Every Question You Have About Hair Brushing, Answered by a Haircare Expert

Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen talks to us about the dos and don’ts.

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Haircare is a category that is often overlooked in beauty — many consumers that invest time and money in skincare will pick up some of the cheapest shampoo bottles on their grocery run. In recent years, a number of brands that focus on hair wellness — including cult-favorite Gisou and up-and-coming label Fable & Mane — have emerged on the market. Crown Affair, another company gaining popularity among beauty enthusiasts, is specifically centered around the art of brushing and combing hair.

“You know how you have that friend who’s really, really into skincare? That’s me, but with haircare,” the brand’s founder Dianna Cohen says, as we discuss expert tips on hair brushing. A longtime beauty lover, Cohen started Crown Affair by researching different hair products and formulas, compiling all of her knowledge into one Google Doc. After the document circulated for some time, the entrepreneur learned that the category lacked information in comparison to skincare or makeup.

“So much of haircare is rooted in color, cut and style, which is an amazing form of self-expression, but I didn’t see any brands out there that I could self-identify with, or brands that fit on my shelf with my other products,” she explains. “I would swing by a beauty retailer and look at the haircare section. There were only a few clean brands, and the language and branding were still selling perfection — models with blowouts that didn’t enhance or embrace their natural hair patterns. I wanted to create something rooted in my personal ritual and care, and connect with women who are seeking the same sense of wellbeing in this part of their lives.”

Crown Affair tackles all of Cohen’s frustrations. It celebrates diverse hair types, ensuring that customers aren’t simply “taming” or “fixing” their tresses, but are seeing the haircare process as a wellness routine. Its products are free of ingredients like parabens, sulfates and chemical sunscreens to keep the hair naturally glowing. In terms of branding, its Instagram feed boasts a minimal aesthetic that highlights the importance of hair. In one of the posts, the caption reads, “Treat your hair like you treat your skin.”

From the correct way to brushing and combing, to the best way of drying hair, Cohen answers some of the most frequently asked questions on haircare below. Read on to learn more.

Do hair brushing methods differ for different hair types or lengths?

Brushing is one of the simplest, yet most powerful actions you can take to care for your hair on a daily basis. Everyone’s hair is uniquely their own — there are also variables like the weather, the harshness of the water near where you live, how often you wash your strands and so on — that you will want to find your personal brushing cadence and technique.

You always want to brush when your hair is fully dry, starting at your scalp and gently working down to distribute your hair’s natural oils, giving you healthier strands. I personally find that brushing my hair before I wash it removes debris or any build-up from my scalp, giving me a more even and cleaner wash on wash days. I also brush before bed for a few minutes, taking time to take care of my hair before I go to sleep, and that means less tangling and more volume in the crown when I wake up.

Are there any commonly-known hair brushing habits that are actually harmful?

I wish that all of our hair came with a care label in the way that clothes do. You have to treat your hair like it’s silk, or think of it like wool or cashmere, which are essentially hair fibers and made up of the same elements. You wouldn’t throw a nice wool or cashmere sweater in the wash with super harsh detergents then dry it immediately on high heat. The structure and shape of the fiber will change and become damaged. Over-brushing or using harsh chemicals like sulfates will damage your hair over time. Be kind and gentle to your hair and listen to it. We often joke at the office that we treat our hair like we would treat a plant: give it the right amount of care, love and time, and it will thrive.

What’s the difference between a brush and a comb? When should each be used or avoided?

Combing is great for detangling your hair throughout the day, or in-shower when wet to evenly distribute products throughout your hair. I really look forward to washing, knowing I get to take my time by running a wide-tooth comb through my hair in the shower. It’s a nice way to make your bathroom rituals more of a spa moment.

You should not brush when your hair it’s wet. Your hair is most vulnerable when wet — like any fiber, it expands and swells when put in water, so pulling or tugging on it with a brush will stretch the strand and cause more breakage. There are a time and a place for both tools. I love our Comb No. 001 — I have it within reach for a mid-day refresh at my crown for a quick scalp massage, like you might use a gua sha tool. Brushing is an evening ritual, a way to wind down the day while taking care of my hair and scalp. Brushing has transformed the health of my hair by supporting growth, strength and shine.

How often should you change your hairbrushes or combs?

I really believe in “the fewer, the better” when it comes to the products you surround yourself with. Investing in items that will last and are mindfully crafted is important to me, and even more so, that the well-being of those making an item is sustainable as well. With that, a high-quality hairbrush or comb that you care for should last you almost a lifetime. You should care for your tools the way you care for your hair, with monthly cleaning of the brush to remove hair and debris, and making sure the comb is stored safely.

What’s the healthiest way to dry hair, blow or air-drying?

I’m team air-dry. Don’t get me wrong, I love a voluminous blow out from time to time — I’m all about finding balance with your hair like all other parts of our wellness routines. Now that I’ve been spending a lot more time at home, I take my time in the post-wash ritual to get the most out of my air-dry. Using a hair towel to absorb excess water and be gentle on your hair is a key step in the air-drying process.

The Towel is a game-changer. It prevents frizz, breakage and cuts drying time in half. I’ll leave it in for 15 minutes or so, take it out, comb my hair and then apply our Oil, which is a hydrating, weightless serum that moisturizes the strand and gives my air-dried strands a nice wave and shine. I sometimes do the “clip and twist” method on slightly damp hair to enhance the natural wave in my hair and get it as close to what a curling iron wave would look like.

Would you recommend drying hair straight after getting out of the shower, or leaving it in a towel wrap for a few minutes?

Everyone has their own ritual with The Towel. We have customers who leave it on for hours while doing things around their home. I usually leave it in for 15 minutes after washing. For my hair length and density, that’s the perfect amount of time to remove the dampness from my strands, yet still have enough water in the strand so when I layer on The Oil and build it, it gives me a really nice air-dry.

Is there such a thing as over-brushing hair in a day?

We encourage everyone to listen to their hair when brushing until you feel that point of completion. There’s not an exact minute or an exact number of brush strokes, and it really depends on your hair length and density. Our Set comes with a three-minute hourglass, which is a nice reminder to take your time.

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