I have naturally thin hair that's prone to dryness, breakage, and split ends, so I'm always hyper-focused on hair health. I sleep on a silk pillowcase, I use hair masks religiously, and I'll go weeks at a time without touching any heat tools (but when it's time to turn back to my trusty Harry Josh Pro Tools 1.25 Inch Ceramic Flat Iron ($200), I always make sure to use heat protectant). I also use boar bristle brushes.
If you're asking yourself why that last part matters, I get it. How much of a difference can a hairbrush really make? Surprisingly, the answer is a big difference. Take it from me. After switching out my traditional hairbrush for a boar bristle version, I've noticed a visible improvement in my hair—it seems stronger, smoother, and shinier, and I'm not the only one who's noticed what a boar bristle brush can do. Hairstylists love them, too. Keep scrolling to learn why hairstylists recommend incorporating a boar bristle brush in your routine.
Lulu Pierre is a hair expert and founder of Boho Locs. She says boar bristle brushes are beneficial for multiple reasons. "Boar bristle brushes are great for smoothing and moisturizing hair. They actually lift away the dust and debris that your hair collects throughout the day while redistributing the scalp’s healthy natural oils from root to tip. They also help prevent breakage during brushing because the bristles are so soft and gentle."
The redistribution of oil is key (and the reason why boar bristle brushes can actually improve the health of the hair). They take the natural oil that collects at the scalp and carry it down the lengths of the hair. This effectively moisturizes dry, breakage-prone ends.
They offer these benefits whether they're used alone or in conjunction with heat tools. Take it from celebrity hair expert Cory Aaron Scott, who says, "boar brushes don’t get too hot and burn your hair like metal brushes. You can get close to the root and get so much tension with boar bristles. They are great for setting the hair (using them as rollers), and they get hot and cool down quickly so you can get lots of volume and bounce to the hair."
Jamila Powell, the founder of Naturally Drenched and owner of Maggie Rose Salon, recommends using boar bristle brushes before showering or before bed. "You can use it whenever your hair needs a refresh as long as it is not wet. Using a boar bristle brush on damp or wet hair can cause damage to both your hair and the brush. Also, don’t forget to brush in sections and take your brush all the way from root to tip so that the oil is distributed evenly!"
Oh, and if you're worried you can't benefit from a boar bristle brush based on your hair type or texture, don't be. "Any type of hair texture is good for boar bristle brushes," Scott says. "Fine, blonde hair is great when using a smaller, less dense boar bristle brush. Coarse and curly hair is great when using a little bigger and denser boar bristle brush."
Let's kick off with the most recognizable boar bristle brush—the Mason Pearson. It's used by hairstylists, celebrities, and beauty experts the world over. "The Mason Pearson Popular Mixture Brush is possibly the most iconic boar bristle brush on the market and for good reason," Powell says. "It’s definitely a luxury purchase but it’s worth the price."
If you want to reap all of the smoothing, shine-inducing, and moisturizing benefits of a boar bristle brush, but you'd prefer to shop a vegan option, this one is for you. "Briogeo’s Vegan Boar Bristle Brush is a more affordable synthetic option that still has those great smoothing and detangling benefits," Powell says.
Scott recommends boar bristle brushes from the brand IBIZA. "My go-to brushes for over a decade are the IBIZA brushes," he says. "I love how they are made. I love that they have a cork handle (it helps your hands not slip when your hair is wet and/or you have product on it). They also make so many great sizes and designs."
Legendary French hair expert Christophe Robin offers a boar bristle brush in his own line of hair care products and tools. he recommends massaging the natural bristles into the scalp to oxygenate the skin and promote blood circulation to the hair follicles.
Reach for this round boar bristle brush from DryBar if you're looking to achieve a sleek and shiny at-home blowout. It has a grippy, ridged handle, so it's easy to maneuver for blow-dry novices (like me).
This mini boar bristle brush is the perfect size for stashing away in a carry-on.
You can find boar bristle brushes at the drugstore. I like the no-frills functionality of this one.
This detangling brush combines boar bristles with gentle, synthetic ones for optimum shine.
Another option from DryBar, this teasing brush is made up of 50% boar bristles and 50% nylon bristles, and it imparts major volume. The tapered handle makes sectioning hair easy.
Alightweight boar bristle brush that tames flyaways and enhances shine for all hair types.
Shop My Other Haircare Essentials
Remember how I said I'm obsessed with hair masks? I love this one from Coco & Eve. It never fails to leave my hair super moisturized and silky smooth, and it's all thanks to the coconut extract, fig and shea butter, and argan oil inside.
I also like this hair mask from Kristin Ess. It's thinner than other hair masks, which makes it easy to slip across wet hair. I apply it in the shower, and when I rinse it out, my hair feels incredibly soft.
Speaking of soft hair, this serum softens my rough, split ends while adding moisture back into my strands with jojoba and wheat germ oils. I use it all the time.
This is my silk pillowcase of choice for reducing friction and minimizing breakage.
The hair oil I've been loving lately is this one from Olaplex, which strengthens hair bonds to prevent split ends. Don't be turned away by how small the bottle is—a little goes a long way.
I love using claw clips instead of traditional hair elastics, since elastics have a tendency to tug at my hair, causing breakage. I love the marbled colors of this one.