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Denman D3 vs D4: Which One Should You Choose?

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Table of Contents

Image of curly girl pointing left at the Denman brushes d3 and d4 on a blue background.

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Achieving perfectly defined and structured curls is not just about the quality of the styling products you choose; it’s equally crucial to pay attention to how you style your hair immediately after washing it. While it’s easy to focus solely on products like gels and creams, we shouldn’t overlook the significance of the tools we use, such as combs and brushes, in crafting well-defined curls.

The Denman brush, a staple in the curly hair community since its introduction in the late 1930s, stands out as a beloved tool for enhancing curl definition and facilitating styling. Among the variety of brushes Denman offers, the D3 and D4 models are particularly popular, yet choosing between these two can be a daunting task due to their similarities and subtle differences.

In this guide, we’ll delve into a detailed comparison of the Denman D3 and D4 detangling brushes. By examining their differences and similarities, we aim to provide you with the insights needed to decide which brush is the ideal match for your hair’s specific needs.

What is a Denman Brush?

The Denman brush was invented in the 1930s by John Denman Dean. It has since become a staple tool for curly and textured hair folks. It’s designed to detangle and define curls, making them smooth and frizz-free.

It has rows of nylon bristles arranged in a specific pattern to detangle and define curls on wet or dry hair. But preferably damp hair to reduce breakage.

The brush is designed to evenly distribute hair products and help shape them without pulling or damaging the strands.

The Distinctions Between Denman D3 vs D4 Brush

The main differences between a D3 and a D4 Denman brush are their size and the number of rows of bristles.

D3 Brush

Image of the Denman brush D3 on tan background.

The Denman brush D3 is an excellent choice for curly hair. With seven rows of pins, this brush provides the perfect tension to define each curl while distributing products evenly throughout your strands.

The short pins can work deep into the hair shaft for maximum definition, while the long nails reach all areas of your head for even coverage. The soft handle makes it easy to maneuver around your scalp and offers a comfortable grip.

D4 Brush

Image of the Denman brush D4 on a gray background.

In contrast, the Denman brush D4 is larger and has 9 rows of pins making it better suited for those with thicker or longer hair.

It is the perfect choice for those with medium to lengthy hair. This brush offers a more intense tension for extra curl definition and getting the styling products from root to end.

So whether you’re looking for more volume or definition in your curls, the Denman brush D4 will give you precisely what you need.

How to Know the Right Brush for My Curly Hair Type

To know the right Denman brush for your hair type and curl definition, consider the following factors:

Curl pattern

If you have tight curls, you’ll need a brush with closely spaced bristles that can detangle without causing frizz. And if you have looser curls, you can use a brush with wider-spaced bristles.

Hair thickness

If you have thick hair, you’ll need a brush with more bristles to detangle it effectively. It’s also important to note that trial and error may be required to find the correct Denman brush for your hair.

Type 2 hair

The Denman brush most suitable for type 2 hair is the D3 brush. Its rows of pins have a staggered formation to detangle and define wavy hair effectively.

The brush is also lightweight, making it easy to use and maneuver. It is good to note that the right brush for your hair type may vary depending on your personal preferences and styling needs.

With type 2a, 2b, or 2c hair, the D3 will help to gently detangle and define curls without disrupting the natural wave pattern.

Using the brush on wet hair that has been conditioned and detangled is also recommended to minimize breakage and damage.

You can also use a leave-in conditioner or styling product to help with detangling and enhance the natural curl pattern.

Below is a tutorial by my friend Janelle, explaining if the number of rows is significant when using a Denman brush, plus a little tutorial and tips on how to use the brush.

YouTube video
Video credit: Jannelle O’Shaughnessy

Type 3 Hair

The Denman brush recommended for type 3 hair is also the D3 brush. It is lightweight and easy to handle, making it an excellent option for those with type 3 hair who want to enhance their curls and maintain their hair’s natural texture.

Depending on whether you have 3a or 3b curly hair, the brush is designed with a curved shape that conforms to the natural shape of your head. This is supposed to make it more comfortable to use.

Moreover, for tighter curls found in 3c hair, it is vital to use hair brushes with densely spaced bristles whether you’re blow-drying the hair to stretch out the strands or keeping the tight coils together if you’re styling the hair when wet.

Bianca has provided a useful guide to the Denman brush, and I’m in agreement with her take on the brush. Check it out!

YouTube video
Video credit: BiancaReneeToday

Type 4 Hair

Women with type 4 hair should opt for a Denman D4 brush. Its design helps define beautiful curls and coils, distribute products evenly, and detangle knots without causing excessive breakage.

It also helps evenly distribute natural oils from the scalp throughout the hair, promoting healthy growth.

Additionally, a Denman brush can help reduce tangling and create a more streamlined look. We’d recommended including a conditioning product to help with the frizz control.

If you have coily hair, this tutorial will show you how to properly use the Denman brush and maximize your coils!

YouTube video
Video credit: Tierra Hogan

Trial and Error

As mentioned, try D3 and D4 brushes before deciding which is better for your hair. You may have medium hair that is quite dense and could use a D4 detangling brush even if your hair falls into the type 3a category.

Final Thoughts on Denman D3 vs D4

Choosing the Denman D3 or the D4 will depend on your curly hair type and styling preferences.

Both brushes have advantages for specific curl patterns, so it’s essential to consider your unique needs before deciding.

Ultimately, the most critical factor is choosing a brush that will help you achieve your desired hairstyle with ease and without causing damage to your hair.

You want to make the most of your curl definition, whether you have thick and coarse coily hair or more wavy loose curls.

So if you’re ready to try out a Denman brush, check out our product recommendations and brush guide and start styling today.


Which Denman Brush Is Best For Defining Curls?

In my experience, the Denman D3 brush with 7 rows of bristles is the best for defining curls. The bristles are firm enough to detangle and define each curl but gentle enough to avoid causing damage or frizz. But it’s important to note that every person’s hair is unique, so what works for me may not work for you.

Can A Denman Brush Be Used On Wavy Hair?

Yes, a Denman brush can be used on wavy hair to help define and shape the waves.


I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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