One is flat on the bottom and spiky on top. One is thin like a knife. And one is, well, your hand. They all do the same thing—rearrange that mop you call your hair. At least, that’s what you think they do. But in reality, a brush, a comb and your hand each can make your hair look different. Here’s how…
The Brush Effect: Besides making you look like a contributing member of society and not like you rolled out of bed, brushes keep your hair happy and healthy. Shampoos with nasty ingredients like sulphates strip your hair of its natural oils, but actually oils are there to keep your hair strong and well-moisturised. Brushing spreads those oils around, while also removing any dead skin, dust and dirt—i,e., the stuff that’s actually gross.
What It’s Good For: Brushes are a dense forest of flexible bristles, which is great for straightening your hair, especially if your hair is thick. But on the flip side, ditch the brush completely if you’ve got curly hair—a brush’s tendency to turn curls into frizz could make you look like a tumbleweed with a face if you aren’t careful.
The Comb Effect: Combs are rigid, thin and have smooth teeth, so they don’t grab and pull big swaths of hair like a brush does. This makes them great for de-knotting without pulling out hair like some deranged gardener, and for precision styling.
What It’s Good For: A comb gives your hair direction. You can also use one to do a little back-combing (perfect for adding height to your Morrissey-esque pompadour) or to apply a little Dapper Dan. If you want a good, clean part or a tight, slicked back style, a comb will set you straight.
The Hand Effect: Your fingers are much gentler on your hair; you end up yanking out fewer strands (if any) than with a brush and even a comb. Hands are best for moving a lot of hair in a general direction, so if you just need to move that part from the left to the right, or get your hair going backwards instead of forwards like Julius Ceasar, then use your hands, man.
What It’s Good For: If you dig looking a bit more casual or messy, or you’re going for a more textured look, you’ll want to avoid using a brush or a comb. The major advantage of using your hands to style your hair is the control it gives you when applying product—hands give you tactile feedback you can’t really get with a comb or a brush, which means you’ll know when you’ve got it just right.