Signs It's Time To Toss Your Old Hairbrush

To keep your mane strong, you might invest in a fancy shampoo and regular visits to the salon. But your humble hairbrush deserves your attention too. Most of us drag a brush through our hair at least a couple of times each day, and the one you choose can make a major difference.


According to Healthline, the right hairbrush can improve the health and appearance of your strands. Brushes not only detangle, but they also help boost hair growth and distribute nourishing oils from the scalp. That might be why hairstylist Paul Edmonds told Stylist that a hairbrush is "the most important tool to complement any hair tools." Without a trusty brush, dryers, styling products, and other tools can't do their job.

Still, many people overlook hairbrushes. And if you're one of them, there's a good chance yours is just as outdated as fashion trends like tunics and skinny jeans. Here are the signs your brush needs replacing ASAP.

Your brush is too dirty to clean

You clean your hair, but do you clean your hairbrush? John Stevens, research and development lead of Goody Hair Products, told Today that cleaning your hairbrush every week will extend the lifespan of the tool while also keeping your hair free of dust and other buildup. If you haven't been following this advice already, however, your brush may already be too dirty to salvage.


"Dirty brushes can make clean hair look dirty, greasy, and weighed down," dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse explained to Women's Health. On top of that, the debris on the brush can cause skin irritation and may worsen dandruff.

Even if you think your hairbrush is clean enough to keep using, a viral TikTok video from 2021 reminded us all that there can be a lot more hanging out on those bristles than meets the eye. Start fresh by replacing your old, sticky brush with a new one, and don't forget to suds it up regularly.

The bristles have seen better days

The bristles on a hairbrush do most of the heavy lifting, separating strands and massaging your scalp. But if they're not fully intact, the brush might be doing more harm than good for your locks. Meraki Hair & Makeup Studio says that broken or bent bristles can yank, damage, and even pull out strands of hair. The same goes for the beads that sometimes top hairbrush bristles — if they've melted or broken off, the bristles may be too harsh for delicate or fine hair.


And what if a few bristles have gone MIA? Missing bristles are a sign that the brush can no longer work like it's supposed to, Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist and hair expert, told Byrdie. "In the worst-case scenario, the brush could catch in your hair and cause breakage," she explained.

Scan your brush for signs of wear and tear. If multiple bristles have been compromised, it's time for a new brush.

Your hairbrush is cracked

Cracks in a hairbrush might not seem like a big deal, but they can cause major damage if your hair gets stuck in them. Additionally, a crack in the bed of your brush may jeopardize the quality of the bristles attached, meaning your brush can't work its magic on your hair as it's designed to.


Even a cracked handle is a no-no for your hair. Hair expert Trey Gillen shared with Sunday Edit, "Many times, the handles will crack or loosen at the attachment point. [...] If you can't maintain constant tension without the handle moving around or bending, your blow-dry will look just as wonky as your brush handle."

Not only that but you may not be able to hold the brush properly if the handle is broken. Hairstylist Michele Pritchard demonstrated the proper way to hold a hairbrush in a TikTok clip, and — surprise! — it's probably not the way you've been doing it. Many brushes should be held vertically so that the bristles are lined up evenly when gliding through the hair. If your handle is defective, however, you may struggle to grip it as intended.


You're not using the right brush for your hair type

Boar bristles, paddle-shaped, curved — the range of hairbrushes available can be overwhelming. So overwhelming that you might've grabbed whatever looked the most familiar or had the lowest price when purchasing one. But all the different materials, shapes, and sizes available are designed with specific hair types and needs in mind. If you chose a brush at random when out shopping, it might be time to replace it with one meant for your mane.


According to Healthline, fine or thinning hair requires soft bristles (made of boar hair or natural materials), while thick hair is best detangled with a mix of both soft and hard bristles. For straight or long hair, go for a paddle brush. And if you have curly hair, look for a detangling brush that has firm bristles. If you're prone to damage or already struggling with frustrating hair breakage, gentle brushes with flexible or soft bristles can work out knots without causing more harm to your strands.

There are also times when it's better to use a comb instead of a brush. Hair product brand Revela suggests using a wide-tooth comb when hair is wet and most prone to damage. Be sure to stock up on both tools when replacing your old hairbrush.


You've had your hairbrush for a long time

If you can't remember when you bought a new hairbrush, it's time to replace it, stat. Hair expert Elizabeth Hickman told Real Simple that hairbrushes only last between six and 12 months. By the one-year mark, it's typically time to let your old one go. Dawn Clemens, a hairstylist and beauty blogger, told Byrdie that brushes made with plastic, rubber, or boar bristles should be replaced the most frequently.


High-quality models may hold up a bit longer, but only if you wash and care for them properly. Additionally, look for features like heat-resistant bristles and a sturdy base that will make the brush less likely to break with everyday use.

Another way to lengthen the lifespan of a favorite brush is to alternate it with another. Keep one as a styling brush to be used with products (which may gunk up and wear out the brush quickly), and designate the other for use on clean hair only to make it last longer.