ExplainerHow to brush your hair properly and why – it’s knot as simple as you think
- We look at the benefits of brushing, how often you should brush it, how to do it properly and which are the correct brushes for you
- Hong Kong-based celebrity hairdresser Kim Robinson says to brush your hair with at least 50 strokes daily to enhance hair growth and nourishment
Most of us grow up thinking of hair brushing as something you do to detangle your hair and that’s it, but there are so many other benefits to a daily brush.
On top of that, there are other factors to consider: how to brush correctly, how often you should do it and the best type of brush for your hair type. We get to the bottom of these issues with some help from the professionals.
The benefits of brushing your hair
It untangles your hair
Brushing your hair daily both untangles your hair and helps prevent further tangles. Simple.
It stimulates the scalp and promotes follicle health
Brushing your scalp is just as necessary as brushing your hair. By doing so, you’re stimulating the scalp capillaries, boosting circulation and increasing your hair’s oxygen and nutrient levels, which helps your hair grow stronger and firmer from the root.
It distributes oil
The oil your scalp produces is highly nourishing and crucial to keeping your hair strong, avoiding breakage and split ends and boosting shine, but it can only make it so far down by itself.
Brushing helps spread those oils, so every hair strand is conditioned from top to bottom.
It gets rid of soon-to-shed strands
Losing hair on a daily basis is entirely normal. “According to the experts, the average hair loss is a hundred hairs per day, so don’t worry that brushing will remove hair – it simply sheds by itself,” Hong Kong-based celebrity hairdresser Kim Robinson says.
But sometimes these strands stay tangled in the rest of our hair, so they end up falling when we least expect them – that’s why you find your hair all over your pillows, the floor and your shower.
Brushing your hair every day will help you get rid of those hairs that were going to fall eventually, only you’ll be able to collect them and throw them in the rubbish instead of finding them all around your house.
It’s a pre-shampooing cleanser
If you use styling products, brushing your hair before shampooing can help loosen product build-up, skin flakes, and impurities on your scalp and in your hair.
“This is especially important if you are using a strong, rigid-hold styling aid such as hairspray, mousses and some gels,” says Leon Van-Gorkom, senior hair manager at consumer products giant Unilever.
Cleansing with shampoo will still do most of the job, but brushing your hair before jumping in the shower can provide extra help.
How often should you brush your hair?
You should brush at least once daily, either in the morning or at night. Brushing both at the beginning and the end of your day is unnecessary for most, but it could benefit those with very dry hair.
How to brush your hair properly
To avoid damage, you should always be gentle when brushing your hair.
“Vigorous brushing, even if only once a day, will cause breakage and damage your hair,” Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Vincent De Marco says.
A gentle approach is a must, regardless of hair type.
Experts recommend starting with the ends to help with detangling and alignment. Then, work upwards and define sections as you move along, continuously releasing the hair from the bottom and crawling up a little more with each new pass.
Short, continuous strokes are the goal. As you release each new segment, you’ll ultimately get to the scalp, where you can employ long, slow strokes.
You should also remember that brushing will be safest when your hair is almost, or completely, dry. When your hair is wet and loaded with moisture, it’s way more fragile, so it’s easier to break or snap your strands.
However, if there are tangles in your hair right after a shower or swimming, a wide-tooth comb can gently help get rid of them.
Robinson recommends giving your hair at least 50 strokes daily to enhance hair growth and nourishment.
“What’s important is brushing the scalp from the nape of your neck to the top of your head,” he says. “This will promote the micro-circulation to the roots of your hair.”
Choose the right brush for you
Generally, the longer your hair is, the more you need to be wary of the kind of brush you use.
Shorter hair is easier to manage, so brushing is more focused on styling than nourishment, but no matter the length, different hair features and textures require different brushes.
“I’ve designed a range of purpose-built brushes: a range for brushing the scalp, a range for styling hair, and another range for detangling wet hair,” Robinson says.
“It’s an investment that your hair will love. Don’t wait until your hair and scalp are in disarray, as it may be too late. Prevention earlier on will maintain the quality of your hair for later.”
When you have a particularly stubborn tangle, sometimes it seems the only way to get rid of it is to tear the tangle, which can lead to hair breaking and strands splitting.
A detangling brush can help your hair stay away from knots while inducing minimal breakage and avoiding excessive pull. These brushes feature well-distanced bristles designed to separate hair strands in contrast to pulling hair down.