What You Need To Know About Buying Boar Bristle Brushes

Boar bristle brushesWhen it comes to hair brushes, boar bristle brushes (BBB) are really the best way to go if you want to brush your hair with something that doesn’t break your hair at the same time. But make sure you get the right kind of brush – sometimes you might think you got a pure BBB, while you actually got one that was part nylon. Here are a few tips on how you can tell if the hair brush is actually made out of pure boar bristle.

So what is a boar bristle brush anyway? The BBB doesn’t so much detangle  your hair, as it makes your hair shiny, smooth and clean. That’s right, it’s kind of like it’s own little 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner brush! (though I haven’t heard of anyone actually using the boar bristle brush method for washing their hair…). And unless your hair is really knotty, you won’t need anything else – I never use anything else than a BBB and my fingers. If you do have some knots in your hair, start by brushing them out with your fingers or a wide-tooth wooden comb before you grab the BBB.
The secret to the boar bristle brush is that it distributes the sebum from your scalp all over your hair. Sebum is what makes the hair look dirty, so when it is distributed in the hair your scalp will look cleaner and the rest of the hair will get some well-needed oils, resulting in shiny and smooth hair. That’s a win-win situation if anything!

Boar bristle brushes are relatively easy to find and the cheapest options can be around $12/10€. The problem is that there are a few products out on the market that are not purely made of boar bristle and it’s easy to come home with the wrong product (I know I have). The most common thing is to put nylon into the brush, so that half of the bristles are actual boar and half are nylon. This is said to be better for people with coarse, thick hair. These will, however, be quite rough on your hair, almost as regular brushes, and I do not recommend them. If you find that your hair is too coarse, and the boar bristle brush doesn’t seem to work, I suggest getting something else instead of a part nylon-part BBB. This could be, again, a wide-tooth wooden comb, or a tangle teezer. The problem is, also, that these semi-boar bristle brushes are often marketed as “boar bristle brush”, and you’ll have to check closely to see that they are in fact not pure. Let me share a few tips on how to make sure you get the right kind of brush.

  • Look closely at the label. If it says “100% boar bristle” or “pure boar bristle” it should be good, but if it only says “boar bristle brush” you can’t be sure. Even if it says “mixed boar bristles”, you should take an extra look.
  • If possible, try to feel the bristles. Pure boar bristles are a bit softer than nylon, and are often packed together more densely than mixtures.
  • Try to look at the bristles and see if they all look the same. If there are some very thin bristles mixed with very thick ones it’s possible that the thicker ones are nylon.
  • I don’t know how well you can see from these pictures, but maybe you can try zooming in on them. The lower one, consisting of only boar bristles, has a much denser collection of bristles, compared to the upper one, where the bristles seem to be a bit all over the place. On the nylon one you can also see (or can you…?) a lot of thicker bristles which are all in the same gray color – these are of course the nylon ones. (by the way, in the picture at the top, two are pure and two are not. The paddle-silver brush is pure, while the one in dark wood is not. Of the round brushes, the darker one is the pure one)

  • If you end up buying – or in some other way get your hands on – a brush, but are not sure if it’s pure boar bristle or not, there is one last thing you can do to check. You need to take some of the bristles out of the brush (I used tweezers, if they wouldn’t come out by themselves), and then burn them. The boar bristle will react much the same way as human hair (and we have all burned a bit of our hair sometime, haven’t we?), it will go fchzzzzz and then smell strongly of … well, burned hair. The nylon will only melt and smell of plastic. If you do this, make sure you take a bristle that is nylon and not accidentally only burn boar bristles (it can be good to try and burn both some bristles which are sure to be boar as well, so you can really tell that there’s a difference).

Once you have your boar bristle brush you just need to start brushing! Start at the scalp and brush all the way down the lengths, to make sure the sebum is distributed evenly. Always use the brush on dry hair, as it can be damaging to use on wet hair.

If you want to read more about BBB:s, check out these links:

Using A Boar Bristle Hairbrush (

Boar Bristle Brushes: The Facts  (

How to clean a boar bristle brush (Forum discussion at

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