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These gentle brushes melt through tangles on fine hair and thick hair alike.
Having tangled hair can be painful and time-consuming, so a good detangling regimen is key if you're tangle-prone. In addition to using products like conditioner and detangling sprays, using a good detangling brush can help ease the frustration of pulling your tresses. Detangling brushes are specifically created to untangle hair and minimize breakage: "Compared to regular hair brushes, they usually have thinner, more flexible bristles that won’t pull too hard on snagged hair strands," explains Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab Beauty and Health Reviews Analyst Chiara Butler.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tests hundreds of top-performing hair products and hair tools every year to find the best options on the market. Our scientists test hair tools like hair straighteners and hair dryer brushes in the Lab and send samples to our panel of consumer testers of all ages with all hair types, textures and lengths; they consider factors like ease of use, performance and overall satisfaction. Ahead, we've rounded up our eight favorite detangling brushes, as recommended by Beauty Lab pros, editors and hair stylists.
You can read more about how we evaluate detangling brushes plus everything you need to know to shop for your perfect non-damaging brush at the end of this guide. Looking for more ways to get the hair of your dreams? Check out our guides on how to style your hair perfectly and the best curling irons for your money.
This GH Beauty Lab favorite lives up to its name: It busts tangles thanks to a flexible paddle and boar and nylon bristles. The brush glides through tangles and adds sleekness and shine. "I like the soft and sturdy handle, the flexible brush head that moves and separates as needed when detangling," says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral.
• Shape of brush: Paddle • Bristles: Boar and nylon, ball-tipped • Best for: Dry hair
Goody's detangling brush features flexible nylon bristles to make detangling all hair types less painful. Though not Lab tested, this brush has 4.6 stars on Amazon. Users love its ability to gently detangle all hair types. "My daughter has fine, coily curls and we’ve always struggled to find a good detangle brush for her that didn’t hurt her, or fall apart after a few uses," writes one reviewer. "This fits the bill. The grip is also perfect for her."
• Shape of brush: Oval • Bristles: Nylon, ball-tipped • Best for: Wet or dry hair
The original detangler from Tangle Teezer stands the test of time. "This is the only brush that can detangle my thick hair and dense curls," says GH Institute Deputy Editor Jessica Teich. "The thin pin bristles easily slip through matted knots and make quick work of untangling curls. I won't even travel without it." The editor- and consumer-loved brush is designed to be gentle on knots for less breakage and is ergonomically designed to fit your palm.
• Shape of brush: Kidney bean • Bristles: Nylon • Best for: Wet hair
Though petite, this detangling brush still packs a punch. A favorite of Mane Addicts hairstylist Cherilyn Farris, it has widely spaced, flexible bristles to gently detangle without pulling strands. It "works like a detangling comb/brush hybrid," says Farris. "They are gentle yet efficient." It's easy to take this travel-sized brush in your suitcase or purse, so you can fight knots on the go, too.
• Shape of brush: Rectangular • Bristles: Nylon • Best for: Wet hair
The Sheila Stotts detangling brush is a classic. It's a true multitasker, the lightweight brush can be used on wet hair, dry hair, extensions and can even be used in the shower, thanks to a hole in the brush to drain excess water. You can use it to detangle hair in the shower or to distribute conditioner. It's Farris' favorite as well: She notes that "the metal teeth have a lot of slip and can work through most hair types and extensions easily."
• Shape of brush: Oval • Bristles: Metal • Best for: Wet or dry hair
This brush is great for all hair types, and especially natural hair: Farris loves its gentle and effective detangling abilities. Consumers rave about using it to define natural curls or waves. "Insanely good at detangling and curl definition," one reviewer says. Since this brush is ideal for wet hair, start the detangling process early by using it in the shower, gently working your conditioner through your hair.
• Shape of brush: Rectangular • Bristles: Rubber • Best for: Wet hair
A brush with a flexible back can make all the difference in gently detangling hair. This dual detangling and massaging brush from The Hair Edit has a flexible back combined with flexible bristles that "prevents the brush from snagging and pulling hair strands," Butler says. "It’s also nice for gently massaging the scalp." A reviewer adds, "I have thick hair with INSANE tangles after every shower and this brush glided through my hair like nothing."
• Shape of brush: Rectangular • Bristles: Nylon, ball-tipped • Best for: Wet hair
While we love the OG Wet Brush too, this professional-style detangler is a step above. The flexible bristles run through wet, tangled hair easily, which Farris says is great for fine, fragile or damaged hair. "The extra flexibility minimizes any damage or tension while working out any knots," Farris notes, and our GH Beauty Assistant reported easy detangling with almost no breakage or hair loss.
• Shape of brush: Oval • Bristles: Nylon, ball-tipped • Best for: Wet hair
To make taking care of your hair as easy as possible, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tests the top-performing hair products on the market. When the Lab tests hair brushes for our annual GH Beauty Awards, our scientists conduct both in-Lab and consumer testing to find the best of the best. We ask testers of all ages, with all hair types, textures and lengths, to use the brushes in their routine for a set period of time, taking note of both what they liked and what they didn't like. Similarly, in our most recent test to find the best hair dryer brushes, testers evaluated the brushes and filled out a detailed survey on ease of use, performance and overall satisfaction. For this, the Lab collected data from 784 questions gathered from 49 questionnaires. After all of this research, our Lab pros aggregate and analyze the feedback to share the best hair products for your money.
The type of detangling brush you need depends on your hair type:
✔️ Fine/fragile/damaged hair: "Detangling brushes for fine hair will have very soft bristles," explains Butler. "Very fine, fragile, or damaged hair would respond best to a detangling brush with flexible bristles," adds Farris.
✔️ Straight/wavy/medium-to-thick hair: Brushes for thicker hair "will have slightly stiffer bristles," says Butler. Healthier straight to loose curl texture, as well as medium to thick density hair types, "tend to detangle best with sturdier bristled brushes," explains Farris.
✔️ Curly/textured hair: "Curly and textured hair types tend to do best with short bristled detangling brushes with a flexible base or spines," says Farris.
Absolutely. "The bristles are designed to bend and let go or slide off of a snag so it loosens a tangle without over stretching or getting stuck in the hair," explains Farris. "This minimizes damage, — but you should still use them by starting at the ends, brushing down and working your way from roots to ends." Butler also recommends being patient with the knots and using a detangling product to wet your strands.
It depends on your hair type and when you're using the brush or comb.
✔️ Use a comb on wet hair or thick hair. "A wide-tooth comb can be better for detangling thick, curly hair during or right after a shower, " explains Butler. A brush may be more difficult to work through thicker tresses, but "the comb will minimize snagging when the hair is wet and fragile," she adds.
✔️ Use a brush on fine, wet hair or any type of dry hair with some detangling product on it. "A detangling brush can be more efficient because it has a bigger area and more bristles," says Butler.
Catharine Malzahn is the Beauty Assistant at Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day and Prevention, where she works closely with the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab to help deliver fact-based, science-backed beauty coverage. Over the years, she has interviewed experts, written product reviews and tested hundreds of hair products, including professional hair treatments, tools, shampoos, conditioners, styling products and more. Thanks to her thick, wavy and often frizzy hair, she's all too familiar with detangling brushes and has tried many options on herself. For this article, she worked with Chiara Butler, the Health and Beauty Reviews Analyst in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab. She formerly worked as a formulation chemist at a haircare brand, where she learned about the structure and properties of hair. Butler researched and reviewed several detangling brushes to recommend picks. We also interviewed Mane Addicts hairstylist Cherilyn Farris for this article, who contributed expert tips and brush recommendations.