Is It Bad To Brush Wet Hair?

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This is a firey topic. A quick google search will turn up those who say NEVER brush your hair when it’s wet. But then why do they make hairbrushes specifically for wet hair? Are those “wet brushes” just a clever marketing ploy trying to get you to buy two things to do the same job?

Is it bad to brush wet hair? That’s what we’re going to find out in this article! We will also answer a lot of frequently asked questions along the way and shed some light on why this is a topic of such heated contention.


The Benefits of Brushing Your Hair

When done correctly, using the right tools, brushing your hair has a whole heap of benefits:

  • Brushing hair prevents knots and detangles the hair. Fewer knots and tangles means less potential for breakage.
  • The act of brushing stimulates your scalp, which encourages blood flow and healthy hair growth.         
  • You lose on average 100-150 hairs a day. Brushing won’t change that, but it will collect those shed hairs so you are not losing them all over the place, and so they don’t get wrapped up in the remaining hair, causing knots.
  • Brushing your hair redistributes your hair’s natural oils over each strand as it provides natural shine and conditioning. If you don’t brush your hair, oil accumulates on the scalp, leaving the strands dry and brittle.
  • Brushing also gets rid of surface impurities. Whether it’s stuff that’s fallen from the trees outside or residual haircare product build up, hair brushing extracts accumulated dirt, making it easier for your shampoo to do its job.

How Often Should You Brush Your Hair?

You’d think that brushing your hair often would be good for you, given all of the benefits. 

But it turns out that brushing your hair too much can cause damage. How often you should brush it depends on your hair type, length, thickness, and texture.

Those who have long hair will have to brush more often in order to prevent tangles, especially if the hair is thin.

For long hair, twice, maybe 3 times a day is more than enough.

When you are brushing it, brush only as much as you need to in order to get it smooth and tangle-free.

The old wives’ tale of 100 strokes a day is not just overkill, it will end up causing more damage to your hair than good.

For those with thick, curly, textured, or oily hair, brushing once a day is often enough.

Is It Bad To Brush Wet Hair?

There is no one right answer for everyone. Each hair type is unique, so like everything else, it depends!

For example, the type, length, and texture of hair will dictate how often you brush it.

So to answer the question – Is it bad to brush wet hair? – the answer is both yes and no, depending on your hair.

For those with straight hair

Brushing hair when it’s wet is much more damaging than dry brushing. Hair is in its most vulnerable and sensitive state when it’s wet. Brushing it wet can cause it to stretch, and it won’t bounce back to its original length.

This will cause weak spots along the strand and frail, wispy ends. These weak points can lead to breakage and split ends.

Trying to work through tangles on wet hair is a definite no-no for straight hair.

This is where it gets interesting. The reason there is such a debate about brushing wet or dry is that for some people, including those with straight hair, dry brushing is better.

The reason there is such a debate about brushing wet or dry is that for some people, including those with straight hair, dry brushing is better.

For those with curly or textured hair

If you’ve got curly locks, the opposite is true. Anyone who has ever tried to brush curly hair when it’s dry will tell you it’s a nightmare. Apart from making your curls go frizzy, it tends to be a bit of a tug of war.

Which, as you can imagine, is really bad for your hair.

Brushing curly or textured hair when it is wet actually helps reduce breakage and trauma to the hair follicles and keep the curls intact.

See also: Is It Bad to Wet Your Hair Everyday?

How to Brush Dry Hair

Is there a proper method for brushing your hair? Yes!

If you start brushing from root to tip, you are setting yourself up for hair damage.

Starting from the root and brushing down will tighten knots and tangles making them much harder to take out. This will cause a lot more pulling, which you want to avoid.

The proper way to brush your hair is to separate your hair into sections. Start from the bottom (the ends) and work your way up in short downward strokes. You’ll know if you’ve done it properly if, when you’re finished, you can run your brush from root to tip without it catching or pulling.

Though we’ve outlined why it’s not good for those with straight hair to brush it when wet, sometimes you just might need to if you are letting it dry naturally.

In this case, it’s best to use a wide-toothed comb rather than a brush so that it will dry tangle-free.

Make sure you’ve used a conditioner that’s been rinsed out, or a leave-in conditioner/detangler before combing your hair when it’s wet to avoid tangles and pulling.

How to Brush Wet Hair

For those of you with curly or textured hair, you’ll know that your hair needs extra hydration.

Textured hair and a lot of curly hair tend to be low-porosity. This means it’s a lot harder to get moisture into the hair and keep it there.  

Curly and textured hair should be brushed when it’s wet. It’s important that your hair is slippery while you brush it to let the brush easily glide through.

After shampooing, apply a conditioner or conditioning mask. This is when you brush your hair – before rinsing out the conditioning treatment.

Work in sections from the bottom up in short downward strokes to avoid creating or tightening any tangles.

See also:

Choosing The Right Brush

It’s just as important to choose the right tools for the job as it is to understand whether you should be dry or wet brushing.

For Dry Brushing

Boar Bristle Brusgh

For dry brushing, choose a brush meant for dry brushing. If your hair is not particularly textured, thick or curly, you should be only brushing your hair when it’s dry.

Boar-bristle brushes  are great for all types of hair. The soft bristles glide through hair and cause less breakage. The closer the bristles are together, the smoother the hair.

However, if your hair is straight and thick, you will want to lean more toward a wider spaced bristle. Silicone bristle brushes  are perfect for thicker hair.

Avoid brushes with balls!

You know those brushes that have the little balls at the end of the bristles? These balls aren’t actually attached to the ends of the bristle.

Hair can get easily wrapped around the ball and get caught in the brush. Opt for a brush without balls at the end of the bristles.

For Wet Brushing

Wet Brush with Wide Spaces

To maintain curl definition and to detangle, look for a wet brush with wider spaces in between the bristles.

Wet brushes are specifically designed for use on wet hair. They are made to be easy to clean. They don’t have spaces in between where the bristles enter the brush or any place water can get in and potentially collect and harbor bacteria.

They are not meant to be used with a blow dryer.

Pre-Shampoo Treatments For Curly, Textured, Dry & Damaged Hair

Curly and textured hair often tends to be lacking in moisture. But even those with straight hair can experience dryness and damage due to products, heat styling, environmental exposure and chemical processes like coloring and bleaching.

Pre-shampoo treatments are good for anyone looking to give their hair a boost of hydration. Using a pre-shampoo treatment will ensure that your wet or dry brushing experience goes super smoothly.

Just like brushing your hair too often, shampooing your hair too often can be hard on your hair.

Shampooing too often will strip hair of its natural oils and can even cause damage if your shampoo contains sulphates and parabens, which can be particularly harsh on the hair.

A pre-shampoo treatment is to be used only once or twice a week at the most. So if you wash your hair more often than that, do not use the pre-shampoo treatment every time you wash your hair.

The good news is; you don’t have to go out and buy fancy, expensive hair products. You most likely have everything you need in your kitchen pantry.

Coconut Oil

Apart from the boost of hydration, coconut oil will give your hair a boost of protein. It will also help prevent split ends and add luster and shine. Make sure you are using virgin coconut oil to ensure you are getting all of its benefits.

Apply 1-2 teaspoons to dry hair. Whether you use 1 or 2 tsp. will depend on how long and thick your hair is.

For first timers, start with 1 tsp.

Work it through your hair using your fingers or wide toothed comb. Let sit for 30 minutes and then shampoo and condition as usual.

Remember if you live in a colder climate, coconut oil will harden at room temperature during the winter months. You may want to keep coconut oil as a conditioning treatment for the warmer seasons.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a heavier oil than coconut oil. It’s perfect for anyone with low porosity hair who needs a big moisture boost. Look for cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil because, like coconut oil, it retains more of the beneficial properties.

Work a teaspoon of olive oil into your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes. Shampoo and condition as usual.

DIY Pre-Shampoo Treatment

Mixing together honey, mayonnaise, banana and yoghurt in equal parts makes for a great pre-shampoo treatment. The mayonnaise adds moisture. Honey is a natural humectant, which means it helps to lock in moisture. The banana will make the hair super soft and the yoghurt helps to strengthen hair.

Apply a tsp to a tbsp to dry hair (again depending on how long and thick your hair is) and work it through with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Do not use more than a tablespoon of this combination, otherwise you will have a hard time shampooing it out of your hair. Let sit for 30 minutes and shampoo and condition as usual.

See also:

Take Away

Is it bad to brush wet hair?

  • If you have straight hair – Yes, you can do damage if you brush hair when it’s wet.
  • If you have curly or textured hair – No. You should be brushing your hair when it’s wet, not dry.

Whichever kind of brushing you are doing based on your hair type, make sure you’re using the right brush for the job and brushing your hair properly.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).