Brushing your hair is one of the best things you can do for healthier strands. “Aside from the obvious detangling benefits, running a brush along your scalp stimulates your follicles and increases blood flow, evenly distributes healthy natural oils, and leaves your hair shiny and strong,” says Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen. However, brushing your hair incorrectly can do a lot more harm than good. Make sure you’re not guilty of the most common hair brush mistakes experts see people making.
Brushing the wrong way
“A lot of people start at the top of the head and rip through the hair, rather than starting at the ends,” says celebrity hairstylist Glenn Ellis. When brushing hair, you should use a detangling brush and slowly work your way up to the head as you detangle, he explains.
If you have a lot of knots, consider starting with a comb instead. “A wide tooth comb, like Dae Wide Tooth Comb ($14) is less damaging on your hair than a regular hair brush,” says hairstylist and founder of Dae Amber Fillerup Clark. “A normal brush, if you don’t brush carefully, can damage the cuticle and cause tangles and ‘tears’ on your cuticle.”
Brushing when hair is too wet
Cohen calls this the biggest mistake. Most of us brush our hair following our shower, but it actually might not be the best for our hair health. “Your hair as a fiber is most vulnerable when it’s wet, so brushing on wet strands can cause the hair to stretch and break,” warns Cohen. She recommends using a wide-toothed comb on wet hair to gently detangle it. Fillerup Clark suggests waiting for hair to be less fragile to brush through it when it’s damp.
Not cleaning your brush enough
“A major and common mistake people make with their hair brushes is not cleaning them and allowing bacteria and hair to accumulate,” says New York trichologist and founder of Leona, Shab Caspara. Not only is this unsanitary, but Caspara says it also creates more work for you down the line as you’ll have to blow dry your hair for longer to get results. She cleans her round brushes “after every use to prevent any hair, product or debris build-up that can become difficult to clean down the road.
At the least, Ellis recommends removing hair from the brush after every brushing and deep cleaning it the brush once a month. “This ensures you are not transferring any product build-up back onto your clean hair,” he notes.
Not using the right brush for the task
There are a variety of brush types, and they’re not all interchangeable. “Brushing with the right tool has the power to transform the health of your hair,” says Cohen. Fillerup Clark says not using the correct brush could be damaging. For brushing freshly washed you need a more gentle, detangling brush, she says.
Brushing too aggressively
Fillerup Clark warns against brushing hair too aggressively. If you brush your hair correctly, you shouldn’t see too many tangles, but “if you do end up getting your brush or comb caught in the hair, slowly work on taking it out rather than just applying tension and pulling it out,” says Ellis.
Brushing hair all at once
Ellis says he’s noticed many of his clients try to tackle hair all in one go. Rather than this, he recommends “sectioning the hair out and working in smaller sections to avoid damage.”
Not angling your brush correctly when blow drying
“The angle at which you aim your dryer to your brush can make or break your blowout. To create the smoothest blowout, make sure your blow dryer is slightly angled to your brush and not at a perpendicular angle,” says Caspara. “Aiming the airflow directly into the brush can cause damage and breakage and give you a less smooth blowout compared to aiming off the surface of the brush, which seals your cuticles for a much smoother finish.”
Using the wrong type of brush for your hair type
Cohen says different brushes are made to accommodate different hair types. She recommends dual bristle nylon and boar bristle brush, like No. 001 ($74), for those with medium to thick hair. On the other hand, those with fine, thin hair are better off with a pure boar bristle brush, like No. 003 ($74). Wood pin brushes are versatile and can be great for all hair types.