task.
Because the bristles are very close together, it’s also difficult to rid the brush of hair.
For years, the Wet Brush has been my go-to because of its detangling prowess. And our tests proved my instincts about this brush were right. The nylon bristles are designed to be super flexible, which means they move through snarls without snagging. Still, they’re long enough to get deep enough into the knot and loosen it without causing any discomfort. Despite the name, the brush worked just as well to detangle dry hair. It also smoothed any lumps getting in the way of a well-styled ponytail.
Though the surface area is on the smaller side (comparable to the Briogeo), it doesn’t seem like such a drawback in this instance because of how well the brush breezes through knots.
But after trying other brushes, I realized there was something I didn’t love about the Wet Brush: It’s so lightweight that it almost feels flimsy. While this doesn’t affect its performance (the most important factor for me), it didn’t feel as nice in the hand, and ultimately, made the brush seem less durable than others.
I'm Brigitt Earley, a lifestyle writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience testing all different types of beauty products. I have thick, slightly wavy (but often straightened) brown hair that currently lands right at my collarbone. (Though, I had hair well past the middle of my back for the majority of my life.) Having a quality hair brush—one that smoothes hair without excessive tugging—has always been a necessity for me. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of options and typically reach for the Wet Brush, but if I’m being honest, I’ve never found anything I couldn’t live without. So I wondered: Was there a unicorn out there?
We poured through best-seller lists across retailers, beauty blogs, social media, and other best-of lists to find the top hair brushes on the market. Then, we put each one to the test, on both dry and wet hair, pitting the top-rated brands against one another to find a winner.
The testing process was simple: I ran each brush through my entire head of hair twice—once when my hair was dry and once when my hair was wet. I also brushed my dry hair back into a ponytail to test the brush’s ability to smooth strands while styling hair. I evaluated the build and aesthetic of each brush, as well. When I finished testing, I teamed up with Reviewed’s team of scientists to score and weigh the results on a scientifically calibrated rubric.
During the process, I answered questions about the brushes':
Effectiveness: Does the brush snag on tangles? Does it smooth hair? How does hair look when brushed into a ponytail?
Comfort: Is the brush awkward to hold? Is the surface area adequate? Are the bristles rough on the scalp?
Build: Does it look like it’s well made? Did any bristles fall out during use? And does it come in other sizes or shapes?
What You Should Know About Hair Brushes
When it comes to hair brushes, there are a couple of things you should know that may influence your purchasing decision:
Type: There are many different types of hair brushes out there, from vented paddle brushes to round thermal brushes to small teasing brushes to wide-tooth combs. For the purpose of this test, we only considered paddle brushes made of boar or nylon bristles (or a mix) meant simply for brushing hair—not for blow-drying or styling. These brushes are good everyday choices, rather than specialty options. Cost: It surprised me to see just how much the price of hair brushes can vary. But our tests show you don’t need to splurge to get a quality product. In fact, our top pick is one of the more affordable options we tested. Our splurge pick—a brush that costs more than double that of our overall pick—scored just below in performance, but was an editor favorite due to the fact that it looks more sophisticated.
Other Hair Brushes We Tested
Mason Pearson Hair Brush
This Mason Pearson brush catches your eye because it comes in an attractive, vintage-looking box. When you open it, it feels special: The brush is nestled in a red felt cradle to keep it from rattling around inside the box, and it comes with a separate cleaning brush, as well as detailed care cleaning instructions. (None of the other brushes come with anything comparable.)
The brush itself is just as pretty—it looks like the one you might see on a movie or TV character’s vanity, with the signature black handle and red cushion. It makes sense because many stylists consider this option, which has a combination of nylon and boar bristles, to be the cream of the crop.
In addition to its build and packaging quality, this brush garnered points for effectively detangling my wet and dry hair, but lost points for how it felt against the scalp. I loved the surface area of the oval brush but found that the nylon bristles, which lack ballpoint tips, were scratchy against my scalp. (And not in a soothing way!)
There’s something else that’s important to note about this brush: It costs eight times the amount of the next most expensive brush we tested.
This Drybar brush looks and feels a lot like the Briogeo, just in a sunny yellow shade rather than a light purple. It has a soft handle that feels luxe, plus seems to have the ideal weight—not too heavy, but not at all flimsy.
Like other brushes in the top five, I didn’t have any trouble getting through tangles while my hair was wet or dry. And styling a smooth ponytail was a breeze. I didn’t have any problems with static either—the brush left my stands nice and smooth in all instances.
This brush lost points for things that I didn’t consider quite as important, namely a lack of other shapes and sizes and no included care and cleaning instructions.
The Tangle Teezer looks nothing like the other hair brushes we tested. The “ergonomic” misshapen oval is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and there’s no handle—you cradle the part of the brush with the bristles in your hand.
Even though my hair is on the shorter side, I found the entire build of the brush awkward—the shape, size, and lack of handle. The movements I had to make with my wrist to brush through my hair felt unnatural because it was hard to complete the sweep through my hair with my hand on the brush. The brush comes in other shapes and sizes, so it’s possible another variety would feel better in my hand.
That said, the brush achieved what it’s designed to do: glide through knotty hair without fuss. The multi-length "teeth" (i.e., bristles) are super flexible, so they move with tangles rather than pulling at them—something the manufacturer notes is important to avoid breakage.
I also liked the way the nylon bristles felt against my scalp. Although they don’t have ballpoints, they weren’t as scratchy as the Mason Pearson. Instead, they felt nice—almost like getting a scalp massage.
The Denman brush doesn’t look like one I would gravitate towards because it’s long and skinny with very tall and stiff bristles. Because they are so large and stiff, they’re rougher on the scalp, which can be painful if you brush in a hurry.
That said, the bristles are situated on a curved cushion that gives them just enough flex to detangle well on both wet and dry hair. The problem was more in styling. Because the bristles are so tall, they don’t grab hair in a way that helps you smooth out any lumps or bumps present. Rather than an overall smooth crown, you still end up with some ridges—especially if your hair is wavy like mine.
The surface area of the brush was also smaller than I like for my thick hair, though this might not be as much of a deal-breaker if you have short or fine locks.
Like the Denman, the Pattern brush is long and skinny with tall and stiff bristles. It’s also on the heavier side. Because of the shape and the weight, it tires my wrist easily—something to be mindful of if you have long hair that takes more than a few minutes to detangle.
The stiff bristles didn’t glide through my hair the way I’d hope, either. Though it performed better in wet hair than it did in dry hair, the brush still got tripped up on mid-sized tangles. To make matters worse, the bristles felt too abrasive on my scalp.
Because of the height of bristles, brushing my hair into a smooth ponytail wasn’t quite as seamless as it was with other brushes, either. The stiff bristles couldn’t grasp the hair the way it needed to to create the sleek-looking ponytail I was after.
I love paddle brushes reminiscent of this one by GHD, but this turned out to be way too large for my liking. While I can tackle my whole head in just four passes (pretty impressive!), it feels unwieldy and is too large to hug my scalp the way I want a brush to. This also made it more difficult to style hair into a smooth ponytail. What’s more, the size is a hindrance if you travel often and don’t have a separate travel-sized brush dedicated for such.
And though it took tangles out of dry hair in a breeze, the brush underperformed when it came time to brush wet hair. For me, this is arguably more important because I more often brush my hair when it’s wet to rid it of tangles and then leave it alone once it’s styled.
Revlon Essentials Detangle and Smooth Cushion Brush
This Revlon Detangle & Smooth Berry Cushion Hair Brush looks like a nice cushion brush, but it’s neither here nor there in just about every way.
The brush itself isn’t heavy but isn’t flimsy, so it feels fine in your hand. And the surface area is similar—not too big, not too large.
There are hits and misses when it comes to detangling, too. The brush does a decent job passing through dry hair, but struggles more when it comes time to take tangles out of wet hair, which again, is the more important factor for me.
This brush’s most redeeming characteristic is how gentle the ballpoints are on the scalp. Other positives are less important, like portability and a variety of available shapes and sizes for those who prefer alternate compositions. If you plucked this brush off of the shelf at the drugstore, you likely wouldn’t regret it, but may not seek it out when it came time for a replacement.
Conair Professional Salon Results All-Purpose Brush
The Conair Pro is a hard plastic brush—something I’m not a fan of, because it feels stiff but also flimsy enough to snap in half. It’s also long and skinny, which means the brush itself doesn’t have a large surface area, requiring more passes through my thick head of hair.
What’s more, the ballpoint bristles sit on a plastic base rather than a cushion and are very stiff with not much flex or give, as they don’t have a cushion to compress into. As a result, the brush doesn’t effectively tackle tangles on either wet or dry hair. Instead, it snags often, causing a fair amount of discomfort. I recommend passing over this one—there are other comparable brushes that do a much better job.
I wanted to love this Goody hair brush. It’s attractive (white and rose gold!) and is one of the most affordable on the list, but it underperformed in almost all of the categories. For starters, one of the pins fell out after just one use—not a great indicator of quality.
The bristles also felt too scratchy on my scalp, plus snagged on both wet and dry hair, despite the absence of any significant tangles.
Besides its attractiveness, its redeeming qualities included the size of the brush—the surface area is ideal for my taste. But this attribute is not enough to overshadow the flaws.
Brigitt Earley is a freelance writer and editor based in NJ. Her work has appeared in a number of lifestyle publications, including Real Simple and Apartment Therapy. She’s a new mom, runs an Instagram account full of the most delicious food she can find, and loves to hate a good barre class.
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