These everyday essentials require maintenance, too.

By Rebecca Norris
December 29, 2020
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young woman brushing her hair in the mirror during her morning beauty routine at home
Credit: Getty / LaylaBird

We all know how important it is to clean our makeup tools. While the necessity of cleaning makeup brushes and items seems so obvious, the same isn't exactly true when it comes to your hairbrush. Have you ever stopped to think what might be lingering within the bristles? If left to thrive, what's left behind in your brushes could actually be the reason why your hair looks perpetually flat, oily, or just generally distressed. Since nobody wants a head full of hair that can be described as such, we spoke with a couple of celebrity hairstylists for their top tips for cleaning every type of hairbrush.

No matter the type of brush, celebrity hairstylist and Conair hairbrush ambassador Lacy Redway recommends cleaning them regularly—as in at least every week. "You are not doing the hair on your head its proper justice [by using bristles] filled with hair inside of them," she says, noting that the friction from the hair left behind in the brush can leave hair looking dull and ridden with frizz.

Boar's Bristle Brush

Natural-bristle brushes are a must for anyone hoping for ultra-smooth, next-level shine. Of course, actually achieving such requires knowing how to keep your boars bristle brush clean. "Boar bristle is probably one of the more challenging brush types to clean as I find products and hair get caught [in] the crevasses the most," admits Redway. While high-end boar bristle brushes often come with a brush cleaner, Redway says that raking the tail-end of a rat-tail comb through the bristles can unhinge any stuck hairs.

Once all the hair is removed, she says to place the brush in a bowl of warm water infused with a squeeze of shampoo (not Barbicide, which can deteriorate natural bristles). "I use my fingers to run between the brush's grooves to rid it of any stubborn product build-up," she adds. "Once I feel confident about the products [being fully] removed, I place the brush face down on a towel to dry overnight."

Synthetic Bristle Hairbrushes

Synthetic bristle brushes are often made of plastic or other meltable products. As such, Redway says to be careful about the amount of heat you use in the cleansing process. Other than that, she says you can follow the same method as a boar-bristle brush, using warm, shampoo-filled water. Alternatively, since synthetic bristles aren't as porous as boar bristles, Barbicide is a welcome cleaning agent.

Cushion/Paddle Hairbrushes

Redway finds paddle brushes—like Conair's Wild Primrose Cushion Hairbrush ($9.97, walmart.com)—to be the easiest clean. All you have to do to clean a paddle brush is gently pull any hair from its cushion (again, a rat-tail comb can help here). Over time, you may find that product visibly accumulates as dust-like particles in the brush. To remove these, use a toothbrush dipped in Barbicide or warm, soapy water to scrub away at the build-up. Of course, if you use your brush in the shower—as Redway suggests—you can clean it after each use to avoid a lengthy cleansing process.

Round Brush

Just as round brushes can easily get caught up in hair, removing hair from them can turn out quite tricky. For this reason, Redway says the best way to clean a round brush is to use scissors to cut out any stubborn stuck hair. Then, place the brush in a shampoo and water or Barbicide/alcohol mixture depending on the type of bristles it has.

Comb

Since combs are typically made with plastic, they're super simple to clean. Simply dip them into a Barbicide or an isopropyl alcohol mixture. "These solutions should get rid of any stubborn build up in the comb," Redway says. "You can also follow up by running the combs under hot water at high speed to wash away build-up."

A Universal Solution

While you can absolutely tailor your cleansing routine to brush type, R+Co Collective member, celebrity hairstylist Ashley Streicher, swears by classic brush cleansers.

"For my brushes at work, I like to clean all the hair out with a brush cleaner—it's like a little multi-wired rake that you can [comb] over your hairbrushes (any kind) and it gathers all the hair out," she explains. "After this, I either spray the brushes with a safe disinfectant (especially if you use cork brushes or soft materials), or, if they are plastic or metal, you can soak them in some Barbicide for 15 minutes, rinse, and let dry completely before using."

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