Brush Up Hairstyle: Epic Style Guide with Instructions

The Brush Up hairstyle is a hair style made popular by guys like Zayn Malik and Justin Bieber. Learn in this epic Brush Up guide by Rogelio how to do the hairstyle and what hair products to pick!

Full Guide to the Brush Up hairstyle: A One Trendy Mens Hair Style

The Brush Up hairstyle is a mens hairstyle that I had been tracking for a while; just like with the Undercut, it seems as though nowadays every male in the United States and Europe under the age of 25 must now have his hair in a Brush Up. First it was the Faux Hawk, then it was spiky hair, then we had the Undercut and now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s “that” time for the Brush Up. Guys like Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik have worn the Brush Up hairstyle, and, despite their terrible singing, both these two dudes can certainly influence what hairstyles are to become trendy and which are to fade into oblivion.

The Brush Up hairstyle of Zayn Malik

I “don’t even” how groupies fall for this guy; he can’t even lift his eyebrow like a real man, for crying out loud!

What is the Brush Up hairstyle?

The Brush Up is a very simple hairstyle, and I like to describe it as simply “an extended Quiff”, in that all of the hair is lifted up instead of just the forelock (i.e. hair on the front of the head) as one would do with a regular Quiff.

In the Brush Up, the sides and back of your head are to be trimmed in a short taper haircut, fade haircut or even in an Undercut haircut. Essentially, you want the sides and back of your head to remain short since it is what you have on the top of your head that matters in the Brush Up. The hair on the top is lifted up, similar to how you’d do with spiking your hair, but, instead of defining spiked, the lifting up of the hair is done carelessly in more of a messy manner than in a calculated manner. The hair on the top of the head acquires upward vertical volume by lifting it up with your fingers, but you do also need to use a hair dryer to really ensure that your mane stands up in a chaotic-albeit-aesthetic manner.

Zayn Malik with a Brush Up hairstyle and some hair highlights

Another example of Zayn Malik’s Brush Up hairstyle. Notice how the style bears similarities with the regular Quiff

The actual name “Brush Up” is one that I came up with after discussing it with the guys over at the Men’s Hair Forum. If you are a frequent reader of Manly Curls or if you have already read any of my two bestselling books (The Curly Hair Book and The Men’s Hair Book, click each link to read more), then you’d know that I dig the military haircuts and, when I have short hair, I will usually go for a High and Tight Recon or similar (in fact, the Recon haircut alone is a great haircut for curly hair like mine). Due to my “manly” nerdiness and unusual interest in all the military haircuts, I could not help but notice that this new hairstyle that Zayn Malik and Justin Bieber were wearing, which I termed Brush Up, bore an strikingly-similar shape to the regular Brush Cut; the latter being a military haircut. In both the Brush Up and the Brush Cut, the goal is to have the hair standing up and thus emulating a brush, so I decided to give this Justin-Bieber-inspired new hairstyle an easy-to-remember name, and hence the “Brush Up” hairstyle (as a name) was born.

How to do the Brush Up hairstyle

First of all, you are going to need the right haircut for the Brush Up. You want to have a medium length on the top of your head, so anything between 4 to 6 inches is a good length to own or shoot for if you don’t already have this length. Likewise and as written earlier, the sides and back of your head should be clipped very short in a taper, fade or Undercut. I leave it up to you what you get for the sides and back of your head, although men with curly hair will want to go for a taper cut with a hair clipper since curly hair has a tendency to look even puffier with sharp haircuts and Undercuts (i.e. what I call the “walking mushroom” effect).

Once you have the right haircut, it is then time to style your Brush Up. Make sure before starting to style your mane that you already own the tools needed for the Brush Up hairstyle: hair wax, hair mousse, comb and a high-quality hair dryer. You will find my specific recommendations for each of the products listed a bit further down in this hairstyle guide.

To style your Brush Up, start with your hair damp so that it isn’t neither dripping wet nor too dry. Then, proceed to coat your “luscious locks” with either a hair wax or with hair mousse (I’ll explain the difference between both products further down). Once your locks are coated in either of these 2 mens hairstyling products, then grab your hair dryer and point it towards your hair as you simultaneously lift the hair up with your fingers; this will get the first “lifting up” motion going and will allow you to gauge how much volume you can get for your hairstyling needs. Once the first lifting up motion is done with your fingers, you can then continue to lift your hair up with your fingers until you are satisfied with how the Brush Up looks, or you can instead grab a comb and carefully lift the hair up as you keep pointing the hair dryer towards the hair you’re working on. You can use more hair wax or hair mousse as you repeat the lifting up motion.

Bruno Mars with straightened hair and sporting a Brush Up.

Even Bruno Mars could not resist the temptation and straightened his kinky curly mane to be able to rock a Brush Up

While, in my book The Men’s Hair Book, I have detailed absolutely everything to do with hair styling, grooming and with getting the hair ready for its styling, you can certainly browse around Manly Curls and read several of my hair styling and grooming guides published in this blog of mine, of which I highly recommend you to read my hair dryer guide so that you learn how to use a hair dryer effectively. Styling your hair with your fingers will feel very intuitive, so you won’t be having problems with that part of the styling of your Brush Up. However, you can learn all hairstyling techniques in The Men’s Hair Book, among lots more useful stuff that you can learn, as I created The Men’s Hair Book with the idea of publishing an encyclopedia-like resource for your hair that is free of Sex-in-the-City stuff and is also free of estrogen-raising content (you know, unlike 99% of the men’s hair content out there).

Hair products for the Brush Up hairstyle

Alright, so I wrote earlier that I would be explaining the difference between hair wax and hair mousse, so let me quickly go through each of these two hair products and what they differ in:

  • Hair wax is a product that you want to use to be shaping your hair while concomitantly giving your hair a normal-looking texture akin to how ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter” tastes and looks like butter (but is choked with vegetable oils which are worse for your health than the saturated fat of regular butter). So, yeah, hair wax will help you shape your hair while making it look like you haven’t used anything; thus, hair wax is great for styling the Brush Up if you have straight hair or if you dig the messy look for your mane.
  • Hair mousse is a product that you want to use to define your curls as well as to add more volume to your mane. What this means is that hair mousse is a product that works for all kind of hair types since straight hair lacks natural volume and curly hair needs that extra hair-defining oomph. Hair mousse will give you a dryer look than hair wax, but hair mousse will still look pretty good in terms of texture (just don’t overdo the hair mousse).

Now that I have explained the 2 hairstyling products above, it is time to give you my list of recommended hair products for the Brush Up hairstyle:

  • This hair wax: the hair wax in the link will give you a very-natural hair texture with a strong hold for holding up your Brush Up. The finish is a matte one, so this hair wax will truly help in giving you a messy style without looking like you have spent 4 days camping in the jungle. It’s a great hair wax to use for many other hairstyles, so just get it as it will come handy in the future regardless of hairstyle.
  • This hair mousse: the hair mousse in the link will define and give body to your curly mane, which will make your Brush Up hairstyle stand out like a Sir. The big problem among our curly brethren is that our manes will start to look all funky and ratty once a medium length is achieved; ergo a good hair-defining product is needed when attempting volume-based hairstyles like the Brush Up. Not only that but the hair mousse in the link I’ve given you is also an epic hair voluminizer, which means that it will give you lots of controllable volume when used with the hair dryer recommended below. Those of you with straight hair or with thinning hair hair will benefit a lot from this hair mousse, and I’d go as far as to say that this hair mousse is a “must-have” product for sure (and regardless of hair type).
  • This hair dryer: in this world we live in, there are hair dryers and, then, there are “hair dryers”. If you want to rock epic hairstyles, including an epic Brush Up, you will need an equally-epic hair dryer. The hair dryer recommended in the link will do an outstanding job at helping you style your Brush Up as well as any other hairstyle you have in mind. As a bonus, this recommended hair dryer is among the few that will seriously help you with the taming of your crazy frizz (curly guys will know what I mean by “crazy frizz”), so this hair dryer is an excellent styling tool to have whenever your curly mane is misbehaving and you don’t have enough time for your luscious locks to air dry alone. In any case, and again regardless of your hair type, get this hair dryer because it really is worth it.
  • This comb: having a comb is always handy as it allows you for further retouching your hair and for doing more-detailed styling that you would otherwise not be able to do with your fingers alone. Get the recommended comb in the link if you have straight, and, if you have curly hair (from wavy to kinky curly), then get this wide-tooth comb as a wide tooth comb is better suited for mens curly hair.
  • The Men’s Hair Book: because a dude who has grown his curly hair to his waist, who has been bitten by a shark and who also has a blog titled “Manly Curls” would quite likely write a book on male hair that isn’t your typical fluffy unicorn crap, nam’ saiyan’ bro?

A male with a Brush Up hair style

It should look something like the above

Conclusion to the Brush Up

The Brush Up is one cool style to take into account; I seriously believe that the Brush Up will be relevant as a mens hairstyle for 2014 (and quite possibly for 2015 too). The good thing is that this hairstyle has yet to be abused en masse since only the guys at the Men’s Hair Forum and I have shared the secret to how to do the Brush Up hairstyle. If you hurry up, you will get to enjoy a couple of months of hairstyle exclusivity until the late summer arrives in the Northern Hemisphere and everyone plus their uncle has a Brush Up.

Until then, keep it cool and stylish, gentlemen.



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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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7 comments for “Brush Up Hairstyle: Epic Style Guide with Instructions

  1. CJ
    April 19, 2017 at 2:24 am

    How do I do this if I have a round forehead that starts pretty far back? Would I have it go forward off of my forehead?

  2. Talha
    April 14, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Can I use an image of Zayn Malik on your website for my presentation on my homepage?
    P.S. It’s for a class project. A fast reply would be very nice.

  3. Archit
    March 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Can you do this hairstyle with type 3 curls?

  4. Rowan
    April 6, 2015 at 3:55 am

    Can you use pomade??

    • Jadon
      July 1, 2015 at 3:23 am

      Yes you can, but it will just give you a more “gelled” shiny outcome, rather than the matte, natural finish that most people are after.

      • Zaki
        April 20, 2017 at 12:46 am

        Will this hair style cause traction alopecia?

        • Rogelio
          April 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm

          No. A brush-up hairstyle will not cause traction alopecia, unless you really pull your hair when styling it up.

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