Recently, a patient asked me a question that I don’t hear everyday. She wanted to know how long to keep her hairbrush. It sounds like a simple question but in truth, the answer depends on several factors. Furthermore, knowing how long to keep your brush – and how best to care for it – can get you the healthy, shiny hair you want.
Types of Brushes
In order to determine how long my patient should keep her hairbrush, I needed to know just what type of brush she owned. As you may know, hair brushes range in price from a few dollars to nearly one hundred. I’m sure you could pay more, but it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to get a high quality brush.
What sets a hairbrush apart is the type of bristles it has. There are generally four kinds available: natural bristles, synthetic bristles, plastic and metal. The natural bristles are usually made from boar hairs and will be the most expensive.
Let’s look at bristle type brushes first. The natural bristles are made costly from boar hairs. Synthetic bristles are made of nylon and are a budget-friendly alternative to boar bristles. Brushes made from either of these materials are the most gentle, especially if you have long, fine hair, or straight hair that is not prone to tangles. I recommend these brushes to my patients because a good quality model can last anywhere from 2 to 4 years if cared for properly.
Brushes made with plastic or metal spokes are a different story. I don’t mean to imply that these inexpensive brushes aren’t useful. In fact, women with coarse or curly hair often prefer them to bristles because they don’t encourage frizzy or fluffy hair. However, I recommend keeping these brushes for no more than a year. Over time, the round balls at the end of each spoke (called “epoxy balls”) can break. If that happens, the spokes can scratch the scalp, scrape the hair follicle and snag the hair.
A Prescription for Brush Care
Regardless of the type of brush you choose, it is important to care for it properly. You see, a brush is not only meant to smooth and style your locks. It is a vital tool for maintaining shiny, vibrant hair. Brushing is also the easiest way to create a youthful look, but how does it work?
When you brush your hair, you stimulate the scalp and encourage it to produce sebum – the natural oil that moisturizes and protects the hair. As we get older, our scalps produce less sebum, so proper brushing is even more important. Natural and nylon bristle brushes are most efficient at distributing those natural oils along the entire hair shaft because the oils adhere more readily to the bristle fiber.
If your brush is doing its job properly, however, it will probably collect a build up of oils and styling products. Taking a few extra minutes every month to wash your brush will help it last longer. Simply remove all the stray hairs and cleanse the bristles with shampoo or a mild soap.
You can use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away any build up. Rubbing plastic brushes with white vinegar can help dissolve grime. While it is okay to soak plastic and metal brushes in water, avoid this when cleaning natural fiber brushes. Soaking can cause the bristles to swell, weaken and eventually break.
As you have learned, caring for your hairbrush is not complicated. As long as you keep in mind a few important points, you can create healthy, youthful hair without spending much extra time or money. When you can run your fingers through a healthy, shiny head of hair, you’ll be awfully glad you did!