The Climb is our series that highlights a top-selling item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these monthly features, you'll hear straight from the brands about the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This month's focus is on the best-selling Mason Pearson Popular Hairbrush. Find the story behind the cult-favorite product below.
When you’re on a mission to achieve silky, healthy hair, you probably pull out your favorite leave-in conditioner and hair mask. But, what about your hairbrush? Not all brushes are created equal, and as all beauty mavens know, Mason Pearson’s iconic Popular hairbrush is beloved for much more than just its detangling benefits.
The classic model retails for over $200, and is currently the most expensive brush money can buy. But despite the sticker shock, it’s still one of those must-have items for beauty connoisseurs — just look to world-renowned hairstylists like Guido and Sam McKnight who use it backstage at fashion week season after season. The Mason Pearson brush has become a true beauty cult-classic since it launched back in the late 1800s.
In the 19th century, Mason Pearson — the founder of the eponymous brand — started his career designing wool processing looms in Bradford, a city in northern England. After moving to London, the engineer and inventor joined a partnership (that later became known as Raper Pearson and Gill), which consisted of small brush manufacturing. During this time, the brushes at Raper Pearson and Gill were made by hand. “Mason Pearson incorporated the knowledge from his time in the wool processing industry to spark the invention of an automatic brush-boring machine to speed up the process of brush making and in 1885 public recognition of this resulted in his being awarded a Silver Medal at the International Inventions Exhibition in London,” the brand’s website states.
Fast forward over 130 years and according to a brand representative, the manufacturing process is virtually the same. Back in the 19th century, there were manually operated presses for making the cushions and punching the holes for the brush’s bristle tufts. As for today, those machines are powered by electricity; however, they are still operated manually as an operator works the machine to do its job (which ensures superior quality). This is different from most brushes on the market that are made by an automated process where the raw materials are fed into one end of a machine and brushes come out the other end.
Likewise, as for the design of the brush, which features an orange pad and boar bristles, only the dimensions have been altered — everything else has remained the same. The original brush was mid-sized, but now, the brand offers multiple sizes, ranging from small to large.
Pearson also invented the pneumatic cushion and spired tufting for the brush. When it initially launched in 1885, there were no blow dryers or styling products on the market. Therefore, brushes were intended for grooming purposes only, not styling. In fact, the rep says the primary goal of brushes back then was to cleanse the hair and scalp by distributing the sebaceous oils from the base to the ends of the hair shaft, exfoliate by stimulating the scalp, and get rid of debris from the hair. Since the design has remained the same since its inception, those benefits extend to modern users as well.
The Mason Pearson Popular Hairbrush isn’t just meant for detangling your hair — it’s also to smooth, strengthen, and minimize breakage. This is done via the signature boar bristles, which lift oil from the base of the hair as well as the scalp and then distribute the oil across the hair shaft. Hair damage typically occurs when the cuticle is lifted, meaning, the cuticle opens up and makes your strands appear brittle. But, as the Mason Pearson brush spreads out the oils along the hair shaft, it actually maintains the health of the hair cuticle.
The rep recommends using the brush during the day and in the evening, always before shampooing. This is because, as noted above, the main purpose of brushing your hair with the Mason Pearson is to distribute the oils. But, shampoo actually removes a lot of those nourishing oils, so, when you’re brushing your hair before cleansing, you’re actually coating your hair in those oils (which is overall beneficial for your hair’s health) before removing them with shampoo.
Of course, the high-quality materials used to make the brush also contribute to the steep price tag. For instance, the brand’s rep notes that the classic brush includes premium raw materials, top-grade boar bristles, natural rubber, and cellulose acetate for the handles. Additionally, hand-making brushes is quite labor-intensive, and skilled labor in the UK is not cheap. (All of the brand’s models are made in the UK.) In fact, these specific skills needed for brush making take years of apprenticeship. And, once you become a master brush maker, you receive a higher paycheck for the skilled labor.
To keep your brush in top-notch condition, the rep says after you use it, take 30 seconds to clean the brush head — you can even use the same shampoo you use on your hair. To do this, use lukewarm water and shampoo and swish just the bristle to clean them. Then, rinse the bristles in clean water, and finish off by placing the brush bristle side down on a towel to dry. Regular maintenance means that your brush investment will last as long as possible.
This cult-favorite hairbrush is much more than just a styling product. Indeed, it’s a low-maintenance hair treatment for healthier hair. Not only is it super easy to use but it only requires a few seconds out of your day. Sold on this best-selling hairbrush? Below, shop the classic product and see what all the hype is about.
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