If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably heard your fair share of conflicting information when it comes to brushing your hair.
From your grandma who swore by starting her morning with 100 brush strokes to keep her hair healthy and shiny, to the internet beauty gurus who warn you that brushing your hair causes breakage and disrupts your natural hair texture.
It can be very confusing to figure out who to believe. What makes matters worse is that we all have different hair types and textures, which only leads to further confusion, as what works for one person might not work for another.
Add that to the fact that brushing your hair can be painful and time-consuming. If you already have a lot on your mind and you’re in a rush to run out the door, skipping that part of your routine can be very tempting.
And if your hair seems to look worse after brushing, you might be looking to ditch the brush altogether and embrace your hair’s natural wild side.
So, what are the real side effects of not combing your hair? There’s a wide range of changes you might notice if you stop brushing your hair completely. Some of them are positive, like less breakage. But most of them are negative, like more tangles, an oilier scalp, and unwanted frizz.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you can expect if you stop brushing your hair. We’ll also talk about some of the ways you can balance your hair brushing routine to make it work well with your hair type and your lifestyle.
While both extremes of the spectrum are not recommended, we think there is a good middle ground that everyone can find which allows them to brush their hair often enough to keep it healthy and beautiful without causing any breakage or damage from brushing it too much.
What Happens If You Don’t Brush Your Hair?
You can expect a few things to happen once you stop brushing your hair. Most of the side effects of not combing or brushing your hair will negatively impact your self-esteem and personal hygiene. Here are the most common things you can expect to happen:
Tangles are the most common side effect of not brushing your hair. It’s expected. The whole point of brushing your hair is to remove tangles, so it only makes sense that when you stop brushing your hair, it will get tangled.
Tangles are not great for a few reasons. First of all, they are uncomfortable. When your hair is tangled, you can experience pulling in certain parts of your scalp. Eventually, this can lead to breakage and hair loss in the areas where the hair is pulling particularly hard due to a tangle.
Tangled hair is also much harder to style. Have you ever tried putting tangled hair up into a ponytail or a bun? Or threading it into a braid?
Tangled hair is extremely hard to control, and you’ll end up looking like you have kinks all over your head if you try to put your hair into an updo without eliminating the tangles beforehand.
The longer your hair is, the worse the tangles can get. If they’re not dealt with, they behave like black holes – sucking more hair into the tangle and growing in size. At a certain point, a tangle can get so bad that there is no way to untangle it without scissors.
In very extreme cases, when a person doesn’t brush their hair or doesn’t attempt to untangle their knots, they can develop dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks are a hip style that a lot of people rock intentionally, but those aren’t the same kind of dreadlocks that develop from under-brushing. Intentional dreadlocks are clean and neat, and people have to use special products and techniques to achieve them.
Natural dreadlocks are a whole other story. They are basically just knots that never get untangled, so they are far from neat. They don’t look very uniform or clean.
They resemble huge matted-up knots and seldom look good. They are also impossible to get rid of without cutting the hair really short or buzzing it all off altogether.
As you can see, tangles can become really problematic if they’re not addressed properly. They are uncomfortable, painful, and often start to look unattractive.
Tangles are the main reason you should brush your hair regularly. But they are not the only side effect you’ll notice if you stop combing your hair.
Not brushing or combing your hair can lead to another surprising side effect: oil buildup. It turns out that brushing your hair helps distribute the oils from the scalp throughout the whole length of the hair.
If you were to stop doing that, all the oils will accumulate near your roots and stay there until the next wash. As a result, you’ll begin to notice that your hair looks much oilier. Your scalp can get so oily that it develops flakes and dandruff, as well as an unpleasant smell.
Most people address this by simply washing their hair more often. However, if you’re someone who already has an oily scalp and has to wash their hair daily, ceasing your brushing routine can make it impossible for you to keep up with the oiliness.
Washing your hair twice a day is probably unrealistic for most people, so you’ll either have to accept that your hair will always look oily at the roots, or simply resume brushing your hair to keep some of the oils from accumulating at the scalp.
Another thing that often contributes to a more oily-looking scalp when you stop combing your hair, is the fact that you’ll start touching your hair more with your hands. A lot of people don’t even notice that they’re doing it, but it makes sense.
If you’re developing kinks, tangles, and frizz from not brushing your hair, it’s only natural to try and use your hands to work some of the knots out. As you bring your hands to your hair, you’ll be depositing the oils from your fingers onto your hair, causing it to look greasy.
If your hair is dry and curly, this might not be a common side effect for you, as dry curly hair usually experiences minimal oil production on the scalp and in fact, welcomes a little extra oil accumulation.
Hair oil is beneficial in the right quantities because it can help condition and protect the hair. However, for most people, increased oiliness at the scalp with be uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Drying and splitting ends are another common side effect of not brushing your hair, for the same reason as oily roots. When you’re not brushing your hair, you are not distributing the oils from your scalp to the lengths and ends of your hair.
Oils end up accumulating at the roots, while the ends remain uncoated and starving for some nourishment.
Without your natural oils coating your hair tips, you end up having drier and split ends. Split ends are characterized by white tips on your hair which eventually split up the length of the hair and cause frizz and breakage.
Dry hair is more susceptible to weakness, breakage, thinning, and looking lackluster overall. It’s also more likely to get tangled which contributes to the knotting issue that we discussed above.
So, if you’re not brushing your hair regularly, you not only make your hair health worse, but you create a perfect environment for unhealthy knotting and breakage.
Losing A Lot Of Hair In The Shower
Not brushing your hair? Prepare to deal with a clogged shower drain more often that ever before.
Your scalp naturally loses hair throughout the day – it is perfectly normal to lose 50-100 strands of hair daily. Normally, when you brush your hair, you remove some of these loose strands from your head and they end up in your brush.
If you’re not brushing your hair regularly, these loose strands have nowhere to go. More often than not, they will stay tangled in your hair after detaching from your scalp until your next shower. Then, with the water running down, these hairs will finally come out all at once.
If you haven’t washed your hair for a few days, you might be shocked to see 500+ hairs suddenly coming out of your hair and clogging up your drain. You might panic and think that you’re losing way too much hair at once.
Thankfully, you’re not actually losing more hair than normal (provided you don’t also have something else going on that might contribute to hair loss) – you’re just seeing all of the hair come out at once because you haven’t been removing it with a brush throughout the day.
This can be a big inconvenience if your tub starts to flood or if you’re finding yourself pouring Drano down the drain more often. It can be bad for your pipes and it can cause your tub to require more frequent cleaning.
The safest way to remove shedding hairs is with a brush. The brush will pick up any loose hairs and safely keep them tucked among the bristles. You can then remove all the shedding hair with your hand and toss it in the trash. That way it doesn’t end up in your drain or anywhere else.
Brushing your hair helps it lay flatter and smoother, so not brushing your hair can give you a lot of volume. That’s one of the main reasons a lot of people with wavy hair are tempted to stop brushing their hair.
Sometimes the natural waves look so pretty that we don’t want to “ruin” them by brushing all the beautiful volume out.
It’s true that if you stop combing your hair, you will notice a lot more volume in your locks. It can be really great at first. The added volume comes from the placement of each of your hair strands against each other. Small knots and kinks can also contribute to more volume in certain places.
But unfortunately, as we mentioned above, this is not very sustainable. Eventually, the small kinks and knots will turn into bigger tangles. And while tangled hair certainly has more volume than well-brushed hair, it doesn’t look good at all.
There are much healthier ways to get more volume while still brushing your hair out. For example, you could use volumizing mousses and other products. You could also blow-dry and style your hair in such a way that enhances volume.
You could even get certain types of hair cuts that allow your hair to be more bouncy and enhance your natural waves or curls, all of which create beautiful volume without harming your hair.
How To Properly Brush Different Hair Types
We hope you are now convinced that brushing your hair regularly is important. It helps keep your hair healthy and your drains clean. But in some instances, brushing your hair can be harmful, too.
We suspect this is why there is so much confusion about the right way to brush or hair, or whether you should be brushing it at all.
So let’s summarize: brushing hair is good. To enjoy all the benefits of brushing your hair, however, we should discuss a few things:
If You Have Straight Hair
For straight hair gals, brushing the hair daily is a great practice.
Straight hair can tangle easily and gets oily easily too. Brushing it out every morning will help keep it healthy, smooth, and clean. It will reduce the amount of oil that accumulates at the roots and it will help condition and protect the lengths of your hair from dryness.
If You Have Wavy Hair
Wavy hair is a little different than straight hair. Wavy hair has a beautiful natural pattern that looks great when the hair is unbrushed. However, as soon as you run a brush through it you risk losing the wave pattern and leaving behind a frizzy mess.
For wavy hair, the best tool to use is a wide-tooth comb. If you use it every morning, your hair will remain tangle-free and your hair oils will be distributed throughout the hair, but you won’t disturb the wave pattern at all.
If You Have Curly Hair
When brushing out curly hair, it’s important not to disturb the curl pattern just as with wavy hair. But making sure to get rid of tangles is also a must with curly hair. Once you develop a tangle in curly hair, it can be impossible to get rid of it without cutting the hair off.
The best way to brush curly hair is to add a little bit of moisture and to use a comb instead of a brush. You don’t want too much moisture (because hair can break easier when it’s wet) but just enough where the comb slides easily through the hair. We recommend moistening your hair with a leave-in conditioner for added smoothness.
Tip: Don’t Brush Your Hair When It’s Wet
When people say you shouldn’t brush your hair as it can lead to breakage, what they really mean is you shouldn’t brush your hair when it’s wet because that’s when it’s more likely to stretch and break from any pulling.
It’s ok to run a wide-tooth comb through your hair in the shower with a healthy serving of conditioner. But once you’re out of the shower – it’s best to wait until it’s fully dry before you do any additional brushing.