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How to use a Denman brush for curly hair

How to use a Denman brush for curly hair

Are you tired of dealing with frizz, tangles, and unmanageable hair? If you have natural or curly hair, you know the struggle of finding the right tools and techniques to keep your locks looking their best. Whether it’s the LOC method, finger coiling, or protective hairstyles, naturalistas know all too well about the nuances that go into creating the perfect curls. That's where the Denman brush comes in.

The benefits of using a Denman brush go beyond just its ability to tame unruly hair. With proper use, a Denman brush can help promote healthy hair growth, enhance curl definition, and distribute natural oils throughout the hair, resulting in soft, shiny, and luscious locks.

But using a Denman brush correctly is key to achieving these benefits. 

In this ultimate guide, we'll show you everything you need to know to make the most of your Denman brush. So whether you're a curly girl or a natural hair queen, get ready to unlock the full potential of your Denman brush and achieve the hair of your dreams.

What Is a Denman Brush?

Originally developed in the 1930s by British hairdresser John Denman Dean, the Denman brush has become a staple in the hair care routines of women with natural and curly hair. But what makes the Denman brush so special? Well, unlike other brushes of its time, Denman decided to use heat-resistant, high-quality nylon bristles set in a unique rubber pad that contours to the shape of the scalp. This meant that the brush could be used under hair dryers, which was revolutionary for its time. Since then, it’s become a saviour for curly girls as the bristles are strong enough to penetrate through even the thickest and kinkiest hair types, detangling knots and preventing breakage, while also distributing natural oils throughout the hair.

How Does the Denman Brush Work?

It’s not magic, just physics! Think of using a Denman brush like creating curly ribbons with scissors. As the brush pulls your hair taut, it creates tension, which then leads to ribbon-like, smooth curls once you’ve brushed through. 

Now that you know how this wonderful haircare tool works, here’s how to choose the right one and use it correctly.

Different Types of Denman Brushes

Although we refer to the Denman brush as a singular model, there are actually a few different types of Denman brushes, each with their own benefits.

D3 Classic Styling Brush:

This is the original Denman brush that Johan Denman Dean designed all those years ago. It has seven rows of nylon bristles set in a rubber pad to gently detangle and style without causing breakage.

Ideal for: Looser curls and wavy hair

D4 Large Styling Brush

The D4 brush is similar to the D3 but is larger in size with nine rows of nylon bristles that are perfect for detangling and smoothing out larger sections of hair.

Ideal for: Longer hair and coily hair

D31 Freeflow Styling Brush

This brush’s unique open barrel allows air to circulate freely through the hair, reducing hair drying time and improving hair health. This brush has 7 staggered rows for added tension. 

Ideal for: Curly girls who like to blow dry their hair into sleek looks or tight coils and kinks

D6 Be-Bop Massage Brush

The Be-Bop brush is a circular brush you can use in the shower to detangle your hair, massage, and work product through your hair and scalp. 

Ideal for: Hair wash days

D81M Medium Ionic Volumizing Styling Brush

This brush is created with boar bristles, used for hair styling.  The brush features a ceramic-coated barrel that emits negative ions to reduce static and frizz, while also smoothing and adding shine.

Ideal for: Type 1 and 2 hair. We don’t recommend this brush for curly or natural hair

Which Denman Brush Is the Best for Type 4 Hair?

Choosing the best Denman brush for natural type 4 hair really depends on your personal preference and hair needs. That being said, in general, opt for the D3 Classic Styling Brush if your curls are loose or the D31 Freeflow Styling Brush if you have tighter coils.

Ultimately, the best Denman brush for your natural type 4 hair will depend on your specific hair needs and styling preferences. It's always a good idea to experiment with different types of brushes and techniques to find the best fit for your hair.

And remember, you can always customize your brush to your needs by removing one or two rows if needed! 

Preparing Your Hair

Although the Denman brush is almost a miracle tool for natural and curly hair, there are a couple of steps you should take to prep your hair before using it to avoid causing any damage or breakage to your hair.

One crucial step before using a Denman brush is to detangle it properly. This is especially important if you have curly or coily hair, as these hair types tend to tangle easily. Detangling your hair before using a Denman brush will help minimize pulling and tugging on your hair, which can lead to breakage.

To detangle your hair before using a Denman brush, start by wetting it and applying a generous amount of leave-in conditioner or detangler (we love shea butter or coconut milk as an option) so your hair gets plenty of slip. 

Then, section your hair into smaller sections. You can use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to gently remove any knots or tangles from each section, starting from the ends of your hair and working your way up towards the roots. 

Be sure to be gentle and patient when detangling your hair, as rushing through this step can cause more harm than good.

Read our full guide for properly detangling curly hair

Wet vs. Dry Brushing

You should never use the Denman brush on dry hair. Always wet your hair first, apply a product with plenty of slip, then start to brush. You can also use a Denman brush in the shower while your hair is saturated with conditioner. 

How to Use a Denman Brush

Once your hair is clean and properly detangled, here’s how to properly use your preferred Denman brush for best results.

1. Apply your desired styling product, such as a leave-in conditioner or curl cream, to your hair. Make sure to distribute the product evenly throughout your hair.

2. Section your hair into manageable sections. The number of sections will depend on the thickness and density of your hair. You may want to clip each section out of the way to make it easier to work on one section at a time.

3. Take your Denman brush and turn it so the bristles are facing up. Then, staring at your roots, brush through each section of hair from top to bottom. When you reach the ends, tuck the brush under.

4. As you brush each section, pull the hair taut with your other hand to create tension. This will help define your curls and reduce frizz.

5. After brushing through each section, scrunch your curls up towards your scalp to encourage them to form their natural shape.

6. Repeat the process on each section of your hair until you have brushed and scrunched all of your curls.

7.You can use a diffuser attachment on your hair dryer after this process to set your curls in their defined shape and add volume to the roots. 

If the above is too much to remember, just memorize these steps:

  • Turn the bristles up
  • Brush from root to tip, tucking the ends under
  • Scrunch toward your roots

And that's it! By following these steps, you can use a Denman brush to create defined, bouncy, frizz-free curls. Remember to be gentle with your curls and avoid using too much tension or pulling too hard, as this can cause damage to your hair over time.

Maintaining Your Denman Brush

Your brush needs love too! Proper cleaning and care of your Denman brush will help extend its lifespan and keep it doing its job effectively. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Remove any hair and debris from the brush bristles by gently pulling them out or using a comb to remove them.
  2. Fill a bowl or sink with warm water and add a few drops of mild shampoo or conditioner.
  3. Place the brush in the water and let it soak for a few minutes to help loosen any remaining dirt or buildup.
  4. Use a clean toothbrush or a small brush to gently scrub the bristles, starting at the base of the brush and working your way up to the tips.
  5. Rinse the brush thoroughly under running water, making sure to remove all of the soap or conditioner.
  6. Use a clean towel to gently remove any excess water from the brush, being careful not to bend the bristles.

Be sure to clean your Denman brush regularly to prevent product buildup. As a general rule, aim to clean your Denman brush at least once a week, or after every use if you use a lot of styling products or have particularly oily hair. However, if you use your brush infrequently or don't apply much product to your hair, you may be able to get away with cleaning it less frequently.

If you notice that your brush is becoming difficult to use or that it's not performing as well as it used to, it may be time to give it a deep clean. 

Can You Use a Denman Brush on Curly Hair Extensions?

Yes! In fact, we encourage using the Denman brush on HeyCurls curly hair extensions when washing them to detangle and maintain their coils. Follow the same instructions as above when brushing your clip-in hair extensions with a Denman brush and be gentle! 

Check out our full guide to washing curly hair extensions (with video)

Bouncy, Frizz-Free Curls Are Just One Brush Away

If you own a Denman brush, we hope this guide has been helpful to help you understand how best to use it. If you don’t, what are you waiting for?! If you need any help choosing the right Denman brush for your hair type or have any tips and tricks to share for brushing curly hair, please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.