Tutorial: What is a Paddle Brush and How to Style Your Hair With It

Your must-have for shiny, sleek hair

woman brushing her long brown hair with a paddle brush looking into the mirror


Sure, it takes up a chunk of real estate on your vanity, but have you ever really used your paddle brush to its full potential? Some may use it as a last-minute blowdrying tool at times (guilty!), but more than that it’s one of the best brushes you can use in the wintertime. Yup, it helps get rid of static and halo frizz brought on by your beanies, sweaters, and winter hoodies.

What is a Paddle Brush?

A paddle brush is a large, flat and wide hair brush with an air-filled cushion and plastic bristles, which help it bend and move to the contours of your head. Its flexibility means it’s perfect for detangling and smoothing out hair. It’s a must-have in any hair care kit and is suitable for all hair types but is a particularly good option for long, thick, or naturally straight hair.

Since paddle brushes are wider than other hair brushes, they’re awesome for straightening out the kinks on longer, thicker hair types. They’re also ideal for looks that don’t require a lot of volume. The brush can offer a sleek, straight, shiny look in less time than other brushes alone.

The main difference between paddle brushes is the material they’re made of. Wooden or bamboo brushes are more eco-friendly and premium but will deteriorate quicker than their plastic counterparts. They’re ideal for thick and coily hair. Plastic paddle brushes are more budget-friendly and as effective as wooden ones and are recommended for thin and finer hair.

woman brushing long soft blonde hair with paddle brush
Photo Credit: Newsony/Shutterstock.

Why Do You Need a Paddle Brush?

A paddle brush is used for detangling, smoothing and polishing. And did we mention that paddle brushes are also great for winter? Let’s face it, as cute as all those woolly layers, hats and scarves are, they’re prime static-inducing materials – which is why a paddle brush is absolutely essential if you want to keep your locks looking smooth and frizz-free for as long as possible throughout the day.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Paddle Brush?

Rather than adding volume, paddle brushes are ideal for creating sleek, straight looks on long, medium and shorter hair. Thanks to its flat shape, it’s anti-static and great for smoothing out frizz and flyaways, too.

Paddle brushes are also great for textured hair. As curly girls struggle more to get to their scalp, a paddle brush gets to the hair shaft and helps distribute the natural oils, which are essential to keeping our strands hydrated and healthy.

How Do You Use a Paddle Brush?

There are two different ways to use a paddle brush.

  • For detangling, use the paddle brush to remove tangles and knots. Take sections of your hair and gently brush the tangles from the ends of your hair, working your way up to the roots. Repeat until all your of your hair is detangled.
  • For smoothing, blowdry hair with a hairdryer until it’s about 80-90% dry. Then use the paddle brush while you use the dryer (with nozzle) to smooth your hair while you finish drying it.

How do you keep your paddle brush clean?

To keep your paddle brush in the best possible condition, you’ll need to give it a thorough clean once a month. Product and hair build-up can in fact affect the brush’s performance and it may be adding old hair products, greasiness and dead cells back into your scalp – Eugh!  So how do you clean a paddle brush?

  1. Remove any hair from the bristles. Hair will naturally fall into the brush, so make sure you remove it with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers.
  2. Create a cleaning solution. Simply mix a few drops of shampoo and warm water in a bowl or the sink and use a toothbrush or sponge to wash between the bristles. Don’t soak your paddle brush into the water as it will cause the brush to fill up or glue to break down.
  3. Rinse the brush under warm water. This will ensure no residue of shampoo is left.
  4. Enjoy your clean-as-new brush!

Cleaning your paddle brush regularly will help maintain it for a long time. Now, read on for a how-to on drying and styling your hair with a paddle brush:

How to Style Hair with a Paddle Brush + Best Paddle Brush Techniques

1. Start With Clean, Freshly Washed Hair

three women with long bone straight hair
A paddle brush helps give that stick-straight look without the kink. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Prep your hair by washing it with a system designed to offer sleekness. We like the silky feeling we get from Suave Professionals Lavender + Almond Oil Frizz Calming Shampoo and Conditioner. The almond oil in this product helps smooth strands, while the lavender provides a calming scent.


2. Rough-dry Hair on a Medium Setting

blonde woman using paddle brush to brush hair
The wide head of a paddle brush makes it ideal for thick hair types.

Before using your paddle brush, use your fingers to rough-dry hair for around five minutes by wiggling your blowdryer nozzle around your hair until the strands are damp. Using a blow-dry balm, like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Blow Dry Balm is a great way to protect your hair from the heat while adding a lightweight hold to your strands

To use this product, all you need to do is evenly massage the product throughout wet hair before blow-drying, and then you’ll be able to achieve a salon-worthy blowout at home.

3. Start Using Your Paddle Brush on Your Fringe Area

Using your paddle brush, brush your hair towards the face and over the hairline. Yes, it will fall over your forehead. However, it will help to create a sleek, side-swept finish. Continue doing this until the first half of your entire head is completely dry.

Note: Brushing hair towards the back, a.k.a. how we normally brush hair to detangle on a regular day, will create more volume.

4. Section Off the Sides and Back

Working one section at a time on hair that’s been rough-dried, run the paddle brush on the underside of the hair while focusing airflow on the top. Do so in a gentle, tugging, downward motion to help seal down the hair strand. Put extra focus on the ends, leaving them to completely run through the bristles for a truly poker-straight look. If you want more of a bend at the ends, tilt the brush head towards you so the hair gets a slight curl as you’re passing it through the airflow. Repeat on both side sections.

To dry the back, use your paddle brush to dry hair upwards and outwards, creating a slight bump at your crown. Alternatively, you can also simply split the back section in half, incorporating these into the side sections as well.

5. Finish With an Anti-frizz Mist

paddle brush blow dry look
Create a smooth look that lasts.

An anti-frizz spray that gives hair a sleek, smooth finish, like TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Leave-In Hydrating Mist, is the best finishing touch to this look. Its unique blend of coconut milk and aloe vera will replenish and moisturize your strands, and leave them soft and easy to style.

How To Blow Dry Curly Hair With a Paddle Brush

young woman blow drying brown curly hair with air dryer
Photo Credit: ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock.

Curly girls, listen up! You’ve probably heard that too much heat styling can lead to damage to curls and coils. However, using the right techniques and tools can let you achieve the perfect blow-dried hairstyle while protecting your hair from damage. And that’s where the paddle brush comes in! Here’s a nice and easy tutorial to style your curly mane with it.

1. Prepare Your Hair With a Nourishing Mask

Using a hair mask between blow dries helps keep your strands healthy and nourished. We love Dove Hair Mask + Minerals Smoothes + Pink Clay, specially designed to strengthen and smooth frizzy and dry hair.

2. Wash and Condition Your Hair 

After rinsing the hair mask off, it’s time to cleanse your mane. For this step, go for a sulfate-free shampoo like Nexxus Curl Define Shampoo, which also contains silk protein and marula oil to give your curls a proper salon-worthy treatment.

Once your hair is cleansed, here comes the pro tip. Instead of a regular conditioner, use a leave-in product on wet hair, that will help protect your strands from heat while making them styling-ready. The Nexxus Curl Define Daily Leave-In Moisturizer is the perfect match to the Curl Define Shampoo, and will ensure your locs are soft and frizz-free all day long.

3. Stretch Your Curls with A Paddle Brush and Air Dry

Stretching your curls with a paddle brush has multiple benefits, including removing tangles, moving natural oils from your scalp down your strands and helping you examine the tips of your curls and see if it’s time for a trim.

Start by sectioning your hair with clips, then gently move the brush through your curls and slowly detangle while you blow dry. The more you brush your hair, the more relaxed it will appear. Once you’ve achieved your desired looseness, stop blow drying and finish your styling with a shine mist like Nexxus Maxximum Finishing Mist.


In conclusion, no matter your hair type, a good paddle brush will become your new hair care secret for sleek and perfectly styled strands.


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