I had waist length hair till I was 24. In spite of not having much money as an undergraduate and grad student, I always tried to take really good care of my long hair. As I’ve mentioned before, I went to school and lived in New York for a long time, and my favorite place to browse for personal care and especially haircare products was C.O. Bigelow – the original, privately-owned store in the Village. The store was very old with glass cases to display expensive goods and big apothecary jars with colored liquids placed here and there. Mostly, the store was filled to the gills with enticing, high-end goods.
In one of the glass cases, I discovered brushes and combs from Kent of London. Here’s a little background on the brand and company:
“G B Kent & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of brushes since the eighteenth century is one of the oldest established companies in Great Britain. Kent has been the premiere name in hairbrushes and combs for more than 200 years. Every Kent item goes through a 12-step procedure prior to inspection, including cutting, shaping, bristling, finishing and buffing. Made with only the highest-quality bristles, Kent holds the Royal Warrant for hairbrushes in the UK. Their handmade combs are hand-sawn so their soft, flexible, rounded teeth won’t damage your hair or scalp.”
I was captivated by the natural bristle, carved wooden brushes that were considered the best brushes to maintain the health of hair. I used to brush my long hair a lot to keep it healthy. I saved up my babysitting and bartending money to buy a Kent brush. I believe it cost about $25, a lot of money back then. Now, the same or very similar Kent Ladies Real Bristle Brush has an MSRP of about $100. I still have my brush all these many years later (and I’m not telling you how many!).
Kent’s hand made combs were also enticing and more affordable. I always have two of them: a handle comb and a pocket comb.
I bought a new handle comb called a “rake” because of the handle and the fact that the teeth are placed in a slightly curved shape. The one I had for years and years mysteriously disappeared. I think it got knocked off my bathroom vanity into the wastebasket, and it got tossed. Here’s the new one, 205mm Large Handled Rake Comb Coarse – 10T, priced at $10-12 depending on where you buy it. Because I have thick, coarse hair, I always buy the combs with space between the teeth. They are so great for untangling my hair without breaking my hair or my comb.
For the same reason, I chose the Kent 146mm/5 inch pocket comb for Thick/Coarse Hair Sawcut 12T. I keep it in my makeup bag in my purse. I believe the one I own is at least 20 years old. Can you believe that? Keeping a comb for 20 years? Well I have. I just bought a second one, even though my old one is in perfect shape except for the gold branding that has faded. The new version is priced around $10-12, too. I was pleased to see that another old apothecary, Eisler Chemists on Lexington Avenue in New York still carries Kent in store and online.
Kent combs come in many different styles and sizes but they’re all in faux tortoise-shell heavy plastic. (I’ll bet the original combs from the early days of the company were in real tortoise-shell. Yikes.) Although I prefer the combs for thick, coarse hair, Kent has a number of styles for fine or normal hair too. I think it’s worth it to pay around $10 for a comb because it lasts for decades without breaking. And most importantly, it doesn’t damage hair. If you’re looking to step up your haircare game, consider a comb or brush from Kent.