The Best Brushes for Curly Hair and How to Use Them

The Best Brushes for Curly Hair and How to Use Them

Posted by Lisa C. on

Out there on social media you may have seen a lot about using a brush on your hair.  The original method for caring for curly hair has actually been around for many years, but it seemed to be more widely discussed starting in 2001 when Lorraine Massey published “Curly Girl: The Handbook”.  The stricter version of this method is not using shampoo, terry cloth towel, heat tools, etc. The use of brushes was listed as a “Do Not”, with the book suggesting not using anything other than your fingers or a wide toothed comb to detangle or disperse products.

Like pretty much everything with the Curly Girl / Curly Hair Method, there are those who are very strict to follow the original way and those who are doing modifications.  So yes, the brush is a modification, which is neither right or wrong. It's another personal choice that you make with your hair.

Let's go back to the reasons for not using brushes on wavy, curly and kinky hair.  Brushing dry hair can cause breakage because hair has bends, curves and kinks which can get caught or drag as you are doing it.  Or you've brushed your dry hair in the past and it grew into a poof of cotton candy.

Brush Types

My first try of brushing was with The Original Wet Brush.  Suddenly I lost less hair and was able to smooth my usual amount of wet frizz.  I knew that for my routine this was going to stay.  Over time, when I felt the brush should be replaced, I tried the Flexy Brush from Curl Keeper and found this was even more gentle on my hair and it became the fave.

Over the past two years I have carefully experimented more and more with the brush. I still find that I cannot brush my hair dry when refreshing.  However I can dry brush before cleansing to cut down on the time spent detangling. I do know of others who can dry brush and end up with softer versions of their hair that look fantastic.  So if you want to dry brush, be super gentle and use the technique of going slow in small sections from the bottom up. 

The other brush that is very popular with the method is the Denman Brush.  We carry the original brand here at Curl Warehouse and it will last you forever.  Rows can be removed if you want to do this.  It can be used in all ways: wet, dry, for styling etc.  There are a lot of videos and bloggers out there who have videos on how to style with the Denman Brush.

How to Use Your Brush

Wet hair is fragile so full on top-to-bottom brushing can cause a lot of breaking and damage. When it comes to conditioner or deep conditioner, a brush will really distribute your product throughout all of your hair.  Let your conditioner sit for a few minutes before grabbing the brush and to allow the ingredients settle and start getting into the hair shaft.  Go slow in small sections and don’t pull and tug a lot.  You can always add more conditioner and water if you have tangles. 

Another idea for using a brush is for applying your styling products.  Your leave-in conditioner or curl activator is a great one to use with the brush.  Now you can choose your position – do you want to brush everything in upside down, side to side, or right side up?  Experiment and see what angles work best for you.  You can also brush in your gel with the same method.  I recommend that your hair is soaking wet when doing this, as damp hair will have more drag resulting in possible breakage.  Mousse or foam seems to work best with praying or patting hands instead of brushing.

Now one of the first concerns when using a brush for distribution and smoothing is the effect it will have on breaking up your clumps.  This is going to happen so you have a few different tips to deal with this. 

1. Just let it be.  If your hair is fine and low density and you want volume, a bunch of small clumps is going to do the trick.  If you are not keen on this idea you will need to:

2. Add water.  My choice is to take a small glass of warm water and I pour it back towards the back or side of my scalp and let the water slowly move down each strand and they will reclump back to their home.  Or you can take your flairsol bottle and give it a good spray to get it back to wet. 

3. Finish with your plop or micro plop (blot the mid to ends) with your towel, t-shirt, etc. to get some of the moisture out before drying.  It also lets the wave, curl and volume return and makes drying a lot faster.  Try the Your Hair Towel Wrap (best for shorter hair) or the Microfiber Towel from My Soigne.

Other Brushes

Another brush that I have seen used to create curls is called The Scrunch It Brush.  With this one you actually wrap a section of wet hair that has product in already around the tube-shaped handle and your hair spins over this to create a curl.  You repeat this around your entire head.  You can search this on the Internet to find information and video tutorials.

One other brush that I want to mention here is the Curl Keeper Root Brush.  This is a small nylon brush with a long handle that is pointed on the end.  Although I do not recommend it for distributing conditioner or stylers, it is really good if you want a little bit of volume or to assist with cowlicks.

1. For the cowlick, you would want to take the brush on wet hair and move the hair that is in that area so it is lifted and then clip it.  Your hair will dry in the direction needed to cover it up.
2. For volume the brush can be used to do a little bit of backcombing on dry hair/refresh to give your root area lift. 

3. The long pointed end is great for doing your straight or zig zag parts.

Although technically not a brush, a scalp massager is so nice to massage your scalp (of course) but also to help apply and distribute your oil pre-poo.  If you find that scrunching out the crunch with your hands isn’t always great try the scalp massager to fluff up your roots. 

A shampoo brush is not a brush brush, but if you ever have an itchy scalp use this with your shampoo.  Remember to just place it on your scalp and jiggle it a little like 1-2mm side to side or in tiny circles.  Then lift it straight up (or to the side) and place it in another spot.  Do not drag it around as it will snag and get stuck in your hair.


A wide toothed comb or just your fingers is still definitely an option that can fit any of the scenarios of conditioning or applying styling products. If it works for you, keep doing it!

You have access to so many options to help out with your hair.  Experiment and have fun with the different looks that can be done with the assistance of a brush.

← Older Post Newer Post →