Starting your curl journey can be equal parts challenging and rewarding. When I started to embrace my curls a year and a half ago, I found it especially difficult to find the best styling tools. I learned early on that using the best brushes for curly hair is a key to success, and after much trial and error, I can confidently say I have found several amazing options. Here are my favorites, including recommendations from fine to thick curly hair for detangling, styling and straightening.
Best Detangling Brushes for Curly Hair
This brush is my go-to for detangling. I recommend using The Ultimate Detangler in the shower while your conditioner is in, which provides slip and makes untangling curls infinitely easier. This brush is particularly good for curly hair because it has extremely flexible bristles that are still stiff enough to reach the scalp. This brush is also wonderful for dry detangling before a refresh. It’s great for all hair types, but best for fine-to-medium curls.
The best detangling brush for thick curly hair, hands down. This brush works especially well for 3a-4c curls; the magic is in the way the brush is designed. It has a bridge that connects the brush head together, once you remove that bridge, the brush itself flexes along with the bristles, resulting in the gentlest of unwinding for your curls.
3. Denman Brush
This brush has countless uses, and I think it is one of the must-have brushes for any curly girl. You can use it for detangling strands. However, I think where this brush really shines is in its ability to style your curls. While your hair is wet and you’ve added your styling product, the Denman brush can be used to define curls in several different ways. You can pull the brush down through the curl strand while rotating it to create bigger, more uniform curls or you can brush straight through your hair to aid in clumping before either shaking or scrunching the curl clump. Both of these methods provide beautiful results!
Best Brushes for Curly Hair (Dry)
This brush has boar bristles, which are wonderful for brushing your curls when they are dry. This bristle type distributes the natural oils throughout your hair, leaving your curls soft and manageable. This type of brush is the one I grab when I want a sleek topknot or low bun. My curls are a mix of 2b-3a curls. To achieve a polished look, I wet my hair and apply a small amount of gel or serum through my curls and then smooth the hair down. Then, I finish with a bit of hairspray. This particular brush is best for fine-to-medium hair, as the bristles are soft and may not penetrate to the scalp well for hair that is thick.
Another great option for a brush with boar bristles, for all hair types. You get all the amazing benefits of the 100% boar bristles. This particular brush has bristles that are a bit more stiff, making it perfect for all hair types.
Best Combs for Curls
These combs are another great option for detangling curly hair very gently. I particularly love the plastic versions because of their flexibility. Perfect for using while hair is wet once you’ve added either conditioner (in the shower) or leave-in conditioner (outside the shower).
7. Rattail Comb
I always have this comb or a similar one on hand. They are multifunctional — great for adding volume, sectioning hair, and doing gentle detangling on small sections. This comb will give you a clean part with the rattail, perfect for half-up hairstyles, braids and twists. I also use this comb to clean out my other brushes.
8. Hair Pick
Hair picks are another wonderful option for detangling, but are also a curly girl’s best friend to achieve incredible volume. For big curls, flip your hair over and place the teeth of the pick near your scalp and gently lift up at the roots, Repeat in sections all over your head. Be careful. Too much of this can disrupt your curl clumps, so find the happy medium!
Best Straightening Brushes for Curly Hair
I’ve tried many brushes and this is my all-time favorite for drying my curly hair straight. This brush works best on medium length-to-long hair due to its size. The large diameter and the combination of bristles on this Goody round brush allow you to create tension on your hair, which produces amazing straightening results in combination with a blow dryer.
Although I don’t straighten my curls often these days, when I do, this is the tool I always use. It is my favorite brush for straightening curly hair and here’s why. It has heat settings ranging from 330°F to 450°F, and its ceramic plates straighten my hair in record time. I also love that it straightens while creating incredible volume, which is often lost with the use of a flat iron. This InStyler straightening brush, in combination with drying my curls with the round brush mentioned in #9, gives me a salon-quality blowout without ever leaving my house.
Top Tips for Detangling Curls
Many curly girls and guys have the most success with detangling with wet curls when there is some type of conditioner in wet hair. The conditioner will provide slip and help the brush unknot your strands more easily. Start from the bottom of your curls, and gently detangle working your way up to the roots. If you have thick curls, I recommend separating the top half of your hair from the bottom, and working section by section. Tip: if you have longer hair, you should hold on to your hair, with the other hand, just above the brush to eliminate breakage/too much tugging.
I detangle my hair while I’m still in the shower as I apply conditioner. Another option would be to use a leave-in conditioner on soaking wet hair and using the brush or comb as described above. On occasion I will do a dry detangle, making sure to use a very flexible plastic brush or comb to be as gentle as possible.
There are many options when it comes to good brushes for curly hair, and the ones I have listed are several good choices to explore. One of the most important things to understand about curly hair is that it is unique from one person to the next and reacts to styling tools, products and methods differently. Taking the time to discover what works best for your curls is worth the effort, and there is an entire online community of curly women and men who are there to support you along the way.
Let’s be “curl” friends! Catch up with me on my Instagram page. Did I mention any of your favorite brushes for curls, or do you think I left anything out? Let me know!