Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Margaret Schindel. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Best Acrylic Fabric Paints for Painting Clothes and Accessories

Acrylic fabric paints, iron-on appliques and other embellishments are a fun and easy way to transform ordinary t-shirts, sweatshirts, denim jackets and jeans into special, one-of-a-kind clothing designs. 

Even if you don’t feel especially artistic, it’s extremely easy to add striking hand painted designs to basic wardrobe items by applying acrylic fabric paint through a stencil with a foam pouncer. 

Embellishing clothing with fabric paints is also a wonderful project to do with kids. Both my fashionista niece and her younger brother used to love taking solid color T-shirts and creating their own hand painted and stenciled designer tees, which they wore with pride.

Some fabric paints also work well on other materials, including leather and vinyl, so they’re great for painting shoes, sandals, handbags, belts and other accessories to give them a whole new look with fresh colors, color blocking, patterns or painted accents.

I have researched and used different types, brands and formulas of fabric paints in different price ranges. In this review I will share my favorite acrylic fabric paints for decorating clothing and accessories. 

The Best, Most Versatile Acrylic Fabric Paints for Embellishing Clothing & Accessories

Why Use Acrylic Fabric Paints?

Acrylic fabric paints, also called acrylic textile paints, are formulated specifically for use on fabric clothing and other textiles. Unlike fabric dyes and alcohol-based textile paints or inks, they do not spread and saturate the fibers. Most work best on untreated or pre-washed, natural fabrics and synthetic fabrics whose fiber content contains at least 50% natural fibers. 

Acrylic textile paints are usually thinner, penetrate fibers better and dry more flexible than standard acrylic paints formulated for art or craft uses. Fabric paints also contain a binder that helps them adhere much better to natural fibers after the paint dries and is heat-set (usually with an iron). This binder makes the painted designs more durable, so they can better withstand repeated washing and resist cracking, peeling or flaking when the fabric is gently stretched or folded, such as when you put on, move around in, take off or put away your painted clothing.   

More transparent colors usually have a thinner consistency and are softer to the touch when dry compared to more opaque fabric paints. They are great for lighter color fabrics, since the color of the clothing will show through them. For the same reason, opaque fabric paints will show up much better on darker clothing, although they are slightly thicker and will dry a bit stiffer than more transparent formulas.

Good Quality Fabric Paints Give the Best Results

Jacquard makes moderately priced, high-quality, highly pigmented paints, dyes, mica powders and other art and craft supplies. Jacquard's Textile, Neopaque and Lumiere lines are my go-to acrylic paints for painting fabrics.

Photo of Jacquard Textile acrylic paints "Exciter Pack" assortment

Jacquard Textile 

Jacquard Textile paints have a medium- to light-bodied consistency and come in 39 semi-transparent colors. Mixing any of the other colors with 123 White will create a pastel shade. You can make any color more transparent without affecting the quality or consistency by mixing it with Jacquard Textile 100 Colorless Extender. (Another option, which I don’t recommend, is diluting the paints with up to 25% water, since it will reduce their viscosity and negatively affect the quality.)  Mixing any other Jacquard Textile color with #220 Super Opaque White will make it more opaque. 

The Jacquard Textile Color Exciter Pack is an economical assortment that includes small bottles of nine of the most useful colors in the line. It's a great way to try these paints without investing a lot of money.

Jacquard Textile colors can also be mixed with Jacquard Lumiere, Neopaque or Dye-Na-Flow paints or with Jacquard Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments to create custom colors and effects.

Jacquard Neopaque and Lumiere

Neopaque is Jacquard’s line of light-bodied, opaque acrylic paints. They come in 21 colors plus a Flowable Extender medium that can be used to make the colors more transparent without altering the paint’s texture, consistency, adherence and other key properties. Lumiere is a companion line of 33 beautiful metallic and pearlescent paint colors designed to complement the Neopaque solid colors and have similar characteristics. My favorite Lumiere paints are the color-shifting duo-chrome colors!

Even though the Jacquard Neopaque and Jacquard Lumiere lines have not been optimized specifically for painting on fabrics, like the Jacquard Textile line, they have many of the same characteristics and are also considered fabric paints. After they have dried and been heat-set, both Neopaque and Lumiere paints adhere to textiles very well, remain flexible and resist cracking, peeling and chipping. I have used them to paint fleece sweatshirts, both freehand and with stencils, and they have withstood many washings well.

Both formulas are opaque, highly pigmented and provide good coverage, even on dark fabrics. You can mix any Neopaque or Lumiere shade with Neopaque Flowable Extender to make it more transparent without changing its consistency, thickness, flexibility, adherence or other important characteristics. 

Similarly to the Jacquard Textile line, you can mix pastel shades by blending a small amount of Neopaque White into any of the other Neopaque colors.

Photo of Jacquard Neopaque and Lumiere acrylic paints
I've been using my first Jacquard Neopaque and Lumiere acrylic paint Exciter Packs for many years. 

There are also a Lumiere Exciter Pack with 9 pearlescent and metallic colors and a Lumiere & Neopaque Exciter Pack with 7 metallic Lumiere shades plus black and white Neopaque. As with the Textile line, these two Exciter Packs are a great way to get a nice variety of colors in smaller quantities for a very affordable price. I have purchased both of these Exciter Packs as well as full-size bottles of the Neopaque black and white and Lumiere duo-chrome colors I use most. I recently bought another of the Lumiere assortments because some older colors have been discontinued and newer ones added.

Another advantage of Jacquard Lumiere and Neopaque acrylic paints is that they adhere well to a wide range of surfaces including paper, wood, rubber, vinyl, leather and rubber, in addition to fabric, and can be used for many different types of projects. I have gotten more than my money’s worth out of mine. 

For example, I completely transformed an old pair of boring, frumpy, beige comfort sandals by painting the leather with Lumiere for the uppers and black Neopaque to edge the sole, and then sewing on some faux jeweled trim. 

Before and after photos of beige sandals painted aqua and blue

Heat-Set Fabric Painting Medium 

You also can achieve successful results by mixing permanent, highly pigmented art or craft acrylic paints 50/50 with a good quality fabric medium, such as Golden GAC 900 Heat-Set Fabric Painting Medium or Martha Stewart Tintable Fabric Medium. 

Pébéo Setacolor

If you are painting a very special piece of clothing or textile, you may want to consider the Pébéo Setacolor line. These superb fabric paints come in an extensive range of beautiful colors and finishes. Although they are more expensive than the Jacquard fabric paints, superior quality, performance and product selection make Pébéo Setacolor products a favorite among many professional painted clothing artists and enthusiasts. 

Pébéo Setacolor Light Fabrics are transparent and include 44 matte, metallic, glitter, and fluorescent shades. Pébéo Setacolor Opaque comes in 77 matte and “shimmer opaque” shades with glitter, pearlescent, metallic and iridescent finishes that dry softer, smoother and more flexible than most other opaque textile paints. There are also Pébéo Setacolor 3D fabric paints that come in tubes with small nozzles that are great for adding raised outlines or dimensional accents to your painted clothing designs. 

The most affordable way to try these terrific paints is with one of the 10-color introductory sets, the Pébéo Setacolor Light Fabrics Discovery Kit or the Pébéo Setacolor Opaque Discovery Kit

Use Fabric Paints and Stencils for Beautiful, Affordable, One-of-a-Kind Handmade Gifts 

Stencils are made in just about any pattern or theme you could want and require no artistic talent to use.

I have used inexpensive fabric stencils of flowers, gardening tools and bees to decorate a sweatshirt for my mother-in-law who loves to garden. 

One of my husband’s favorite gifts from me is a forest green sweatshirt I purchased for him many years ago and stenciled with a cascade of metallic and pearlescent autumn leaves. It has been worn and washed so many times that the fleece is pilling, and the color has faded. By now, the paint isn’t quite as bright or shiny as it once was, either, but it’s still hasn’t cracked, flaked or worn off, and he still wears it proudly.

Photo of man wearing dark green sweatshirt with a stenciled metallic leaf design
My husband still loves and wears this sweatshirt I stenciled for him many years ago. 

You can use alphabet stencils to personalize a T-shirt, hoodie or other garment with the gift recipient’s name or add a meaningful word or message. 

Older children will also love using fabric paints and stencils to turn simple, inexpensive pieces of clothing into personalized gifts for special friends and family members.

Stenciled or hand painted tablecloths, napkins, placemats and table runners also make wonderful gifts. Painting them with snowflakes, pointsettias and other seasonal designs makes any holiday a bit more festive. 

I hope I have inspired you to give fabric paints a try!

The Best Acrylic Fabric Paints for Painting Clothes and Accessories


The Best Acrylic Fabric Paints for Painting Clothes and Accessories by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Cheddar cheese crackers are one of the few things I've really missed since I embarked on a healthy ketogenic diet in 2019 (and lost nearly 60 pounds). The only acceptable replacement I've found for those famous, small, square cheese crackers in the bright red box with the cutesy name are Defy Foods' yummy keto cheddar crackers, which are only available online and, like all high quality commercial keto foods, cost significantly more than their unhealthy, conventional counterparts.

Recently, I began experimenting with my own homemade keto cheese crackers recipe, inspired by recipes from two of my favorite low carb recipe developers. I combined elements of both their recipes and added some powdered, dehydrated, real cheddar cheese for an extra flavor boost. This past weekend, I finally perfected my version. Both my husband and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results!

I am sharing not only my delicious new keto cheese crackers recipe but also my product review of the Defy Foods keto cheddar crackers, which I will still keep in the freezer for when I don't have time to bake them from scratch.

Crisp, Salty and Satisfying Keto Cheese Crackers with photo of crackers on plate
My healthy, homemade low carb crackers are bursting with real cheddar cheese flavor

My Inspiration for This Recipe

When I decided to try my hand at making homemade cheddar cheese crackers, I started by searching for recipes on my two favorite low carb keto recipe developers' blogs, Carolyn Ketchum's All Day I Dream About Food and Maya Krampf's Wholesome Yum. Carolyn and Maya are two of my go-to gurus for reliable, delicious recipes that support my low carb lifestyle. 

Carolyn's Keto Cheese Crackers with Pepper Jack looked great, but I'm not a big fan of pepper jack cheese or red pepper flakes. I also wasn't sure that adding garlic powder to the dough would give me the classic flavor I was looking for. The recipe also called for brushing the thinly rolled out dough with melted butter and then sprinkling it with coarse salt before baking. While it sounded delicious, I preferred to start with fewer ingredients and fewer steps for my first attempt.

Maya's Low Carb Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe had fewer ingredients and steps. However, the optional nutritional yeast "for cheesier flavor" wasn't something I had on hand, since I didn't care for the taste the few times I had tried using it as a substitute for grated cheese.

Recipe Experiment #1: Tasty, But Not Quite There Yet

Since I wanted my crackers to have a strong cheddar cheese flavor, I replaced the optional nutritional yeast in Maya's recipe with Vermont sharp cheddar cheese powder. 

The resulting crackers were quite tasty. However, I wanted them to have a stronger cheddar flavor and be a bit more buttery and salty. In addition, the small, fragile squares of thinly rolled dough were quite prone to tearing as I transferred them to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Recipe Experiment #2: We Have a Winner! 

For my second batch, I changed a few things when I was making Maya's cheddar dough:

  • I substituted twice as much Vermont sharp cheddar cheese powder for the optional nutritional yeast.
  • I increased the amount of salt from 1/4 teaspoon to 3/8 teaspoon. 
  • After stirring together the dry ingredients, instead of combining them with the egg first, I stirred them into the melted cheese along with the egg.

I also made several other changes based on Carolyn's pepper jack cheese crackers recipe:

  • The dough was rolled out on a silicone baking mat sprinkled with almond flour (using parchment paper on top to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin). After pricking and cutting the  dough, it was much easier to just slide the mat onto the baking pan instead of lifting and transferring the fragile squares of raw dough.
  • I used a pizza cutter to slice the sheet of dough into approximately 1-inch squares. (I also didn't worry about trying to cut perfectly parallel and perpendicular lines, since I wouldn't succeed in any event!).
  • Before putting the crackers in the preheated oven, I brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled them with coarse salt.
  • This time, I baked the crackers at 300 ℉ instead of 350 ℉, left them in longer, turned off the oven when they were barely golden brown and left them inside to finish developing their color, cool slowly and crisp up.

Maya and Carolyn are extremely talented, very experienced low carb recipe developers. Combining elements from both their recipes and adding the Vermont sharp cheddar cheese powder turned out to be a winning strategy. This new version produced dozens of perfectly crisp, deliciously salty, buttery cheddar cheese crackers that tasted absolutely amazing! 

My husband adored them, too. (In fact, he might easily have devoured the entire batch on the spot if I hadn't set aside a small plate of these crackers to photograph for this recipe!)

Plate of prepared keto cheese crackers

Wholesome, Homemade Low Carb Cheddar Cheese Crackers That Everyone Will Love

I'm really excited to share my new keto cheese crackers recipe! 

For the many people who follow a low carb or ketogenic diet and have been searching in vain for buttery, salty, flavor-packed low carb crackers that don't cost an arm and a leg, these scrumptious bite-sized savory snacks will satisfy those cravings. Unlike the conventional grocery store kind, these are made with minimally processed, "real food" ingredients. 

These crisp, delicious, high protein cheese crackers are tasty enough for everyone can enjoy, whether or not they are trying to cut back on highly processed foods with empty calories.

They're wonderful to bring to holiday parties or get-togethers with family and friends any time of year. You can indulge without "cheating" on your low carb diet and no one who tastes them will guess that your homemade cheddar crackers are made with almond flour instead of wheat flour.

Who says you can't enjoy holidays treats without gaining weight?

How to Make Keto Cheese Crackers

These irresistible keto cheese crackers are quite easy to make. However, low carb baking is quite different from conventional baking methods. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind, especially if this is your first experience baking with almond flour.

Photo of keto cheese crackers with recipe ingredients

Choose High Quality Ingredients for the Best Taste and Texture

This recipe calls for only a few ingredients, so the quality of each one will have a major impact on the taste and texture of your homemade crackers. 

For the best flavor, buy a block of good, sharp (or very sharp) Vermont cheddar cheese and grate or shred it yourself just before making this recipe. Cabot Creamery cheddar, which Carolyn Ketchum recommends, is one of my favorite brands, too. 

I used King Arthur Better Cheddar Cheese Powder for these keto cheese crackers, which I had purchased for another recipe and like very much. King Arthur Baking Company (formerly King Arthur Flour) has a a well deserved reputation for excellence and baking expertise. I have relied on their products and recipes for decades. 

It's important to use fresh, finely ground and blanched almond flour for most low carb keto baking recipes. My favorite is Maya Krampf's Wholesome Yum premium almond flour.

You will need two kinds of salt: fine sea salt (or table salt, if you prefer) and coarse or flaked salt. For the dough, I used Redmond Real Salt Ancient Fine Sea Salt, an unrefined, unprocessed sea salt with trace minerals and no additives. It's comparable to pink Himalayan sea salt, but has been "mined in Utah since 1958 from an ancient seabed protected from modern pollution."

After pricking, cutting and brushing the thinly rolled out dough with melted butter, I sprinkled the tops of the crackers with a combination of coarse sea salt and crushed Maldon sea salt flakes before baking. The Maldon sea salt flakes were too coarse to use straight from the package, but crushing them with my fingers and mixing them with the regular coarse sea salt turned out to be the perfect topping.

Use a Silicone Baking Mat and Unbleached Baking Parchment to Roll Out the Dough

Rolling out and cutting the dough on a silicone baking mat and then sliding it onto your baking sheet is much easier than rolling the dough between sheets of baking parchment and cutting and transferring the small, fragile squares to the pan. The best known brand, Silpat, commands a premium price. Fortunately, I've also had good luck with much less expensive silicone baking mats.

It's essential to cover the raw dough with a large sheet of baking parchment paper when you're rolling it out, so that it doesn't stick to the rolling pin. These days, I only use unbleached baking parchment. (Who wants to risk leaching chlorine bleach into their homemade baked goods?) I find the flat, 12" x 16" pre-cut sheets of unbleached baking parchment much easier to use than wrestling with a piece torn from a roll whose curl stubbornly refuses to flatten out. 

Use a Large, Microwave-Safe Bowl and a Sturdy Silicone Mixing Spatula for Making the Keto Cheese Crackers Dough

I often use my 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup as a large mixing bowl, especially for recipes that require melting ingredients such as butter, chocolate or cheese in the microwave. The handle provides a good grip on the microwave-safe glass bowl as you incorporate the dry ingredients and the egg into the melted cheddar cheese.

The best tool for the job is a sturdy, stiff rubber spatula. I prefer the DI ORO Seamless Series Large Silicone Spatula for this purpose, which was named "Winner: Best All-Purpose Spatula" in Cook's Illustrated's March 2017 Silicone Spatulas Equipment Review (paid subscription required)

Roll Out the Dough as Thinly and Evenly as Possible 

The thinner you roll the dough, the crisper your crackers will be. Try to roll out the sheet of dough to as uniform a thickness as possible, which will help the crackers bake at the same rate. (You may want to make the dough near the edges slightly thicker to prevent the outermost row of crackers from browning too quickly.)

Use a Pizza Wheel With a Plastic Blade to Cut the Dough Into Strips and Then Squares

The plastic blade cuts through the dough cleanly without slicing into your silicon baking mat. It's also faster, easier and safer than cutting the small squares with a knife. The OXO 1065872 Good Grips 4-inch Pizza Wheel and Cutter for Non-Stick Pans is very similar to the one I own (which is no longer made) and gets excellent customer product reviews.

If You Are Using a Countertop Oven, Divide the Dough Into Quarters and Bake It in Four Batches

The built-in double wall ovens that came with our 1950s ranch-style house died several years ago. Since then, we have been making do with a countertop oven. (If you are considering one, I encourage you to read Sylvestermouse Cynthia's recent Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Toaster Oven product review.) 

Photo of unbaked keto cheese crackers on silicone mat in small baking pan

Obviously, having to use a much smaller silicone baking mat and pan (approximately 8.5" x 12.5") that could fit inside my large toaster oven took much longer than using a large silicone mat and baking sheet and baking in a full-size oven. However, as you can see from my photos, it is certainly doable. 

Keto Cheddar Cheese Crackers Recipe

Photo of prepared keto cheese crackers on a small plate
These buttery, low carb crackers will satisfy your cravings without kicking you out of ketosis. They're yummy enough to share with carb-loving friends and family of all ages, so they're perfect for holidays, football games, parties, kids' lunchboxes and everyday snacks. 

Prep Time   20 minutes

Cook Time  30–60 minutes

Total Time   50–80 minutes

Servings       8–10

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups finely ground and blanched almond flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 Tbsp good quality sharp cheddar cheese powder
  • 3/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 ℉. Place a large silicone baking mat on your counter, table or other work surface and sprinkle it with almond flour.
  2. Grate or shred the sharp cheddar cheese into a large microwave-safe bowl or a 2-quart (8-cup) Pyrex measuring cup. 
  3. Stir together 1 ½ cups of the almond flour with the cheddar cheese powder and salt.
  4. Microwave the cheese on High at 30-second intervals, stirring with a large, sturdy rubber or silicone spatula until the cheddar is completely melted and has a smooth consistency. 
  5. Stir in the almond flour mixture and the egg and use the spatula to "knead" the dough against the the sides of the bowl. Then, turn out the dough onto a lightly greased sheet of parchment or waxed paper and use your hands to squeeze and finish kneading the dough into a compact ball. The dough should be soft and pliable and feel a bit oily. If it's too sticky to work with easily, you can either chill it for 15 minutes or so or work in another tablespoon or two of almond flour.
  6. Flatten the ball of dough and shape it into a square patty, then place it in the center of the prepared silicone baking mat. Cover it with a large sheet of baking parchment (or wax paper) and roll it out as thinly and evenly as possible (no more than 1/8-inch thick).
  7. Use a pizza wheel with a plastic cutting disc to slice the sheet of dough into small squares or rectangles approximately 1-inch wide (although you can make them wider, if you prefer). You should end up with between 5 dozen and 8 dozen (60–100) crackers, depending on how thinly you roll the dough and what size you make your squares or rectangles.
  8. Prick the tops of the crackers with a fork or toothpick, brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle them with the coarse salt. Then transfer the silicone mat carefully onto a large baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven. 
  9. Bake until the crackers turn a light golden brown and the edges begin to crisp up (approximately 15–30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness), then turn off the oven and allow them to remain inside until they are firm to the touch. Keep a close eye on the color of the pieces around the edges. If they are browning faster than the ones in the center, remove the darker pieces and let them cool at room temperature while the rest of the crackers cool down more slowly inside the warm oven. 

I like to store these keto cheese crackers in single layers, separated by paper towel, inside an airtight tin or large Stasher silicone food storage bags, which are extremely easy to seal and unseal. Layering them with paper towels helps absorb ambient moisture and keep them crisp. However, if they last more than a day or two, you can just pop them back into a 300 ℉ oven for a few minutes. Just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don't get too brown.

Defy Foods Cheddar Crackers Product Review

There are very few healthy, low carb crackers on the market. The ones I have tried have been disappointingly dry and bland, with one notable exception: Defy Foods Keto Cheddar Crackers

These delicious gluten-free, grain-free, ketogenic diet-friendly cheddar cheese crackers have only 2g of net carbs and are made from wholesome, high quality ingredients. In addition, Defy Foods is a small business start-up and these cheddar crackers are the first (and, so far, only) product in their line. As a result, they're a bit on the pricey side. However, if you don't have the time or the inclination to bake your own keto cheese crackers from scratch, these are the next best thing.

As of this writing, they can only be purchased online, and until last week they could only be ordered directly from the Defy Foods website. However, they just launched on Amazon, with free Prime shipping, which is great news for Amazon Prime members! Amazon is also promoting this launch with a 15% off digital coupon. There is no way to know how long this promotional discount coupon will remain valid, so now is the best time to order a few bags of these delicious low carb crackers if you want to give them a try!


My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Recipe Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors


Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Best Loud, Easy to Read Multi-Event Digital Timers

The ThermoPro TM02 Digital Dual Kitchen Timer is the best, most intuitive, easiest to read and loudest multi-event digital kitchen timer I have owned in many years. In this product review, I will share the features my husband and I love most about this recent addition to our kitchen, as well as a few others considerations to help you decide whether the ThermoPro TM02 might also be the best multi-event digital timer for your needs. 

If you want to be able to time three dishes, activities or other events concurrently, the OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer is another excellent option, as long as you don't mind having more (and smaller) buttons and a more compressed display for the three countdown timers.

The Best Multi-Event Digital Kitchen Timers - Easy to Read Display, Loud Adjustable Volume Alarms

I often need to set timers for concurrent tasks and activities, especially during holiday cooking and baking marathons and when entertaining. A multi-event digital timer is less expensive, more convenient and more space-saving than two or three single-event models. I prefer ones with intuitive, easy-to-read controls that I can pause and restart with a touch, unlike mechanical dial units.

Digital Kitchen Timers Have Gone Down in Price, Quality, Longevity and Ease of Use 

The best timer I've ever owned was an OXO Good Grips triple digital kitchen timer that I bought roughly 20 years ago. Setting and switching between the three timers was simple and intuitive. The numbers on the backlit digital LCD screen display and the labels on the buttons were easy to read. The alarms had distinct beep patterns (single beeps, double beeps, and triple beeps for events one, two and three) that made it easy to identify which timer was going off, even when I was in a different room. This model was a workhorse that performed reliably in my kitchen for many years before the LCD display eventually started to fail (as these types of digital display screens inevitably do). 

When I went to order another one (about 10–12 years ago), I learned that the manufacturer had discontinued that model. The newer version had more bells and whistles, which I neither wanted nor needed. As a result, navigating, setting and clearing the multi-event digital timers (the unit's core functions) was less straightforward and intuitive on the redesigned OXO Good Grips triple kitchen timer versus its predecessor. Based on the many negative product reviews, I wasn't the only customer who was upset by the design and functionality changes in the newer model. 

Finding a worthy replacement has been a surprisingly challenging, time-consuming and lengthy undertaking. Unfortunately, like many other products, digital kitchen timers have declined substantially in quality. Over the past 10 years or so, every model I have purchased, regardless of price, has had to be replaced 12–18 months later, when one or two segments of the digital numbers no longer show on the LCD display. 

After the display on my second replacement multi-event timer developed a "dead spot," I decided to replace it with a pair of single-event digital kitchen timers. I had hoped that a simpler display screen might not fail as soon, which turned out to be wishful thinking. However, switching from a multi-event model to two bare-bones ones did have one benefit: Whenever the display started to fail on one of them, there was another that still worked and could tide me over until a replacement arrived.

Resuming the Search for a New Multi-Event Digital Timer, Using Updated Requirements

When the LCD display on one of our most recent basic timers developed a "dead spot" a few weeks ago, I decided to see whether any new multi-event kitchen timers had been introduced since the last time I had looked several years earlier and, if so, whether one of them might be a good fit for my husband's and my current needs, which had changed somewhat since my previous searches. 

My first step was to reevaluate, update, and reprioritize our multi-event digital timer requirements list. For example, we no longer entertain as frequently or elaborately as we used to do when we were in our thirties and forties, and our vision and hearing aren't as sharp as they were back then. These days, we would much rather have a dual event kitchen timer with larger, easy-to-read numbers than a three-event timer with a more cramped digital display and smaller numbers that are harder to read. A bright, backlit screen, loud alarms with adjustable volume, large, well spaced buttons with easy to read labels, and an intuitive interface that is simple enough to figure out (and remember) without referring back to the instruction guide or manual. 

My Favorite Easy to Read, Loud Alarm, Multi-Event Digital Timer (Two Event Countdown Timers)

ThermoPro TM02 Dual Event Digital Kitchen Timer

When I was evaluating and comparing products against our new "wish list," I was excited to find the ThermoPro TM02 Digital Kitchen Timer, which seemed to tick all our most important boxes. To my surprise, my husband became just as excited as I was when I took him through the photos, description, specifications and product reviews on Amazon. 

The ThermoPro TM02 Dual Event Digital Timer has a large, easy to read LCD display. The bright blue backlight comes on for 10 seconds when a countdown timer starts or stops and when the alarm goes off.

We have been using our new ThermoPro TM02 multi-event timer several times a day since it arrived a few weeks ago and we're both delighted with our purchase.  

Of course, only time will tell how long the LCD display will last, but we're really impressed with the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that went into this timer, so we're cautiously optimistic. 

Even when the backlight is off, the large numbers of both countdown timers are very easy to read. The front has five large buttons with high-contrast, intuitive labels. 

Why We Love It:

  • Accurate. Unfortunately, not all digital timers are!
  • Easy to read, tilted display with large digits. Unlike many of the smaller, cheaper kitchen timers we have used, the ThermoPro TM02 Dual Event Digital Timer's large, sturdy kickstand stays put and keeps the display at a good angle on the countertop for hands-free viewing. 
  • Large, bright, backlit display. The oversized* LCD display takes up most of the real estate on the front of this timer, which provides enough room for both countdown timers to have large, numbers that are easily legible even when viewed from an angle versus head-on, and even when the bright blue backlight is off.
    * The manufacturer describes it as a 2.6-inch LCD screen. Mine measures 2.375" tall by 2.125" wide and 2.875" on the diagonal. 
  • Simple, intuitive, clearly labeled controls. There are just five large, clearly labeled buttons on the front, plus one mode selector switch and the volume adjustment button on the back. 
  • Ten-second backlight conserves batteries. The blue backlight comes on any time a button is pressed, e.g., to set, start, pause, restart, or stop the timer. Since it's very bright (which is wonderful), it only stays on for 10 seconds each time, so it doesn't chew through batteries like some others we've owned.
    • Some customers have complained that the backlight doesn't stay on long enough. We haven't found that to be an issue, especially since pressing any button turns the light back on for another 10 seconds.
  • Loud alarms with adjustable volume and silent alarm/mute mode. Pressing the small volume button on the back allows you to cycle through four alarm volume settings. The low, medium and high volume levels range from 70-105 dB. We find the medium volume setting loud enough to hear from one or two rooms away. There is also a volume Off setting that mutes the alarm so you can see when the timer goes off without disturbing anyone else. 
  • Convenient memory function. After the countdown finishes, the timer automatically returns to the previous setting. For example, I make a large mug of herbal tea almost every day, and the kind I make most often steeps for seven minutes. After Timer 1 goes off and I press the Stop button, it automatically reverts to seven minutes unless I actively clear the memory, so that all I have to do is press the Start button the next day when I want to make tea. 
  • Set each countdown timer for up to 23 hours 59 minutes. Some digital timers have a maximum time limit of only 60 to 90 minutes! 
  • Choice of 12/24 hour clock format with date function. Although this feature isn't important to us, many people love it. 

A sturdy pull-out kickstand keeps the ThermoPro TM02 dual channel multi-event timer stable on your countertop, or use the two strong magnets to attach it to your refrigerator or another metal surface. A simple, three-position switch toggles between the timer, clock and clock set modes, while the small button underneath controls the adjustable volume alarm loudness settings.

Other Considerations:

  • You can't program seconds. We don't anticipate this being an issue for us. However, there are certain recipes (and other uses) for which the ability to time in 15- or 30-second increments is essential. So, if you work in a commercial or restaurant kitchen, this could be a deal-breaker. Otherwise, if you need this capability only infrequently, you can set the timer to the next full minute and monitor the digital display until there are 15 or 30 seconds remaining in the countdown (or use a countdown timer app on your mobile phone for those situations).
  • Some people find even the low volume (70dB) setting too loud. My husband and I have not found this to be the case. Your mileage may vary.
  • No dedicated "Clear" button. It's quite common for digital timers to be reset by pressing the hour and minute buttons simultaneously, rather than having a dedicated "Clear" button, and it's a practice the America's Test Kitchen reviewers said they didn't mind as long as the buttons were clearly labeled and intuitive. However, some customers still object to it. 
  • This model doesn't switch to clock mode automatically when the countdown timers are not in use. Since the clock on our microwave oven displays the time whenever we aren't microwaving something, we prefer having the display remain in countdown timer mode unless we actively switch it to clock (or clock set) mode. However, some customers have complained about having to switch from timer to clock mode manually.
  • The neodymium ("rare earth") magnets on the back are very strong, but the foam adhesive discs holding them in place are not. My husband and I prefer to keep our kitchen timers on the counter, so this isn't an issue for us. However, if you plan to keep your digital timer on your refrigerator door, one Amazon reviewer recommends prying out the magnets with a thin screwdriver or awl, completely removing the foam adhesive pads and any glue residue, and then using a strong epoxy adhesive to glue the magnets directly into the round, recessed areas in the housing. Be sure to follow the epoxy manufacturer's instructions for preparing the surfaces and applying and curing the glue.
    • Note: Customers who complain that the magnets are not strong enough are mistaken. The problem is not the neodymium magnets, which are extremely strong. It's the cheap foam adhesive discs that are too weak, and there's an easy fix for that. 

The Best Easy to Read, Loud Alarm, Multi-Event Digital Timer (Three Event Countdown Timers)

OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer

Although I still haven't found a three-event digital timer that I like as well as my old OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer, if I still needed one I would definitely go with the current version, which has gone through multiple revisions and iterations since the one I owned and loved. 

The current generation OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer was rated Highly Recommended as the best multi-event digital timer in the June 2021 Cook's Illustrated Kitchen Timers Equipment Review (subscription required). 
The OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer has a full numeric keypad and three dedicated event timer buttons.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Accurate. For us, that's a baseline requirement.
  • Upward angle and sturdy base. Designed for one-handed setting and countertop stability. 
  • Large screen with inverse backlit digital display. Easy to read at a glance, even in low light.
  • Adjustable volume. Three different loudness levels to suit your preference. 
  • Each event timer can be set for up to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. I'm not sure why someone would need a 100-hour maximum time limit unless they were an NBC producer timing one of Al Roker's multi-day Rokerthons, but it's nice to have the option available.  
  • Easily identifiable event alarms. Just like my old OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer, the current model also has three distinct beeping patterns, so you can tell which event alarm is going off just by the sound, even if you are in a different room. 
  • Numeric keypad lets you set the clock and event timers faster. It also uses a numeric keypad instead of the more common -/+ buttons to set the countdown timers and clock. According to the June 2021 Cook's Illustrated Kitchen Timers Equipment Review, it took the America's Test Kitchen product testers, on average, less than half the time to set the timers on models that had full keypads than on models that did not.
  • Convenient memory function. All three event timer remember their last settings until you clear them from memory.

Other Considerations:

  • More buttons to press. The numeric keypad means you need to press more buttons to set the timers or clock (versus just two -/+ buttons to increase or decrease the time).
  • Smaller digits. Fitting three event timer displays on a smaller LCD screen than that of the ThermoPro TM02 Dual Event Kitchen Timer means "the digits on the screen are slightly smaller than ideal," as the America's Test Kitchen reviewers wrote.
  • Backlit screen display goes blank (“standby mode”) after 60 seconds. A frustrated Amazon reviewer who loved nearly everything else about this OXO Good Grips Triple Kitchen Timer called this issue a deal-breaker.


The Best Loud, Easy to Read Multi-Event Digital Timers product review by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers

Fine mesh strainers are used for many different types of cooking, baking and food preparation tasks, from sifting powdered dry ingredients for baking or garnishing baked goods to straining sauces and custards, rinsing uncooked rice, quinoa or beans, and draining pots of cooked pasta. 

When the sieves I inherited from my mom that had served us both for decades eventually needed to be replaced, shopping for replacements turned out to be more challenging than I could have anticipated. 

In this review, I'll share my advice on how to choose the best fine mesh kitchen strainers for your needs as well as my product reviews for the fine mesh sieves I purchased nearly five years ago and recommend highly.

How to Pick the Best Fine Mesh Strainers for Your Needs: 3 Pro Shopping Tips
Learn how to be a savvy consumer when shopping for fine mesh kitchen strainers.

3 Pro Shopping Tips for Choosing the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers for Your Needs.


Think About How You Will Be Using Them.

When shopping for fine mesh strainers, the best choice will depend on what you want to use them for. The ideal diameter, depth, handle, weight balance, durability, wire mesh size and stiffness will be very different for mesh sieves used primarily for sifting cocoa powder, flour or powdered sugar than for those used mainly for straining fresh raspberry seeds or draining a large quantity of just-cooked pasta. 

So, before you start researching or shopping for new fine mesh sieves, take a few minutes to think about the types of tasks you want, need and expect your new strainers to perform well.

Consider the Most Important Product Features and Characteristics for Your Specific Uses. 

Once you have made a list of the things you want to use your new strainer(s) for, it's time to educate yourself about the different types of materials, construction, mesh fineness, and other options available in models at different price points and think about which ones might be best suited to your needs, priorities and budget. 

For example, if you are shopping for a small strainer for steeping loose tea in a cup or travel mug, an inexpensive model made of a very finely woven nylon mesh material might do the best job of filtering out the tea leaves. On the other hand, if you also want to be able to sift or dust small amounts of cocoa powder or confectioners sugar, you might decide to go with a more expensive, stainless steel model that has a stiffer wire mesh and a slightly looser weave, the tradeoff being that it wouldn't be quite as effective at filtering out the small, powdery bits of tea leaf. 

Similarly, having a comfortable, contoured, riveted handle (and preferably two) may be a priority if you are looking for a large-capacity, heavy-duty strainer, but a thinner, flatter handle attached with spot welding might be fine if you only need a small or medium size strainer for lighter-duty tasks.

Stay Focused on Your Needs As You Compare Fine Mesh Strainers and Read Product Reviews.

Whether a review is positive or negative, consider the author's praise or complaints in the context of your own needs and priorities. Also keep an eye out for negative fine mesh strainer reviews based on inappropriate assumptions or unreasonable expectations. 

Reviews by reputable industry experts can be extremely valuable, but it's important to consider how well the reviewers' evaluation and rating criteria match for your own needs, preferences and intended uses for the product. 

I learned this firsthand at the beginning of 2017. A few weeks after I bought a Cuisinart set of small, medium and large strainers that I wanted just for the two smaller sizes, Cook's Illustrated published a fine mesh strainers equipment review (subscription required) that rated the Cuisinart set as "not recommended." Since I trust and respect the America's Test Kitchen staff's opinions, I was dismayed by the low rating for the set I had just bought. However, when I looked at the reviewers' product selection criteria and the performance tests they had devised, I saw that many of the features, specifications and use cases they had focused on (e.g., approximately 9" diameter, stiff, extremely fine wire mesh baskets, handles that were comfortable to hold over an extended period of time, long, wide hooks that fit easily over both medium and large pots and bowls) weren't relevant to the small and medium Cuisinart strainers or the types of tasks for which I had chosen that set. 

On the other hand, those criteria and tests were extremely relevant to my needs and wants for the much sturdier Kukpo 9-inch strainer I had purchased to complement the small and medium sized Cuisinart sieves. If that Cook's Illustrated equipment review had been published one month sooner, I might have had second thoughts about buying my $14 Kukpo, despite the $45 price tag of the only "highly recommended" model, the Rösle 7.9-inch Stainless Steel Round Handle Kitchen Strainer

So, keep your own needs in mind as you are reading fine mesh strainer reviews and looking at product features and specifications. Also, remember that no strainer can do every job equally well and be open to the possibility that investing in more than one might be your best bet, depending on how many things you want to use them for.  

Recommended Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainer Reviews 

Here are my personal product reviews for the best fine mesh kitchen strainers I purchased to replace the much older ones I had inherited. The ones I am recommending have been in frequent use in my kitchen for at least several years, show minimal signs of wear and continue to meet my quality and performance needs and expectations.

Kukpo Stainless Steel Double Fine Mesh Strainer Review

If you are looking for a large, versatile, affordable sieve that does a good job at a variety of kitchen tasks, the Kukpo Stainless Steel Fine Double Mesh Strainer, 9 Inch Diameter is an excellent choice.

This sturdy, inexpensive Kukpo 9-inch stainless steel fine double mesh strainer can handle most straining, sieving and sifting tasks well.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Practical size. The basket rim is 9" across and the fine wire mesh basket itself is about 8" wide at the top and 3.25" deep, large enough to easily drain a pound of cooked pasta, but not so large that it's unwieldy.
  • A versatile workhorse. If you're looking for a single, good quality, inexpensive fine mesh food strainer that performs well for most uses, I highly recommend this 9-inch Kukpo model. It's great for straining stock, sauces, yogurt, custard, frying oil and coffee grounds; separating milk solids from melted butter for clarified butter or ghee; rinsing rice, beans, lentils and grains such as quinoa; straining seeds from fresh berry purée; and sifting flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa or powdered sugar.
  • Durable construction, including two riveted handles. Unlike many fine mesh strainers, this one has no gap between the wire mesh screen and the rim/frame where bits of food residue can get stuck and be hard to remove. It also has two handles that distribute the weight more evenly and are riveted to the rim rather than spot-welded, making it more comfortable and well balanced to hold when draining a large volume of heavy food, such as cooked pasta.
  • Two layers of fine wire mesh for better strength, stiffness and filtering ability. Doubling the mesh creates a stronger, sturdier basket that holds its shape better and resists denting, despite its size, even when mashing fresh strawberries, raspberries, or confectioners sugar firmly against the mesh to strain the seeds or break up hard lumps.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I generally prefer to wash my fine mesh sieves by hand, but it's nice to be able to run them through the dishwasher occasionally to sanitize them more thoroughly. This one has an all stainless steel construction that doesn't rust, not only in my own experience but also in those of many other customers, according to their product reviews. 
  • 100% money back guarantee. Although I couldn't find any details about the terms of this guarantee, quite a few Amazon customers have raved about the company's outstanding customer service in their reviews. 

Cuisinart Set of 3 Mesh Strainers

I've found that pairing this set of three Cuisinart stainless steel strainers with the larger, sturdier, 9-inch Kukpo double mesh strainer covers all the bases for any use I can think of.

This set of three Cuisinart mesh strainers is excellent for light-duty tasks like dusting desserts with cocoa or confectioners sugar, rinsing berries and juicing lemons.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Three useful sizes. This set includes 3 1/8”, 5 ½”, and 7 7/8” diameter fine mesh sieves.
  • Great for less strenuous tasks. The two smaller sizes in this set are ideal for things like straining loose tea leaves, dusting powdered sugar or cocoa over desserts, washing a cup of fresh berries or string beans, or straining the seeds while juicing a lemon. The largest one is fine for sifting a couple of cups of dry baking ingredients and similar light-duty tasks, but the spot-welded handles and thinner wire mesh make it too delicate for heavier contents and more demanding applications that require the sturdier Kukpo strainer.
  • Surprisingly inexpensive. At the time of publication, this set of three cost less than $14 on Amazon. Even though I prefer the 9" Kukpo to the 7 7/8" strainer in the Cuisinart set, I consider that a very good value, even for just the small and medium sizes.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I haven't found a single speck of rust on any of mine after nearly five years of frequent use.
  • Limited lifetime warranty. Cuisinart offers a limited lifetime warranty for its products if you register your purchase with them. I haven't been able to find any information about what it covers for this strainer set. 

Bonus Tip: Use a Stiff, Thin-Bristled Brush to Dislodge Any Food Particles Stuck in the Fine Mesh

Whether you plan to wash your strainers by hand or in the dishwasher, I highly recommend inspecting the fine wire mesh carefully for any bits of food residue that might be stuck. It's best to wash and check the mesh as soon as possible after use, since any clogs will be much harder to dislodge if they are allowed to dry inside those tiny openings. If you need more time, just submerge the strainer in hot water and until you are able to clean and inspect it properly. 

I have found that small, dense brushes with thin, stiff bristles, like the two in the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set, are the most effective tools for clearing stubborn food particles from the fine wire mesh. 


How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Best Wet Brushes for Detangling Your Hair Without Damage

Detangling hair without damaging it requires time and a gentle touch. Removing snarls from wet hair requires even more patience and gentleness. A detangling brush aka “wet brush” with flexible, ball-tipped bristles is the best hair care tool for getting tangles out of not only wet but also dry tresses, especially for long, thick, curly, long or damaged hair that gets knotted easily.

In today’s review, I'll explain why and when it's important to use "wet brushes" and sharing my favorite detangling brushes to help protect the health and beauty of your mane.

Detangling Hairbrushes text over photo of woman brushing hair
Using a detangling brush aka "wet brush" to remove snarls and tangles gently helps minimize damage to your hair's protective cuticle

A “Wet Brush” Helps Remove Snarls Gently Without Damaging Your Hair

If you are lucky enough to have the type of hair that rarely gets knots and can be combed through easily, without tugging, after a shampoo or swim, I envy you! For everyone else, whose locks are prone to tangling and breaking (especially when wet), there are two very important things you will need to minimize damage to your mane when you are trying to persuade your snarled strands to separate.

The first is plenty of patience, since you will need to coax the strands apart only a few inches at a time, starting with the last two or three inches and slowly working your way up toward the scalp, moving to the next section only after the one you are working on is completely tangle-free.

The second thing you will need is a good quality "wet brush", i.e., a detangling brush designed to help you remove snarls from either dry or wet hair.

Keeping the Hair Shaft's Cuticle Healthy Is the Key to Smooth, Shiny, Strong Hair

Cuticle Damage = Fragile, Dull, Frizzy Hair and Split Ends

When we talk about hair, we usually are referring to the shaft (the visible portion outside the scalp). The cortex, which forms the majority of the shaft, is responsible for the hair's strength/elasticity, color and texture. (Very thick hairs may also have a thin core called the medulla.) The hair shaft's outermost layer, the cuticle, is composed of smooth, flat keratin cells arranged compactly in overlapping, downward-facing rows, similar to roof tiles or fish scales. The cuticle protects the cortex (and medulla, if there is one) against damage and controls how much moisture can enter it. 

The health of your hair depends largely on the integrity of the cuticle. If the cuticle is abraded, worn away, stretched, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it can no longer protect the cortex. Without an intact protective cuticle, the helix-shaped keratin protein strands (which are like coiled springs) are no longer held securely in place and can stick out, creating a frizzy appearance and weakening the hair fibers.

Healthy hair looks shiny because the cuticle is smooth and intact, so light reflects off a smooth surface at the same angle. Damaged hair looks dull because the cuticle's overlapping cells no longer lay down flat, so light refracts off the uneven surface at different angles. 

Since hair grows from the roots, the ends are the oldest part and, therefore, have had the most cumulative exposure to physical, chemical and environmental damage. The cuticle on the ends of the shaft has had the most wear and tear, and the exposed cortex is what we call split ends. (For more information about the chemical, mechanical and environmental factors that cause hair damage, please see my Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment + No.3 Hair Perfector Product Review.)

The Benefits of Using a Wet Brush for Detangling Dry or Wet Hair

Thinner, More Flexible Bristles Are Gentler on Snarled Tresses

Paddle brushes and other hairbrushes designed to be used only on dry hair often have thick, stiff bristles. For example, 100% boar bristle brushes are good for adding shine to healthy tresses because they help distribute the oils from the scalp along the shaft. 

However, because these shorter, stiff bristles have very little “give,” when they encounter a snag they tend to get stuck in the knot. Since the hair is more elastic and more fragile, especially when it is wet, those tangled strands will break rather than slide apart when they are under tension from the stiff bristles. 

By contrast, a "wet brush" designed specifically for detangling both wet and dry hair has smooth, flexible bristles that can glide along the strands without abrading the cuticle or causing tears or cracks. Some stretching and breaking is inevitable when you are trying to brush out snarls, especially if your hair is long, thick, wavy, fragile or damaged and tangles easily even when it is dry. But a detangling brush, especially one with long, ball-tipped bristles, will help minimize the damage to the cuticle when used on dry or wet hair.

Use a "Wet Brush" to Detangle Dry Hair Before a Shampoo or Swim, Then Towel Dry and Detangle Again

When your hair is wet, the shaft absorbs water and swells, causing the edges of the protective cuticle's overlapping "tiles" (cells) to lift a bit, exposing more of the softer and more porous cortex layer.  That's why your tresses are weaker and more vulnerable to stretching, breaking, and other damage than when they are dry, and why it's important to use a brush with thin, flexible, rounded or ball-tipped bristles and slide it through the strands slowly and gently.  

Before you shampoo or go for a swim, it's a good idea to use a "wet brush" to detangle your hair while it's still dry, so there will be fewer knots and snarls to unravel after you get out of the water, when your wet hair will be more vulnerable to damage from a brush. 

Make sure to dry your wet hair with a soft, very absorbent microfiber hair towel or turban to gently wick away as much moisture as possible before you begin to detangle, brush or style it. (See my VOLO Hero Premium Microfiber Hair Towel Product Review to learn more about the hair towel/turban that has earned my highest recommendation.) Then use a “wet brush” with thin, flexible and, ideally, ball-tipped bristles to gently ease any tangled strands apart and minimize potential damage to the all-important protective cuticle layer. 

Always Use a Detangling Brush to Remove Snarls, Whether Your Hair Is Wet or Dry

If you find a lot of strands in your shower drain or your hairbrush, or if your mane is frizzy, breaks or gets tangled easily even when it's dry, those are signs that the cuticle has been damaged. 

If that's the case (as it is for most of us who are past our twenties), you definitely will benefit from using a detangling brush on your dry hair, either exclusively or to remove any snarls before you use your regular hairbrush.

My Picks for the Best Wet Brushes (AKA Detangling Brushes)

Many years ago, the stylist at my hair salon explained that the reason my formerly smooth, silky long locks were becoming frizzy, dull, brittle and increasingly prone to snarls was the cumulative damage to the cuticle from decades of coloring, highlighting and heat styling. One of the things he recommended was to stop using my beloved (and expensive) Kent boar bristle hairbrush and switch to a good quality "wet brush" instead, since the more detangling I had to do, the more damage a brush with dense clusters of short, stiff, boar bristles would create. Since then, I have tried several different brands and styles of detangling brushes and the Wet Brush brand has worked the best for me.

Wet Brush makes many different styles and models of detangling brushes, all featuring the brand's smooth, ball-tipped, flexible IntelliFlex bristles that glide through snarls more easily than others I have tried. In fact, Wet Brush states that independent clinical trials showed that the brand's exclusive IntelliFlex bristles are less damaging than a traditional styling brush and use less force than another leading detangling brush. The brand says its IntelliFlex bristles cause 19% less damage and use 56% less force. 

Another advantage of the ball-tipped bristles is that they are good for massaging the scalp gently, without causing any damage.

For the past several years, I have been using the Wet Brush Pro Flex Dry Paddle, a vented paddle detangling brush with a flexible head that conforms to the scalp better than a traditional, rigid brush head.

This Wet Brush model is one of several styles that are vented to promote air flow while blow drying. (I assume "dry paddle" means "drying paddle.") When I was blow drying my hair, the wide vents worked really well for that purpose 

I have been using this brush on my long, easily tangled mane for several years and it has held up fine. However, there have been some customer reviews complaining that this and other vented Wet Brush models break too easily. If they were using enough force to break the sturdy plastic, I suspect that they were tugging too hard and trying to force the bristles through stubborn knots and snarls, rather than using the bristles to gently work them apart to avoid damaging the cuticle and causing the enmeshed strands to break. If my guess is correct, then the allegedly premature breakage of the brush head may well have been caused by user error, rather than a materials or design flaw.

Last year, I decided to stop blow drying my hair, so I no longer need a vented paddle detangling brush. These days, after I towel-dry and detangle my tresses, either I let it finish air drying naturally or use my oval hot air brush, which is virtually identical to the REVLON One-Step Hair Dryer And Volumizer Hot Air Brush and produces very similar results to what I could achieve with a blow dryer and a vented round brush, but much more easily.

As a result, I have been looking at some of the company's non-vented models. Here are the front-runners under consideration.

  • The Original Wet Brush detangler. This was the brand's first product, which appears to still be its most popular model.

I had purchased an Original Wet Brush detangler in basic black quite a few years ago, which was my first introduction to this brand. I used that one for several years, until my checked luggage went astray when we flew home from a trip abroad and never turned up. Fortunately, it was one of the less expensive items I had to replace! (That was when I decided to try one of the company's then-new vented paddle brushes.)

Since I no longer need a vented paddle brush for blow drying, I'm seriously considering going back to The Original Wet Brush, especially now that it comes in a gorgeous new aqua color that is exclusive to Amazon. 

I love any shade of aqua, turquoise, teal, etc., so the Amazon-exclusive edition of this tried-and-true detangling brush is very appealing.

If aqua isn't your color, you'll be happy to know that it also comes in black as well as a rainbow of other colors, as well as in vibrant prints, such as daisy garden, dark floral, Aztec, sea life and even fun leopard, tiger and zebra animal prints. No matter your color preferences or taste, you're sure to find something you like among the many choices. (There's even a Wet Brush with a pink unicorn print, twinkling LED lights and the saying, "follow your dreams" that many teenage girls would probably adore!)

  • The Wet Brush Shine Enhancer. This style has a mix of long IntelliFlex bristles and spaced-out tufts of shorter boar bristles. It's great for detangling and brushing second-day hair in one go.

The smooth, ball-tipped, flexible IntelliFlex bristles glide through the hair, allowing you to work out snarls gently without damaging the cuticle. At the same time, the shorter boar bristle tufts help redistribute the oils from your scalp along the length of the shaft, smoothing down the cuticle and adding shine. 

Since the boar bristles are fairly short, the much longer IntelliFlex bristles only allow them to glide along the surface layers of the hair, where the shine is needed, without penetrating deeper and getting caught in any knots or snarls.

It's also fantastic for brushing out dry shampoo, which for some reason always makes my long hair tangle like crazy, even though I always use a detangling brush before applying the dry shampoo to my roots! 

Although it is theoretically okay to use on wet or dry strands, I would be reluctant to use a brush with even short boar bristles on my long, damaged hair when it is still damp. So, I probably will end up getting the Original Wet Brush for detangling just before going into the water and after my hair has been towel dried, and also the Wet Brush Shine Enhancer on my dry hair as my "regular" brush, since my hair is in need of frequent detangling even when it is dry. 

Wet Brush now makes a line of round blow-drying brushes with different types of bristles designed to stand up to the heat of a blow dryer. If I ever go back to blow-drying my hair, I will definitely look into getting one of these, rather than a vented paddle brush.

The brand recently introduced the Wet Brush Go Green Collection, a line of "earth-friendly" detangling brushes, treatment brushes and treatment combs that feature handles made from "an all-natural biodegradable plant starch" that it claims "will naturally break down in a landfill within 5 years." 

Although this collection is too new for me to feel confident about the durability of the plant-based plastic that  provides their structure, I will be interested to see the reviews in another year or two. I would be thrilled to have a more environmentally friendly option for my favorite detangling hairbrush!

Wet Brushes for Men, Kids and Pets

Men's hair needs TLC, too, which is why there is Wet Brush Men's Detangler. It is longer and narrower than the women's models and is designed to be used on "straight, curly, textured, thick and wavy hair including beards." It has the same signature IntelliFlex bristles and works well on both wet and dry hair, The guys, however, have to settle for a couple of basic color choices.

Anyone who either had long hair when they were a kid or has had a long-haired young daughter or son knows that brushing out those tangled locks can be a daily or nightly battle between the parent and child. Fortunately, there is also a Wet Brush Kids Detangler to take the tears out of this dreaded routine task. The kids' version is a smaller-scale version of the Original detangling brush and comes in cheerful prints, including one with ice cream bars. 

The company also makes detangling and grooming brushes and combs for pets, which I think would make great gifts for pet owners.


The Best Wet Brushes for Detangling Your Hair Without Damage product review by Margaret Schindel

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Review This is Dedicated to the
Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor


We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten


Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner




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