How To Use A Boar Bristle Brush Without Breakage

I’ve heard it said that with boar bristle brushes, you either love em or hate em. If you are one of those who hate them, then you are using it wrong. First things first, a boar bristle brush is as it sounds made from the hair of a wild boar/hog. There are synthetic versions too but since the plastic used for the bristles are not absorbent, they won’t have the superior ability to spread your hair’s natural oils as effectively as the authentic tool.

They come in all price ranges from suspiciously cheap to outrageously expensive but you should be able to get a pretty good one online or at  you local BSS without breaking the bank. An easy way to tell if you have a good boar bristle brush is to run the palm of your hand over the bristles quite firmly to see if you lose any fibres. If you do, then it’s not worth your money!

The most important thing to remember about a boar bristle brush is that it is NOT a detangling tool. Whether you are relaxed or natural, whether your hair is it’s natural curly state, or straightened, trying to use this brush to detangle black hair will always end in breakage. A boar bristle brush should only be used during the styling process or to work product into your ends (in certain situations) but not much else.  Once you understand those limitations however the brush may just end up being a firm favorite in your healthy hair journey.


First and foremost you should never use the brush from root to tip. People with naturally straight hair may benefit from using the brush this way but African American hair is way too fragile for this kind of manipulation. You should think of the brush as a tool to help you smooth your hair and to get a polished neat look to your styles. Think, smoothing ponytails if your hair is being worn straight or working in gel into your edges and hair when you are slicking it into a puff or bun.

There is minimal risk of breakage when using the brush to slick your edges and any natural headed sister will tell you that no other brush can lay your edges down like a boar bristle brush!

Working Product Into Your Ends

Unfortunately this does not apply if your hair is being worn in it’s natural state. You may already know that when your hair is dry and in it’s natural state, you have no business manipulating it! If you are wearing your hair straight on the other hand, you will find this brush indispensable during your nightly grooming process.

After applying your water based moisturizer (I use S Curl) and smoothing it with your fingers over the bottom couple of inches of your hair, a couple of  light swipes with the boar bristle brush will ensure complete coverage of each strand. Repeat the process with a couple of drops of your favorite oil to seal (I favor coconut or castor oil) and your dry ends will be restored to shiny smooth sleekness.

The pictures below show how effective a boar bristle brush is at distributing product through the hair strands.

Frizzy Ends        Smooth Ends

The first picture shows dry frizzy ends after a dry winter’s day and the second picture show smooth ends after moisturizing and sealing. An extra tip is to purchase a soft boar bristle brush, they are much kinder on your strands!

See the other articles in the back to basics series >>



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.


  1. 1

    which brand do you recommend? There are tons out there – which is guaranteed to be the real deal? – a soft board bristle brush, that is -

    • 2

      Mine’s a mason pearson but they tend to be quite pricey when a cheaper brand that says 100% boar bristle will do just the same!

  2. 3
    Dr_fomsky says:

    I’m definitely going to try this. I hope using the brush won’t make my ends break though?

    • 4

      No way! As long as you use one of those ultra soft boar bristle brushes. If you use a medium to hard brush, I can’t guarantee anything.

  3. 5

    You said to never brush you hair from root to tip. So then, how should I brush?

    • 6

      I just use the brush to smooth the ends as in the pics above. You can also use a bb brush to brush down your edges. Otherwise detangling should be done with a wide tooth comb only.

  4. 7
    MsCurlyKat says:

    An extra tip-stay away from REINFORCED boar bristle brushes, as they have nylon bristles included in the boar tufts. They are ok for naturally straight, thick, silky Caucasian or Asian hair, but anyone with any kind of texture in their hair, including properly relaxed hair, should avoid these at all costs. Nylon bristles tend to cause splitting and breakage, and defeat the purpose of a boar bristle brush, which is gentle scalp stimulation and hair taming, and smoothing or distributing hair product with minimal damage. It should say on the packaging or tag or label whether or not it has reinforced bristles. If not, look closely-some bristles (the nylon ones) will be thicker, uniformly dark, and the tips will be straight across. These will be mixed in with bristles which have tapered tips, color variation and are a bit thinner.

  5. 9
    Michelle C. Carvajal says:

    I know this post is about bb brushes, but what about baby brushes? Are they soft enough to not cause damage? Can they be used for smoothing?

  6. 11


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