A good way to show that two characters are close is to let one of them have her (and usually, it's her) hair combed or brushed by the other. Typically, the one who brushes the other's hair also arranges it into a simple or elaborate hairstyle. As this is something usually done to young girls by their parents, it's often used to illustrate a bond and an affectionate relationship, often a motherly or sisterly one.
If the girl or woman getting her hair brushed has been shown as uptight or withdrawn before, this goes hand in hand with Letting Her Hair Down. If the context is romantic and the bond is not a platonic one, the moment can lead to a kiss (or more).
For animals and especially cats, licking and grooming their fur is an equivalent used to show that the characters care for each other and that they are intimate and affectionate.
Intimate Haircut is a related trope, because if not done by a professional hairdresser, cutting someone else's hair is seen as an intimate act and bonding experience. Ear Cleaning is a similar concept: if a character lets anyone else clean their ears, it's an indication of a close, warm and trusting relationship.
- In the original Sailor Moon, one of the first bonding moments between Minako and Usagi is when she starts brushing her hair after her break-up with Mamoru.
- A flashback in Kaguya-sama: Love is War shows Hayasaka brushing Kaguya's hair alongside a caption talking about how they're Childhood Friends.
- Subverted in Gunsmith Cats after Misty is kidnapped, looking distinctly uncomfortable as one of the female kidnappers is brushing her hair. In contrast, the kidnapper is smiling happily, and even her fellow abductors seem weirded out by this.
- Sound of the Sky: A little orphan girl desperately searches for her deceased mother's box of hair items to give to the girl who runs the orphanage and have her take over brushing her hair, as per her mother's wishes that she give them to the person she cares most about after she was gone.
- In Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Hanako and Mokke comb and braid Nene's hair while she is in class. Nene muses that Hanako combs her hair because he is worried about her after the ordeal where Nene was suddenly pulled into a mirror boundary and Hanako couldn't help her right away. Though, it is immediately Played for Laughs that Hanako does up her hair in a ridiculous cone-shaped style.
- Subverted in a Gunsmith Cats story where Rally's friend Misty is kidnapped and seen having her hair brushed by a female kidnapper. The kidnapper looks happy, Misty doesn't.
- The second issue of A-Force opens with Nico Minoru brushing Singularity's hair.
- In The Female of the Species, Nala's mother Sarafina gives her a light tongue-bath after Nala has a confrontation with Scar. Nala notes that she hasn't received a bath from her mother since Simba's death. She's become more introverted since then.
- In Warriors Rewrite, Firepaw is astonished by how intimate getting licked by his Clanmates is. He's been licked by his sister Princess, but it was never as lengthy or impactful.
- In "Careless Words" by Epeefencer, Harry is very upset when Ginny implies she might cut her hair shorter, depriving him of this trope. Brushing Ginny's hair is one of his most favourite activities in the whole world.
- Brush It Off has Foggy discovering Matt really enjoys having his hair brushed, to the point he starts purring.
- In Unchained, Tobirama asks his kidnapper and wife Izuna to comb his hair to annoy her but unexpectedly enjoys it, and it becomes a bonding activity between them.
- In Memories Like Ghost Stories, Liu Qingge comforts a traumatized Shen Qingqiu by combing dirt and twigs out of Shen Qingqiu's hair.
- Tangled has the villain invoking this trope. As Gothel needs to be touching Rapunzel's hair to activate its magic, she makes it a ritual of brushing her daughter's hair.
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Ariel and Melody have a heart to heart while Ariel is brushing Melody's hair before her birthday party.
- In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Astrid is seen putting little braids in Hiccup's hair. He leaves them there because she's the one who did them.
- In Wolfwalkers, after Robyn and Mebh steal some food and milk from two woodcutters, Robyn takes a moment to brush the leaves and twigs out of Mebh's hair, which shows how the two girls are opening up and becoming friendlier with each other.
- In Letters to Juliet, Claire brushes Sophie's hair. As Sophie never knew her mother, this shows that Claire has taken on that role for Sophie.
- Shrimp On The Barbie plays this trope for laughs, as a woman getting a man to brush her hair leads into foreplay between them.
- In The Railway Children a rare Pet the Dog moment for Ruth the maid is when she's shown brushing Phyllis's hair before bed.
- In the film Belle a tender moment between Mabel the maid and Belle comes when Mabel sees Belle trying to comb her hair and offers to do it for her.
- Battle of the Sexes shows a sign of attraction between Billie and Marilyn when the latter starts tenderly combing her hair in the salon.
- The Haunting (1999) has a moment where Theo (who is bisexual) combs Nell's hair. As opposed to Theo's casual flirting, this is more of a Friendship Moment between them.
- In the remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? a Pet the Dog moment between the sisters is when Blanche gets Jane to wash her hair and comb it. Unfortunately Jane starts cutting it.
- Mrs Danvers in Rebecca talks lovingly of brushing Rebecca's hair every night before bed. She even has her hairbrush left exactly as it was when she was alive.
- In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, older sister Sarah brushes younger sister Katie's hair before bed; it's their gossip time.
- Heavenly Creatures, when Pauline is on a trip with her best friend Juliet and the Hulmes, Hilda (Juliet's mother) brushes Pauline's hair who really enjoys the attention. Shortly after Hilda lovingly (though in a jest) calls Pauline her foster daughter. It's meant as a compliment to the girls' strong bond.
- Pride & Prejudice (2005): Sisters Jane and Elizabeth Bennet talk in front of a large mirror as they're preparing and getting dressed for the Netherfield ball. Jane is fixing Elizabeth's hair.
- Instant Family: Ellie's first bonding moment with Lizzie, her oldest foster child, comes when Lizzie lets her brush out her tangled hair. Ellie considers it a turning point and gifts Lizzie the brush as a symbol of their new relationship, only to find it in the toilet the next day. Lizzie eventually admits that the intimacy of the moment reminded her of her biological mother, so bonding with Ellie felt like a betrayal.
- In Warrior Cats, cats regularly groom with their friends and loved ones. This is called "sharing tongues".
- In Leia, Princess of Alderaan, Kier undoing Leia's braids and brushing her hair is seen as an intimate act, and is the first step towards a closer relationship. This is also intimate in the sense that it happens right before the Did They or Didn't They? scene in the gardens.
- In The Cold Moons, badgers view mutual grooming as a way of bonding. Badgers lick the faces of their loved ones while grooming (with mothers sometimes completely grooming even their older cubs).
- Sidhe Devil: In one scene Doc watches Ish brushing her hair and then uses a devisement to clean his own hair. When Ish expresses annoyance because she lacks the Gift to use that devisement, Doc takes her hairbrush and starts brushing her hair himself.
Ish: I accept your apology.
- Tomcat Blue Eyes' Diaries: Blue Eyes' human and Blue Eyes find a lost kitten and decide to take care of her. They start calling her Kiki because at first, she can't even miaow properly and only says 'kik'. When they bring her home, she falls asleep curled up without washing herself. Kindhearted Blue Eyes starts cleaning and grooming her fur and thinks how he'll have to teach her proper cat ways. And that's how Kiki became part of their little family.
- In the Dragonriders of Pern novel Dragon's Fire, Trader Tarri washes and brushes Halla's hair. Halla, a twelve-year-old homeless orphan, can't remember anyone ever doing this for her before.
- In Gates Of Paradise, the fourth novel in The Casteel Series, Tony Tatterton tells his granddaughter Annie that he would often watch her mother brush her hair. She's unnerved by this, noting that it's something a husband and wife would do, not a father and daughter.
- In Casualty, one girl asks her sister to cut her hair before undergoing chemotherapy. It turns into this right before — hair brushing is a tender moment between sisters.
- The Pretender, episode "Collateral Damage": Miss Parker spends the episode reluctantly looking after a colleague's daughter while he's out of town, and the two of them gradually bond. One sign of this near the end of the episode is when Miss Parker offers to brush Debbie's hair the way her mother used to brush hers when she was Debbie's age.
- In an episode of Ackley Bridge Kaneez has her hair restyled and talks about how she and her sisters would comb each other's hair back in Pakistan. Her daughter then brushes her hair for her.
- Game of Thrones:
- In the first episode, Catelyn Stark is seen brushing her eldest daughter Sansa's hair, signifying the love and bond between them. In the novels Catelyn mentions that she used to dismiss her servants from the room specifically so she could do this herself.
- In "King's Road", Sansa sees several noble ladies from Royal Court talking, smiling, laughing and having a good time together. One of them is braiding another's hair.
- Irri, a young Dothraki woman who is Daenerys's handmaiden and serves the new Khaleesi, braids her hair. While doing it, she discovers than Dany is pregnant.
- Daenerys is combing and lovingly fixing her husband Khal Drogo's long hair when they talk about invading Westeros and taking back the Iron Throne that belonged to her now fallen House Targaryen. The Dothraki men take pride in their hair and braided topknots. Whenever they lose a battle, they must cut their braids as a sign of defeat and for the world to see their shame.
- Tyrion arranges for his secret lover Shae to become Lady Sansa's handmaiden. Shae is a former prostitute who doesn't know what it entails, and Sansa (who is held hostage in King's Landing) is exasperated with her. Sansa lashes out that she shouldn't have to teach her how to do her job, but moments later asks Shae to brush her hair. Sansa is very lonely and desperate to have a companion. For Sansa, hair-brushing is an act of affection and intimacy which reminds her of her mother and she gradually warms up to Shae.
- Missandei is a freed slave and Queen Daenerys's trusted adviser and handmaiden. Daenerys herself is seen fixing Missandei's hair when the two young women talk about Daenerys's general Grey Worm and his romantic interest in Missandei.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
- In a Running Gag, Charles Boyle keeps suggesting the most romantic move of all times: washing your beloved's hair. He's also obsessed with shampoos.
- Episode "The Crime Scene" has Rosa appearing in a new Gag Haircut for every different scene. She dates a woman who's training to become a stylist and she practices on Rosa. Some of them are new cuts, some use hair extensions and she even wears one elaborate updo that would be ok for a ball, but is quite impractical for a detective.
- The Good Place: Eleanor and Tahani become friends despite their initial distrust. Eleanor suggests they take their bonding to "the next level" by braiding Tahani's hair. She braids a blond streak of fake hair in Tahani's gorgeous black hair. It looks tacky, but Tahani is good-natured enough and lets her. She even seems to enjoy Eleanor's attention.
- The Big Bang Theory, "The Skank Reflex Analysis": Amy is brushing Pennys hair in Penny's apartment. Amy craves to be Penny's best friend and sometimes acts like she has a crush on her. After she's done, she asks Penny to brush her hair, too.
Amy: Ninety-nine, one hundred. Its like a waterfall of liquid gold. My turn.
- Firefly, "The Train Job": Inara is brushing Kaylee's hair in her shuttle. Kaylee is a Tomboy with a Girly Streak and she clearly admires Inara's glamorous beauty and enjoys her attention. They have a lovely friendship with big sister/little sister dynamics.
- ER. Kerry Weaver's lesbian lover Kim prepares to blow dry her hair, asking Kerry "Do you want to watch again?", implying that this has become a ritual for them.
- Wives and Daughters (1999): Step-sisters Molly and Cynthia became fairly close friends. In one scene in episode 2, they're getting ready for a ball. Cynthia is more fashionable and worldly, and she's arranging Molly's hairdo. She later spoils her bouquet, sent by a mysterious giver, and puts some of its flowers in Molly's hair.
- Iron Fist (2017). The Season 2 plotline for Colleen Wing starts by her finding a family heirloom has somehow made its way to the charity she works at; a wooden box holding a comb and brush that her deceased mother used to brush her hair.
- Not seen but mentioned in The Lion in Winter, when Queen Eleanor and Princess Alys speak privately. Alys has been fostered at Henry and Eleanor's court for years, the intent having been for her to marry one of their sons (they couldn't agree on which), and Eleanor fondly recalls raising the girl: "I remember how I used to brush and braid this hair."
- Ensemble Stars!: In a Rare Male Example, Quarrel Fest demonstrates the closeness between the members of Akatsuki when Keito finally pats Souma's head in praise, only to realise a moment later that they'll be going on-stage in just a few minutes and he's now ruffled his hair. While he apologises in embarrassment (despite Souma still being very pleased), Kuro immediately steps in to re-brush and style Souma's hair, demonstrating his almost paternal affection. The scene is so important it stars as the image for Kuro's unbloomed card for this set.
- One piece◊ of official Street Fighter art shows Chun-Li brushing Cammy's hair for her. Cammy and Chun-Li are friends who often meet because they tend to be involved in the same plot; they're both law enforcers in different groups.
- ASMR Videos often use hair brushing, usually with the ASMRtist brushing another person's hair, due to its inherently soothing nature and the sound of the brush moving through the hair being a good trigger sound.