Hair Brushes: Round vs Flat? Natural vs Synthetic?

I like to bring my conversations from the salon to the blog. That's why I'm here! One thing that I talk about with my salon guests, probably multiple times a day, is "What kind of hair brush should I be using?". Here's how I break it down:


Flat or Paddle brush:

This brush is great for my clients who want a smooth or sleek shape. I always recommend this one for anyone who has a bob and wants to avoid the "mushroom" shape. You won't get maximum volume with the paddle brush but you can achieve some lift at the root. Brushing and directing your blowdryer in the opposite direction your hair naturally falls at the root will give you some lift. But if you want your hair reaching the high heavens, a round brush might be a better option. At the moment, a more casual, "woke up like this" finish is on trend so when I want to achieve that look with either my client or myself, this is how I do it:

1. Prep your freshly washed hair with a heat protecting product. I recommend the Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep for fine hair and the Aveda Smooth Infusion Style Prep for coarse/textured hair.

2. Wrap dry your hair with the paddle brush. This means running the paddle brush against your head following with the blowdryer in one direction, then switching to the other direction. Think of your head as an ironing board here. Switching directions helps the hair fall at its natural shape.

3. Focus mostly on the roots first and finish all the way to your ends. This ensures that you get everything dry since it takes long for the roots to dry.

4. Now, some people can stop here! Their hair looks sleek and shiny but not too "done". If your hair is like mine (curly and fine) you still might slightly resemble a dandelion.

5. If so, finish off the style with either the flat iron or curling iron/wand in sections starting in the back and working your way to the front. Before adding any extra heat, I always spray and comb through the Aveda Heat Relief everywhere.

Round Brush:

I'm going to say something pretty obvious here, but if you want to achieve a round shape in your blowout, you should use a ROUND BRUSH. Some of you may be thinking "what does a round shaped blow out mean?". Think volume, bounce, movement, wave, fluff, BIG. Of course there are different degrees, but in contrast to my paddle brush talk, you get the picture. I bring this up because I've had many conversations with salon guests on why they should be using a round brush. It will allow you to repeatedly rotate each section, creating bend from root to end. Here are some tips on using a round brush:

1. Just like a paddle brush blow-dry, apply a heat protectant before anything. You can't cheat with big sections when using the round brush. It will only drive you crazy and make your hair a tangled mess. Take your time section by section working your way up the back and to the front.

2. That blow dryer attachment that came in the box...still got it? Hopefully that's a yes because it's an important extension to your tool that helps direct the cuticle down and create shine and smoothness. I rarely pick up my blow dryer without the nozzle attachment on it. When styling with the round brush, point the nozzle away from the scalp while rotating the brush. Constant movement is key because staying in one spot for more than a few seconds could potentially cook your hair. We all know that smell, no good.

3. Depending on the amount of volume you're trying to achieve determines how much to elevate the brush off of the root. Higher elevation=high heavens hair. Lower elevation=casual chic.

4. Want a beach wave? Hold the round brush vertically, rotate starting at the root following with heat. Twist downward once like you're creating a rope and continue all the way to the end. (I'm feeling a video tutorial on this coming soon). Take that same section once it's done and give it one more twist from root to end with your fingers following with the blow dryer to seal the shape. Repeat throughout the whole head keeping the twists in place and break them all up at the end.


Now that we've covered brush shapes, I want to talk bristles. Take a look at which type of bristle best fits your hair type and match it with the best shape for you to help determine what brush would be your new fave.

Natural/Boar Bristles: I prefer this kind of brush when I'm working with textured, coarse or frizzy hair and my end goal is sleek and smooth. I get the most shine and tension out of my blow dry because the bristles are soft on the hair and distribute the natural oils from root to end.

Synthetic/Nylon: I grab this kind of brush when I want to give fine hair more "oomph" or if I want to create a tighter wave or curl (depending on length of hair and the result I'm after). This type of bristle is typically longer and more spaced out than natural bristles which makes them ideal for scalp stimulation and getting through hair that tangles easily. They provide less tension than the natural bristle which is ideal for someone who is seeking more volume, texture or curl.

Mixed Bristles: And if you're not on hair brush overload yet, and you like what both options provide, using a brush that has both natural and synthetic bristles will give you that shine and volume you're after, tangle free. This round brush is a great option and comes in different sizes. If you're cool with splurging, Mason Pearson is the "Cadillac" of hair brushes and has a fantastic mixed bristle flat brush (that I can not live with out).


I wanted to add this extra tip in because I've used some brushes that I would've loved if not for the handle. Some just feel better than others in your hand. Whether it's wooden, cork, foam, etc., notice which kind feels best in your hand. I always like my handles to have some grip to them so it doesn't slide around in my palm (so annoying).

Okay guys, I hope this was helpful in your quest to finding the right brush for your blow outs at home! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!


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