What Do You Use: Brush, Bowl or Bottle, and Why? - Behindthechair.com What Do You Use: Brush, Bowl or Bottle, and Why? - Behindthechair.com
Articles > Business > What Do You Use: Brush, Bowl or Bottle, and Why?
Last updated: April 08, 2024

What Do You Use: Brush, Bowl or Bottle, and Why?

close formula

There is no one way to color hair, and when it comes to different techniques, services and applications, colorists opt for different tools—like brushes or bottles—to get to their end result. But why? Why do some colorists choose to use a brush and bowl and others choose to use a bottle? Does it only depend on the service being done? Does it depend on what product you’re working with? We were curious, so we posed the question to our BTC fam on Instagram and Facebook, “Brush, bowl or bottle, and WHY?” Here’s what you all had to say!


Need some advice? DM us on Instagram and Facebook!


It depends on the product and the service being done
“Depends on the product. Thin formulations for toning at the bowl are nice in a bottle sometimes. Everything else requires a bit more control.” –@6feetbelow0


“90 percent of the time it’s brush and bowl, although I have a few bleach-and-tone clients that come every four weeks and I retouch them with a bottle application so there’s no overlap.” –@realericvaughn


“Brush and bowl for base adjustments or shadow roots. Bottles for glosses.” –@darah.boykin


“Brush and bowl for a more even application and control of product.” –@heyilldoyourhair


“It all depends. If I’m doing highlights, definitely a bowl and brush. For pigmenting and liquid colors, a bottle and brush. We all have our favorite techniques that work for us.” –@real_sixx


“Bowl and brush for all coloring techniques. My bottle is for scalp treatments and if I’m doing the teensiest root smudge.” –@rmo687


“Depends on the service and consistency of the product! I only use bottle if it’s a more liquid consistency to maintain control. Otherwise, I like the brush and bowl.” –@desetahairdesign


“If I had to choose between the two, I would choose brush and bowl. The ONLY service I use a bottle for is an all-over tone at the sink. So really I could do everything I need with the brush and bowl and get rid of the bottle. But not the other way around.” –@sheenalarose_hairartistry


“Depends on consistency of the color being used. With thicker tube color, use a brush and bowl. With thinner color, use a bottle.”  –Sue Wilson Berhalter



Brush and bowl—it’s more professional and creates better saturation
“Brush and Bowl! I feel I get better saturation and coverage control.” –@colorme_chic


“Brush and bowl for everything except toners. I feel like I get more control with a brush and I feel like bottles look unprofessional, however with toners I feel like I get a better application on wet hair with a bottle.” –@michaellasmith0


“I always use a brush and bowl. I find I get a more precise coverage. Also, I haven’t yet found a bottle I like.” –@hair_veronica_riley


“Brush and bowl. Anybody can slap a color on with a bottle. The brush and bowl are more professional looking.” –@margiebolton


“Brush and bowl. Anyone can use a bottle at home to apply color. You need to do it in a way that makes it harder for them to do at home.” –@microsmom


“Brush and bowl! But glaze at the shampoo bowl with a bottle. If you’re applying color with a bottle, it’s easy for your clients to think they could easily do the same thing at home. Take the extra time and apply it so that they feel as if they cannot duplicate what you’re doing! A monkey can use a bottle. But an artist uses a brush and bowl for color.” –@kianawaltz


“Brush and bowl. For multiple reasons. One, box color comes in a bottle and people need to see you do something with greater skill level than what they can accomplish at home. Secondly, I have greater control using a brush and bowl where I can apply multiple colors at one time and have direct placement that works in a more artistic fashion. A bottle has its place and I will sometimes use it for an all-over toner but mostly it is bowl and brush.” –Honey Wright


“Bowl and brush, all day, every day. Mixing is more thorough and so are measurements, thus wasting way less product and the application is neater. The amount of color (money) I’ve seen gone down the drain is insane! Bottle strictly for Redken Shades EQ toners.” –@hairartistrybylissette



Bottle all the way—here’s why
“Well I used to always use a bowl and brush all the time but my wrist started hurting so bad and my thumb would go numb right away! I switched to a bottle and I instantly have no more pain or numbness! So now I have to mix my cream really well in a bowl then transfer to bottle.” –@chellebell_99


“Both, but normally bottle. This is because I am faster when I use the bottle. I also find it easier for me to fully saturate the hair with color. It provides me with security that the color results will be on point. I also enjoy that with the bottle I am using my thumb to work the color in which is a smoother surface over the brush. I used to use a bowl and brush but found that the brush can sometimes work the color off some of the hair strands. This might be because I am ‘heavy handed’ and sweep maybe a little too hard, not sure. I do however like a bowl and brush when the color is extremely thick.” –@borntobalayage


Some stylists use both, but disagree that a bottle isn’t professional 
“Reading through this, I must respectfully disagree that a bowl and brush is ‘more professional.’ I believe the artist is what makes it professional. The experience you give, the consultation, the result, the bonds of trust you build with your client. The tools you use to get there are highly subjective to artist preference. That being said, I tend to go bowl and brush, probably because of the nature of what I do most often. But if a product is thin, a quick all-over toner, etc., no problem in grabbing a bottle!” –@deathbycouture


“If you think using a bottle makes the client think they can do it themselves then you’re not formulating it and therefore they can do it themselves. The brush and bowl doesn’t necessarily make you a professional.” –Erik Cardiel


Learn from the industry’s best hairdressers and access 150+ courses—join BTC University!