Backcombing, also called teasing or ratting, is a technique used to add volume and texture to hair. While any comb can be used to backcomb the hair, certain types of combs are more efficient than others. To choose the best backcombing comb, look for a double-ended comb with bristles on one end and a tail, or pick, on the other. Combs with strong close-set bristles are usually the most effective. Bristles that are serrated or vary in length will also make a comb easier to use.
Teasing the hair is a multi-step process. During this process, most people will backcomb, smooth and then lift their hair to add volume. Since teasing is a multi-step process, you need a backcombing comb, also referred to as a teasing comb or ratting comb, that can perform more than one function.
Functional backcombing combs are double-ended tools. The top portion of the tool will contain the bristles, while the bottom end should feature a thin pin tail, a thicker rat tail, or a pick. Double-ended combs give you the opportunity to backcomb and then separate or lift your hair using the same tool. This reduces the number of combs you need to successfully backcomb and style your hair.
Backcombing combs should also have strong, close-set bristles. Using a comb to tease your hair will be difficult if the bristles are too weak to withstand the backcombing motion. Three materials that are commonly used to create high quality combs are thermoplastic, aluminum and vulcanized natural rubber. These materials are very durable and will not easily break during backcombing.
Combs with wide-set bristles are difficult to use for backcombing, as close-set bristles create tighter tangles and add more texture per stroke. If you try to backcomb your hair with a wide-bristled comb, you will need to put more force into the motion. Backcombing too forcefully might lead to breakage and permanently damage your hair. This is why it is important to choose a backcombing comb that does much of the work for you.
The last feature to look at when choosing a backcombing comb is the individual bristles. Combs with serrated bristles that vary in length work the best. Serrated bristles will grab the hair and make it much easier to backcomb. If the bristles are close-set, there should be a long, smooth bristle between each serrated bristle. This will help you avoid making excessively tight knots that will be difficult to brush out of your hair later.