I never knew it could be this healthy.

Kelsey Haywood Lucas
May 03, 2021 @ 6:22 pm
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement
crown affair brush review
Credit: Alicia Wiley Photography

Welcome to Try Before You Buy, a monthly series where we talk about the pricey beauty products and in-office treatments that are getting major buzz and give our honest feedback.

A year ago, I never would have believed my hair would look—or feel—the way it does right now. But when I ditched my unhealthy hair habits for a more minimalist and mindful approach—one that prioritized brushing with the Crown Affair No. 001 dual-bristle boar brush and doing almost nothing else—my hair became stronger, longer, shinier, and glowier than it's ever been. (Yes, glowier. I'll explain.)

But first, some context. At the start of this little journey, I didn't set out to transform my hair. I didn't have a strategy; I wasn't conducting an experiment. I was just exhausted and exasperated and very much over it. My hair had been a headache for a literal decade: I was endlessly chasing an idealized version of "good hair" that was impossible to attain. And in the process, I was inflicting constant damage on it (highlighting, more highlighting, heat styling, extensions—to the max, on repeat). My hair responded by drying out, breaking off, and refusing to grow.

So I let it all go—no highlighting, no coloring, no blow-drying, no heat styling, no extensions. My new routine? I washed it, let it air-dry, and then I brushed it out. And then the next morning, I brushed it again. And then I didn't wash it for a few days...but kept brushing it as needed. That's it. As I banished my blow-dryer and flat iron and curling wand to the bottom of a bathroom drawer, I decided I should upgrade the one and only tool I was actually using: a brush.

After browsing Crown Affair's range of sustainably-sourced brushes and combs—each with a slightly different purpose or target hair type—I settled on The Brush No. 001, a dual-bristle brush handmade in Italy from natural, sturdy beechwood and finished in a sleek black shade. It's made with a mix of both boar and nylon bristles (this combo is very intentional—keep reading), which are nestled inside a naturally-sourced rubber cushion that protects your scalp as you brush. There's also a tiny hole on the brush's pneumatic pad, which helps to distribute and absorb pressure across your entire scalp. (I have very sensitive skin and sometimes deal with inflammatory scalp issues, so I really appreciated these little details.)

Crown Affair The Brush No.001
$62.00
SHOP IT
Crown Affair

The bristles are where things really get good. "The shorter boar bristles distribute your hair's healthy oils evenly along the length of your hair, which helps prevent it from becoming dry and brittle, and also protects the scalp from oxidative damage," explains Dianna Cohen, the founder and CEO of Crown Affair. "The longer nylon bristles gently stimulate your scalp to increase blood flow, keep your follicles healthy, and add volume at your crown." 

This all sounds very impressive and science-y, and that's because it is. (The benefits of caring for your scalp are well documented.) But let me tell you what it actually felt like: It felt like therapy. As I ran the No. 001 over my crown, it was like getting a scalp massage—there was that tingly, ooooh-this-feels-good effect. So instead of hurriedly yanking a brush through my tangles as quickly as I could get it all over with, I found myself lingering a little longer, and at the end, I always felt like I had just hit a recharge button.

My hair was clearly feeling the good vibes, too. I was shocked at how much better it started looking—like, immediately—once I started treating it with a high-quality brush. After a few strokes, any slickness was transformed into a healthy kind of shiny, not an "I-haven't-washed-my-hair-in-four-days" kind of shiny. A glowy kind of shiny—the kind of shiny that comes from encouraging and supporting your body's amazing, innate ability to nourish its scalp and strands with a natural oil it produced all by itself. (It's free! It's sustainable! It's your very own sebum!) And isn't that the whole point of all this? That we often have everything we need within us, as long as we slow down long enough to reveal it? 

Because that's what happened with my hair. As weeks and months passed, one thing became clear: My hair was getting longer and stronger and healthier. It was thriving. And to be honest? So was I. 

For the first time in forever, I wasn't stressing about my hair anymore. I wasn't counting down backwards to figure out when I needed to start styling to be on time to wherever. By not regularly wasting 45 minutes on blow-drying, I found free time to do far more important things (like sleep in, or read, or spin!). The concept of "bad hair days" didn't exist because my hair was always generally the same—loose, messy waves. Sometimes I even did cute things with it. It felt like liberation. It felt like self-acceptance.

Almost a year into my new zero-damage lifestyle, my hair had become so healthy that I barely recognized it in photos—but I'm not sure why I was so surprised at the time. Why hadn't I ever considered, in my quest for long and strong hair, that I'd actually have to have healthy habits to get healthy hair? That my routine was completely unsustainable and would inevitably have led to more damage and more attempts to "fix" its effects, and the vicious cycle would have continued? Once I stopped trying to heat-style my hair into submission or artificially alter it to look how I thought it would look best, it turned into the really beautiful hair I didn't know I already had. 

I realize these are all Very Deep Thoughts™ about, well, a brush—not exactly the most revolutionary or groundbreaking beauty tool of recent history. Or is it? Because I've owned plenty of other brushes throughout my life, and I can promise you that not a single one ever inspired me to pause for a moment of mindfulness or became a major factor in improving my hair's health. 

But that's the thing about a Crown Affair brush—a brush that costs $62 but has already helped me save me hundreds of dollars in styling products and salon charges. When it comes to beauty or health or wellness or mindfulness or anything, really, the very best tool is whichever one you'll enjoy using regularly—whether it's a meditation app, or a journal, or a beautiful brush that sits on your vanity and inspires you to take a deep breath and approach the day with appreciation. (Starting with yourself, of course.)