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The best hair detangling brushes and combs to buy in 2023

Get rid of knots and tangles gently and effectively with the best combs and brushes designed to detangle hair

Do you wake up every morning with the soft, silky, cascading locks of a 1940s movie icon? No, neither do we. Tangles and snarls are a daily reality for many of us – especially those with long, thick, dry or curly hair. Left untreated, tangles can look unsightly, feel uncomfortable, and be painful to remove if the knots worsen; brushing through tangled hair can also lead to weakness and breakage.

If your hair is prone to tangles, the best way to deal with them is with a specialist detangling comb or brush. This is an area of the haircare market that has really grown in recent years; manufacturers now offer a wide range of detangling tools to suit different hair lengths and textures. Combs and brushes may also be designed for use on dry hair when styling in the morning, or in the shower with your favourite detangling lotion. All are made to make brushing easier on the hair, cutting through tangles quickly and gently without further damaging the hair.

Below we take you through some advice for detangling hair as well as choosing the right brush or comb for your hair; and over the jump we’ve rounded up our favourite detangling brushes for all hair types and budgets.

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Best detangling brush: At a glance

How to choose the best detangling brush for you

How do detangling brushes work?

All hairbrushes are designed to pass through the hair, smoothing and separating the strands and encouraging them to lie in the same direction. An ordinary bristled hairbrush will easily pass through minor tangles.

If you have hair that’s prone to more serious tangles – dry or damaged hair and curly or coiled hair is more susceptible to knotting and matting owing to the increased friction between strands caused by a raised cuticle on the outer surface – then a specialist detangling brush or comb will help by working harder to separate the strands.

Detangling combs designed for use in the shower have wide-spaced teeth to work knots apart without stretching and breaking delicate wet hair. Detangling brushes designed for use on dry or damp hair have flexible bristles of different lengths to gently prise apart tangled strands in one sweep. Combs designed for Afro-textured hair often have wide-spaced teeth with a tapered end to pass easily through any matted or knotted coils.

What are detangling brushes made from?

Most detangling brushes and combs are made from plastic; plastic can be used on wet or damp hair, and the smooth surface helps the teeth or bristles glide easily through the hair. Some detangling combs are made of natural bamboo or bristle, which are a sustainable choice and gentle on the hair. Be sure to follow any care instructions provided by the manufacturer, such as drying the brush completely after use, to avoid damage to the tool.

How do I use a detangling brush?

For best results, section the hair roughly before beginning to brush – four to six sections is a good rule of thumb – so that the brush can more easily target knotted areas, such as the back of the head after sleeping. Start brushing through at the ends of the hair first, working your way back towards the roots with longer strokes as you progress. This allows knots and tangles to be worked out of the hair in sequence, rather than piling up on top of one another.

It’s usually best to use a detangling brush or comb on damp or wet hair – either in the shower or just after you get out – as the lubrication from the water helps the bristles pass more easily through the hair. Using a detangling brush rather than an ordinary brush helps to protect wet hair (which is weaker than dry hair) from damage.

What else can I do to prevent knots and tangles?

Dry and damaged hair tangles more easily, so hydrate the hair with a gentle shampoo and use a nourishing conditioner after washing. If your hair is very dry, you may find co-washing the hair with a conditioner helps friction between the strands.

If your hair is long or curly and tends to become tangled overnight, you might find tying it loosely with a silk scrunchie helps to reduce nighttime tangling. A silk or satin pillowcase or a hair bonnet also reduces friction between the pillow and the hair as you sleep, preventing tangles and leaving the hair soft and silky.

A detangling lotion can help to reduce knots by adding moisture and smoothing the cuticle so that it’s easier to untangle any knots and matting without further damaging the hair. Help your chosen brush or comb pass through knots more easily by applying a detangling spray before brushing.

How we test detangling brushes

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we test all of the detangling combs and brushes we review on our own hair. We use the brushes as recommended on either damp or dry hair and, where possible, we test them on more than one hair type.

We start by taking note of a comb or brush’s recommended usage. We confirm the materials from which it’s made, the dimensions of the product, and any additional features such as colour options. In use, we assess how easily the brush or comb passes through our Type 3 hair and the time it takes to brush a full head of hair with typical matting and tangling. We consider how well the tool removes knots and tangles, how the brush feels on the hair and scalp, and how the hair looks and feels after brushing.

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The best detangling brushes to buy in 2023

1. Tangle Teezer The Original: Best all-round detangling brush

Price: £13 | Buy now from Tangle Teezer

The detangling brush that launched a minor revolution in hair tools with its two-tier bristles that make light work of heavy tangles. The Tangle Teezer sits in the palm of the hand so you can easily glide it through wet or damp hair, while the flexible bristles easily part wrapped and knotted strands, leaving the hair tangle-free without snagging or breaking.

The Original comes in a range of bright and pastel colours to match any bathroom, dressing table or handbag colour. It’s particularly good on curly or coiled hair, as it brushes through tangles without disrupting the curl pattern, leaving you with smooth and defined ringlets.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Wet or dry use: Both

Buy now from Tangle Teezer

2. Denman Classic Medium (D3) styling brush: Best for long or thick hair

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Superdrug

This classic styling brush has been taming rebellious hair since the 1970s and, with its wide-spaced, flexible nylon bristles, it’s still one of the best all-round brushes for detangling, smoothing and straightening hair. The versatile brush, which sits comfortably in the hand, can be used while blow-drying to add volume and define curls and it can also be used on freshly washed wet hair to easily cut through tangles.

Gentle on the scalp, the D3 is good for use on all hair textures including natural coily and afro hair, though if you have very dense coils you may prefer the 5-row version with its wider-spaced bristles.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Wet or dry use: Both

Buy now from Superdrug

3. Tangle Teezer The Wet Detangler: Best for using in the shower

Price: £13 | Buy now from Tangle Teezer

Unlike the palm-held Original, Tangle Teezer’s Wet Detangler has a hard, paddle-brush-style base and handle. The flexible bristles glide effortlessly through all types of wet hair, making this an ideal tool for working your favourite conditioner or detangling lotion through your locks. The Wet Detangler can be used on all hair types but is especially good for working through tangles and knots in long, thick and curly hair, which you may find easier to achieve on wet or just-washed hair. Like the Original, the Wet Detangler is available in a range of colours to suit any shower décor.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Wet or dry use: Wet

Buy now from Tangle Teezer

4. Mason Pearson Detangling Comb C2: Best detangling comb

Price: £12.50 | Buy now from Escentual

Handcrafted in Switzerland from a single piece of acetate, this detangling comb from luxury brush brand Mason Pearson is a high-quality comb that feels beautifully balanced in the hand. With its wide teeth, smooth finish and gently curved edge that sits nicely against the head, this is an ideal comb for working conditioner and detangling lotion through the hair in the bath or shower. The ends of each tooth are rounded so that the comb is gentle on the scalp, and the high-shine polished surfaces means the comb glides through tangled lengths with ease.

The C2 comes in a tortoiseshell finish that is pleasingly retro. The comb looks great in your bathroom, feels great in your hand and is great at loosening knots and tangles.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Wet or dry use: Wet

Buy now from Escentual

5. Christophe Robin Detangling Hairbrush: Best luxury detangling brush

Price: £85 | Buy now from Ssense

French haircare specialist Christophe Robin is known for quality products, and this 100% Boar Bristle Detangling Hairbrush is no exception. This award-winning brush is made with natural boar hairs of varying lengths, which are extremely gentle on the hair and sensitive scalps, and distributes the scalp’s own natural oils through the hair, reducing frizz and adding shine and strength to the hair as they brush through – ideal if your hair is on the dry side and in need of a little extra gloss.

It’s not a cheap purchase by any means, but if your hair needs gentle care for snarls and tangles then this is a great product to treat it with.

Key details – Material: Wooden base with boar bristle; Wet or dry use: Dry

Buy now from Ssense

6. Tangle Teezer Mini: Best for kids

Price: £10 | Buy now from Tangle Teezer

It’s no surprise that detangling tool specialist Tangle Teezer makes several appearances on this list. This mini version of the classic Tangle Teezer handheld brush features the same two-tiered bristle pattern and is perfect for smaller heads and finer hair. An absolute godsend for parents of children with tangle-prone hair, this makes morning brushing simple, quick and pain-free.

Key details – Material: Plastic; Wet or dry use: Both

Buy now from Tangle Teezer

7. Aveda Large Wood Paddle Brush: Best wooden detangling brush

Price: £26 | Buy now from Look FantasticPlastic has its place – particularly in the shower, where its waterproof and easy-clean properties come in very handy – but a classic wooden brush has a certain character and is a more sustainable choice for anyone seeking to reduce their plastic consumption. This handsome wooden paddle brush from natural brand Aveda has a nice, wide base which, held vertically, is ideal for cutting through tangles on longer hair; held horizontally, it’s great for blow-drying hair straight and sleek. Like many Aveda products, the Large Wood Paddle Brush is sold in recycled packaging, making it an even more sustainable choice.

The base is lightweight and easy to manoeuvre around the hair but feels robust, and warm and pleasant to hold. The cushioned base protects the scalp and the flexible bristles won’t snag on tangled hair. It’s a great option if you’re avoiding plastic or would like a detangling brush that’s also good for use when blow-drying.

Key details – Material: Wood with cushioned base; Wet or dry use: Dry

Buy now from Look Fantastic

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