Hairbrush Classifications

Hairbrushes have different classifications. Hairbrushes also have special purposes and features, making certain ones better for creating specific hairstyles. Knowing your hair type is beneficial in choosing a hairbrush. Depending on your hair type, the effects of brushing will be different. For example, curly hair, when brushed, will typically expand while straight hair will look smoother. A boar bristle hairbrush will excel at personal hygiene and adding shine, while a paddle brush will be the best choice for taming frizzy hair conditions and brushing through a lot of hair fast. Hairbrushes can be classified by the following characteristics, shape, bristle density, bristle firmness and purpose. Continue reading to find out more about hairbrushes.

Hairbrush Classification
Shape Description
Round Bristles on all sides are characterized by a perfectly round brush head. Manufactured in various diameters. The go-to-brush for professional stylists
Oval Flat
Bristles on one side characterized by an oval brush head and bristles mounted in a rubber cushion for flexibility. Used for general brushing and light styling. Manufactured in various oval sizes for adults and children
Oval Round
Bristles on all sides of the brush head. Used for styling. Manufactured in various oval sizes
Oval Military Brush is an oval shape brush head with no handle. Fits into the palm of your hand and used primarily when traveling due to it's compact size
Paddle Bristles on one side with a large flat paddle-shaped head. Generally used for brushing lots of hair or taming frizzy hair conditions
Rectangle Bristles on one side and brush head shaped in a flat rectangle. Generally special purpose for aiding in drying hair with nylon tipped bristles
Thin Rectangle Bristles on one side with a very thin flat brush head consisting of 2 to 6 rows of bristles. Generally special purpose for teasing

Bristle Density Description
Dense Very densely packed bristles. Generally, most boar brushes have densely packed bristles
Medium Bristles not as dense and not really wide-spaced. Fits in between dense and wide-spaced bristles. Generally, combination brush with nylon and boar bristles used to add shine and detangle at the same time
Wide Wide-spaced bristles. Generally, wooden brushes or shampoo brushes

Bristle Firmness Description
Soft Soft bristles easily bendable for sensitive scalps. Second cut boar bristles
Medium General purpose bristles in between soft and firm bristles
Firm Bristles that are firm and less forgiving. Made of thicker, harder nylon, wood or first cut boar bristles

Purpose Description
General brushing Generally, has an oval brush head shape and used for adding shine and cleaning hair
Styling, curls and waves Special purpose brush for adding curls and waves. The most common is the round or oval round-shaped brush head
Teasing Special purpose brush for adding lots of volume. Generally, a thin rectangle shape with 2 rows of densely packed bristles
Detangling Special purpose brush for detangling hair and removing knots. Generally brushes with either very flexible bristles or wide, less densely packed bristles.
Shampoo and Massage Special purpose brush for aiding in distributing shampoo or giving a massage. Generally, small brushes fitting in the palm and has wide-spaced bristles made of a soft silicone

Choose The Right Hairbrush

By knowing more about your hair you will be able to choose the right hairbrush for your hair type. In order to classify hair curl patterns, there are different systems. Knowing the hair type of an individual is a perfect starting place to learn how to take care of one’s hair. Also, many people may not know one can have more than one hair type. You are not limited to having just one hair type. It is common and very natural to have more than one type, such as possessing a combination of both curly types (Walker System) 3a and 3b.

Hair Types According to the Andre Walker System
Hair Classifications Thickness Description
Type 1 Straight 1a Fine/Thin Soft hair that is thin, shiny, oily, not great at holding curls, difficult to damage
Type 1 Straight 1b Medium Has volume and body
Type 1 Straight 1c Coarse Very straight, coarse and difficult to curl
Type 2 Wavy 2a Fine/Thin Identified by an S pattern, easily straightened or cured, receptive to many hairstyles
Type 2 Wavy 2b Medium Tends to be frizzy and some resistant to styling
Type 2 Wavy 2c Coarse Coarse, frizzy or really frizzy with thicker waves and resistant to styling
Type 3 Curly 3a Loose Identified by an S pattern with a combination of thickness, volume and or frizzness
Type 3 Curly 3b Tight Identified by an S pattern with curls from spirals to corkscrew shapes
Type 4 Kinky 4a Soft Very wiry and fragile with tight coils and can have a distinctive curly pattern
Type 4 Kinky 4b Wiry Same as Type 4a Kinky but less defined pattern, more like a Z pattern with sharp angles

When referring to hair as being ‘fine’, ‘medium’, or ‘coarse’, the meaning is that each hair is fine, medium, or coarse. Hair texture is determined by its circumference and the condition of the cuticle. Did you know fine hair has a small circumference and a closed cuticle, and coarse hair has a larger circumference with the cuticle being more open?



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According to the Biophysics of Human Hair: Structural, Nanomechanical, and Nanotribological, "Human hair is a nanocomposite biological fiber. Maintaining the health, feel, shine, color, softness, and overall aesthetics of the hair is highly desired. Hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners, along with damaging processes such as chemical dyeing and permanent wave treatments, affect the maintenance and grooming process and are important to study because they alter many hair properties."


Hair having a more open cuticle will lead to the hair being more porous. It’s important to have some knowledge about hair texture due to it’s a determining factor in what looks you can achieve. For example, if you have hair that is naturally coarse or appears to be coarse because the cuticle is open and damaged, you cannot successfully achieve a sleek hairstyle.

FIA Hair Classification
Hair Classifications Curl Pattern
Straight 1a Straight
Straight 1b Straight with a slight body wave adding volume
Straight 1c Straight with body wave and 1 to 2 S waves at nape or temple
Wavy 2a Loose with stretched S wave
Wavy 2b Shorter S waves resembling braided damp hair
Wavy 2c Distinct S wave and some spiral curling
Curly 3a Big loose spiral curls
Curly 3b Ringlets
Curly 3c Tight corkscrews
Very Curly 4a Tightly coiled S curls
Very Curly 4b Z patterned, tightly coiled, sharply angled
Very Curly 4c Majority of Z patterned tightly kinked and less definition