Lydia Newman invented the first hairbrush to have synthetic bristles. She received a patent for her “improved” brush in 1898. Prior to her invention, hairbrushes were made with bristles from animals, such as boar’s hair.
Ms. Newman’s improved hairbrush also contained another innovation. Her brush featured a design that made it easy to clean. Newman constructed the brush with a slotted back and a cover that formed a receptacle at the base of the bristles. Debris that accumulated from the hair and scalp passed through the slots and accumulated in the receptacle, which the user removed for cleaning. This design also provided access to the bristles for cleaning.