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How to Brush Your Hair (The Right Way!)

Using the Wrong Brush for Your Hair Type

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Brushes are not necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Choose based on your hair texture. Have fine or thin strands? "Avoid using a brush with stiff bristles, which aren't very forgiving if they hit snags," advises Nick Penna, lead stylist and owner of SalonCapri in Boston. "Instead, choose one with soft bristles and a rubber cushion, which allows the bristles to be more flexible." If you have coarser hair, opt for a brush with a combo of nylon and boar bristles to make detangling thicker strands a breeze. And when in doubt, a natural, boar bristle brush is a good option for most—the bristles are gentle and help keep frizz at bay, says Penna. Try: Wigo Cushion 100% Boar Bristle Brush ($25; ulta.com).

Photo: Shutterstock

Brushing While Wet

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You've likely heard that it's best to use a wide-tooth comb—not a brush— on wet strands, and this is generally true. The exception to the rule: Brushes that are specifically designed to work on wet hair, says Penna, who recommends The Wet Brush ($8.99; thewetbrush.com). "The flexible bristles won't tug or break strands when they're wet and especially susceptible to breakage," he explains. (It's one of these 8 Hair-Washing Mistakes You May Be Making.)

Photo: Corbis Images

Not Brushing Before Shampooing

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Massaging shampoo into your roots can lead to some major snarls, especially if you don't have smooth strands to begin with. Brush out your hair thoroughly prior to washing to minimize the likelihood of tangles and knots afterwards, advises Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC.

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Using the Wrong Brush for the Style You're Trying to Achieve

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If you can't seem to create your desired style, your brush may be to blame. A flat paddle shape is best for detangling, to remove dirt, and to put hair up into a ponytail or updo; a round brush should be used to create curl and volume while blow-drying, says Amy Abramite, creative director at Maxine Salon in Chicago.

Photo: Corbis Images

Brushing from the Root Down

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It may seem counterintuitive, but don't start brushing at your scalp, says Saviano. "When you brush downward from the root, you run into tangles in the mid-shaft and ends and the hair can snap," he explains. "Over time, this can add up to a lot of breakage." Instead, start a few inches away from the ends, suggests Abramite. Once the knots are out, move up a few more inches. "Eventually, the hair will be fully detangled and you'll be able to smoothly brush through from scalp to tips," she says. (Can You Get Rid of Oily Hair...For Good?)

Photo: Corbis Images

Neglecting Certain Spots

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While you should definitely start brushing at the ends, that doesn't mean you should avoid the top of your head altogether, advises Penna. "Brushing your roots is crucial for stimulating the scalp and redistributing natural oils that help condition the hair and keep it healthy," he explains. (Similarly, because this removes excess oil, your dry shampoo will work even better.)

Photo: Corbis Images

Brushing Your Curls

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If you're a curly-haired girl, resist the urge to brush through dry curls and opt for combs over brushes. "Brushing curly hair can aggravate the cuticle or even break off the curls," cautions Ouidad Curl Expert and Master Artistic Educator Chadwick Pendley. Your best bet is to use a wide-tooth comb, like Ouidad Double Detangler ($26; ouidad.com), to de-snarl strands while they're damp and coated with conditioner.

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