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Paddle Brush vs. Oval Brush: Which Is Best for Your Hair

A woman brushes her hair with a paddle brush in the mirror.
  • Oval brushes are best for a blowout
  • Paddle brushes are best for detangling and shine

Paddle and oval are the two most popular types of hairbrushes, but they’re not interchangeable. If you’re unsure which one would be best for your hair, we’ve got the deets!

Both paddle and oval brushes can work wonders on your hair. However, the results will depend on several factors, including the length and texture of your hair, as well as how you style it. Both brushes have their strengths and weaknesses, so let’s explore and figure out which hairbrush you need to style those luscious locks.

The Differences Between Paddle and Oval Brushes

Of course, oval and paddle brushes are visibly different—it’s right there in their names. A oval brush typically has a handle and a solid barrel on the end with bristles all the way around. A paddle brush also has a handle, but it’s wide and flat on the other end with bristles on one side.

These two very different shapes are ideal for different purposes. Oval brushes are mostly used when blow-drying hair to get a smooth finish with volume in straight, wavy, or curly hair. However, you’ll get different results depending on the size of the brush.

The paddle brush, on the other hand, is more of a multipurpose styling tool. It can be used on dry or wet hair and is also excellent for smoothing. Where it really shines, though, is as a detangler—its shape and design make it sturdy enough to smooth any snags without ripping your hair out.

Here’s a quick way to tell them apart:

  • Paddle brushes tend to be rectangular with a handle, and they have soft cushion and ball-tipped pins to help the brush glide through your hair. It’s designed to detangle, straighten, and lift. These are ideal for gently adding shine and smoothness to your hair.
  • Oval brushes are best for drying your hair and creating extra volume. The hair wraps the brush and handle, creating extra tension to lift and elevate the hair. The longer your hair, the longer you want your oval brush handle to be.

The Pros and Cons of Oval Brushes

A woman blow-drying another woman's hair and using a round brush.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a brush. Here are some pros and cons of the oval brush before you choose one.

Starting with the advantages:

  • They’re the best brush for a smooth blowout with volume. They can’t be beat in this area.
  • They come in a variety of barrel sizes and materials, making them relatively versatile. Small-barreled brushes work best on shorter hair and/or for creating smaller curls. Larger barrels are ideal for longer hair or to create loose, large waves.
  • They help you get even distribution of hair product rather than soaking up product in the brush bristles.

Here are some cons to think about:

  • When it comes to anything other than getting the perfect blowout, oval brushes are pretty useless.
  • If you rarely blow-dry your hair, a oval brush will just gather dust in your bathroom or dressing table drawer.

The Best Oval Brushes

A round brush on a counter; a stylist using a round brush on a blonde woman's hair

If this will be your first time trying a oval brush, look for a reliable, yet affordable option, like this one from AIMIKE. It’s available in three sizes for use on different lengths and textures. This brush also features nano thermal ceramic ionic technology to tame frizz and leave you with smooth, voluminous hair.

The boar bristles also help to evenly smooth and style your hair. Small vents throughout the barrel reduce the risk of heat damage, while also helping hair to dry more quickly. This brush even comes with some clips so you can section your hair for easier drying and styling.

AIMIKE Oval Brush

Versatile, with heat protection and top-notch styling capabilities.

For fine or damaged hair, you’ll want a oval brush with softer bristles for a gentler approach. We like this option from BESTOOL because it combines boar bristles with nylon.

The boar bristles are gentler and help to smooth and defrizz, while the stronger nylon bristles work on detangling if you have fine, thick hair. It’s all held together by a sturdy, natural beechwood base and ergonomic handle.

BESTOOL Oval Brush

Smooths without too much tugging.

If you want an oval brush that uses heating and cooling to improve your blowout, you want to consider the LOVEPS Oval Brush. This is an oval brush/hair dryer to help make styling super simple.

For best results and to help keep your hair healthy, pair this volumizing tool with heat protectant.

LOVEPS Oval Brush for Blow Drying

At-home blowouts have never been easier.

Another great choice is the Conair Vented Porcupine Oval Hairbrush. This brush is designed with professional styling in mind. Add lift to your hair roots while distributing product and hair oils easily thanks to the boar and nylon bristles.

Conair Quick Blow-Dry Copper Collection

Make your hair styling effortless.

Lastly, the Phillips Brush Monster Vent is worth considering. It’s compatible with your hair dryer thanks to the vented, hollow barrel. Cut frizz and master a beautiful blowout with ease. The ergonomic handle is specifically designed to make hair styling easier.

The Pros and Cons of Paddle Brushes

A woman brushing her hair with a paddle brush.

A well-made paddle brush is one of the best purchases you’ll ever make for your hair. Like all brushes, however, they have disadvantages right along with their advantages. Let’s consider some of them.

Starting with the pros:

  • They are versatile, so you can use them for a variety of hair types and styling needs.
  • They tend to be much gentler on your hair than oval brushes (and other brush types).
  • The wide, flat paddle shape gives you more control when brushing or detangling.
  • They’re great for brushing curly hair without breaking the curls.
  • You can even use a paddle brush to detangle while blow-drying and get a relatively smooth finish.

Let’s consider some of the cons:

  • Although they can assist when drying straight hair, paddle hairbrushes aren’t very good at adding volume, waves, or movement, due to their large, flat shape.
  • It’s best to use a paddle brush on either completely wet or dry hair that needs to be smoothed or detangled.
  • For careful styling, it’s easier to get better results with an oval brush or other tools.

The Best Paddle Brushes

Two women brushing their hair with paddle brushes

If you’ve never used a paddle brush before, start with something like the Sosoon Boar-Bristle Brush to get used to it. The wooden base and combination of nylon pins and boar bristles make it perfect for detangling without any damage.

It also helps smooth your hair and evenly distributes its natural oils to keep your locks looking shiny and healthy.

Sosoon Boar Bristle Paddle Hairbrush

Detangles and smoothes without damaging your hair.

If you’re looking to upgrade, you might want to consider this option from Aveda. Designed to style, as well as detangle, the extended bristles are gentle on your scalp and provide more smoothing action.

With its strong wooden base, this brush can work through any tangles without putting too much stress on your scalp. It’s a bit more expensive than other options, but the quality materials and upgrades make it worth it.

If you want a paddle brush you can always rely on, don’t overlook the Revlon Straight & Smooth Soft Touch Paddle Hair Brush Set. This brush set is made for smoothing and straightening your hair. The rubber finish keeps it gentle on both your hair and your hands. It’s suitable for both wet and dry hair, so you can keep your locks healthy every brush of the way.

Revlon Straight & Smooth Soft Touch Paddle Hair Brush

Get ready to embrace your happy, healthy hair.

If you want a versatile paddle brush that you can use on wet hair, dry hair, and while blow drying your hair, the Conair Quick Blow-Dry Copper Collection, Curved Paddle Brush is a great choice.

You get snag-free brushing plus better heat transfer thanks to the copper coating. You can accomplish your dream style with ease thanks to this effortless design.

Conair Quick Blow-Dry Copper Collection

Blow dry your hair smooth and shiny when you use this brush.

If you have thick hair and struggle finding a brush that can hold up, consider the Conair Velvet Touch Hairbrush for Thick Hair. With a soft grip and flexible base, it makes detangling lots of hair easy. While it’s perfect for all hair types, it’s designed to gently neaten even the most unruly hair. Whatever your hair length or type, this brush can help.

Conair Velvet Touch Hairbrush for Thick Hair

This brush is perfect for all you thick-hair girlies.

The right hairbrush is a necessity for both styling and keeping your locks strong and healthy. Whether you need a oval brush for styling, a paddle brush for detangling, or both, our picks will point you in the right direction. Whichever brush you choose, though, don’t forget to wash it regularly.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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