Combing a beard hasn’t always been so universally practiced and accepted. We happen to be in a time where “beard grooming” is actually a serious routine and not just a habit. So what are the benefits of combing your beard?
- It detangles the beard, particularly the deeper ones
- It makes the beard look neater, sharper, and fuller
- It re-distributes oils, including natural sebum oil
- It distributes products such as balms, waxes, oils, and pomades
- It makes styling a beard so much quicker, and less stressful
- It eventually “trains” the beard to grow in an appropriate direction
- It keeps the beard clean by weeding out food particles, etc.
- It makes you seem sophisticated and style-conscious
- It prevents ingrown hairs
That’s it in a nutshell, folks. As you can see, the benefits are far-reaching and very significant. But I wanted to delve deeper into each of those points. I often feel that the more fully I understand why something works, the more likely I am to do it.
And trust me, you should do it.
9 Key Benefits Of Combing A Beard
1. It detangles the beard
Particularly as your beard grows longer, you’ll notice that it will become harder and harder to reach those deeper hairs. Up until that point, it would be reasonable to simply use a boar bristle beard brush to keep the hairs flat, straight, and downwards.
But there will come a time when the bristles of a brush can’t reach those deeper hairs and are only able to tame the superficial ones.
As a result, you’ll find that the deeper hairs tangle up, and starts to tug and pull when you brush.
Tangled hair also looks patchier, and thinner, which is obviously something you’ll want to avoid. It’s also very difficult to style and manage. As it tugs and pulls, it’s more likely to fall out prematurely.
It also prevents oils and products from reaching the deeper hairs, denying them of all the beautiful benefits your superficial hairs get.
The teeth of a quality beard comb are great for picking apart and separating tangled beard hairs.
They’re also fantastic at preventing tangles from forming. Because they’re longer than the bristles of a beard brush, they can reach the deeper hairs that are more likely to get neglected.
2. It makes the beard look neater, sharper, and fuller
We’ve touched on this already, and it’s probably the most widely-known and understood benefit of beard combing.
The teeth of a beard comb tame a beard, just like a beard brush, but using a different mechanism.
Do bear in mind the fact that the bristles of a beard brush are spaced much closer together. Because of this, they are a lot more efficient in tackling more hairs at once.
So, beard combing is no substitute for beard brushing. The two practices are both goliaths in the world of beard grooming.
But combing your beard is arguably the second-best way of keeping your beard hairs neat, straight, and flat. When it comes to the deeper hairs, there’s no question; beard combing is number one.
By preventing beard hairs from sticking out, beard combing is a fantastic way of giving the beard a sharp outline. It makes the beard look so much more intentional as opposed to accidental.
Also, by keeping the hairs straight and flat, it can even out the patchier areas of a beard. They’re great for using the longer, thicker strands of beard hair to cover up the bare patches.
I don’t want to use the term “comb over”, but that’s essentially what I’m talking about.
3. It re-distributes oils, including natural sebum oil
There are two types of oil I’m going to refer to. There’s natural sebum oil, which is produced by the skin. Plus, there’s beard oil ; one of the greatest, manliest inventions of all time.
Sebum is great for nourishing and moisturizing beard hair, making it look less dry and coarse.
In large quantities, it can make beard hair look greasy, and also cause breakouts of spots. But in moderate quantities, it’s great.
Beard oils usually contain essential oils such as argan oil and jojoba oil. These work in a similar way to nourish and moisturize the beard and underlying skin.
So where does a beard comb come in? The teeth of the beard comb are good at preventing this oil from accumulating in certain spots. In particular, they’re great for distributing it across those deeper hairs a brush can’t reach.
When oil accumulates, it causes the hairs to clump together and makes the beard look greasy and thin.
Whether it’s by the bristles of a brush or the teeth of a comb, re-distributing these oils is essential. An even spread of oil across your entire beard is what you want.
Right now, I’m loving the Hunter Jack Beard Comb . Handcrafted using beautiful sandalwood, anti-static, and comes with the classiest leather case.
4. It distributes products
You’re probably familiar with the huge range of beard products available now. I like most of them. I feel as though overall, they each bring something special to the table. Not all of them, but most of them.
For instance, I love beard butter because of its creamy texture that feels light and airy while still providing a decent hold.
Beard balm is great for the same reasons.
But the problem arises when a man relies on the sole use of his fingertips to distribute these products.
The products tend to accumulate and clump up the beard hair. This causes it to look weaker, and thinner; the opposite of the intended effect.
Once you’ve applied your product, whether it’s a balm, butter, wax, or pomade, run a beard comb through. The teeth of the comb will ensure there aren’t any bearded areas that are left neglected.
You’ll be surprised by how the benefits of whatever product you’re using are multiplied by running a simple beard comb through afterward.
If the intention is to look and feel moisturized (balms and butter), it’ll be even more so. If the intention is styling (eg. waxes), it’ll be even more so.
5. It makes styling a beard so much easier
There’s a difference between neatening and styling. A beard can either look neat or not. But there are dozens of popular beard styles out there, each with a different level of complexity.
Some styles, particularly those requiring a longer beard, are just harder to maintain. It may be too difficult or even impossible to achieve a certain style without a set of appropriate tools at your disposal.
By that, I mean products and a beard comb.
It’s pretty remarkable what you can achieve with a product that has a decent level of hold (such as butter or wax), and a beard comb.
The linear teeth of a comb are better suited to the intricate touches required for more complex styles.
The bristles of a beard brush are too densely packed to carry out those little stylistic touches that make all the difference.
Although a regular beard comb would be fine, a dedicated mustache comb may be a great idea for some people.
They’re generally smaller, with finer teeth, to deal with the shorter hairs in a smaller area. Styling a mustache is integral to some styles, so think about whether it would be worth investing in one.
6. It “trains” the beard
I always recommend starting to brush at the earliest opportunity. This is usually after around 3 – 4 weeks of solid growth for most men. I recommend starting to comb as soon as it becomes necessary as well.
Combing generally doesn’t become necessary until a little later in your beard journey. It’s usually around 2 months when you really should integrate it into your routine. This is mainly for detangling purposes.
However, if you feel you could benefit from its styling capabilities sooner than this, go for it. They don’t cost all that much and you’ll probably need one eventually anyway.
But the reason I recommend starting to comb your beard as soon as you think it’s necessary is this. It’s because the earlier you start, the sooner that comb can begin training those hairs to grow appropriately.
Beard hairs, even after a period of well-established growth, can surprise you. It can grow unruly, uneven, and in directions you rather it wouldn’t.
The simple habit of regular combing initially “forces” the beard hair to lie the way you want it to.
Over time, the hairs will eventually lie this way naturally.
Because of this, you’ll ultimately need to comb less as time goes on.
7. It cleans the beard
Bits of food getting stuck in beard hair is a never-ending source of frustration. It can be difficult to enjoy a meal without constantly worrying about how much residue you’ve left in there.
Even the smallest particles of food (or other debris) can remain hidden within the depths of your beard, and peak out when you’re least expecting.
Of course, you could wash your beard. But how many times a day can you really do this? You don’t want to risk drying your beard out, as it’ll look rough and coarse. Plus it’s hard to do when you’re on-the-go.
Simple solution? Grab that beard comb. The teeth of those combs are great at weeding out little food particles or anything else that shouldn’t be in your beard. It can be surprising to see what gets pulled out sometimes.
Plus, because it’s so super-portable, it’s easy to whip out after a meal with friends without drawing too much attention to yourself.
8. It’s a highly sophisticated grooming tool to own
This one is different, I admit. But it would have felt wrong to leave it out. I love owning a beard comb, and I’m not ashamed to say that it’s partly because of how it makes me look.
I don’t mean “look” in terms of aesthetically. I mean in terms of personality. Hopefully, I don’t sound too “fake”, but it’s honestly true.
Owning a beard comb can speak volumes about a man.
It’s one of the less common grooming tools to own, and so it shows that a man takes serious pride in their appearance.
9. It prevents ingrown hairs
There’s a type of ingrown hair which is a beard hair that’s managed to escape the pore, but curls back on itself and grows into the skin. This causes pain, itchiness, and irritation.
It’s relatively common, and hard to tackle. This is especially the case as the beard grows longer, and it becomes harder to control what goes on at the deeper levels.
Combing your beard regularly will prevent hairs from curling back on themselves, and reduce ingrown hairs as a result.
It’s another great benefit of keeping your beard manageable and in check. Maintaining control over a beard is crucial to ensuring its long-term success.
Specific benefits of a wooden comb (why plastic won’t do)
The benefits I’ve detailed above, including detangling, styling, and distributing oils, don’t apply to all beard combs. In general, always stick to combs made of either wood or cellulose acetate.
Wooden combs are generally hand-crafted, so the teeth aren’t as rough, and don’t pull or tug as much. This not only protects the integrity of the hair shafts, but it also leads to much more effective results.
Plus, hand-crafted combs are always going to look better. They’ve had a level of care and attention invested into building them that industrially produced combs just haven’t had.
Cellulose acetate combs are also usually very high-quality. They’re tough, smooth, easy-clean, and anti-static. Several of the most popular beard combs are built from cellulose acetate.
On the other hand, you should definitely try and steer clear of plastic and metal combs. Running those teeth through beard hair almost always does more harm than good. They increase the risk of breakages, split-ends, and unnecessary hair loss.
Does combing a beard make it grow?
There’s just not enough evidence to suggest that it does. Some men believe that it does, and there are theories put forward to support it. “It improves blood flow” is one of them. But it’s hard to back that claim up with any hard evidence.
This is mainly because brushing has a more direct effect on the skin.
But growth stimulation shouldn’t be a reason to practice either one of these grooming habits. There are plenty of benefits of beard brushing and of beard combing that should be encouragement enough.
A simple beard comb can take a beard to new heights.
It can make growing a beard a lot more comfortable as an experience. Its powers of detangling are matched equally by its powers of styling.
Hopefully, you’ve now got a good overview of exactly what a beard comb can do for you. Also, you’ve hopefully gotten a better grasp of the differences between beard brushing and beard combing.
Although the two should be deployed hand-in-hand for maximum benefit, don’t forget that they work in different ways.