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What is a Boar Bristle Brush?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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A boar bristle brush is a personal hygiene and styling tool made with hog hairs. One might have the label of “wild boar,” but this simply refers to the distinct hog species involved, as most companies harvest the hairs from domesticated or farm-raised animals. Known for being gentle and preventing damage, it has several benefits, such as the ability to attract and remove dirt. Sizes, shapes and colors vary, but a wooden handle is common. A high-quality one is very durable and can last a lifetime, although it usually is expensive. Both genders can use this product, and it frequently appeals to naturalists and environmentalists.

Hair Types

In general, this kind of brush works best on very fine or fragile hair, which has a smaller circumference. The reduced size means that the strands usually aren’t as strong and can break quite easily. Boar bristles are softer than nylon or synthetic types, so they don’t pull as harshly and, therefore, reduce the risk of damage. By themselves, they can be too soft to do much good, however, so manufacturers often pair them with some nylon ones to get the right combination of strength and flexibility.

This tool also works for people with drier hair, because it distributes oil from the scalp and roots downward to the tips, where moisture is usually most scarce and damage is the worst. Those who want to increase shine also like it, because it aligns or closes the keratin scales on the outer, or cuticle, layer of the hair. It is easier for oil to travel over the whole strand and for light to reflect as a result.

Purpose

Similar to many other brushes, this product is not really intended for detangling, which is best done with a wide-tooth comb. It is used to style or control, smooth or increase volume. Round versions are best for shaping and giving some lift, while paddle types work better for straightening and creating a glossy finish.

To some degree, it is also good for cleaning. The bristles are able to attract dust and dirt, getting it off of the strands. This means it’s necessary to routinely clean the brush, but it can provide a sleeker, more well-maintained and hygienic look. Combined with the ability to smooth, lift and redistribute oil, this trait actually can reduce the amount of shampoos, conditioners and other products a person has to use. Ultimately, this reduces exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and saves both time and money.

Another reason people turn to a boar bristle brush is that it can very gently massage the scalp. Stylists and dermatologists think that this stimulates blood flow and removes debris, which keeps follicles healthy. This doesn’t work for everyone, however, because the softer bristles sometimes cannot fully penetrate all the way to the bottom when someone has a lot of hair.

Appearance

Boar bristle brushes are available in infant to adult sizes, and their design varies depending on the effect a person wants to achieve. They can be circular, oval, rounded with bristles attached 360°, square or rectangular. Usually, regardless of size or head shape, the handle is made of wood, although there are synthetic ones available, as well, and the color depends on the type of wood used and whether it has been treated. The bristles are blond, brown or black. Many people and businesses such as spas like the natural appearance most versions have.

Durability and Cost

As long as a person maintains a boar bristle brush properly, a high-quality version should last a lifetime, but the durability comes with a literal cost. The most expensive varieties easily can be 10 – 20 times as much as cheaper, plastic options. Experts usually argue that this investment is well worth it, given how much the product can improve appearance, prevent unnecessary damage and reduce the need for other expensive items.

Cleaning

Regular cleaning can make this brush more effective and extend its life. The first method is to move a comb through the bristles to remove any dirt, debris or hair, followed by rubbing in some shampoo with the fingers. Stubborn debris that remains usually will come off if gently rubbed with a toothbrush. If the handle is wood, it’s important to rinse the shampoo out carefully so as not to get it too wet, and air drying is best.

Gender

Both men and women can use a boar bristle brush successfully, and the colors and materials generally give a fairly gender-neutral look. Manufacturers commonly target advertising at women, however, simply because it is more common in many cultures for their hair to be longer. They usually are more concerned with styling as a result.

Appeal to Environmentalists and Naturalists

People who follow an environmentally-aware lifestyle or who try to avoid chemicals and synthetic products often select this kind of brush, because it is made from natural sources. It can be recycled if necessary and will biodegrade over time. Individuals who pick one for these reasons often pay close attention to the treatment of the boars from which companies harvest the bristles, lobbying for humaneness.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By DylanB — On Feb 22, 2013

@cloudel – I have a round boar bristle brush, and it hasn't caused me any problems. I think that the softness of the bristles is what keeps the brush from getting so entangled when I spin my hair around it.

Another factor could be size, though. If you have long hair and you use a small round brush, you risk getting it stuck in your hair regardless of the type of bristles it uses. You have to use a big round brush for long hair and a short one for short hair.

I have medium length hair, so I use a medium sized brush. I spin it under while blow drying my hair, and it creates a nice turn at the ends and smooths everything out.

By cloudel — On Feb 21, 2013

How well do boar bristle round brushes work? I have tried ones with plastic and metal bristles in the past, but I always got my hair wrapped around them and wound up with a tangled mess.

It could have just been the material of the bristles that made using a round brush so difficult. Has anyone here used a boar bristle round brush?

By Perdido — On Feb 20, 2013

I may be the only one, but I just think that running boar's hair through my own hair is kind of disgusting! We're talking about using hair from a nasty wild animal here. I don't care if it has been washed; it's still gross!

By JackWhack — On Feb 20, 2013

@widget2010 – I used to have a boar hair bristle brush, too. It was the first brush I remember my mother ever using on my hair.

It felt so gentle. It was almost like she was rubbing something soft against my scalp.

When my hair thickened and I used my first plastic bristle brush, I was shocked at how much it hurt! I was rather tender-headed, because I had been spoiled by the soft caress of the boar bristle brush.

By anon252210 — On Mar 04, 2012

I love my boar bristle brush!

By widget2010 — On Feb 23, 2011

My hair changed as I grew older, from very fine and straight to thicker and curlier. While I used to have a boar bristle brush when I was younger, when it wore out while I was in elementary school I never got another one.

By Catapult — On Feb 22, 2011

I have thick and curly hair, so a boar bristle hair brush is completely wrong for me. actually, I do not even own a hair brush- or a hair straightener or even a blow dryer. While many people think these things are necessities for women, I function without them and prefer a more natural look for my hair.

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