Today I will be discussing vintage hairbrushes you can still buy today.
History of the hairbrush:
The earliest U.S. patent for a modern hairbrush was by Hugh Rock in 1854. Samuel Firey patented a brush with elastic wire teeth and natural bristles in 1870. In 1898, Lyda D. Newman invented an “Improved Hairbrush,” which allowed for easy cleaning and had bristles separated wide enough to allow for easy combing.
In 1777, William Kent founded Kent Brushes in Hertfordshire, England, a company that became the first known hairbrush manufacturer. The company created its brushes from wood and bristle—most commonly made from animal hair or feathers—with each brush taking up to 12 individuals to craft. After 230 years, Kent Brushes still holds the title “the world’s oldest hairbrush manufacturer.”
It took over 100 years and an industrial revolution before the automatic brush-boring machine in 1885, which allowed for hairbrushes to be churned out at a more marketable speed. In this same year, Mason Pearson also created “the original rubber-cushioned brush,” a design that was perfected in the 1920s and remains popular in most modern hairbrushes.
However, it wasn’t until Lyda Newman entered the hairbrush arena that brushes as we know them today truly took form. In 1898, Newman, an African-American inventor, hairdresser, and women’s rights activist, modified and patented the hairbrush to include durable synthetic bristles and a ventilation chamber that enables easier cleaning, along with a storage place for any debris pulled from the scalp or hair. For those who use hair dryers, variations of Lyda Newman’s ventilated brush are likely bathroom staples. However, the creation of the round styling brush is credited to French stylist Patrick Alès, who in 1965 decided to “break free from styling hair with hot rollers” in favor of creating a “blown out” look using a round brush of his invention.
Today, there is almost as great a range of hairbrushes as an array of hair types. Some brushes, such as the Kent Brushes, are still handcrafted with carefully selected wood and bristles, while others are made exclusively of plastic and rubber. Some brushes are for styling, while others remain simple detangling and grooming tools.