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FEATURES Dec 6 2012 1:52PM
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To Brush Or Not To Brush Your Natural Hair? That Is The Question

By Cassidy Blackwell, Natural Selection Blog 

Back in my heyday of relaxers, I would brush my hair at least once each day allowing the bristles on my paddle brushes to smooth and detangle my hair into a finished style.  However when I went natural, my brushes went to the back of the cabinet, never to resurface. While I read on many natural hair blogs and forums about the danger of using a brush on natural hair, there were also many champions of brushing who claimed it was a key part of their natural hair regimen.  For my entire first year of being natural, I refused to brush my coils, out of fear that I might damage and break my hair.  Since then, I have become a fan of brushing as I have discovered that there are many pros and cons of brushing your natural hair and the key is to change the way you think about brushing as a part of your hair-care regimen.
 
The Fine Line Between Detangling and Damage
We shed about 50-100 hairs each and every day.  If you are only detangling your hair once a week or every other week, you will be removing between 350 and 1,400 hairs.  While fingers and wide-tooth combs are great and gentle detangling tools, brushes make sure that all of those shed hairs are fully removed. 
If used improperly, brushes may be a little TOO efficient and pull hair that is not meant to be taken out of your hair causing breakage and damage to the hair shaft. 
In addition to detangling, brushes are great tools for smoothing the shaft of the hair before doing any style such as 2-strand twists, coils or braids.  Some textures might also find that they can elongate or change their curl pattern by using a brush when applying styling products. 
For those like me who have a naturally strong curl pattern, you may find that not only will brushing cause a lot of shrinkage, but that it breaks up your coils into soft tufts of frizz.  I like to condition and rinse my hair once more after I brush to help reform and reshape my coils.   
For those of you who want to take the leap and incorporate a brush into your styling routine, here’s a list of helpful tips:
 
Brush Smart
·      To prevent damage, be sure that your hair is hydrated and healthy before brushing.  Deep condition or steam your hair before detangling your hair with a brush.
 
·      Use a brush only on soaking wet hair that is thoroughly saturated with a slippery conditioner. 
 
·      Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair before using a brush.  This will work through any major tangles first.
 
·      Choose a brush that will work with your texture.  Make sure that the brush doesn’t have balls at the end of the teeth and isn’t a bristle brush, these will cause breakage and damage.  Buy a brush with smooth teeth that won’t catch on your curls.  Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood has designed a brush specifically for use on natural hair that has moveable rows of teeth that flex with the hair so as to minimize damage. 

·      Work slowly in small sections separated by duckbill clips and move from the tip of the hair to the root. 
 
·      Use your brush sparingly.  I like to brush only once a month when I really want to remove shed hairs, relying on my wide tooth comb and fingers to do my more regular weekly detangling sessions. 
 
 

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