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The Comb, the Brush, and the Damage they Do to Your Hair

Updated on August 29, 2010

In modern times, a wide variety of tools are available for styling and grooming hair. The basics are the comb and the brush, and people often ponder which is ultimately better for the health of their hair. It is a question with no definitive answer, as each tool may be used to advantage in different situations. 


Put simply, the styling power of brushes is amazing. They are very versatile and there are many techniques that you can create with them. There are a number of brushes which are available on the market, and they all do different things. The round, paddle and travel brush are but a few to be named.

Round Brushes: 

As a hairdresser, round brushes are a favourite tool of mine. They can be used to create a myriad of different styles from wavy to straight. Oftentimes you can get thermal round brushes which are designed for use with heat - they contain a metal inset that heats up and aids styling, particularly when blow-drying.

While great textures can be created with these brushes, they are prone to snagging the hair, especially when wet, which may lead to breakage.

Paddle Brushes: 

These brushes are far less versatile than their round counterparts but are great for everyday brushing. As you sweep them through the hair, they help to persuade the outer cuticle of the hair downwards - creating a smooth, sleek and shiny finish. In this respect, paddle brushes can be said to be good for the hair.

Travel Brushes:

These  brushes have their obvious advantages: their small size, their ability to be flipped in and tucked inside a handbag, and oftentimes, their neat little mirror. However, these brushes can be very damaging to the hair and it is advisable that you use a full-size hairbrush over a travel brush whennecessary.


Combs work in a less intensive way than brushes but can be used in situations that brushes can't. For example, it is always recommended that when your hair is wet, you use a comb to gently detangle it, as a brush would break the hair. Please note that not all combs were created equal. Choosing the right one to suit your hair type can be crucial.


Rakes are great for use on fine, long hair. They gently detangle as they are swept through the hair and therefore are great for detangling wet hair. A rake won't work very well in thick or unruly hair.

Regular Comb:

Regular combs perform best when used on hair of medium thickness. They can be used on all hair lengths but beware that using a regular comb on extremely log hair may be a bit laborious. Better results can be achieved with a brush.

Fine-tooth Comb:

This is the worst comb in terms of damage done to the hair. Because of the close positioning of the teeth, never use this comb on wet hair. It is about as likely to tangle and break the hair as a brush. However, they are great for backcombing and removing headlice.

In your opinion, which is better: brushes or combs?

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Combs and brushes of various types have completely different uses and can be employed in an array of situation to suit your hair's grooming needs. To say which causes the hair most damage is difficult given that each tool performs differently under pressure. My best adivce would be to experiment and find out what workd for you.


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    • profile image

      Cook&Craft 3 years ago

      I was told to 100 times. And I was told to untangle my hair with a wide tooth comb everyday, but I switched to a paddle brush. And I have a question, the bigger the brush the better? And do small paddle brushes do damage too?

    • profile image

      pattycake 4 years ago

      I was told when I was growing up to brush your hair every night at least 200 times

    • profile image

      bob 4 years ago

      I want a paddle brush badly

    • profile image

      sarah 4 years ago

      I might as well buy all the combs and brushes

    • profile image

      ilovemylonghair 6 years ago

      check out my hair tutorials :

    • The Good Cook profile image

      The Good Cook 8 years ago

      I prefer a brush for my mop! Good hub.