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Brush up your style:

Having trouble getting your hair to behave? It could be time to ditch your favorite old hairbrush and try something new

Women in the 17th century believed that brushing their hair would help control fits of 'the vapours'. Today, however, we know that no matter what kind of implement you use, if the end-result is badly-behaved locks it's enough to drive any woman crazy. If you want to take control of your hair, we suggest ditching your traditional brush and trying a new approach to styling. Check out our guide below to brushing basics.

Round brushes: Small to medium round, or barreled brushes work best on shorter hair, while big barreled brushes are often favored by hairdressers for blow-drying medium-length to long hair. Round brushes are mostly used to give texture or curl to shorter hair, and the golden rule is the smaller the barrel, the tighter the curl. 'To add definition to shorter, layered styles, apply mousse and then use a round brush to style the hair. You can shape it with your fingers and finish off the ends with a little wax or gel,' suggests Kathryn Peach of the Success Hair Company in Surrey and Sussex. 'If you want to give the hair more body and lift, set it on rollers first,' she adds.

For medium-length to long hair you'll need a chunky barreled brush. Really large, round brushes aren't generally available in chemists or department stores, but your stylist can probably order one for you from his or her wholesaler. When styling, start at the roots and be careful not to wrap a big section of hair around the brush - otherwise you could get into a mess. 


Semi-circular, or half-round brushes: These brushes are suitable on both wet and dry hair for all types of grooming, styling and blow-drying. And not only do they make an ideal everyday brush for your dressing table and handbag but they're available in a wide variety of sizes. We love Denman's classic nylon quelled brushes (from 5.50 to 7.50).

Vent and Tunnel brushes: Designed with holes in the base or, in the case of round, tunnel brushes, around the circumference of the barrel, these brushes allow air to circulate through the hair while blow-drying This speeds up the drying process and boosts volume. Vent brushes are also adept at detangling thick and wavy hair, even when it's wet. The Kent Speed Grooming Flat Vented Brush (8.50) from Boots, Super drug and selected chemists countrywide, is a good bet.

  • Paddle brushes: With their large, flat bases, paddle brushes are great for smoothing out medium-length to long hair. If you want to blow-dry your tresses straight, hold the brush at a 90 degree angle to the hair and aim the blow-dryer at the base of the brush. Look out for Charles Worthington's In Fashion Long Hair Smoother (6.95, available at Boots).

  • Specialist straightening brushes: Flattening irons can dry and break the hair if they get too hot or are used too often. Instead, we recommend using a brush that also features heat-retaining, vented aluminum plates, such as Denman's Thermo Straightening Brush (8, available at Boots), which is geared to medium-length and long hair. It also has natural bristles and can be used with hair relaxants and straightening lotions.

Bristle know-how
Brushes come with natural boar bristles or synthetic nylon or wire quills. Other brushes feature a mix of natural and synthetic bristles in order to offer the benefits of both varieties. Whichever type of bristle you go for, check the spacing between the rows. Wide-spaced rows and staggered rows of pins enable a brush to slip through the hair more easily - an important feature if you have thick, wavy or curly hair. When a brush's bristles get damaged, you'll need to replace it

Natural bristles are top favorites for grooming and polishing because they create less friction and stress on the hair. These types of bristles are also great because they distribute sebum, the hair's natural conditioner, down the hair shaft and so add shine. Boar bristles, like those used in the classic Mason Pearson brushes (10 to 49, available at Boots, chemists nationwide, at www.masonpearson.com or at their London shop) are easiest on normal, fine, thinning or damaged hair. A good bristle brush should not scratch the scalp, yet it shouldn't be so soft that it slides ineffectively over the hair. Mason Pearson brushes come with a special brush that you can dip into cleaning suds in order to avoid immersing your hairbrush.

Nylon or plastic quills, also called pins, are widely used for budget-priced, everyday brushes. Look for pins that have rounded or ball tips on the ends - these help to avoid scratching your scalp. Wire quills are often used on brushes that have metal bases, and firm, wire quills are well suited to brushing thick hair.

Rubber pads have an anti-static quality and are therefore a must for fine hair or hair that tends to be flyaway. Some brushes have detachable rubber pads for easy cleaning. Metal bases are used in some brushes because they retain heat and so can improve drying and styling technique.






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