The Hairbrush

Personal Selection

While trying to think of products that are designed well and are useful, I tried to think of everyday objects that I couldn’t live without. Knowing well enough that finger-combing your hair doesn’t quite do the job, I chose the hairbrush, something for sure can’t live without.


The history of the hairbrush actually begins with the comb, one of the first man-made tools. Combs were primarily used for grooming and hygiene, and were carved out of bone, wood and shell. Soon, more ornate combs were seen as a displays of wealth and the brush was born. Brushes were expensive to make and mostly used to style hair rather than groom, making them exclusive to the upperclass. In 1777, William Kent founded the first brush manufacturing company, however each brush still took up to 12 people to make and quite some time. It wasn’t ultil 1885 that brushes could be mass produced with the automatic brush-boring machine. Since then, many developments have occured including the invention of the rubber-cushioned brush in the 1920’s, Patrick Ales creation of the round brush in 1965 and the production of synthetic bristles and ventilation chambers in the interior of brushes in the early 1900’s.


The primary functions of the modern hairbrush are grooming for hygienic purposes as well as styling for more cosmetic purposes. The hairbrush’s cosmetic use has lead to many different types of hairbrushes as they are each used to style hair in a different way.


While more women use hairbrushes than men, many men to still own one, often times in the form of a comb. Now that hairbrushes are available to more people than just the upperclass, everyone can afford sometype of hairbrush.

Materials and Production

The materials used in hairbrushes varries based off of price and use. Bristles can be boar bristle, horsehair, nylon, stainless steel and goat hair. Handles are typically plastic or wood. For many years, hairbrushes were hand crafted until the industrial revolution allowed for them to be mass-produced. While most hairbrushes now are made by a machine you can still find many brands that still hand craft ornate brushes.


When looking at a hairbrush, it seems obvious that you should grab the handle but its not clear what exactly to do with it. Without looking at the bristles and/ or learning that the bristles are meants to comb your hair, it might not be obvious what a hairbrush is. However, hairbrushes are objects that children learn in early childhood, making it hard to find someone who discovered the use of a hairbrush before learning it.

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