Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Mishal Cazmi

Has your af­fec­tion for un­done French-girl hair in­spired you to toss your hair­brush? New in­no­va­tions may get you to re­con­sider.

Has your af­fec­tion for un­done-look­ing French-girl hair caused you to shelve your hair­brush? New in­no­va­tions—like the first “smart brush”—may change your mind.

Grow­ing up, I re­garded hair­brushes with the kind of rev­er­ence usu­ally re­served for fancy lip­sticks or per­fumes. To me, brushes were equally em­blem­atic of glam­our and fem­i­nin­ity. These days, though, I have an on-again, off-again re­la­tion­ship with them: Some­times I’m lured by the prom­ise of Mar­cia Brady shini­ness; other times I like the wild aban­don and re­bel­lious­ness of un­ruly, brush-free strands.

I blame French-girl hair—the art­fully messy, pur­posely in­sou­ciant style worn by women like Caro­line de Mai­gret, Clé­mence Poésy and Léa Sey­doux. It’s the kind of hair that’s so im­pos­si­bly cool it makes you want to throw out all of your brushes.

“It’s the ef­fort­less­ness that ev­ery­one likes,” says Harry Josh, a celebrity hair­styl­ist who’s re­spon­si­ble for Gisele’s beachy hair and the bomb­shell waves on Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret mod­els. “Ev­ery­one’s so fussy with hair tu­to­ri­als. It’s so labour in­ten­sive—comb­ing, clip­ping, rollers, curl­ing irons, hair ex­ten­sions. All of a sud­den, you see girls who don’t give a shit, and it looks con­fi­dent.”

That self-as­sured DGAF vibe can also be seen on the run­ways of Chloé, Cé­line and Is­abel Marant. In­di­vid­u­al­ity has been a re­cur­ring theme in fash­ion for the past few years, and this freespir­ited sen­ti­ment ex­tends to mod­els’ hair. In­stead of hav­ing mod­els wear the same hair­style, de­sign­ers are em­brac­ing looks that don’t ap­pear to re­quire too many prod­ucts and that don’t in­volve pre­ci­sion styling us­ing brushes.

But away from the run­way, do most women still use a brush? You may not have seen a woman take one out of her purse lately, but the tool isn’t ob­so­lete. As hair­styles have changed over the decades, brushes have re­mained use­ful, lift­ing bouf­fants in the ’60s, feath­er­ing wings in the ’70s, play­ing nice with mousse and hair­spray in the ’80s and cor­ralling strands into scrunchies and but­ter­fly clips in the ’90s. Since then, they have be­come es­sen­tial for bouncy, sham­poocom­mer­cial-wor­thy blowouts.

Brushes have been around for hun­dreds of years, with a few ex­cit­ing turn­ing points. In 1777, the first brush-man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany in Eng­land sold them with hand-stitched bris­tles; in the 19th cen­tury, Ma­son Pear­son, which would go on to be known as the gold stan­dard, sped up the brush-bor­ing process with ma­chin­ery and came up with the rub­ber-cush­ion pad. In the United States, en­tre­pre­neur Hugh Rock was the first to patent a hair­brush de­sign, and, soon af­ter, in­ven­tor Lyda New­man im­proved it with a de­tach­able han­dle and air cham­bers for ven­ti­la­tion. Oth­er­wise, the evo­lu­tion of hair­brushes has been rel­a­tively un­event­ful—un­til now.

To­day, com­pa­nies are ex­per­i­ment­ing with de­sign, ma­te­rial and func­tion. Some, like the U.K.’s Tan­gle Teezer, are tar­get­ing spe­cific hair chal­lenges. When the prod­uct launched in 2007, it po­si­tioned it­self as a de­tan­gling brush ca­pa­ble of smooth­ing out knots of Gor­dian pro­por­tions with a palm­friendly de­sign and gen­tle, flex­i­ble bris­tles. Van­cou­ver-based brand The Knot Dr. takes a sim­i­lar ap­proach with its de­tan­gling brushes that also style. Mean­while, Con­air’s In­finiti Pro Di­a­mond Bril­liance Ionic Hot Brush straight­ens hair and tames frizz us­ing ionic tech­nol­ogy. (Neg­a­tively charged ions neu­tral­ize the pos­i­tive ions that cause frizz and static.) Goody’s Clean Ra­di­ance Brush has cop­per bris­tles that re­duce the nat­u­ral

buildup of oil and dead skin cells on the scalp. (The soft metal has an­timi­cro­bial prop­er­ties, too.)

The most-hyped news, how­ever, comes from Kéras­tase, which an­nounced the world’s first smart brush this past Jan­uary at the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas. Called The Hair Coach, it was cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the French tech com­pany With­ings and is launch­ing this fall for $250. While you’re brush­ing your hair, a built-in mi­cro­phone lis­tens to the hair’s sound waves to de­tect dry­ness, split ends and break­age. (Smooth cu­ti­cles, for ex­am­ple, cre­ate a dif­fer­ent sound from bro­ken ones, which cre­ate an echo.) Other mo­tion sen­sors, like the gy­ro­scope and ac­celerom­e­ter, lo­cated at the base of the brush, an­a­lyze brush­ing pat­terns and prompt the han­dle to vi­brate if you pull too force­fully. All the in­for­ma­tion it gath­ers is sent via Blue­tooth or Wi-Fi to an app that pro­vides tips and prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions. The com­pany cre­ated the brush in re­sponse to the in­creas­ing num­ber of hair-re­lated queries via search en­gines, says Vin­cent Nida, for­mer gen­eral man­ager and head of de­vel­op­ment at Kéras­tase. Ac­cord­ing to Google Trends, searches for the word “hair­brush” have dou­bled over the past five years. In other words, de­spite the pop­u­lar­ity of French-girl hair, women are still ac­tively brush­ing.

“Every­body I know has a hair­brush,” agrees Di­dier Malige, the leg­endary French hair­styl­ist who be­gan his ca­reer in the ’60s and has worked on count­less edi­to­ri­als for Vogue, i-D and more. Malige uses brushes for all as­pects of his job, and be­ing with­out cer­tain ones, like the Ma­son Pear­son, would be un­think­able. “When I started in Carita Sa­lon in 1965, it was the brush that every­body had,” he says. (Malige also uses the boar-bris­tle brush on his long-haired Per­sian cat—and we’d like to imag­ine that he uses it on his long-time girl­friend, Grace Cod­ding­ton, too.)

But even if you’re not a hair­dresser who re­quires them for styling, brushes are vi­tal for hair health, ex­fo­li­at­ing the scalp (some­thing women don’t do prop­erly or fre­quently enough, notes Josh), dis­tribut­ing se­bum for shinier strands as well as smooth­ing and de­tan­gling. There’s also an im­por­tant sen­so­rial as­pect to brush­ing. “It feels good, and peo­ple use it for that rea­son,” says Malige.

Per­haps the best rea­son for not aban­don­ing brushes al­to­gether is that you don’t have to, even if you want your hair to look lais­sez-faire. Malige al­most al­ways uses a brush to get hair look­ing ef­fort­lessly un­done. “I un­der­stand that neat hair is not so much in fash­ion, but you can brush your hair and then make it messy,” he says. Josh agrees, com­par­ing it to the “no makeup” makeup look. “You’re us­ing foun­da­tion; you’re just not us­ing colour,” he ex­plains. “It’s the same thing for your hair: You can still use brushes and curl­ing irons, but it doesn’t look like you did.”





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