Beauty Test Drive: The Marilyn New Yorker Boar Bristle Brush

My hair is naturally wavy, so I’ve often been told to brush it very delicately, even sparingly. This fine line has always confused me. I can’t just not brush my hair and roll out of bed with a frizzy mess, but I usually boost the natural waves by curling a few pieces with a curling iron, and brushing those out defeats the purpose of curling them in the first place. It’s a bizarre conundrum: the bottom half of my hair will look great, pull of perfectly pieced waves, but the top will be a frizzy, flyaway disaster. To brush is to ruin one half, to not brush is to look sloppy.

It certainly hasn’t helped that I’ve spent the past several years buying cheap, crappy brushes that were no match for my thick hair. I’ve always toyed with the idea of trying out a boar bristle brush, the holy grail of hair care. It always somewhat intimidated me, because there is a rhyme and reason to the way you run that thing through your tresses. No free-for-all brushing on your way out the door allowed! A few weeks ago, I finally worked up the nerve (well, mostly the patience) to try the New Yorker from the Marilyn Brush line which is made of a mix of nylon quills and those scary boar bristles. My happiest discovery was that while brushing with it does change the consistency to my waves to a less piecey look, it doesn’t make anything look worse, just different. Instead of turning them into a clunky, frizzy mess like other brushes, it lets them cascade into a soft pile on my shoulders. Hallelujah!

Price: $20-$48 (various sizes are available), MarilynBrush.com or Ulta

Application: Using a boar bristle brush has “RULES.” The idea is that the rules are worth the reward of gorgeous locks, since, according to the beauty gods, all those plastic and metal brushes have been secretly destroying and breaking our hair our whole lives. Said beauty gods require that you strictly adhere to using this brush correctly, lest you fuck it up and find yourself with a tangly, damaged mountain of frizz on your head. First off, we are absolutely not allowed to brush with boar bristles when our hair is wet, nor are we to expect it to do any detangling. Detangling is dirty work to be done by a plebeian wide-toothed comb before you allow the boar bristle brush to grace your tresses with its presence.

When you finally have your brush in hand, you must dive in with a specific plan of action and brush in previously thought-out sections instead of going for your whole head at once. The good news is that theoretically, you’re only supposed to go through these complicated steps once a day at the very most most — boar bristle brushes allegedly strain your hair if used too often, and are supposed to keep it lovely enough that it doesn’t even need frequent brushing. Oh, and as you probably assumed, this type of brushing much less confusing once you’ve done it a few times. It’s hair, not rocket science, though this process veers a tad too close to rocket science for my taste. I found a lot of helpful information on brushing correctly from this blog post and this one, which includes video tutorials, if you’re looking for more tips.

Test Drive

Results: I’m told that both nylon quills and boar bristles are good for bringing out your hair’s natural oils. I have no scientific proof that that’s what happens on my head when I used the brush, but it did make my hair feel ultra shiny without any kind of greasy feel, so I’ll have to assume that’s why. Immediately after I brush with the New Yorker, the consistency of my hair can only be described as how I remember it looking when I was a little kid, before it was weighed down with years of dyes and product and the texture changes that come with getting older. All natural, basically. I had such naturally beautiful hair when I was, like, 8, as did almost every other kid I knew — only we didn’t appreciate it then. It was shiny and soft and full of rich natural highlights, and for a second, the New Yorker strips my hair back down to its former pure, un-fussed with beauty. Of course, once I’ve moved my head around for a few minutes, it goes back to your average world-weary mane that’s seen a bleach job or two in its day, but it’s still much shinier and less frizzy than it ever was with that shoddy plastic-y brush I used before the New Yorker came into my life.

I tried to capture in this picture what the shine looked like from the side of my head right after brushing, but this ended up being a much more complicated selfie feat than I thought and just made it look messier. So, you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was much lovelier in person.

Test Drive

Below is my hair a few hours later, post-brushing. Still your average hair, with fly-aways and the like, but significantly shinier and more voluminous than before I brushed it, and much better looking than when I used a crappy plastic brush from CVS (trust). Fellow wavy-haired ladies, as you can see, the New Yorker warped the shape of the waves and made them less defined, but for once, it didn’t turn them into a frizz-fest. Try one out!

Test Drive Hair

Rating:  4.5/5