The Real Difference Between a $5 and $100 Hairbrush, According to Hairstylists

Adrianna Barrionuevo

A hairbrush is one of those beauty products you don't buy often but use almost daily. It's a hair staple that everyone owns at least one of and is often overlooked in terms of its value. But is there a difference between the affordable supermarket brush and the fancy Mason Pearsons of the world? To understand the answer to this question, we asked a few hairstylists for their take and also considered the different features a brush has. There's the size of the brush, the handle, its shape, and of course, the bristles.

Think of those little bristles as the backbone—without them, there's no brushing action. They detangle, polish, and are the vehicle for any style. Jennifer Matos, Stylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City stresses the importance of bristle quality, noting that a cheaper brush can do more harm than good in the long run. "Higher priced brushes are made to be heat resistant. So when you’re using a $5 brush, it can actually do more harm on the hair because bristles burn and melt with the blowdryer's heat. This causes damage, which is why it’s always best to invest in a good brush—especially if your hair is coloured-treated," she explains. Nicole Descoteaux, Master Stylist at Butterfly Studio Salon echoes this sentiment because low-quality bristles lack polishing power, resulting in a mediocre hair style. "A brush like the Mason Pearson has become an old staple because it's dependable. Back in the days of roller sets and pin curls, it was sturdy enough to brush out sets—which is hard to do alone—and polished the hair. With the natural quality bristles, it makes your style look shiny and fabulous."

When you're shelling out $50 or even over $100 for a brush, you're likely going to see a return on the investment because it will last you for years—and that's something you and your hair can appreciate. Jay Jackson, Senior Stylist at DreamDry NYC says, "When it comes to brushes it's the same as good shoes—don’t cut corners for cost. When you have a quality brush it's going to stand the test of time." Cristina B., Stylist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City "[They are] made with better, with quality materials and lasts longer. I've had some of my $150 brushes for about 5 years!"

Beyond its life expectancy, when it comes to the styling power of a pricey brush, you'll want to splurge if you love a good blowout since tension and a firm grip are major keys for achieving a shiny, frizz-free look. "One of the keys to a great blowdry is tension. A well-crafted brush with boar bristles, or a boar bristle mix, will grip your hair firmly and help polish the cuticle to a glossy smooth finish," says Christine Healy, Stylist at Rita Hazan Salon. "They also usually have a wooden handle made out of a sturdy wood, like olive—and are made using the root of the boar bristle, which is the densest and strongest part which means a firmer grip," she adds.

It's safe to conclude that spending a pretty penny on an essential you'll use almost everyday is well worth the money. Not only will you get a product that will last you a while, but whether you're simply detangling or styling a blowout, your hair will reap the benefits of your investment. So next time you need a new round, paddle, or nylon brush—do some research, and keep in mind that you shouldn't write off the bigger price tag when it comes to your hair.

Keep scrolling to shop the favourite brushes of the pros, below.

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