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Published Oct. 13, 2021

Wet-hair brushes are crucial for anyone prone to tangled hair. In fact, using a regular hairbrush on freshly washed locks can damage your hair and lead to breakage and frizz. 

When hair is wet, it’s much more fragile than when it’s dry. Every strand of your hair is encased in a layer of protein-based scales called cuticles. They’re layered on top of each other like roof shingles, but certain chemical reactions and stress can cause them to lift up. Smooth cuticles keep hair looking healthy and sleek, but open cuticles give hair a rougher texture and leave it prone to damage. Water weakens the bonds between the proteins in your hair, which makes it easier for cuticles to bend and break under the stress of a brush or comb. 

A wet-hair brush will protect your hair from damage with soft, flexible bristles designed to give way instead of tugging on fragile strands. Using a wet-hair brush regularly can help keep your hair smoother and less tangled from day to day. Here are some of the best options to try. 

How We Picked the Best Wet-Hair Brushes

Methodology

After researching why wet-hair brushes are necessary, we scoured the web for products that solved the issues involved when brushing wet hair. We based our recommendations on expert advice, user reviews, and personal experience. 

The Best Wet-Hair Brushes: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Wet Hair Brush Overall: Wet Brush Original Detangler 

An Affordable Classic

The Wet Brush Original Detangler gently detangles all types of wet or dry hair without breaking the bank.

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Why It Made the Cut: In researching expert recommendations, evaluating online reviews, and polling our hair-having friends, no wet-hair brush was as universally beloved as, well, the Wet Brush. If you’re looking for a brush designed for safely and quickly detangling wet hair, you can’t go wrong with this affordable classic. 

Specs:

  • Available in dozens of colors 
  • Ultra-soft IntelliFlex bristles designed to glide through tangles
  • Suitable for all hair types

Pros:

  • Excellent value
  • Suitable for all hair types on wet, damp, and even dry hair 
  • Gentle but effective detangling 


Cons:

  • Not suitable for use during heat styling 

There’s a reason the Wet Brush Original Detangler looks like it belongs in the bathroom of an early aughts tween: The classic model launched in 2005 and quickly became a cult favorite. To design the brush, the company’s founder combined decades of hair industry experience with the trial-and-error process of finding tools to painlessly detangle his young daughter’s hair. 

Wet Brush’s IntelliFlex bristles bend just enough to keep them from snagging in tangled hair while still gently pulling knots apart. That same flexibility means too much heat will damage the bristles—don’t try to use this brush for styling a blowout. Still, this brush is a great option for just about anyone looking to detangle their hair. Its low price point also makes it ideal for someone buying their first wet-hair brush. 

Best Wet-Hair Brush for 4B and 4C Curls: Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush

Strong and Flexible

This award-winning easy-to-clean brush gets through tough tangles and knotted curls.

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Why It Made the Cut: Designed by celebrity stylist Felicia Leatherwood, this detangler is the recipient of multiple industry awards and frequently name-dropped by hair-care professionals. Online reviewers with 4b and 4c curl types say it’s the best wet hair brush for detangling tight coils. 

Specs: 

  • Widely spaced flexi-bristles to gently release knots 
  • Large handle for comfortable grip
  • Designed with coily and curly hair in mind 

Pros:

  • Bonded on three sides instead of four for bristle flexibility and easy cleaning 
  • Powerful detangling for dense and tight curls 
  • Affordable price

Cons: 

  • Handle is too large for some 

Product description

The Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush is frequently featured on recommendation lists and in hair-care guides for people with 4b and 4c curls, with reviewers citing its bristle flexibility and strength as helping it move through even the most tangled hair. 

This wet-hair brush has a wide handle designed to give users a firm grip, allowing them to get through tough tangles in thick hair. While most brushes are bonded on all four sides, the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush is only bonded on three. That means its bristles move around on separate prongs to give the brush extra flexibility.

Those who love this brush rave about it, but there may be a bit of a learning curve for some users. It’s designed for use on wet hair only, and ideally meant for detangling hair that is coated in conditioner. 

The Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush can be used on all hair types, but it’s uniquely suited for people with thick, 4C, and coily hair. If you want to use a wet hair brush to detangle while conditioning or to stretch out curls, expert stylists say this is the cream of the crop. 

Best Wet-Hair Brush for Thinning Hair: Manta Hairbrush

Innovative Design

This uniquely designed brush is perfect for those with fragile hair and/or a sensitive scalp.

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Why It Made the Cut: The Manta Hairbrush is like no other brush we’ve owned—it’s incredibly light and flexible, allowing you to detangle strands of hair with flexible bristles from both sides. It’s a bit strange at first, but it’s an excellent addition to anyone’s hair-care arsenal and especially useful for anyone with weak or thinning hair. 

Specs:

  • Weighs just 1.5 ounces
  • Flexible design to mold to your hand and scalp
  • Short, gentle bristles to prevent breakage 

Pros:

  • Incredibly gentle bristles to protect weak hair 
  • Travel-friendly
  • Massages scalp

Cons:

  • May be too gentle to detangle thicker hair
  • Unique handle design takes getting used to 

The Manta Hairbrush won’t look like anything else on your vanity. It’s named for its manta ray-like shape and flexibility. While it can potentially work on any type of hair, this wet brush has a few unique qualities that may make or break it for you. 

For starters, the unique grip: Instead of making a fist around a handle the way you do with most brushes, you hold the Manta by resting your fingers on either side of the small knob directly above the bristles. It then molds to your hand and scalp, allowing you to detangle wet hair with minimal grip strength—which makes it ideal if you’re unable to hold a regular brush. 

The Manta’s flexibility also means users with thick hair can curl its bristles into a tube, providing a 360-degree detangling tool to work through curly or dense locks, although this method may take some practice to master. 

But its short, gentle, wiggly bristles are best suited for folks with especially weak or thin hair or a sensitive scalp, as they provide a light touch while detangling. The bristles are soft enough to do double-duty as scalp massagers, which can stimulate blood flow and may help prevent further hair loss. 

Best Wet-Hair Brush for Curly Hair: Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row

Perfect Curls

Create precise and smooth curls with the help of the much-loved Denman brush.

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Why It Made the Cut: Denman brushes have been a cult favorite among hairdressers and amateurs for decades, with celebrity stylists like Vidal Sassoon of Rosemary’s Baby fame singing their praises. They come in several variations to suit different hair types and styling needs, but the D3 Original Styler 7 Row is frequently recommended by experts and curly-haired influencers as an all-around best for styling wet curls. 

Specs: 

  • Soft nylon bristles on an antistatic rubber pad minimize frizz and breakage
  • Half-round brush can be used to shape and style curls
  • Available in several colors and bristle-density variations to suit different hair types 

Pros:

  • High-quality assembly
  • Can be used while heat-styling hair
  • Can be used as an alternative to finger-coiling wet hair 

Cons:

  • Bristles may be too stiff for first-pass detangling 
  • Slightly more expensive 

The Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row is a cult favorite for curls. Its bristles are made of nylon, providing enough strength to brush through thick hair while offering enough flexibility to prevent breakage. 

Some users may find they need to use a detangling brush before using the Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row, as its firm bristles may get snagged on particularly tough knots. But this brush really shines when used to style wet hair. Many users take advantage of the brush pad’s half-rounded shape to help them coil and define curls while wet, producing a tighter, longer-lasting curl when the hair dries. 

The Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row is also tough enough to take the heat of a blow dry, where the rounded shape also comes in handy in helping to smooth hair. 

Denman offers an array of brush models with different bristle arrangements and densities, so you can play around with different designs to find which best suits your hair. But reviewers and experts say the D3 Original Styler 7 Row provides the perfect bristle layout for defining curls of all types. 

The Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row isn’t the only Denman out there, but it’s likely the best for a first-time buyer to try—especially if you have curly hair. It’s more expensive than your average drugstore brush, but it’s a great value for the quality of craftsmanship. It’s not our top choice for detangling wet hair, but it’s far and away our top choice for styling wet hair.

Best Eco-Friendly Wet-Hair Brush: Wet Brush Go Green Mini Detangler

Sustainable Choice

From an industry-leading brand, this mini brush made from plant-based plastic is suitable for all hair types.

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Why It Made the Cut: Wet Brush is a classic choice when it comes to wet-hair brushes—hence our selection of the brand’s original winner as our best all-around option. With plant-based plastic designed to break down quickly instead of lingering in a landfill, the brand’s new Go Green detanglers are a great option for anyone looking for an eco-friendly alternative. 

Specs:

  • IntelliFlex bristles that bend to glide through knots 
  • Body made of biodegradable plant-based plastic
  • Light and portable design 

Pros:

  • More environmentally friendly than most plastics 
  • Same IntelliFlex bristles as other Wet Brush models 
  • Gently loosens knots in all hair types 

Cons:

  • Can’t be used while heat styling 

Product description

We love the Wet Brush Go Green Mini Detangler for all the same reasons we love the Wet Brush Original Detangler: This company’s bristles are best in show when it comes to gently but effectively detangling wet and damp hair of all types. 

The Go Green Mini Detangler has the added benefit of reducing your wet-hair brush’s carbon footprint. Its body is made of 100 percent plant-based, compostable plastic. That does make it weaker than the original brush, which is why we recommend the mini model shaped like a leaf; its design seems less prone to breaking over time than the full-size Go Green model, based on reviews. 

If you’re set on finding an eco-friendly wet-hair brush, the Wet Brush Go Green Mini Detangler is a great option. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Wet-Hair Brush

How you plan to use your wet-hair brush

While most people will use wet-hair brushes for detangling their hair, others may be looking for a brush that can help them style their wet hair. Because many detangling brushes designed for use in or immediately after the shower have extremely flexible bristles, they may not be able to withstand the heat of a blow dryer. On the other hand, brushes designed for styling wet hair may have bristles that are too firm to do your first pass of detangling. 

Your hair type

While all of the brushes we’ve recommended can be used on all hair types, some of them are designed specifically with tighter curls and kinky hair in mind. Short, super-flexible bristles will be the gentlest on your hair—which means less risk of breakage when you’re brushing while wet—but thicker or more tightly curled hair may need a longer, stronger bristle for effective detangling. It’s also important to understand that some wet-hair brushes designed for 4b or 4c curls are intended to be used when your tresses are soaked in slippery conditioner. Make sure you understand how the brush you’re buying is meant to be used, or you may end up literally tearing your hair out in frustration.

FAQs

Q:  Are wet-hair brushes worth it?

A wet-hair brush is essential if you plan on brushing your hair while it’s wet. Hair is at its most fragile when it’s wet, and standard brushes can easily cause breakage because their bristles are too firm. The right wet-hair brush can also help you more effectively style your hair during drying. 

Q: What are wet-hair brushes used for?

Wet-hair brushes can be used to detangle wet hair, style wet hair, or both. They are designed to effectively brush and detangle hair without snagging it and breaking it. 

Q: Do I need more than one wet-hair brush?

A: You may find it useful to purchase multiple wet-hair brushes to accomplish different tasks. The best wet-hair brush for detangling your hair may not be the best one for styling and defining curls. 

Final Thoughts

Different hair types may benefit from specially designed wet-hair brushes, as is the case with the Manta Hairbrush (for fine, thin, and/or weak hair) and the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush (for 4b/4c curls). And if you want to style wet hair with a blow dryer, you’ll need a brush sturdy enough to take the heat, like the Denman D3 Original Styler 7 Row. But for most people—especially those buying a wet-hair brush for the first time—the Wet Brush Original Detangler represents a solid step up from a standard brush at a great price point. Its flexible bristles will detangle any type of hair more gently and effectively than a regular brush designed for dry hair. 

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