Small travel hair brushes touted as space-saving alternatives to full-size models seldom measure up in actual use. Flimsy little handles sprouting flimsy little bristles can tear at thin locks and wimp out on thick ones.

The Tangle Teezer Compact Styler.
The Tangle Teezer Compact Styler.

The new Tangle Teezer Compact Styler is a shape-shifter that handily brushes off the competition.  There's no handle, just a diminutive kidney-bean shaped sturdy plastic base that nestles ergonomically in the palm of your hand.  Strong but flexible pin bristles are arranged in a two-tier system combining long teeth to detangle and short teeth to smooth the hair cuticle. The formation creates a kind of bend and stretch effect that helps the brush more smoothly glide through your hair — really, it does — with your hand closely steering the brush head — instead of tugging at a handle.

But wait, there's more.  The brush comes with a matching plastic cover that clicks in place over the bristles, protecting them from bending and keeping dirt out— just what you'd want while traveling.  The Tangle Teezer is an all-inclusive hair handler; it's designed to gently detangle both wet and dry hair and is great for  grooming beards.

The brush comes in myriad colors — from shiny gold to muted slate — and patterns ranging from a hot pink and leopard number to homages to Star Wars, Hello Kitty, and lawn flamingos.

Tangle Teezer Compact Styler is $16 at