Expert Advice

Choose Beauty: All About Tangle Teezer Founder Shaun Pulfrey

Lauren Quick | August 29, 2016 | 11:55 AM

Reason for the Teezin'

Sassoon-trained stylist Shaun Pulfrey’s focus on making stylists’ jobs easier and making hair better led to his invention of the Tangle Teezer brush.


British stylist Shaun Pulfrey saw a problem and created a solution.


With more than 30 years in the industry under his belt, Sassoon-trained Pulfrey started thinking about creating the Tangle Teezer when he became the go-to stylist for gently detangling freshly colored hair in the salon.


“I was always concerned with hair conditioning,” Pulfrey says. “I thought—how can I make the hair better?”


Pulfrey’s specific technique for detangling hair worked for him, but he knew the client (and some stylists, even) wouldn’t go to the lengths he did to remove knots. He thought if he were able to streamline his system into a brush, he’d have a solution that would help stylists during the appointment and clients when they were no longer in their stylist’s chair.


“I knew my idea could be turned into a tool, so I started on a quest,” he says.


Pulfrey says he wasn’t at the top of his class in school, but he’s always had a curious mind. He would go to the British Library when he wanted to know more about something, and it’s probably this desire to seek out information that has made him an inventor—a seeker, a doer, a problem- solver.


The idea for the Tangle Teezer was born in 2004, and after working with a British manufacturer and walking through all the necessary research and development stages, Pulfrey had a product ready two and a half years later.


“We don’t make crazy brushes just to be crazy,” he says. “There’s a lot of R&D that goes into them.”


Pulfrey took the Tangle Teezer to Dragon’s Den, a show where inventors pitch their products and ideas to heavy-hitting investors for financial backing as well as advice (think: Shark Tank). The investors turned him down, and Pulfrey seems nonplussed by his dismissal from the show.


“I did my best, so I was happy,” he says.


It seems he has much to be happy about; Pulfrey says he has been the most successful candidate in Dragon Den’s run. The brush is sold in 80 countries internationally and is simplifying detangling for clients and stylists alike.


“I always consider myself a professional brand because I’m a professional hairdresser,” Pulfrey says. “I always have the industry in mind.”


To speak with Pulfrey is to experience his enthusiasm for the industry first-hand; his passion oozes out of him when he talks about hair and his desire to be a catalyst for change in the industry. He contends that if hair were simply treated more kindly by tools and the professionals who wield them, salon-quality hair would mean something else entirely.


“I love sitting quietly, watching stylists, colorists and clients and wondering if I could help them achieve even greater results,” Pulfrey says. “It might be months later, but suddenly a solution comes into my head, and I’m so excited I cannot wait to talk to our product designer.”


Beauty Bio: Shaun Pulfrey

Industry hero: “Annie Humphreys, former creative director at Vidal Sassoon. She made hair dance with color before my eyes. I was hooked on coloring from that moment.”


What I do when I’m not doing hair: “I love to spend any spare time I get at my house in London pottering in the garden. It’s a haven of peace and quiet.”


What I’m most proud of: “I’m proud of every award that Tangle Teezer has won, but I’m especially proud of the Queen’s Award. We’ve won two since Tangle Teezer started. These are really special to me. I even got to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen herself, which made my mother very proud!”


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