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If you’re interested in your hair’s health and appearance, you’re probably keenly aware of the best hair care products like shampoos, conditioners and styling tools for your hair type.
While these hair care products have a big impact on your hair, it’s important not to forget the importance of a good quality hair brush.
Although the link between brushing and preventing hair loss isn’t very solid, brushing your hair has numerous benefits — from removing loose hairs to untangling hair that’s messy, knotted and in need of maintenance.
In fact, a solid hair brush may be one of the biggest weapons in your hair care arsenal.
Below, we’ve looked at the science behind brushing your hair and shared the best brushes for preventing hair breakage, hair damage and hair loss.
First off, let’s get one serious hair growth myth out of the way. Despite popular belief, there’s no scientific evidence that brushing your hair stimulates growth, boosts blood flow or actively stops you from shedding hair.
There’s also no evidence to show that brushing 100 or more times per day improves your hair’s shine, strength or extends its growth cycle.
In fact, the opposite is often true. While brushing carefully is perfectly fine for your hair, brushing your hair too aggressively or often can damage and break the hair fibers, which may cause your hair to look thinner than it normally would.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, tugging on your hair while you’re brushing or combing it can also contribute to hair damage and loss.
The main reason that brushing generally doesn’t stop hair loss is that most hair loss is linked to factors that just aren’t affected by brushing.
In women, most hair loss is female pattern baldness. In rare cases, health issues such as iron deficiency or stress can cause hair loss. Sometimes, hair loss can occur during pregnancy due to sudden changes in hormone production.
These forms of hair loss affect your hair follicles, either due to limited nutrient supply, hormonal issues or other factors.
Despite what we’ve all heard, brushing 100 times a day doesn’t have any real impact on these conditions.
Put simply, although it's great for improving your hair’s appearance, brushing isn’t a reliable way to prevent hair loss.
Although brushing doesn’t play a significant role in hair growth, there are benefits to brushing your hair on a regular basis. When done gently and carefully, brushing your hair can:
Prevent knots and tangles. Brushing your hair helps to get rid of knots, tangled hair and other common hair damage problems, especially if you have hair that’s long, curly or prone to getting tangled while you’re asleep.
Improve your hair’s appearance. Few things look as impressive as a freshly brushed and styled head of hair. Looking good boosts your confidence, and great hair is a major part of looking and feeling your best.
Get rid of strays and flyaways. It’s normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day, even if you aren’t prone to hair loss. When using gentle brushes, these hairs are removed without causing any damage to your scalp.
Provide oil for dry hair. Brushing helps carry naturally occurring oils from your scalp to your hair. This is helpful if you have dry hair, but may be an annoyance if your hair is naturally oily.
When it comes to choosing a hair brush, the type of brush you choose is much more important than any specific brand name.
Above everything else, it’s important to choose a hair brush that’s a good match for the type of hair you have.
We’ve shared our recommendations below, along with information on why each type of brush is best for a certain hair type.
Wet hair brushes have soft and flexible bristles that are designed to untangle knots in your hair while massaging your scalp.
It’s important to be careful when brushing your hair with a wet brush. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, wet hair breaks easily when combed or brushed, making it best to avoid brushing after a shower if your hair is thin or prone to breakage.
The exception is if you have curled or textured hair. In this case, it’s best to brush your hair while it’s wet in order to prevent damaged hair.
This type of hair brush has large silicone bristles that are designed to massage your scalp while you wash your hair.
Like a wet brush, it’s a good option if you have curly hair and like to brush it while you’re in the shower or bath.
For extra convenience, look for a shower hair brush with a vented design. This not only helps to draw water away from your scalp — it also speeds up drying after you hang up the brush, which may prevent mold from growing.
All brushes can detangle hair, but detangling brushes are designed to do it while minimizing the amount of pulling force that’s applied to your hair follicles.
These hair brushes have long, flexible bristles that are designed to get into knots and carefully separate your hair.
Since tugging on your hair while you brush is a potential cause of hair loss, this type of brush is a good choice if you have long or thick hair that gets tangled easily.
If you have straight hair, it’s important to have a wide-tooth comb in your hair toolkit. This type of comb is designed to allow a large amount of hair through with each pass, allowing you to gently style your hair without ever placing too much pressure on any one strand.
To limit breakage and thinning, let your hair dry for a while before gently using this type of comb to get rid of any knots and tangles.
Teasing brushes are designed to fluff up your hair and give it extra perceived volume. While this type of brush doesn’t improve hair growth, it may help to create the illusion of additional volume if you have thinning hair.
Make sure to be careful with a teasing brush, as using it aggressively could worsen hair loss by pulling at your hair roots.
Boar bristle brushes are designed to stimulate your scalp and distribute sebum (the oil secreted by your skin) across your hair and prevent oil build-up.
They’re made using natural boar bristles (as opposed to plastic or nylon bristles) and often come with an eye-catching price tag attached.
While many people swear by boar bristle brushes for scalp stimulation, there isn’t any research available on their effectiveness just yet.
While brushing has real benefits, it usually isn’t considered an effective way to prevent hair loss or stimulate hair growth.
Luckily, there are other things that you can do to stop hair loss and maximize your hair’s growth potential.
Try the following options to prevent female pattern hair loss, shedding and other forms of hair loss.
Your choice of shampoo can have a huge impact on the health of your hair, especially if you’re prone to dryness, shedding or hair breakage.
If you often shed hair, look for a shampoo that’s formulated to prevent hair loss. Our Shampoo and Conditioner contains saw palmetto to help deeply cleanse your scalp of the oils that can cause hair loss.
Not sure where to get started? Our guide to the best shampoo for women’s hair loss covers the essentials to look for in a hair loss prevention shampoo.
Just like your skin, nails and other parts of your body, your hair follicles need a steady supply of nutrients to produce strong, healthy hair.
Some forms of rapid hair loss can develop as a result of nutritional deficiencies, as well as crash diets that suddenly and drastically cut your calorie intake.
To promote hair growth, try to eat a balanced diet that’s rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods.
To make sure you get all of the nutrients your hair needs, you can also add a supplement like our biotin Multivitamin Gummies to your morning routine.
The best way to treat this form of hair loss is by using minoxidil, an FDA-approved hair growth medication.
Minoxidil works by moving hair follicles into the anagen, or growth, phase of your hair’s natural growth cycle. It also helps to stimulate blood circulation to your scalp, which may also improve hair growth.
Results from minoxidil aren’t instant, but after a few months of consistent use, most people can see noticeable improvements in their hair’s thickness and coverage.
The right hair brush can make getting rid of knots, tangles and other common hair annoyances a breeze. However, there isn’t much evidence that brushing helps to stop hair loss.
To keep your hair in good shape, look for a brush that matches your hair type.
For straight hair, this could mean a wide-tooth comb, while for curly or textured hair, it may mean a wet brush or detangling brush.
If you’re worried about shedding or female pattern hair loss, you’ll get the best results by using proven hair loss treatments such as hair loss shampoo and minoxidil.
Our guide to female hair loss goes into more detail about why hair loss happens, as well as the steps that you can take to prevent it from affecting your hair.
Mary is an accomplished emergency and trauma RN with more than 10 years of healthcare experience.
As a data scientist with a Masters degree in Health Informatics and Data Analytics from Boston University, Mary uses healthcare data to inform individual and public health efforts.
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