Variety may be the spice of life but it can also be your undoing if you are handling the wrong comb. Honestly, girls with curls only need one or two to get the job done. Anything else you’re probably wasting space on our bathroom counter. Wondering what is the best comb for curly hair? There’s not just one but there are a couple that work better than others on all types of curls. Here is the what, when and why of your best combs so that you can make sure you’re not unnecessarily ripping your hair out.

The list below corresponds to the combs in the photos above from left to right.


Works For: All Hair Types
Works Best On: Tightly Curled To Kinky Hair

Fro it out ladies. This pick is best used to separate strands (preferably pre-stretched to reduce snagging and breakage) and stretch them which is accomplished with the widely spaced teeth. It is also great for lifting your hair at the roots to give more volume to a style without mussing your pattern whether that be curls, coils or waves etc.


Best For: Thin, Short to Medium Straight to Loosely Wavy Hair
Use Caution On: Tightly Curly to Kinky Hair

A styler comb is three tools in one for thin, short to medium hair lengths. It adds volume and can be used as a pick and feather comb to create lift and fluff. Unless you are lightly and gently adding volume to your roots on a head full of loose curls or a braid out or twist out for tighter textures, like her sister – the teasing and lifting comb – there is no need to even own this comb especially since too much teasing/back combing can start to cause breakage in curly hair.
Replace When: Any of the teeth break off.


Best For: All Hair Types When Parting Hair or Use During A Color Session With A Stylist
Use With Caution On: All Hair Types

Rat Tail Combs are the best parting tool ever. They come with both plastic and metal tails (also known as pin tails). As a braider and colorist I prefer the metal “pin” for cleaner parting, no snags and precise color placement when foiling. Just make sure to angle this comb when using as it can cause scalp abrasions easier than a plastic rat tail comb. Either can be used to lift and separate out small strands of hair from your roots when styling.
Replace When: Honestly, there is no need to own this comb unless you have straight to wavy hair or wear lots of braid styles (which have to be parted) or you’re a stylist. Otherwise, keep this closely spaced teeth comb away from your curls. If you do have one, if any of the teeth break or if the tail snaps get a new one pronto.


Best For: Straight To Loosely Wavy Hair
Not Good For: Tightly Curled To Kinky Hair

This is a popular comb from the 80s that brings back memories of the Breakfast Club and School Daze – think stacked bangs and hair teased to the gawds. This comb is best used on straight hair with the double teeth side for smoothing and back combing to create volume at the roots – think funky pomps and big voluminous blow outs on straight hair. Yes we’re talking back combing hair and setting with holding spray. The pick end of the comb is good for root lifting. A good 2-in-1 comb for the girl who loves hair with voluminous flair but this is not a day-to-day comb for tightly curled to kinky hair as it can cause tangles galore.
Replace When: Your picks lose their protective tips which could lead to you ripping your hair out.


Best For: All Hair Types
Use With Caution On: Tightly Curled to Kinky Hair

This is your standard run of the mill comb. This comb usually has one or two types of teeth at opposing ends that are closely spaced together. It’s good for combing and smoothing straight or straightened hair and flat ironing using the comb chase method. Though it is usually polished to eliminate any rough edges, this type of comb should never be pulled directly through hair that has not been detangled from root to tip nor should it be used on tightly curly to kinky hair to comb root to tip without caution as it can rip your hair out.
Replace When: The bristles are folded over, melted from using it near a flat iron in your hair (chase method) or it breaks.


Best For: Wavy to Loosely Curled Hair
Use With Caution or Avoid On: Tightly Curled to Kinky Hair

A Double Teeth Comb is a detangling comb designed to glide through your hair with ease. The rounded comb tips are gentle on your scalp and the wide teeth are perfectly spaced. Because of the double teeth that sit closely to each other, this works best on wavy to loosely curled hair for detangling on wet or dry hair.
Replace When: Any of the teeth break.


Best For: All Hair Types
Use With Caution On: Tightly Curled to Kinky Hair

This comb is good for combing straight to curly hair as well as detangling well lubricated hair because it has unique teeth that glide effortlessly through tangled hair. The handle makes it a preferred detangling tool second only to the paddle brush for curly, coily and kinky types of hair. As always, detangle from root to tip with a detangling comb and use this gently on tightly curled to kinky hair – preferably and if you absolutely must, only on kinky hair has has already been detangled with a shower or wide tooth pick comb.
IT’S TIME TO REPLACE YOUR CLASSIC WET COMB WHEN: It breaks or teeth start to fall out or break off.


Best For: Detangling All Hair Types
This is the comb used most on wet hair for light detangling. Its teeth are far apart so it will glide through most hair types easily. Be sure to start from the ends of your hair and work your way up – never from the top or middle of your hair as you could rip your hair. A shower comb does a great job on straighter types of hair and a moderate job on tighter coiled and kinky hair. Going through the hair with a standard comb or paddle brush after using a shower comb is recommended on all hair types for best knot and tangle removal and hair smoothing.
Replace When: It breaks and that should never happen as this thing is a trooper even on the thickest heads of hair.


Best For: All Hair Types
Like the shower comb a wide tooth pick comb is great for light detangling or just general combing to separate your hair but not necessarily to smooth it.
Replace When: This comb should last you for a long time but if a tooth breaks you’ll need to get a new one.

– Amena BelledeSoleil

Amena is an Aveda trained natural hair stylist. She is also the owner of Hair Polish Natural Hair Studio in Los Angeles. Find her on Facebook.

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