Review of Mason Pearson Pure Bristle Brush by gingerrama
UPDATE TO UPDATE (2010): paddle brushes just don't work as well on my hair. Plus the Aveda one broke, fast. Repurchased both Mason Pearsons, this time the mixed boar/nylon. Happiness resumed.
UPDATE: They both died. The large one lasted nearly 20 years (minus 1 month and 10 days), the little one 18. The rubber pad finally died. Went over the course of about a month, then rapidly, and the bristles fell out. Can't justify the expense of replacing them right now - saw the cost and nearly fainted - but their temporary replacements are doing wery well: an Aveda paddle brush and a similar mini version from the Body Shop. Will update on them later ... say, in another 20 years' time. If they don't last till then, or aren't good enough, I'll repurchase the Mason Pearsons immediately of course.
Yes, they're expensive hairbrushes; but that might just be because they're good and last forever. It's an investment. The pure bristle one is supposed to be more suitable for fine to normal hair, and finer long hair. Thicker hair - bristle and nylon mix. Hair that's really rather thick indeed - nylon. Aside from the practicality of the smaller ones for handbag or travel, one is supposed to go for a longer handle and larger head the longer one's locks happen to be. For more info on all that, see here.
I have had the "small extra" (medium head, 7 rings of bristles, full-length handle) since 1989. The only wear and tear is some scratching to the back, and the disappearance of the gold from the embossed lettering on the handle. All else works fine. I haven't used it for a while, as it works better with long hair and my hair is currently short/growing out.
I also have the "pocket" (small head, 5 rings of bristles, shorter handle). Bought in 1991, as a bag-brush. Similar condition to the Handy. It worked fine on longer hair (was down to elbows) though obviously that took a bit longer to brush than with the slightly larger brush. It's still great on shorter (chin-length) hair.
What's so good about these brushes? Scalp massage. The even distribution of oils down the hair-shaft. Soft, shiny, smooth hair. These brushes actually help hair condition, unlike many others that hinder it. Hairbrushing incidentally becomes an enjoyable and relaxing activity, what between the tingly scalp and the silken strands.
The brushes come with small square handle-less cleaning brushes, with long nylon bristles. Very useful - mine is cleaned with comb + that small brush at least once a week. I'd also recommend cleaning your brush with water about every couple of weeks, and letting it air-dry. Not shampoo or other detergents. Well, if you do it once or twice the brush probably won't die. Cleaning is fun as water accumulates under the squeezable cushion + small hole at end of brush = water-pistol joy.
These brushes do come with a couple of warnings attached. As other reviewers have noted, it's not a good idea to mix the bristle brushes with oily or siliconey products, and maybe be wary of using them around various other styling products. Partly to do with the natural bristles, partly to do with the rubber backing (think condom + baby oil...). So this is a brush for a more natural look and minimalist hair-care regimen. More info on all that - the Mason Pearson main site: http://www.masonpearson.com.