This $150 Hairbrush is Actually the Shit

I pitted a Mason Pearson brush against a cheap brush to see if everyone was lying

11.17.16

I am such a stupid sucker for expensive beauty products. I love $100 candles and the idea of only-legal-in-Europe face cream. I went through a phase where I spent the equivalent of a fancy gym membership on my eyelashes every three weeks and I was tricked into my current toothbrush because someone sold it as “the Lamborghini of teeth care.” Maybe you don’t think toothbrushes should fall into the beauty category, but this one has a whitening setting that is an alternative option from the “clean” setting. When people see my toothbrush in action they ask me, “Why can’t your Lamborghini of teeth care manage to both clean and whiten at the same time?” My answer to these people is that they just don’t understand luxury.

Sometimes I don’t either. Sometimes, when the more financially responsible part of my brain kicks in, I remember things like, “You cannot afford a $150 detangling tool. How dumb.” Blackstones hair stylist Joey Silvestera nearly convinced me otherwise this summer by transforming me with a Mason Pearson boar-bristled wand — the Lamborghini of hair brushes, apparently — but I remained strong.

And a proud member of a totally new kind of cult. Cool.

This photo was taken in June after Joey worked his magic with the Mason Pearson brush. I was still wearing my lash wigs then, too. 

I bought a $40 version instead from Ricky’s NYC. (The brand is called Denman.) The girls who work there know what’s up and told me this one was good.

It really was. I used it a ton and incorporated into the when-I-have-five-extra-minutes routine. BUT, I stayed curious. Could I be getting better results with a better brush? Was Mason Pearson a better brush?

“There may be lookalikes, but there are no ‘feelalikes,'” its website boasts.

Besides the fact that the Mason Pearson hairbrush dates back to the industrial revolution, I learned that each one is largely handmade, no boars are harmed in the making of the bristles (although they also offer a nylon option), there are no sharp edges on the handles (much appreciated) and while they’re not indestructible, they’re intended to last. Per the website, they suit “most types of hair.” (Comment below if you’ve tried one and think yes/no.) More than anything, I liked the fact that “[t]he basic product has barely changed since the 1920s.” I pictured a bunch of people sitting around an office like, “Yeah we did a good job with that one product we sell. Let’s not mess with something perfect,” probably similar to how god thinks about dogs.

Still. You know just as well as I do that reading will give you plenty of facts but it’s not the the same as a proper test. So I tried both brushes — the Denman and the OG MP — to pit them against one another.

mason-pearson-hairbrush-best-amelia-diamond-man-repeller-1

That’s me without my hair brushed, freshly washed with an annoying hair tie crimp.

I tried the Denman first on the RIGHT side of my head. That’s your LEFT, so long as you’re not reading this in a mirror.

mason-pearson-hairbrush-best-amelia-diamond-man-repeller-7

Cool thing with my eye, huh? Here’s the result:

mason-pearson-hairbrush-best-amelia-diamond-man-repeller-13

So, okay. The Denman got an unfair disadvantage by brushing the more problematic side of my head with less hair and less post-bun wave. It fell a little flat and frizzy after the brushing. I’ve had better results with this guy in the past, but frizz was a common side effect.

Then I tried the Mason Pearson brush next on the LEFT side of my head — your right.

Left: Delman; Right: Mason Pearson

Okay? So to the ^left^ you can see the Denman-brushed hair, and to the ^right^ you can see the Mason Pearson-brushed hair.

While both gave me shine, the Mason Pearson brush made my hair appreciably smoother and eliminated static, which is my absolute least favorite thing ever and a big problem I endure. I am so static-y that you would think I live with balloons. Which I do.

Now here’s me with my whole head brushed by the Mason Pearson brush!

Full Head: Mason Pearson

Much better.

In conclusion, the Mason Pearson brush really is better than the Denman. Is it worth $150? Kinda. I think it’s the shit, but your thinking it’s the shit depends on how willing you are to spend on something that you can sort of get for $40 (or what, like $5 at CVS). Please don’t tell my dad I did this because he thinks “combs should be a buck.” Here is what I will say: the mystical Mason Pearson sports car for hair didn’t whiten my teeth, but I’m sold after test driving it.

Still have hair on the brain (ew)? Check out beauty writer Arabelle Sicardi’s relationship with her hair or read beauty editor Megan O’Neill’s hair routine.

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Amelia, I don’t brush my hair (I really should though) and so I cannot say the comb is of much interest to me given my lack of beauty prowess, but I will say that you are such a beauty and that your hair is ~ on another level ~. That, I can tell.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Emma Hager you are very kind. It’s so nice to brush your hair though! It feels really good on your scalp aka your brain’s roof.

      • Brain’s roof ahhahaha! ^^

  • Mary

    Wait I really want this now because maybe it will make my hair half as pretty as yours. A simple stocking stuffer, right?!

    • Amelia Diamond

      A GREAT stocking stuffer. I just commented to someone above but if you get the smaller version, it’s more affordable.

      • Mary

        Tbh go big or go home. Can’t wait to tell my mom that a hairbrush is on my list, she will think I’m so humble. Also can you hair run for president? :/

  • Leandra Medine

    The difference is actually insane? The MP brush allows you to keep your precious waves in place whereas the other one white washes you

    • Leandra Medine

      Sorry, poor use of the word insane, i take it back

      • Amelia Diamond

        it was more intense in person! like my hair was being two faced. do you have any candy at your desk btw?

  • Tess

    Amelia’s hair is so magical, it’s practically it’s own entity. If there was ever a head of hair that was going to declare itself independent and sapient, it would be Amelia’s.

    • Suzan

      Ahh haha, your comment is just the cherry on this article which already had me in big smiles <3

      • Amelia Diamond

        you guys are making me laugh out luod

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahahahahahah

    • jahhahaha

  • starryhye

    As a real skeptic, I gotta say, there really was a difference here! I have curly hair and only brush my hair before showering, so there is zero chance I’d spend $150 on a hair brush. But if I had hair like yours, I’d consider it!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I love the photo that is set as your disqus profile picture. It looks like 4 different heads to make a refreshing beverage head? please advise.

      • starryhye

        It’s a glass of “Ice T” with “Ice Cubes” 😀 I found it ages ago and it always makes me laugh

        • Amelia Diamond

          hahahhaahha

  • Mariana

    You have Disney princess hair, Amelia!

  • Catarina Bispo Rosa

    The MP really is amazing. I have been using it for the last 3 years and love it. In a trip last year I forgot it at home and bought a lookalike. Definitelly not a “feelalike” :). And no more static ever!.
    Congratulations on your Ariel, The Mermaid hair!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I know the static thing is a big win

  • “Yeah we did a good job with that one product we sell. Let’s not mess with something perfect,” probably similar to how god thinks about dogs.

    Best line ever.

    • Amelia Diamond

      HI REMEMBER WHEN WE MET AT DINNER

  • Mallory

    I really want the MP brush now!

    • Amelia Diamond

      You can buy the smaller ones for cheaper I just don’t fuck with that because I have a lot of hair and need to be efficient!

      • Mallory

        I hear you on that! Thick hair is a monster to tame sometimes and you have to have the right tools!

  • Miranda

    the real question is, what toothbrush are you referring to?

  • Jennifer Kuzmic Siddens

    If it’s any consolation (regarding the rather disheartening price tag), I bought my MP brush when I was a starving college student (bc beauty > ramen) and I STILL have the same one, 20 years later. And it’s in perfect condition. I don’t even rest it on butterfly wings at night – it’s just the shit.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I have never had anything for more than 20 years besides my parents!!! That is great news.

      • Jennifer Kuzmic Siddens

        It’s survived overseas moves, marriage, and two children who regularly launch it down the stairs. I’m shocked it doesn’t have a titanium core. Truly magic.

      • hahhahah this too

      • alison

        It’s true – I’ve had mine for a decade! Looking forward to 10 more years with my one true love: my Mason Pearson.

    • Guest

      OMG, me, too!!!! The same (2), almost twenty years later!

      • Jennifer Kuzmic Siddens

        Amazing, right? At this point the thing has paid for itself more than our social security program ever will. 😉

  • Elinor

    Damit damit Amelia. I have been wanting get one for years, then stepping away from the register, then nearly getting one, then stepping away.. I do this dance every few months thinking NO it can’t be worth the hype. So I was eagerly awaiting this review and hoping Amelia would say, stick with your $5 one and forget the madness!!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I really wanted to say that! You still can though!

      • Elinor

        No way, you had me at static. Or Lamborghini. Or any other excuse I need.

  • Mia

    My nana got me a Mason Pearson brush for my bat mitzvah… 13 years later it’s still going strong! (Albeit a little melted on one side from a time I left it too close to the hair straightener)

    • Amelia Diamond

      This is totally the type of thing you hope your wise grandma will just magically give to you.

  • DEAR SANTA,

    READ THIS POST.

    LOVE,
    COURT

    • haha yes! That cracked me up.

  • Molly D

    What a find! I should buy this. My Conair makes my head look like a cocker spaniel’s ear when I use it (which I never do for this reason. I actually recently got rid of it.)

  • Anne-Sofie

    I was pretty sceptic before buying it last year, and mostly wanted it because it simply is a must have at some point… But after I began to use it, I truly see a difference, even though most people make fun of me spending that much on a brush.
    I have a friend, who really doesn’t get it, but after unknowingly complimenting a friend of mines hair after she borrowed my brush, she had to admit, that it isn’t just all hype 😉

  • EmilyMica

    My mum gave me Mason Pearson brush for my sixteenth birthday. She was given one on her sixteenth birthday and replaced it with a new one on her 55th birthday.

    Well worth the investment.

  • Mollusk

    [for context, I have curly to way hair. My hair looks like Amelia’s before picture 2 days after I wash it and the curls have fallen, so definitely curlier, but probably just as thick]
    Fresh out off a shower, I can start from the top of my curly-wavy-dry head of hair and go straight down without feeling pain, or stopping on snags. Only brushing experience sans pain or catches. But what sold me is that Mason Pearson’s are really long lived. I read reviews of women who’d kept theirs working at 10+ years. Mine’s 2 years old and hasn’t skipped a beat. So as a long-term investment it pays.

  • RMG2016

    I have incredibly thick long hair similar to your texture. I love my MP brush. I splurged a couple of years ago. I bought the mixted bristles version and I can honestly say it really helps to prolong in between washings. Sounds gross but it does distribute any oil throughout your hair which also helps reduce static. I used to be an every day hair washer and now can skip a day (with dry shampoo of course). Hooray! Also I did NOT tell my husband the price. He also thinks combs should be a loonie (as we crazy Canadians call it).

  • Kirstin Bunton

    Amelia, do you color your hair? If so can you share your secret wonder kid? If not you are one super blessed babe. Edit: still super blessed babe regardless. thanks!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I do I do. Do you live in NYC?

      • Kirstin Bunton

        Yes I do, what’s the 411? thanks!!

  • I have a mixed bristle brush. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have curly/wavy hair so it works for me too! It actually straightens my hair quite a bit!

  • I got mine 25 years ago.. guess i was 4. It still does the job. Best brush ever.. not kidding (yes i tried others to be sure of my willingness to make free mouth-to-mouth advertisement). I appologise for my English (it’s not my mother language) and I will now go brush my hair – again – just because I feel like I owe it to my good old M.P. after reading this article.

  • Olivia Dello Buono

    I don’t brush my hair, but now I feel like I should. I think I read somewhere that you shouldn’t? Can someone validate this? What’s the difference between brushing v. combing?

    I don’t know these things, I was the eldest child.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I am always told to not wash hair while wet because it breaks easier but sometimes I do anyway because I’m wild

      • Ashley Marie Perkins

        Wait how do you wash your hair while it’s dry?

      • haha reading that was like nails on a chalk board for me. Funny though. lol

    • That is definitely something that some professionals advise. I’m a licensed cosmetologist and this is usually what I tell my clients:
      If you have wavy or curly hair don’t brush your hair (unless it’s a snarled mess and you are about to wash it). Brushing it messes up the wave/curl pattern and you’re more likely to experience puff and frizz.

      If you are going to brush your hair don’t do it when it’s wet, start from the ends and work your way up. Try to stay away from plastic as it creates static. Wide tooth bristles are best.

      As far as the difference between brushing and combing that has to do with the tool you are using. Wide tooth combs are known for causing less damage to your hair.

      More on getting healthier hair http://www.kendrapowell.com/blog/the-6-commandments-to-healthy-hair

    • JFM

      Combing with wide-tooth comb or similar tool is the best option for detangling. Brushing with a natural bristle brush is great for distributing natural oils from the scalp to the ends of straight or slightly wavy hair. Also, the nylon bristles in the MP (and similar brushes) provide a nice little scalp massage. The increased blood flow nourishes follicles and encourages hair growth. 🙂

  • Tanya Chace

    I cannot extoll enough the virtues of having an MP brush in your beauty product stash. They are worth the money for that silky smooth hair. My father introduced me to them as a child becaus my lengthy hair had a habit for getting ridiculously tangled (think 1 bottle of conditioner tangled). The MP brush always got those knots out, and did it without any tears. Definitely put it on you Christmas/Chanukah list!

  • Tanya Chace

    I cannot extoll enough the virtues of having an MP brush in your beauty product stash. They are worth the money for that silky smooth hair. My father introduced me to them as a child because my lengthy hair had a habit for getting ridiculously tangled (think 1 bottle of conditioner tangled). The MP brush always got those knots out, and did it without any tears. Definitely put it on you Christmas/Chanukah list!

  • Sati Marie Frost

    My first ever hairbrush (after I actually started growing my hair) was one of these. I didn’t know it was anything special back then, although my friends thought it looked and felt weird.

    I’ve been using cheap brushes for years and it somehow never occurred to me that this could be a factor in why my hair doesn’t look as nice as it used to. I’m not the brightest star in the sky when it comes to beauty stuff.

    $150, though…that’s harsh. The same brush is like £40 here. This may be the only time I’ve found something cheaper in the UK than the U.S. Except fruits and vegetables. *eyeroll*

  • Jolie

    Amelia, your hair should be in a museum. How is it so perfect?!

  • Sarah Emerson

    Awesome! I have always wondered about this!

  • Natty

    I have (and use daily) my mom’s MP brush, which I believe she had as a little girl…? It may have even been her mom’s before that. Regardless, it’s a treasure. Nothing is built to last that long anymore. Nothing!

  • Maria

    Amelia, i identify with you so much, every article is my life, i particulary remember the one with the shorts <3, never stop writing!

  • Michelle Clements

    i just bought this brush last week! I have gone from never brushing my thick long knotty hair… ever- to a heavenly brushing before washing it. i’ve noticed such a difference in my hair softness and the feeling it leaves my scalp, but I can still get the messy look i like after washing. WORTH IT! By the way, you can get the brush for about 1/3 the price when ordering from amazon.de (i live in Europe).

  • b.e.g.

    It’s really only good for straight or wavy hair (Amelia’s hair type) that can be brushed. If you have curly, kinky hair, forget it, unless you want the upside down V that Gilda Radner’s character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, sported on SNL in the 70s. If you have curly, not kinky, but just loose curls it will ruin the beautiful waves as they need to stay separate, uncombed.

    This brush was from the era that suggested to comb 150 strokes to give shine to your hair, but what is was actually doing was stimulating the oil glands in your head and spreading that natural (lovely) oil throughout. No hair products back then (aren’t you glad you live now!). People didn’t wash their hair everyday, rather weekly. The brush was an essential beauty product to maintain lovely tresses.

    Oh, and btw, Amelia, one should NEVER start combing from the top down. Start combing from the bottom up to untangle your hair. That goes for wet or dry hair. Once untangled, then yes, of course, comb from top to bottom. This prevents unnecessary breakage of the hair, and you will have much less split ends. Trust me on this one, although you don’t know me. 😉

  • Jessica

    Totally inspired me to make the purchase after a few months of maybe. Also the best deal I could find without searching too hard was dermstore- they have 25% off right now and mason pearson is included. Just saying.

    • Ashley Marie Perkins

      Love you.

  • I won one of these in a competition when I was 15 and still have it.

  • pennyjenny

    I really love mine. I have tangle-prone, stretchy bleach-damaged hair I’ve been growing out for a year, and this brush is the only one that can glide through it without causing breakage (or getting stuck). Also love the anti-static properties. I had a $50 gift card to Marshall’s, and I happened to find a M-P brush in a bin at an already decent discount. WORTH IT. I def can’t go back to a drugstore brush. ETA: My hair is naturally straight-ish with some wave.

  • imkrisp

    I am a suckered for expensive beauty products and anything recommended by Man Repeller (remember the story like 2 years ago on the best parka? Hello, Aritzia!).

    My brush was just delivered and I think I’m in love. I have a chin length bob and my hair is super thick so I opted for the mixed bristle one. I don’t wash my hair everyday and was using a paddle brush with wide bristles which was not the tool for the job. This morning? Woke up, brushed, and am out the door with AMAZING looking hair. $150 is steep, but I’ll take it if my hair looks and feels this good every morning. (The parka was 2x+ that and I’m still wearing it 2 years later).

    Keep on, keepin’ on, Amelia!

  • I’m sorta curious about this brush now. Your hair does look relatively smooth on that one side. But the $150 price tag still seems a bit steep. lol Maybe one day…

    http://www.KendraPowell.com/blog

  • Abe Luther

    One of my girlfriends swears by this brush. She brings a smaller version of it OUT TO BARS with her, neatly tucked away in her purse. It doesn’t even have Find My iPhone or some sort of location tracking device attached…

    In her defense it does make your hair feel and look like the golden fleece after a humid night at an overrated club lacking proper ventilation. Can’t say the same about the last $1 comb I purchased.

  • Grrrl, your locks are AMAZE. Killing it.

    Also, this brush is EXACTLY what is missing from my life.

  • Abbey

    Have you tested the MP brush against the Sonia Kashuk dupe? I have that, and have used it as an excuse not to splurge on an MP, but now I am reconsidering and my wallet is screaming at me….

  • Miss J

    I still have to make it a habit to brush my hair every day!
    But now that you mention “legal only in Europe” face products, that’s how I am for Korean face care. Snail creams are the best!

  • I love my Mason Pearson brush! Good quality products always last longer so are worth every penny of investment in the long run:)

  • XJ JX

    I am Asian with stick straight hair. What’s the advantage of using a Mason Pearson brush. Please enlighten me.
    Sincerely,
    Playboy Mommy 🙂

  • Delphine Gintz

    No way! I didn’t know that was a thing ^^ My mom got it for me when I was about 8 yo to protect my hair around the forehead (I have curly frizzy hair) and I always thought the price she told me was just an excuse for me to use it and take care of it haha But anyways, I guess you can use it on pretty much any hair type then!

  • Bonnie

    When you say, “OG MP,” which Mason Pearson brush is this? I wasn’t able to find OG. Is it all boar that you tried or boar and nylon bristles? And what size? Thanks!

  • Cúcara Mácara Títerefue

    I turned 70 years old a couple of weeks ago. I was married at 27. My husband gave me a Mason Pearson Junior hairbrush as a gift during the first year of our marriage. I still use it every day. It’s the only brush I have used for all those years. The brush is intact, its quality continues to be the same. I remember it cost about $60.00 then and me thinking that was an outrageous price. I have baby fine hair and when my husband died two years ago I lost clumps of it leaving very visible bald spots. After the expected months of deep depression I took over my grooming again. This brush has livened up my hair enough not to make me show so much scalp. Note: I’m not saying I’ve re-grown hair, just that my hair looks livelier and therefore fuller. If I ever needed another brush I wouldn’t hesitate to pay whatever it is for another Mason Pearson.