This Iconic Hairbrush Was Created 84 Years Ago—Here's Why Stylists Still Love It
If you've been TikTokin' around on the beauty side of that app, we know you've seen videos highlighting the Denman brush. The Denman brush hashtag has amassed 419.7M views and has likely piqued your interest if you have curly or coily hair. Of course, some social media trends can err on the side of weird, but this is one we say is a winner. But only when the 84-year-old hair tool is used correctly.
What Is a Denman Brush?
The Denman brush—created by John Denman Dean in the 1930s—is an iconic tool with durable nylon bristles that can shape curls. The brush is also a great multitasker as it can be used for blow drying the hair too.
What Is the Difference Between a Denman Brush and a Regular Brush?
You may think a brush is a brush, but that's not the case with a Denman. A regular brush can be used to detangle depending on the width of the bristles. But the Denman is solely used for styling, and it was crafted with curly hair in mind. Additionally, you can remove rows from the Denman brush to fit your unique curl needs.
What Do Denman Brushes Do for Curly Hair?
For starters, Ona Diaz-Santin, curl expert and owner of New Jersey-based, 5 Salon and Spa, wants to emphasize the Denman brush is not a detangling tool. That being said, there are specific brushes she recommends for styling curly hair types. "There is a 5, 7, and 9-row Denman brush that is used as a styling brush for a blow drying and shingling method," she says. But she does note: "If you already have a healthy amount of shrinkage, the Denman brush will definitely add to the shrinkage."
Additionally, Atlanta-based celebrity hairstylist, Deaundra Metzger, says before you start, "only use the brush on fully saturated and detangled hair for which you have applied a leave-in conditioner, moisturizing foam, or cream styler [and] carefully brush through your hair in a downward motion."
Now, keep reading to find your perfect Denman!
Metzger notes that every curl type has different needs. For example, she shares that curl type 2 can be finer and less dense, so having the hairpins closer together on your Denman is essential to promote more curl definition. Her Denman brush recommendation? "The Denman Brush D3 or D4 is very suitable for this, depending on the length of your hair."
For curl type 3, Metzger recommends a D31 brush for short to medium hair and a D41 for longer curls. She also notes longer curls can give D3 or D4 brushes a try as they are known for encouraging curl definition.
And 4-type curls can also use this tool even if their coils are closer together, but Metzger recommends detangling with a wide-tooth comb first. (I personally use the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush). As for your perfect Denman brush match, the rows should be far apart, making D31 your match. "If you find that you can't get the brush through your hair correctly, you can remove some extra rows. This way, your hair will not get tangled in the brush and will not break off. Then, take small sections and define the curls using the D31 brush," she says.
Shop These Haircare Products for Curly Hair
Formulated with coconut fruit extract and a trifecta of oils (kukui nut, coconut, and castor oil), this hydrating formula gives your curls enough slip to finger coil or use a tool like a Denman brush.
This is a favorite as my 4-type curls soak up the nutrients avocado oil offers. I apply this after my leave-in and before my gel.
If you have 3- or 4-type curls, this macadamia, neem, and apricot oil-infused gelée provides hold without the crunch. I sit under a hooded dryer to set my 4-type curls with this. I promise you. It's a game changer.
Formulated with chia and linseed oils that help shape curls and combat frizz alongside coconut and babassu oils that hydrate and smooth the cuticle, this silicone-free creme works well with finger combing or tools.
Curly hair needs a good leave-in, too. In this case, this clean hemisqualane (which gives the smoothness that silicone does but is a plant-based emollient that smooths and strengthens), niacinamide, and lemon protein-infused formula doubles as a heat protectant too.
Applying a foaming mousse locks in moisture and takes your wash day the distance. We love this new mousse on the scene because it's crafted with hydrators, marshmallow root, and castor oil, and it's a multi-tasker that can be used for everything from wash-and-gos to protective styles.
I don't complete any wash day without this spray on leave-in. The lightweight formula penetrates deep down to the follicle (hello, low porosity hair) to moisturize and protect hair.
Aloe isn't just for the skin. For hair types that have difficulty retaining moisture, the healing ingredient can help draw water in and also helps define curls.
For OG naturals and those new to the community, Miss Jessie's is a staple. And this product is still beloved as it gives a light yet firm hold.
Rehydrating your hair mid-week gives thirsty hair moisture and your curls new life. We love this because it's easy to spray on and has moisture-rich soybean extract, tapioca extract to help with curl definition, and fatty acid-rich sea buckthorn.
If you're looking for a styler with great slip and hydration that lasts, look no further than this gel-oil made with avocado, coconut, jojoba oils, and shea and cocoa butters.
After a visit with my curly stylist, I quickly realized setting my hair still needs to be a part of my routine as a natural. Sitting under a hooded dryer makes my curls last days longer than diffusing.
When my curl expert introduced me to this during one of my appointments, I was an instant fan because my wash and go lasted for a week. Yes, a week. However, this is a product you'll want to layer after you've worked in creams.
Using oils on the hair can be controversial, but I am all about them when they're lightweight and penetrate the hair cuticle (and, in this case, smell amazing thanks to the jasmine). Adding a pump to wet or dry hair helps smooth the cuticle, but I also use this as an overnight pre-poo.
Even curlies get split ends. So in between appointments, the CurlBond Complex helps re-link broken bonds and seal split ends while offering protection from future damage.
Don't love a cream or a gel? We've got a custard for you made with thirsty hair in mind with honey, aloe, and vitamins B and C at the helm to define curls, reduce frizz, and seal moisture.
Formulated with honey (one of my haircare holy grails), silk amino acids (that lock in moisture and smooth the hair cuticle), and shea butter, this defining cream has it all.
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