by Cody Wiley
If you have ever grown your facial hair out for months at a time, there is a good possibility your beard grew long enough to warrant a more hands-on approach to shaping and maintaining. At earlier stages in beard growth it may not even be necessary to brush or comb, but the first time you wake up with morning beard you’ll really want to know what your best choices are for keeping it tame. So, do you want a comb? A brush? Both? There is a bit of nuance to the question, so lets find the answer.
Beside the appearance of the tools, did you know a brush and a comb differ from each other in terms of functionality? Combs are made to primarily eliminate tangles in hair, the teeth of a comb are spaced specifically for different hair types (thick, thin, curly, straight.) Brushes, on the other hand, are used to stimulate the release of natural oils in the hair, and massage the skin/hair follicles. Based on this information, to help keep a longer beards appearance and health, you will need both.
There are plenty of choices on the market for combs: plastic, rubber, metal, wooden. But not all of these are good for your beard, or hair in general. Plastic combs are generally the cheapest and most readily available, but they are actually detrimental to your beard health. The process by which they are made (injection molding) leaves flash (excess plastic) at seam points on the mold. This flash is generally trimmed away, but it is not perfect, leaving sharp pieces and snag points that can lead to increased split ends, or hairs being broken or pulled out.
Metal combs don’t have the issue of excess material left on the comb itself, but being metal the risk for sharp edges poses a danger in abrading your hair, or scraping the skin. Generally speaking metal combs aren’t anti-static, and our goal with combing our beards is to leave it tangle free and ready for brushing, not full of static charge and standing on end.
Rubber combs are a nice option (we carry some on the store page, Kent Combs are an excellent choice) as they are softer than their plastic and metal counterparts, and are normally vulcanized, leaving them resistant to chemicals/breaking down. Rubber combs are normally hand cut, trimmed, and polished, meaning the attention to product quality is normally higher and the instance of rough edges much lower.
Last we have wooden (or other natura, porous material like bone or horn) combs. These are typically finished by hand and sanded down very well, eliminating snagging or pulling and reducing the risk of splitting hairs. The nicest benefit of wooden combs are the porous nature of the material. It allows it to soak in oil (either the natural oil, or sebum, your hairs produce or the oil you’ve added to your beard) and help to more evenly distribute it to your hair. However if there is a downside to wooden combs it would be in cleaning them. You can’t clean them with water, as this can cause the wood to deteriorate. When it comes to combs, you’re safest with either the vulcanized rubber, or wooden options.
The best time use a comb is shortly after a shower, or washing your beard. You want your beard to air dry first, and then go in and gently comb it out, starting at the tips and slowly working your way up. The thickness of your beard will determine how wide a tooth comb you want to use-- wider gaps for thicker hair, slimmer gaps for thinner hair. Remember, the purpose of a comb is for eliminating tangles.
For as many types of combs there are to choose from, the variety of brushes is just as if not more staggering. We will not be covering them all, and will instead focus on the best kind of brush for your beard: a natural hair/fiber brush. What I mean by that is a brush made up of the hairs of another animal (typically boars, but for our Can You Handlebar Beard Oil Brush™ we went with horse hair.) These natural fibers allow for the spreading of sebum (the hairs natural oil) helping to naturally nourish your beard. Brushing will also massage the skin, increasing blood flow to the follicles helping to stimulate and strengthen them. Brushing also helps to clean your hair of both foreign and natural dirt that build up on the skin and follicles.
After combing your beard, you will want to finish the grooming process by brushing it. Brushing your beard out after combing will help get the blood circulating to your beard, allowing for better nutrient acceptance and transportation, all a part of a healthy beard.
This depends greatly on the length of your beard. A well kept, close trimmed beard will probably never see a need for a comb or brush to run through it, while a beard as short as three inches could need it daily. The shorter the beard, the less likely it is you will need to comb it or brush it, and my advice would be to look at your beard right after waking up. How is the shape of the beard holding up? If it looks like it did when you went to bed, then you can determine if you want to use a comb. If you happen to wake up with half your beard sticking straight out and the other half bunched up together, or any other crazy way I’ve experienced morning beard, then you should definitely invest in a comb and brush, your beard will thank you.
Hopefully this will help make the crazy world of hair combs and brushes easier to navigate for you when it comes to purchasing beard care tools. We carry a variety of combs, and our Can You Handlebar Beard Oil Brush™ on CanYouHandlebar.com that were designed specifically with beard care in mind.
This post is part of an ongoing Can You Handlebar series designed to help our customers. Please visit our full library of articles at TheBeardMentor.com