A well-maintained beard doesn’t happen by accident. While it seems that some men inherently have neater beards than others, most beards need a helping hand. And that’s where beard brushes and beard combs come in.
You need to use brushes and combs if you’re serious about keeping your beard in top condition. We’ll take a deep look at the topic of beard brush vs. beard comb in this article while covering everything from the basics to when and how to best use each tool.
As always, we hope you’ll become a better-informed beardsman whose beard stands out among the rest.
WHAT TYPE OF BEARDSMAN ARE YOU?
Before we compare Beard Brushes and Beard Combs, do you know what type of beardsman you are? Take the quiz to find out if you're the rarest type, and get an exclusive offer on a Beardbrand Beard Oil Starter Kit.
The Basics: What is a Beard Brush?
A beard brush is a grooming tool men use to keep their facial hair looking its best and feeling healthy. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
On the other hand, there’s much more to defining what a beard brush is than the basic description provided above. Let’s dig deeper:
The parts of a beard brush 101
There aren’t a lot of parts to a beard brush but the ones you choose are important. Basically, a beard brush consists of bristles, its body, and its handle; for our purposes, we’ll consider the body and handle to be the same thing.The body/handle
The body of a beard brush generally consists of wood or plastic, although other materials – such as ox horn – are sometimes used, as well.
Wood, or bamboo, bodies are commonly used to make the highest quality brushes. They’re more durable, for starters, and more eco-friendly because they don’t come from synthetic materials.
The only disadvantage of a beard brush made of wood is that it doesn’t react well with too much water, which is why you shouldn’t wash them under running water. Instead, dry clean them (try using a smaller brush or comb to get the hair and other gunk out of the bristles) or soak only the bristles in soapy water.
Synthetic, or plastic brushes, are almost always less expensive than wooden brushes and are the choice of many men. We’ve mentioned that wood is the handle/body material of choice for many quality beard brush brands, but don’t rule out synthetics – including cellulose acetate, a rubber-like material that doesn’t give off the static of plastic and has excellent durability.
Ox horn is another material used in the construction of beard brush handles. Wait, ox horn? Indeed. Combs and brushes made of ox horn date to the 1500s, if not even earlier, and ox horn was part of ancient Chinese medicine and said to help the quality of the blood.
To take it a step further, ancient Chinese medicine refers to hair as the odds and ends of blood, and healthy blood (and healthy blood circulation) can mean thicker, healthier facial hair.
Here’s the other thing: ox horn consists of keratin, the same building block for human hair. Finally, it doesn’t generate electricity like plastic, which means less static.
The shape of the body is another thing that contributes to the brush’s overall appearance, as well as determining how you use it. Beard brush bodies come in the traditional rectangular shape – with the handle extending from one end – while others have oval bodies that fit into the palm of your hand (and may provide better control, but that’s a matter of personal preference).Bristles
A beard’s bristles are, well, everything. The type of bristles you choose determines everything from your beard’s appearance to its overall health. The bristles can be the difference in a brush that does everything you need it to do without harming your beard from one that doesn’t seem to do much but tug at your facial hair.
Generally, there are two types of bristles used on beard brushes: 1) those made from natural hair and 2) those made from synthetic material.
Natural hair bristles come from either boar hair or horse hair. They distribute sebum efficiently – boars and horses secrete sebum, like humans – while helping to condition and style your beard.
Many beardsmen and beard experts claim that boar’s hair is the only type of bristles to choose, and with good reason. Boar’s hair combines stiffness and flexibility, which allows you to detangle your beard, help train hair to stay in place, and removes impurities without being overly-aggressive.
The backbone and lower shaft of boar and horse hair bristles are stiff, but the bristles become softer nearer their tips.
Something else to consider with bristles is their length. Longer bristles work best for thicker, long beards, while shorter beards require short bristles because, in part, you don’t want to risk aggravating the skin beneath your beard.
Synthetic bristles may consist of a variety of materials, including plastic. Brushes with synthetic bristles are almost always less expensive than brushes with animal hair bristles, but that doesn’t mean they’re of lesser quality.
Price is one of the advantages of choosing a brush with synthetic bristles, and that they’re vegan-friendly and, obviously, animal-friendly. If those factors are important to you then, by all means, choose a brush with synthetic bristles.
Among the disadvantages of using synthetic bristles is that they can be a bit more aggressive and abrasive than bristles made from animal hair. That may be a deterrent if you have beard hair that’s prone to breakage and split ends, or that’s patchy.
Also, some synthetic bristles have rougher edges and are hard on facial follicles, especially with consistent use. Finally, animal hair brushes tend to do a better job of distributing your skin’s natural oils throughout your beard, which helps to condition and prevent beard hair breakage.
Badger's hair is another option for beard brush bristles but is used much more frequently in shaving brushes because the soft badger hair cannot penetrate coarse beard hair to detangle.Size
Brushes come in a variety of sizes. Depending on your wants and needs, the size you choose comes down to personal preference.
Some men prefer travel-size brushes not only because you can take them with you when you’re on the road, but they’re also handy when you’re first growing a beard and may not need a larger brush. Also, travel brushes tend to be cheaper than normal-size brushes, which only makes sense.
The Basics Part II: What is a Beard Comb?
There’s nothing overly complicated about beard comb construction: it starts with a slender body of various lengths and includes teeth that cover the grooming part of the equation. And, while that pretty much sums it up, there’s more to a beard comb than meets the eye and what you might think.
The parts of a beard comb 101The beard comb body
Beard combs usually consist of wood, cellulose acetate, plastic, metal, and horn (such as ox horn).
- Wood combs usually earn high marks for many reasons, including that they won’t cause beard hair static, they’re very durable, and they look good - especially the highest-quality beard combs. However, those of lesser quality will snag in your beard hairs and damage them.
- Cellulose acetate is a synthetic comb material that you shouldn’t have qualms about using on your beard. It’s a rubber-like material that doesn’t produce static, is very durable, and won’t snag your hairs.
- Serious beardsmen tend to avoid plastic combs because they’re often cheaply-made, don’t last long, and produces a lot of static that can turn a well-groomed beard into one filled with frizz. Whatever you do, don’t grab a cheap plastic comb off the shelf – one that may or may not be suitable for beard grooming – and call it “good enough.”
- Combs made from metal are another option but, frankly, they’re not all that great. The teeth on metal combs don’t have smoothly-cut edges, which can wreak havoc on your beard, and they can cause static.
- Combs made from ox horn and other horn materials earn high marks for durability and for helping users to get a well-trained, well-groomed appearance.
A comb is only as good as its teeth and a main point to consider when choosing the best comb for you.
In particular, the width of a comb’s teeth is crucial. By width, we mean the space between the individual teeth and beard combs have two sets of teeth, both wide and narrow.
In general, the wider the space, the easier it is to glide your comb through the thicker, longer parts of your beard. If your beard’s coarseness is soft, then narrower teeth may be your best option.
Hand-cut vs. Stamp press combs
The manufacturing process used to produce combs can have a large effect on its quality. After all, a poorly-manufactured comb can snag, scratch, pull, and otherwise harm your beard.
Cheaper combs are made on a large press that stamps out (plastic) combs in a process similar to an assembly line. A common flaw in the stamp press process is that a comb’s teeth end up with microscopic, jagged edges that wreak havoc on your facial follicles.
Stamp-pressed combs also lack the durability of hand-cut combs and can break easily. While you can purchase cheaply-made at a budget-friendly price, the chances are good that you’ll be running out to get a new one shortly.
On the other end of the spectrum are hand-cut combs typically made of wood or horn. The comb’s teeth are individually cut with saws, and then polished and smoothed to eliminate any jagged edges. Also, the teeth of a handmade comb barely move when you run a finger over them, but the teeth of a plastic, stamp-pressed comb move easily, which means less styling control.
So, What Are the Differences Between a Beard Brush and Beard Comb?
While beard brushes and combs are more alike than different, there are some obvious differences.
For one, they look different. It’s pretty simple to see the difference between the two by their appearance. Brushes have more bulk, often include a body and a handle, and rely on bristles, not teeth, for the actual grooming part.
While the body and handle of a brush often consist of wood, or synthetic material, the bristles consist of something much different, such as animal hair. The animal hair bristles, such as boar’s hair bristles, help reduce frizziness while redistributing oil evenly throughout the beard.
A brush, as we’ll discuss a bit later, has a rectangular or oval body that, hopefully, provides a nice grip, good control, and an ergonomic design that won’t put extra strain on your brushing hand.
A comb’s body is much more slender although its length may vary. The comb’s thinness and overall less bulk (than a brush) make it easy to transport, and you’ve probably heard of “pocket” combs.
Beard combs come with two sizes of teeth; one side of the comb has narrower, finer teeth, while the other side has bigger spaces between the teeth. Which teeth you use depends on a few factors, not the least of which is the length and thickness of the beard.
Deciding When to Use a Beard Comb or Brush (or Both)
If you want a nice looking, thicker, and healthier beard, then you should have both a beard brush and comb in your arsenal. Both offer excellent benefits and should be a part of a consistent grooming routine.
The question is, how do you know when to use a comb or a brush? It’s an important question because combs and brushes serve different purposes but also have some similarities.
When it’s time to use a brush
- A brush, especially one with boar bristles or bristles made from another type of animal hair, is great for conditioning and cleaning your beard. A brush distributes the natural oils from your facial skin and beard evenly, and is great for removing dirt and grime that becomes trapped in your whiskers throughout the day.
- Many experts advise using a beard brush for short beards. For one, a beard brush helps you to begin taming your whiskers and getting them to go where you want them to early in your beard-growing journey.
- A brush’s bristles reach the skin beneath beard hair and pull away dead skin cells, built-up oil, and loose hair that can keep a beard from reaching its full growth potential, especially in the early stages.
- There’s no need to use a brush during a beard’s earliest stages, like when your stubble first starts to fill out a bit. But when you start to experience “bed beard,” you’ll know that it’s time to reach for tools such as a brush or comb.
- If you prefer to groom your beard when it’s completely dry – and not right after you emerge from the shower – a brush is your best bet. A brush can excessively pull on wet hair follicles and cause them to break.
- In general, a beard brush works better than a comb for giving your beard a fuller, thicker look. The brush’s bristles lift your hair away from the skin to help give the appearance of a heftier beard.
- A brush is better at “training” your beard hair to go in the direction that you want, and helps make grooming progressively easier over time.
When it’s time to comb
- The consensus among those in the know suggests that a beard comb is best for use on beards of at least three months growth. After three months – when there’s significant growth – a comb becomes nothing less than mandatory.
- Longer beards require a bit more styling and that’s when a comb comes into play. Combs have the edge over brushes for styling because, for one, they’re easier to control. But that’s not to say that brushes don’t serve a styling purpose.
- Combs are great for detangling beard hair and getting rid of knots. Use a comb’s widest teeth when combing through long, thick hair that tends to become knotted and tangled. Remember to start at the bottom and work your way to your face.
- Use a beard comb when you’re trimming your beard with scissors. Your comb will help you measure and cut the right amount of beard resulting in an even, uniform look. Also, a beard comb is the tool of choice for brushing the hair away from your mouth – a common occurrence among men with long beards, as well as mustachioed gentlemen.
- You shouldn’t use a brush on a wet beard but the same rule doesn’t apply to combs. Using a comb on a wet beard makes it easier to get rid of knots.
- One of the advantages a beard comb has over a brush is its portability. It’s easier to take a comb with you and it’s a handy grooming tool that you can use at any time of the day.
- A great time to use your beard comb is after you’ve applied beard oil. The oil makes your beard softer and easier for you to comb through knots and tangled hair.
When it’s time to use a comb and a brush
A common question among bearded gents is whether it’s OK to use a brush and comb at the same time. Perhaps the best answer is, “Why not?” because using both means you’ll reap all the benefits each has to offer.
As a rule of thumb, use a comb first before you use a brush. The comb will detangle and style your beard, particularly longer beards, while a brush adds the finishing touches and helps hold your style in place.
There’s not much need to use a brush and a comb during your beard’s early growth stages. Using a brush only in the first couple of months of growth helps keep your beard neat while training hairs to grow the desired direction.
Once your beard becomes longer, however, like after three months, a beard comb becomes your go-to tool for styling. But a brush continues to serve its purpose of helping to keep your whiskers in place while also stimulating and improving blood circulation to your beard. And better blood circulation means that more nutrients needed to sustain your beard reach your follicles.
6 Reasons Why You Need to Use a Beard Brush
A beard brush is an essential grooming tool if you’re serious about maintaining a kickass beard, unless you’re going for the let-it-all-hang-out beard style. There’s nothing wrong with that, but most men prefer to keep their beard, of any length, tidy and looking its best. But there’s more to a beard brush than keeping stray beard hair in place (its obvious function) while giving it a well-groomed appearance.1. Your beard will become less dry and itchy
Many beardsmen have endured the maddening effects of beard itch, especially during the early growth stages of the beard when the skin’s natural oil (sebum) production struggles to keep up with longer facial follicles.
And then there’s beardruff: a crappy consequence of dry skin and a dry beard. Raise your hand if you’re a fan of beardruff, those white, scaly flakes that speckle your beard and drop on your clothes, or desk. We don’t see a lot of hands, by the way.
But this is when a beard brush has your back or, at least, your beard, because it helps distribute sebum evenly throughout your facial hair. That helps prevent dryness, but also prevents excessive buildup of sebum at the hair’s root, which can cause skin irritation and acne.
Moreover, if you use beard oil – which we strongly recommend, and which helps supplement sebum – a brush enables you to distribute it evenly throughout your whiskers, as well.
Proper distribution of these oils also helps give your beard a nice shine and an overall healthy appearance.2. A beard brush helps stimulate blood flow
Using a beard brush stimulates blood flow to your follicles by massaging the skin beneath your beard. Proper blood flow helps ensure that essential nutrients get delivered to your follicles and help them to maintain optimal health.3. Brushing provides natural exfoliation
Exfoliation works wonders in keeping your skin healthy, whether it’s the skin under your beard, or the skin on other parts of your body. It removes dead skin cells that can clog pores and irritate skin, while also getting the way of efficient facial hair growth
The texture of your beard brush’s bristles penetrates to the roots of hair follicles to provide natural exfoliation while ridding the beard and skin of dead cells. It also stimulates blood circulation during the exfoliating process and, as mentioned, proper blood flow is vital to maintaining a healthy beard.4. It makes your beard appear fuller and thicker
Brushing your beard separates your beard hair to give it a thicker appearance. You’ll also get a natural shine thanks to the even distribution of oil.
Can a beard brush promote beard growth, including faster beard growth? It’s a commonly asked question and often debated. While there’s no scientific proof that brushing your beard will make it grow beyond its normal rate, brushing does improve blood circulation to the follicles, which is important for healthy hair and hair growth. So, while brushing may not give you an epic beard, it can help you have a healthier beard that’s thriving.5. Brushing makes your beard more obedient
There’s a reason many people take their puppies to obedience school which, in most cases, is to get the animal to behave predictably and on command. The same principle applies to your beard.
While your beard follicles aren’t about to dash through the front door and chase the mail person, they can have a mind of their own in how they present themselves. That is, some beard hair lies neatly in place while other hairs stick out or somehow go against the grain of the rest of your beard.
Regular brushing trains those wayward whiskers to go where and how you want them to lie. Eventually, they’ll seem to fall in place magically, even after waking up with an extreme case of bead beard.6. Brushing keeps your beard from breaking
By “breaking,” we mean hair breakage, frizziness, and split ends that often plague an otherwise magnificent beard. Getting rid of those types of issues saves you time spent on trimming wiry, problematic beard hair while helping it to look more even.
Beardbrand founder Eric Bandholz breaks down the benefits of using a beard brush even further in this Three Reasons You Need to Use a Boar Bristle Brush video.
Note: As mentioned in the video, it’s important to keep in mind that simply brushing your beard, or even scratching it to stimulate blood flow, won’t turn a patchy beard into a full-blown monster beard. Yes, it enhances the circulation of blood to the face or scalp, which stimulates your follicles, but that doesn’t guarantee that your patchiness will disappear. But it does give you a fighting chance.
7 Amazing Benefits of Using a Beard Comb
Like a beard brush, a beard comb serves a variety of functions aside from just keeping your beard hair in place while providing a neater appearance.1. A beard comb is a great de-tangler
Every man’s beard develops tangles and knots from time to time. One of a beard comb’s most obvious benefits is that it easily detangles your beard. Not only will your beard be knot-free, but it will look better, too.2. Let a comb rid your whiskers of frizz
A beard never looks its best when it’s frizzy and filled with static. A good beard comb reduces the static electricity in your beard that makes follicles want to stand out from all the rest, but not in a good way.
Notice we mentioned wood combs; plastic combs often have the opposite effect in that they create static electricity. That’s obviously not good for keeping frizz under control, and you may find that your beard has more split ends because of the plastic comb.3. A beard comb is stimulating
OK, so not stimulating in every sense of the word, but stimulating in that it massages your follicles and the skin beneath your beard.
The “stimulation” benefit provided by a good beard comb is that blood that contains the nutrients needed to create a thicker, healthier, and shinier beard, is drawn to hair follicles.4. You’ll get rid of those ingrown hairs
Ingrown hair hardly qualifies as a serious medical condition but it is irritating, itchy, and even a source of embarrassment. Many men with beards, and those without, experience ingrown hair – which is hair that curls around and grows back into your skin.
There are a few common causes of ingrown hair, including trimming naturally curly hair in which the sharpened end of the hair enters the skin, or dead skin that clogs up a hair follicle and forces the hair inside it to grow sideways.
African-American men and people with thick, curly hair sometimes develop pseudofolliculitis, a certain type of ingrown hair. Also known as “razor bumps,” the hair that grows back has a sharper edge and may easily poke through the skin and become trapped under its surface.
A beard comb is an excellent tool to have in dealing with ingrown hair because the combing action, and comb’s teeth, gently prying out hair that already is or may become ingrown. And ridding your beard and skin of ingrown hair is essential to healthy beard growth.5. A beard comb enables you to get the “look” you desire
The obvious function of a beard comb is, as mentioned, to keep stray hair in place while improving your beard’s appearance. You know how your scalp hair looks when you don’t comb or brush it; there’s no reason to think your beard will look any neater if you don’t groom it in some way.
A comb also helps you to train wayward beard hair to grow in the desired direction.6. Beard combs help keep your beard clean
While regularly washing your beard with a quality beard shampoo or wash is essential for keeping your beard clean, regular combing also helps by reducing food particles and other debris from getting trapped in your whiskers. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to run a comb through your beard after lunch.7. Beard combs help keep your beard moist
Another benefit of using a beard comb is that it distributes the natural oils of the skin throughout your whiskers evenly. The same rule applies for beard oil, which you want to coat all of your hair follicles for maximum benefits.
Be a Smart Shopper: What to Look For in a Beard Brush
We’ve already established that you need to use the right tools for the job and, in this case, that means using a beard brush to brush your beard, not some plastic alternative on the pharmacy shelf designed for use on your scalp hair.
It also always pays to be a smart shopper who makes every purchase while armed with knowledge. Here are a few things to remember when buying a beard brush.What’s it made of?
The handles of beard brushes are almost always made of bamboo, wood or plastic. In general, brushes made of wood are of higher quality than plastic brushes for a variety of reasons, including that they’re more durable.
Wood brushes are also eco-friendly – and not made of synthetic materials – although the one advantage of plastic brushes is that they have superior water resistance.The bristles
Natural beard brushes consist of boar, horse, or badger hair. And natural hair brushes do a great job of spreading your skin’s natural oils (and beard oil if you choose to apply it before you brush your beard).
However, synthetic bristles are available and many people choose synthetic because they’re animal-friendly.Size (of the brush) matters
Beard brushes come in many sizes and which size you choose depends on a couple of factors, including whether you travel frequently. If so, you’ll find plenty of quality travel-size brushes from which to choose, although a smaller brush usually doesn’t work as well on longer, thicker beards.The handle
Beard brushes come in oval and rectangular shapes, with or without the handle. It basically comes down to the size of your hand, the steadiness of the grip, and which type is easiest for you to maneuver over your facial follicles.Price
Sometimes you get what you pay for, other times you don’t. While a higher price tag doesn’t guarantee a better brush, some brushes cost more than others for a reason, i.e., they’re of a higher quality than less expensive ones. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great brush at a budget-friendly price.
In general, beard brushes range from $12 to $30, although some are priced lower and higher than that. They’re not cheap, at least when compared to some other grooming products, but the good ones are well worth the investment.
Be a Smart Shopper II: What to Look For in a Beard Comb
Don’t let anyone tell you that any old comb will do for grooming your beard. So, put down the el-cheapo plastic comb that you’re tempted to buy at your local supermarket or gas station mini-mart and start searching for the real thing.
And here’s what to look for before you buy:The material
Beard comb construction comes down to three main materials: wood, plastic, and metal. We’ve talked about each type of material earlier and won’t cover them in-depth here, but many beardsmen choose wooden combs because of their high quality.
True, you’ll pay more, even significantly more, for a wooden comb as you will for a plastic comb, but a cheap, lower-quality comb can do more harm than good to your facial follicles. Crappy combs often have microscopic jagged splits between each tooth because they’re mass produced by machines. You can only imagine the havoc those jagged edges can raise on your beard.
Let’s not forget about cellulose acetate, which some say is the best material of all for making a beard comb. Cellulose acetate is a rubber-like substance that doesn’t produce static – another issue with poorly-made plastic combs – and they’re easy to clean.
Many reviews of top beard combs include products made from cellulose acetate, including our line of Beardbrand combs.The size of the teeth
There are many types of comb teeth available to today’s consumer – long, short, wide, fine, rounded, etc. Which type and size you choose depend on the state of your beard.
For example, combs with wide teeth generally are better for men with the most massive of beards, such as those of a year’s growth or more.Hand-crafted vs. machine manufactured
Beard experts and gurus don’t always agree about the same things, but they can usually come to a consensus that hand-crafted combs are of a higher quality than those made by machines. Not that “hand-crafted” always means better, but many quality combs feature hand craftsmanship in which every detail is considered carefully.
We talked earlier about machine-manufactured combs that often have microscopic jagged edges between its teeth that can slowly tear out beard follicles. A large machine stamps each comb in typical mass production fashion and is responsible for the less-than-even edges between a comb’s teeth.Durability
No one wants to buy a product that may break or wear out before its time. The material used to make a comb influences the comb’s durability, but you can also extend a comb’s longevity by not being careless (don’t drop it, sit on it, or expose it too often to sunlight and water).Feel
You’ll also want to choose a comb that feels good in your hand, won’t slip, and doesn’t seem too heavy. A portable, ergonomic design is ideal.
The Proper Way to Use a Beard Brush in 7 Steps
One way to get the most from your beard brush is to use it every day. You’ll only need to use it once a day, but consistency is important for getting the most from your brush and for the overall health and appearance of your beard.
Not that there’s anything wrong with using your brush more than once a day, mind you, because you never know when your facial follicles will go askew. But, in general, one time per day is enough. Here’s a brief primer on how to use a beard brush.1. When should I use my beard brush?
The best time to use your beard brush is typically the morning. For one, that’s when most men do their daily grooming routine. For another, anyone who has experienced bed beard understands the need for brushing it in the a.m.
Brushing your beard during the early stages of its growth is also important, as our Carlos Costa discusses in this video.
No matter how much you comb your beard during these stages, some hair always seems to go back to where it was rather than in the direction you want. A brush helps you to maintain the direction you want.
That’s not to say a brush isn’t helpful during a beard’s longer stages. On the contrary, a brush enhances the health and appearance of your beard whether it’s long, short, or something in between.2. Brush your beard when it’s dry, not wet
Always brush your beard when it’s dry. That may mean waiting a few extra minutes for your whiskers to dry after you emerge from the shower but it’s worth the wait because wet hair stretches more and becomes more prone to snap or break, at least in theory. No man wants to lose beard hair unnecessarily.3. Oil first, then brush
Here’s another hack for getting the best use from your beard brush: apply beard oil first before you brush.
Beard oil is one of the most important tools you can have in your grooming kit because it serves a variety of functions, not the least of which is moisturizing your beard follicles and the skin underneath. It supplements your body’s production of sebum – the natural oils of your skin – which can run low because of the need to moisturize long facial hair.
Brushing and combing your beard after applying oil will help the brush slide smoothly through your whiskers but also help to spread the oil evenly across your beard. You can also use another type of beard conditioner, such as beard balm (like Beardbrand Utility Balm), but beard oil is a go-to product for keeping your beard hydrated.
Check out our six Beardbrand Beard Oils - Four Vices, Temple Smoke, Old Money, Tree Ranger, Spiced Citrus, and Tea Tree - as well as our video on how to apply beard oil. 4. Brush slowly and with the grain
Many of us find ourselves in one long, mad dash to get out of the house in the morning but give yourself enough time to brush your beard thoroughly. You should always brush with the grain of your beard, and the grain follows a downward curve to your chin.
Why brush with the grain? Well, the point of brushing is, in part, to make your beard look neat and trim. Brushing it in the right direction is the only way to accomplish that.
Start brushing on the sides of your face near your ears and brush downward toward your chin. Brushing it in this way also trains your beard to grow in that direction as it gets longer.
Your neck is a slightly different animal, however, because neck hair may grow in the opposite direction than the hair on your face. For some men, that means brushing against the grain, but daily brushing can help train hair to grow in properly.
Here’s the other thing: you don’t want to rush it when you encounter knots and tangles in your whiskers. Take your time and don’t try to “pull” through the knots with he-man force. Be gentle.5. Go ahead, use your brush after waxing your beard
Beard oil, beard balm, beard wax – all serve to condition your beard and keep it looking its best. Beard wax provides superior hold – and is definitely stiffer than beard oil – but there’s nothing wrong with brushing your beard after you’ve applied some of it.
All you need to do is to melt some beard wax between your fingers and palms, apply it evenly throughout your beard, and then brush until your beard is in the shape you want.6. Is it possible to use a beard brush too often?
The answer to this question depends a lot on the type of brush. A brush with synthetic bristles is rougher on your beard and may pull out or damage hair follicles.
Another reason why you may want to limit your brushing to once a day is that constant brushing may remove more of your skin’s natural oils – or oil or conditioner – that you need to keep your beard healthy. The result is a dry, frizzy, beard that has a dull finish.
Also, over-brushing can damage the cuticles of facial hair that, in turn, make the follicles unhealthy and prone to breakage.7. Take care of your brush. Clean it.
While this step doesn’t fall under the mechanics of brushing your beard, it’s an important part of the process. A dirty beard brush is generally one with a shorter lifespan and one that’s less effective for shaping your beard.
Your best bet for cleaning a beard brush is to use a smaller, thinner brush to get dirt away from the bristles and the base of the brush. You can also use a bit of coconut oil to clean the hair off the brush but, otherwise, “dry” cleaning your brush is best.
The Proper Way to Use a Beard Comb in 7 Steps
While there’s nothing overly-complicated about combing a beard, it’s wise to follow a couple of important “p’s” when using a beard comb: patience and practice.
Patience is crucial in the beginning because, if you’re regularly combing your beard for the first time, it takes some time to train your whiskers to go the way you want them to go, and practice equals repetitions. The more reps, the better at it you become.
Here are some tips for how to use a beard comb.1. The first strokes
Start by combing at your neckline and work outwards toward the chin. Hold the comb with the teeth facing up and comb your beard outwards to fluff it out. Your primary goal at this point is to separate the hairs while giving the beard an extra bit of volume, which is always nice.2. Use the right teeth
Remember, a quality beard comb has both wide and narrow teeth, which refers to the amount of space between each tooth. Use the wider teeth to glide effortlessly through the thickest parts of your beard while using the narrower teeth for shorter hair, including your mustache.
In other words, one comb, two functions.3. Dealing with the thick parts of your beard
Speaking of the thickest part of your beard, in some cases it helps to pick out some of the top layers and comb them separately to ensure that you’re adding volume to every section.4. Combing down after combing up
Once you’ve combed your beard up to fluff it out, it’s time to comb it down. Start from the top of your beard and comb downward while making sure every whisker is put back in place neatly.
If you have some stay hair after combing your beard down, then it’s probably time to trim it back to give your beard a smooth and even look.
You can also use your beard comb to help make your mustache neat and tidy. One method is to start at the center of your mustache and comb outward to the tips.5. Don’t overdo it
The rule for using a beard brush applies to using a beard comb, i.e., too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Excessive and overly-aggressive combing can lead to damaged hair and even hair loss. Combing your beard a couple of times a day is fine; anything more than that might be too much.6. Don’t attack snags and tangles like an animal
Knots, tangles, snags are often an inevitable occurrence in the beard-growing process, although regular use of a beard comb can help keep them to a minimum. If you do encounter a snag while combing, go easy. Remove the comb and try again while gently pulling your comb through the snag without pulling out beard hair. (Pro tip: start detangling at the bottom of your beard, it will stop the knot from getting “tighter”.)
There’s no need to get all medieval with a snag and ripping and tearing at it. Finesse, like patience, is a dear ally.7. Beard oil is your friend
Any conversation about beard grooming tends to include the topic of beard oil, and with good reason. Beard oil is like a magic elixir for your beard in so many ways and we advise applying it before you comb your whiskers. It will help your comb glide more easily through all parts of your beard – including the thickest parts – while providing needed moisture to your skin and follicles.
In turn, combing your beard will ensure an even distribution of oil throughout your beard.
Keep it Clean: How to Take Care of Your Beard Brush and Comb
Beard brushes and combs are like the other tools in your grooming kit – they’ll last longer and serve you better with the proper care. A dirty, grungy brush or comb isn’t going to do you, or your beard, any favors.
Keeping your brush and comb clean is a good practice to follow right from the start, although you may not need to clean them as much as you think.
Cleaning your beard brush
We’ve already touched on how you can keep your beard brush, particularly its bristles, clean. How you clean it depends on its construction – you shouldn’t clean a wooden brush with water (you can clean the bristles with water, however) but feel free to dip your synthetic brush into a shampoo and water solution fully.
Either way, hair and gunk left behind from products such as beard oil, balm, and wax (not to mention dirt, grime, and yesterday’s lunch) can make your brush a bit less than fresh.
So, what can you do? Here are some steps that will help keep your brush clean and ready to enhance those amazing whiskers.
- Use a fine-toothed comb to brush the bristles of your brush outward while dislodging most of the dust, hair, sebum, food, etc., build-up.
- One method you can use to loosen the built-up hair is to take a cotton swab and run it through the brush’s bristles. Doing so also helps get rid of any dead skin cells that may have congregated near the base of your brush.
- Once you’ve loosened the hair with the cotton swab, you can grab them with your fingers and pull them free. Or, you can use the swab to push the hair free.
- Mix up some mild, sulfate-free shampoo and water in a bowl and then dip your bristles in the liquid. Again, don’t submerge the body or handle of a wooden brush. Water can weaken the wood while decreasing your brush’s longevity.
- You should let your brush soak for up to 10 minutes in the shampoo/water solution. Not that you have to hold the brush the entire time; instead, fill the bowl with only enough liquid to cover the bristles and place the brush in it while you do other things.
- Rinse your brush with warm water to remove the soap and then allow it to air dry. Let the brush dry for 24 hours, if possible, because natural fibers, such as boar’s hair and horse hair, retain moisture longer than synthetic alternatives.
- Make sure the brush is facing bristle-down when it’s drying.
How often should you clean your brush? You can repeat the process above every few weeks, but you should do it enough to not only keep your beard free of gunk, but to also extend the life of your brush.
Cleaning your beard comb
A shampoo and water mix is your friend when cleaning your beard comb, as well, although always make sure to maintain the same no-moisture policy with wooden combs. For synthetics, however, you can let the combs soak in the solution to help loosen the dirt, grime, and other stuff lodged between its teeth.
You can also use a small cleaning brush of some kind to remove whatever debris remains.
Let’s talk about wooden combs and their care for a moment. While cleaning a wooden comb in water can cause the wood to crack and otherwise weaken over time, feel free to use beard oil to help get the gunk out.
Put a few drops of oil on a paper towel and then rub the oil all over the comb. A few drops will do, or just enough to give your comb a nice bit of sheen. Let the oil sit overnight to soak up the oil, then wipe up the excess, which will include the dirt and grime lodged within.
You can also use a toothbrush to scrub between the comb’s teeth, including in those tiny spaces you may not reach with oil.
Finally, always store your beard comb in a place that’s dry and doesn’t get a lot of moisture. That rules out the bathroom, which is one of the most moisture-rich rooms in your home, but you can find another place, such as your kit bag or even the medicine cabinet, that won’t expose it to excess moisture.
A beard comb can last for a few years if cared for properly, particularly combs made from ox horn. So, keep it clean, keep it dry, and take advantage of everything it can do for your beard. You’ll be glad that you did.
Our Beard Brushes & Combs: Tools to Get a Healthier Beard
We’re proud of our many grooming tools and products here at Beardbrand, including our high-quality combs and brushes. They’re made of durable construction, built to last, while helping you to get a healthier beard that always looks its best. Here’s a closer look:
- Large Beard Comb
Our large beard combs are hand-crafted by a top-quality manufacturer in Switzerland and will glide easily through your beard without snags or breakage. They consist of cellulose-based acetate and are cut from an acetate sheet to shape each comb.
The edges of the comb are polished and the teeth beveled and cut, while the teeth are rounded with pumice. The result is a comb with smooth, tapered teeth that won’t pull or snag on your whiskers, and while providing the ultimate in comfort. And, feel free to use it on your hair, too.
- Pocket Beard Comb
Our Pocket Beard Comb goes through the same manufacturing process as our Large Beard Comb and features high-quality construction and elegant design.
You’ll love how this comb moves through your beard without snagging or pulling, as well as how it doesn’t cause the sort of frizziness you get from many other beard combs. Like the larger beard comb, the teeth are beveled, cut, polished, brushed, and rounded with pumice.
- Round Brush
Our Round Brush allows you to put the finishing touches on your grooming routine while achieving a refined appearance for your beard, and also the hair on your head.
The brush consists of a wooden handle and 100% boar’s hair bristles – the best kind of bristles – that stimulate the natural oils in your scalp and beard to help keep follicles clean, healthy, shiny, and protected.
- Boar’s Hair Beard Brush
This brush can be used for your beard, but is also great for your hair and consists of all-natural boar’s bristles. Like our Round Brush, this boar’s hair brush stimulates the sebum while distributing it all along the hair shaft to produce a cleaner, healthier, and shinier look.
- Travel Brush
Like our Pocket Comb, the Travel Brush makes it easy to take your grooming routine on the road. Also made of boar’s hair bristles, this brush provides all the benefits or our larger brushes but doesn’t take up much space in your suitcase or travel bag.
To say that beard combs and brushes are essential items in any man’s beard grooming kit is an understatement. While they serve somewhat different purposes, they both help you to achieve a healthy beard, that looks its best, and is easy to maintain.
Beardbrand's ultimate Grooming Kit is here! Each kit comes with three brushes and two combs, as well as a pair of our trimming scissors.
How about you? Do you use beard combs and brushes? We’d love to hear from you and we welcome your comments and suggestions.
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