How to Choose the Best Beard Comb
There’s an aha moment that every beardsman has the first time they comb their beard with a genuine beard comb—one that was designed explicitly for the rougher, coarser hair that grows on the face.
At least, we hope that every beardsman experiences this revelationary moment of beard-combing bliss.
Sadly, many budding beardsmen attempt to tame their beard knots, tangles, and waves with combs that weren’t cut out with your beard in mind. These bearded rookies are often unaware that a better option exists. Ignorance is not bliss in this case—ignorance is a painful existence of ripping out your hard-earned beard hairs with each and every pass of the comb.
The good news is that you are here, reading this, and are well on your way to that aha moment you feel the first time a beard comb glides through your face forrest like a hot knife through butter.
Look, if you are serious about your beard, it’s a good idea to invest in a high quality beard comb. But before you make the plunge, there are five things you should consider to help you find the best beard comb you. We’ll break down each in this blog.
First things first—when do you actually need a beard comb?
AT WHAT BEARD LENGTH DO YOU NEED A BEARD COMB?
For most men, three months of beard growth is when having a beard comb is an absolute must for detangling, styling, and maintaining the overall appearance of your beard.
Using a boar’s hair Beard Brush will be more beneficial to your beard during the first few months of growth.
Not sure if you need a brush or a comb? Read: Beard Brush vs. Beard Comb Comparison: Which One Should You Use?
1. BEARD COMB MATERIAL
Five materials dominate the comb market—plastic, metal, horn, wood, and cellulose acetate.
One thing that beardsmen agree on—and there aren’t many of them—is that plastic is a terrible choice for comb material.
As for the other materials, beardsmen tend to fall into one of two camps—wood and cellulose acetate. Though, some also swear by metal and animal horn combs.
Here’s a closer look at the good and bad of each material.
The only redeemable quality for plastic combs is that you can get them next to nothing. But they’re generally poorly made and break easily—meaning you’ll constantly be replacing them. That’s not the worst part. Cheap plastic combs are made by injection molding. When the combs are popped out of the molds, they have tiny ridges between the tines. Aside from creating an uncomfortable combing experience, those mold marks can damage your beard hair (and rip them out). And then, there is the static electricity element to consider. When you run a plastic comb through your hair or beard, an electric charge is produced in the comb, leading to a more frizzy beard. Your best bet is to steer clear.
Metal beard combs are typically made from stainless steel or aluminum. Durability is the big selling point here, and they don’t produce static the way that plastic combs do. Metal combs are saw-cut, which is good. But they do require a significant amount of hand-polishing to remove any sharpness on the tines, which drives up the price and can make them among the most expensive comb options. You can find less expensive metal options, but there’s the risk of getting a comb that isn’t as smooth as advertised.
Before plastic, there were animal horns. This was the inexpensive, go-to material for comb manufacturing in the 18th and 19th centuries. Horn combs are now considered more of a luxury. They provide a smooth combing experience and are often available with more ornate and intricate designs. Check out the video below of an ox horn comb being made.
Wood is one of the most popular beard comb materials. They earn high marks for many reasons—they don’t cause beard hair static, are very durable, and look good. Like metal combs, less expensive wood combs can be had at the risk of not being well-sanded and polished. One of the coolest things about wood combs is that you can make a great one yourself with little know-how and skill.
Cellulose acetate is a plant-based, rubber-like material that is also antistatic. If you have a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, there’s a good chance they’re made of cellulose acetate. Along with wood, it’s one of the most popular beard comb materials. It is the material of choice for some of the top-selling beard combs of all time—including Kent Combs and Beardbrand Beard Combs. Cellulose acetate is an incredibly versatile and smooth material that gives you more colors and patterns to choose from than other materials.
The big takeaway here is to avoid plastic beard combs. You really can’t go wrong with the other materials as long as they’re well made and polished.
2. BEARD COMB CONSTRUCTION: HAND-CUT VS. STAMP PRESS
We eluded to this above, but the manufacturing process used to produce combs can significantly affect its quality. After all, a poorly-manufactured comb can snag, scratch, pull, and ultimately harm your beard.
Cheaper plastic combs are injection molded and made on a large press that forms the shape of the comb. The common flaw in this process is that the comb’s teeth have microscopic, jagged edges that wreak havoc on your facial follicles. Stamp-pressed combs also tend to lack the durability of hand-cut combs.
On the other end of the spectrum are hand-cut combs. The comb’s teeth are individually cut with saws and then polished and smoothed to eliminate jagged edges. The teeth are also more firm and barely move when you run a finger over them, making them less likely to get snagged in your beard. If you’re curious to see how hand-cut combs are made in a factory setting, this video gives a good look into combs made by Hercules Sägemann.
3. BEARD COMB TINES
The most significant difference between regular combs and beard combs is the width between each comb tine (the teeth of the comb).
There’s an old Pontiac commercial from the ‘90s where Surfer Sam Maluo says, “wider is better.” In surfing, a wider board gives you more stability and control. But, “wider is better” is a good mantra to adopt when it comes to beard combs, albeit for a different reason.
So, why does a comb with wider teeth perform better in your beard?
Beard hair is more akin to your body hair than your head hair. Beard hair tends to be thicker, coarser, and more curly. As your beard grows longer, it becomes an increasingly tangled thicket prone to knots and tangles. If you’ve ever tried to detangle your beard with a fine-tooth comb, you know how unpleasant of an experience that is.
We set the tines further apart Beardbrand Beard Combs compared to most standard combs. This creates a smoother combing experience for even the thickest of beards.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of our current iteration of the Beardbrand Large Comb next to the first large comb we sold, which happened to be made by Kent Combs.
Top: Beardbrand's redesigned Large Comb with wider teeth. Bottom: Beardbrand's original Large Comb, made by Kent Combs.
Next is a side-by-side comparison of our current iteration of the Beardbrand Pocket Comb next to the first pocket comb we sold, also made by Kent Combs.
Top: Beardbrand's redesigned Pocket Comb with wider teeth. Bottom: Beardbrand's original Pocket Comb, made by Kent Combs.
Note: these comparisons are not a knock on Kent Combs. They make incredible combs, which is why we trusted them to make our first Beardbrand Beard Combs. These comparisons are just intended to show the difference in tine width.
When to use a wide-tooth comb on your beard
You should start with a wide-tooth comb to detangle and remove any knots whenever you comb your beard. You can then use a fine-tooth comb as a final touch. We’ll talk more about how to actually comb your beard below.
When to use a fine-tooth comb on your beard
We’ve talked ad nauseam about the importance of wide teeth, but a fine-tooth comb still has its place in your beard grooming arsenal. You can use a fine-tooth comb if you are still in the first few months of beard growth. The fine teeth are also ideal for the mustache.
4. BEARD COMB SHAPES
Of all the factors to consider when searching for a beard comb, the shape of the comb is probably the least significant. That said, we think there’s better value in multi-purpose combs (combs that feature both wide and narrow teeth).
Here’s a look at the most common beard comb shapes.
Single-sided combs have tines on just one side and will have all wide teeth or all fine teeth. As for shape, you will find some variety, ranging from classic-looking to more curved and ornate. Wood and bone combs tend to have more unique shapes to them and may also feature a handle.
These classic-looking combs also have tines on just one side, but they feature wide and fine teeth, making them multi-purpose. Most single-sided multi-purpose beard combs will have an even ratio of wide and fine teeth. Beardbrand Beard Combs differ because they feature more wide teeth than fine teeth. It’s a subtle difference in the combing experience, but we find it a better use of space.
The Pocket Comb is a smaller version of the single-sided multi-purpose comb. As the name suggests, it’s designed to easily fit in your pockets and take with you when you’re on the go.
Multi-sided beard combs feature wide teeth on one side and fine teeth on the other, giving you an even ratio of wide and fine. You’ll find a lot of wood combs with this design.
Pick combs have wider and longer teeth than other combs, making them ideal for the thickest and curliest beards. A pick can help you fluff and volumize your beard more than standard beard combs.
These tiny little combs feature the finest teeth and are designed for precision mustache grooming.
5. BEARD COMB DESIGN
When looking for the best beard comb, the last thing to consider is how it looks and feels in your hand.
Wood combs have a timeless and natural aesthetic, while bone combs are often ornate and unique. On the other hand, cellulose acetate beard combs can feature bold colors and designs and more timeless patterns such as tortoiseshell.
Shop around and find one that speaks to you. After all, a high-quality comb will last you a long time, so find one that you really like.
HOW TO COMB YOUR BEARD
It wouldn’t be an ultimate guide to beard combs without a tutorial on combing your beard, would it?
- Hair is most susceptible to damage when wet, but you want it to be damp when you comb out. After showering or wetting your beard, dry it until it's about 75% dry.
- Apply your preferred beard oil.
- Begin by holding the Beard Comb with the teeth facing up and comb your beard upward and outwards with the wider teeth, starting from the neckline and working out towards the chin. This will add more volume to your beard.
- Now that you’ve detangled the underside of your beard, it’s time to comb everything back down into place. Start an inch or two from the bottom of your beard and work down to the root. Eventually, work your way further up the jawline and cheeks.
- For mustaches, brush outward from the middle with the finer teeth, fanning your mustache out and away from your mouth. Or, brush it all straight down if you’re rocking a walrus.
- Apply any other finishing product you generally use, such as Utility Balm or Styling Balm. Then finish with a boar’s hair Beard Brush to shape your beard.
Important: never force the comb through any snags, tangles, or knots. Use small, gentle strokes until the comb glides through smoothly.
If you find yourself consistently running into snags, this guide on how to deal with beard knots will help.
CAN YOU COMB YOUR BEARD TOO MUCH?
Yes, you can overcomb your beard and put undue stress on it. Aim for combing twice per day—once in the morning and once in the evening.
Have questions about Beardbrand Beard Combs or just need some beard advice? Text "STYLE" to 512-879-3297. Our resident beard and style expert will text you back with personalized advice—for free.
Keep on Growing.
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