How Often Should You Replace a Hairbrush? (It's More Than You Think)

Your trusty bristles could be a breeding ground for bacteria. Find out how often you should get new hair brushes.

Before reading any further, take a look at your hairbrush. Maybe it's coated in a carpet of hair, which is fine. It's only natural that hair sheds when you brush it. But stray hair aside, how nasty does it look? Do you feel sticky residue lingering from styling products? Maybe some mystery gunk clinging to the bristles like barnacles?

Even if your brush resembles roadkill, it's understandable why you may not want to ditch it. While hair ties are more limited in lifespan, a hairbrush is likely the sturdiest hair tool you own. That black Conair you've been using for years could be intact and functioning equally well as the day you bought it. Not to mention, a good-quality boar bristle brush is pricey to replace.

Keep in mind that your hairbrush is the one hair tool you probably use daily. "Every time you run a brush through your hair, you're leaving oil, dead skin cells, product build-up, and bacteria inside the bristles," says Elizabeth Hickman, hairstylist and VaultBeauty expert. With each pass-through of the brush, all of that is getting added back into your hair, which can make hair look greasier, weigh it down, and perpetuate common hair problems.

hairbrush with wooden handle and other bath accessories set on pastel pink and white background, flat lay style
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Speaking of which, if you have scalp issues like dandruff, your hairbrush needs even more attention. According to Hickman, people with dandruff should be regularly cleaning their hairbrushes. Otherwise, you could exacerbate the condition by brushing old dandruff back into your hair.

Hairstylists say that once a month is a bare minimum for a hairbrush deep clean, though you can certainly wash it more frequently than that. However, regularly cleaning your brush doesn't eliminate the need to replace it. Even if you do your due diligence by removing the carpet of hair from the bristles now and then, you'll eventually reach a point where a scrub-down isn't enough.

How Often to Replace a Hairbrush

"Hairbrushes should be replaced sometime between six months to a year, depending on how much product you use on a daily basis," suggests Hickman. "It also depends on the quality of your hairbrush and your sanitation efforts," adds Aleasha Rivers, hairstylist and Davines Educator. "Most of the time you can look for visual cues—some examples include separating bristles, melting and fraying, product build-up, and/or cracking. These are all indicators that it's time to replace your hairbrush. Based on my experience, even if you're cleaning thoroughly, this will probably occur every six to eight months."

Don't take that to mean you shouldn't invest in a good hairbrush. While even expertly-crafted tools will eventually wear out, they have a better shot at hitting the 12-month mark. A good way to extend this time range is to own at least two brushes. One should be used to brush hair before going to bed each night and the other for styling each morning.

"Ultimately, a high-quality, well-cleaned brush can be really helpful to hair health," says Rivers. Just don't get too attached.

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