If you have hair, you probably own a brush. If you’re like me, you probably have purchased approximately 5.4 trillion brushes in your lifetime, because you’re a picky bitch about brushes and most of them end up sucking in some way or other. If you’re really like me, you have a few winners out on your vanity, neat and ready for use . . . and a veritable graveyard of rejects in a dusty basket or tupperware under your sink, probably all tangled up with each other and with random shed hairs and lint and a stray eyeshadow applicator and possibly a tampon, and you leave them in there with all that detritus as punishment for their failure.

UNLOVED. GARBAGE. Not shown : the maaaannny others I’ve bought, tried, and hated so much I’ve thrown them away over the last 10 years.

BUT THEN. You find an AMAZING brush! A brush you love so much, and it’s not hideous and it doesn’t get caught in your bangs or rip little sprigs of hair out by the root or have all its cheap sprayed-on finish wear off and after three months of use it looks like you fished it out of a dumpster. You love them so much you even keep them scrupulously clean, free of hair wads, and no towel fuzz in their bristle-follicles (towels are comedogenic for hair brushes). THESE ARE THOSE BRUSHES.


Olivia Garden Finger Brush (small) : Super flexible bristles on a super flexible base made of bendy individual prongs. Bristles are sparser/more widely spaced than the average vent brush, so this one would be great for thicker/curly hair as well, I imagine. I especially love it as a pre- and post-shower detangler. Cons : I did have an earlier one snap off one of its prongs, but the company replaced it for free and noted that it was a manufacturing issue (incorrect positioning of staples holding bristles in) which had since been corrected. Also, I’d love it if they made a mini/purse size of this — this giant thing, believe it or not, is the SMALL. $17.45 at Ulta.

Conair Comfy Flex Vent Brush : Single-piece molded design means there’re no seams to snag hairs, and the fat straight rubbery bristles are both super flexible/gentle AND good at pulling out loose wet hairs post-shower, so they don’t stick to your hands when you add products (GROSS). Weirdly, Conair still lists this model, but I can’t seem to find it for sale online at any of the usual retailers. So, eBay? Mine was about $7 at Ulta, so you might get lucky in your local store.

Phillips Light Touch : I don’t get the love for those $$$ natural boar brushes. The bristles are so fine and so densely packed that they don’t actually brush — they just smash all your hair down as close as possible to the scalp (which, I really don’t need any help in that department). This one, however, has slim beaded nylon bristles that’re just dense enough to penetrate, [presumably] help distribute oils, exfoliate scalp, AND remove all those loose about-to-be-shed hairs pre-shower so they don’t clog up your drain. Cons : uggo. Light pasty peach plus a screen-printed brown logo on the handle, which I took off with nail polish remover because I can only cope with so much fugly. Currently $15.49 on Amazon.

Olivia Garden Ceramic + Ion Combo Round : FINALLY OMFG. THE PERFECT BANGS-CURLING BRUSH. Bristles (beaded nylon and boar) are sparse enough to actually pick up hair, but dense enough to hold it while you hit that shit with the blow-dryer. Curls beautifully, doesn’t get caught in my hair, perfect size (I think this is the medium 2.5″). This one has dropped some of the beads off its nylon bristles, but that’s probably because it’s the only brush I ever subject to heat. $22.45 on Ulta.

Cricket Mini Fast Flow : Best purse-sized vent/styling brush I’ve ever found. Brushes well, teases well (don’t mock me, I neeeeed volume), doesn’t snag. Prior purse brushes — boy is that a long list. I went through probably half a dozen — a collapsible one from Muji, some snaggy garbage from the drugstore, one I found on Amazon from freaking China — in a desperate attempt to replace my old one. The old one was a freebie with one of those giant Estee Lauder gift sets…in approximately 1990. So, yeah. Not something  you want anyone to see, ever. That poor sad beige bastard was battered and chipped and stained and missing a full 20% of its bristles by the time I finally found this viable replacement. (And I still refuse to throw it away — it’s up there in the Graveyard photo.) Cons : not particularly attractive, and a black brush can be hard to find in a big dark purse in a bar bathroom at 1am when you’re on your fourth Aviation, but whatever. $4.79 at Ulta and worth every damn cent.

Olivia Garden Ceramic + Ion Vent Brush (Shaper) : Yes, I have a lot of Olivia Garden Brushes, and no, they apparently don’t know how to make anything smaller than a boat oar. This is, again, the smallest version, and it’s my go-to for normal brushing and styling of dry hair. It’s sturdy, the bristles aren’t too stiff or too dense or too sparse, the beads haven’t come off, and it’s not hideously ugly. HUZZAH. DAMN FINE BRUSH. Also note that most Olivia Garden brushes have a little silver thing poking out the bottom of the handle? You can pull that out and it’s a straight spike-style pick, useful for parting hair or dividing it neatly for braids or updos or what have you. Neato! $17.45 at Ulta.