In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about beard brushes, including how to use one and the different types of beard brushes along with their pros and cons. Let's get started!
Some beards look better than others, and this is generally by no force of their own. A neatly groomed beard is the product of meticulous care and thoughtful routine, and there are certain tools used to facilitate this process. Read on and we’ll delve deep into the world of beard brushes in all their glory!
In this article we discuss the following:
- What is a Beard Brush?
- What Does a Beard Brush Do?
- Why Use a Beard Brush?
- What Does Brushing a Beard Do?
- Beard Brush vs. Beard Comb
- Should You Brush or Comb a Beard?
- How to Use a Beard Brush
- How Often Should a Beard Be Brushed?
- Should a Beard be Brushed Up or Down?
- Types of Beard Brushes
- Boar Bristle Brush
- Boar Bristle Brush Benefits
- Heated Beard Brush
- Beard Straightening Brush
- Travel Beard Brush
- Best Beard Brush
- How to Clean a Beard Brush
What is a Beard Brush?
A beard brush is, quite simply, a brush for the human beard. This grooming tool is used by men around the world in an attempt to keep their facial hair looking structured and healthy.
Most modern men will argue that one needs to make use of a beard brush or comb at least once a day should they desire to achieve any kind of long lasting control over their chin manes. To brush or comb a beard is to condition it slowly over time.
What Does a Beard Brush Do?
A quality beard brush will be made of a number of distinct parts. Namely, the bristles, the body, and the handle. Your average beard brush will have a body made from either wood or plastic. Some of the more retro brands make use of alternative materials, such as ox horn, to form their brush bodies.
Ox horn as a production material for beard brushes dates back to the 1500s. Back then, ox horn was a major part of ancient Chinese medicine, and was said to help the quality of the blood. Ox horn also contains keratin, which is the same compound found in human hair.
Nowadays, a quality beard brush is ideally made from wood or bamboo; plastic is slowly being phased out of the picture. The wood and bamboo brush types have proven to be more durable, as well as environmentally friendly.
Traditionally speaking, beard brushes are rectangular in shape, with a handle on one end, and can be as long as two bars of soap. To the unknowing eye, beard brushes can often be mistaken for regular hair brushes. Some alternative designs produce beard brushes in palm sized oval shapes that can be easily held in the hand of the user.
A beard brush is only as good as its bristles, and that’s the stone cold truth.
Bristles on a brush will be the determining factor of your beard’s overall health and quality. Poor quality bristles can actually do lasting harm to beard hair, or even promote hair loss. Brush bristles are either made from natural hair, or synthetic hair.
Natural bristle brushes generally make use of boar hair or horse hair. These are widely renowned as being the best bristles for hair as both of these animals excrete sebum within their follicles. Human beings also excrete sebum through head and facial hair.
Horse hair is becoming more rare within the beard brush game. Beard experts argue that a boar bristle beard brush is the optimum choice, solely because boars’ hair is able to detangle human hair quite easily, reducing the element of egressing during use.
Why Use a Beard Brush?
It is a common perception that men who take the time to use a beard brush tend to take more pride in their appearance and usually have better personal morale. This is a trait that is deemed valuable within almost every workplace and industry.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of investing time into beard care is the hygiene benefit. If you’ve ever encountered a poorly kept beard, you’ll know that it can be a breeding ground for all kinds of impurities. Like the scalp, beards excrete natural oils, which can accumulate and give the beard an unattractive and unclean appearance. More than this, beards are notorious collectors of food and dirt, which only contribute to a poor state of affairs for an unkempt beard.
Using a beard brush is one of the easiest ways to remove dirt and excess natural oils before they turn a promising beard onto a dark path. There is more to cleaning and detangling a beard than meets the eye; in the process of grooming their beard, a skilled beardsman is gently sifting out any problematic particles of dirt and oil that might not yet be visible to the human eye but which can become a mounting problem if not addressed quickly.
What Does Brushing a Beard Do?
Brushing a beard has more than just a therapeutic effect on the user. In ancient cultures it was often regarded as a form of morning meditation, a time where an individual could connect with themselves and their body for 10 minutes of self-care.
Regular use of a quality beard brush has been shown to visibly improve the quality of one’s beard over a certain period of time. Users of beard brushes have noticeably thicker and healthier beards when compared, aesthetically, to those who opt not to brush.
Why is this? Well, using a beard brush pulls the sebum from the root of the hair all the way down through the strand. This is a form of natural moisturization, resulting in a less dry, better looking beard over time. Leaving sebum to build up at the root is actually bad for humans; it’s what causes acne and skin irritation.
Stimulating your beard follicles with a beard brush also promotes blood circulation where the hair meets the skin. The result of this is that essential nutrients are delivered directly to each follicle, allowing them to exist in optimal health.
Too often, men neglect to take care of their bushy beards, and over time begin to notice the skin beneath has become clogged by dead skin cells and is in a constant state of irritation. They use this visual to justify never shaving off their beard; why would they do so and reveal the problematic skin below?
Unbeknownst to them, the reason their skin is so irritated is simply because they’ve never bothered to care for their beard. Beard brushing is a form of exfoliation. The skin is massaged and the dead cells are able to fall away, eliminating clogged pores.
Beard Brush vs. Beard Comb
To brush or to comb? That is the question.
Most men either have a beard brush or a beard comb, but rarely both. It’s personal preference and usually influenced by how the elder men in their lives tended to their beards growing up.
Today, beard experts and barbers advise their fellow beardsmen on starting out with a beard brush, and incorporating a comb into the routine when the beard is older than three months. But this stage, the hairs should be long enough to reap the benefits that come from beard combing.
Should You Brush or Comb a Beard?
The short answer? You should do both. A brush and a comb should be used in unison to obtain the utmost level of care for any beard older than three months.
Prior to this point, the use of a brush alone will suffice. But once the beard gets older and longer, there are certain tasks a comb can perform that a beard brush simply can’t.
A comb is the easiest way to style a wild beard, particularly a long one. Hair is easier to control via a comb compared to a brush. Combs are also very convenient as they can be used on both wet and dry hair, whereas use of a beard brush on wet hair is not advised because it can damage the beard hairs which soften when they become wet.
Similarly, a comb works wonders in moving beard oil through the body of the hair. Oil is actually a great supporting element for smoother, less aggressive combing. It softens the flow of the hair, allowing tough knots to slide away from themselves.
The wide teeth of a comb are good for particularly knotty beards and can help dig into intense tangles. Combs also make trimming one’s own beard a walk in the park; this is not something a brush is able to facilitate due to its bulkiness.
As a general rule, always use your beard comb before your beard brush. This is the order of events in the beard tending world. Combs are intended to do the heavy lifting, and create a suitable foundation upon which a brush can descend to apply the finishing touches.
How to Use a Beard Brush
In the previous paragraph we touched on the order of events when it comes to beard grooming. A beard comb comes first, and your beard brush comes second.
We also made note that a beard brush is only suitable for use on dry hair. It is not advised that one use even a high quality boar bristle brush on hair that is fresh out of the shower. Wet hair is naturally more vulnerable than dry, and driving into it with a brush is much too abrasive. Use your beard comb to comb out the excess water, and towel dry your beard at very least before commencing with brushing.
If you notice you’re losing beard hair post shower, your hairs are breaking off. Allow a few extra minutes for the beard to properly dry before starting your care routine.
How to brush a beard depends entirely on the nature, or personality, of the beard in question. Is it young? Is it old? Does it like to be shaped? Does it sometimes flake? All these things contribute to the style and routine you’ll adopt in your beard care ritual.
How Often Should a Beard Be Brushed?
We say ritually, because we mean ritually. This is a practice that should be observed daily, if you intend to see optimum results in your beard’s physical and aesthetic quality.
As human beings, the hairs on our head and face love regular stimulation and treatment. This promotes renewal of collagen and, in turn, accelerated growth. Once a day is sufficient, but there isn’t really any risk to brushing a beard two or more times every 24 hours.
Beard experts recommend that one’s daily brushing take place first thing in the morning. Anyone with a beard will know that the hairs have a determination to go in a certain direction, especially overnight when they’ve been left untouched for so long.
Grooming and shaping your beard every morning will slowly guide the hairs into your most desired direction, which overtime means you can do things like swim in the ocean or sweat in the gym, without your beard restoring to its default settings.
Should a Beard be Brushed Up or Down?
This is entirely dependent on what ‘look’ you’re attempting to achieve by grooming your beloved beard.
For some men, they prefer the well oiled, toned, sleek look, and for this it would be necessary to brush the beard from the top down. This is particularly true of thick or bushy beards, where the grower has some centimeters of hair to suppress. In these cases, brushing the beard from top to bottom can help make it look a lot more tame and ‘orderly’.
On the contrary, individuals who seek a fuller, thicker looking beard should start their brushing process from the neck area, and work the hairs upward toward the cheeks. This will create a teasing effect in the most dense areas of the beard and, when the hairs are filled back down, the beard itself will appear far more full.
Regardless of whether you’re going up or down, it's important to always work with the grain of the hair, and never against it. Brushing from neck to cheek might not feel comfortable when moving directly upward; one might need to brush outward to the left and right first, before shifting the grain directly upwards from this position.
On that note, beard experts also recommend brushing outward to the left and right before bushing a beard downward. The outward brushing technique is the best way to create space for certain hairs to detangle.
Whether brushing up or down, beard oil is your friend. Beard balms are also a popular alternative at the moment, as they can work to lubricate the follicles so that you can work your way through them with ease.
If you’re using a high quality device, such as a boar bristle brush, you’ll want to observe proper cleaning techniques to care for the brush itself. Like hair brushes, beard brushes collect hair between the bristles. We’ll get into proper care procedures by the end of this article — keep reading!
Types of Beard Brushes
Beard brush makers know that no two beards are the same. What works for one may cause havoc for another, so the industry has had to become somewhat diverse to cater to the ever changing demand for different options.
Your beard is not the only determining factor for what brush will be best for you. The external environment of each individual plays a part as well. If you live somewhere particularly dry, you’ll need a brush made from materials that stimulate sebum excretion. Similarly, if you live somewhere more humid, you might prefer a brush that doesn’t pull too much excess oil from the beard.
The following are the more common beard brushes you’ll encounter while navigating the market!
Boar Bristle Brush
A boars’ hair beard brush is a brush that makes use of natural hair from wild boars as the bristles for the brush. It is thought by many that using boar hair on a beard works to promote natural shine and healthier hairs, due to the fact that boar’s hair and human hair both excrete sebum.
Most of the best boar bristle brushes for beards are in the traditional rectangular shape, featuring an extended handle on one end. There are also some brands that have started fashioning palm-shaped boar bristle brushes for beards. These trendy new designs make boar brushes easier to travel with, albeit harder to clean.
It goes without saying that any individual who values cruelty free and vegan self-care products should opt for a beard brush made from synthetic hair or ensure that they are buying a boar bristle brush that is made with minimal harm to animals. In many cases, animals are unfortunately harmed in the making of these products. As a bonus, synthetic bristle brushes are generally more affordable than their animal-derived counterparts.
Boar Bristle Brush Benefits
Boar bristles make for the best beard brush, and there are actually benefits to choosing boar hair over horse, badger, or synthetic replicas. Boar hair is the only bristle that won’t tear, split or fracture your beard follicles.
Since boar bristles are thick at the lower shaft, and thin at the upper, they work well to stimulate a kind of massage sensation on the face of the user. Regular facial massage works to stimulate collagen production, which in turn causes hair to grow faster and become more nutrient dense.
A boar bristle brush beard will work to condition the entire beard with either the body’s natural oils or the beard oil you choose to apply independently. The bristles have a unique way of working liquid substances through each follicle, root to tip. The result is a far less itchy beard for the individual in question, and less susceptibility to dandruff as the beard grows longer.
Badger hair has similar benefits to boar hair brushes, but is far less common. Most brands use badger hair in the making of their shaving brushes as opposed to their beard brushes.
Heated Beard Brush
A heated beard brush is one of the best beard products on the market. A heated beard brush refers to a beard straightener, and these can shave minutes off of your daily grooming routine.
A beard straightener is simply a beard brush that has an electrical connection, just as a conventional straightener would. The handle holds the chord that eventually connects to a socket, and the brush heats up at the root of the bristles.
Men with particularly curly hair will find their beards reflect the same. Those that want a straight-beard look for daily life can use a heated beard brush to straighten their beard hair into a more obedient style.
Beard Straightening Brush Benefits
Before getting into the benefits of beard straightening brushes, one first needs to be aware that the minute your beard gets wet it will generally snap back to its original curly state.
A beard straightening brush makes for one of the best beard brushes because it can be used as both a straightener and a regular beard brush. Using it cold gives you all the benefits of a regular boar brush, and using it hot adds the benefit of dead straight hairs.
Most beard straightening brushes work via the same power sockets that beard trimmers do. Store them just as you would a regular beard brush made from boar or other bristles.
Some brands offer their regular beard brushes in a rounded version. What this means is that the body is cylindrical, instead of rectangular. This gives us a brush that looks like a styling brush one might see in a hair salon, and the kind you might playfully use as a microphone.
Round beard brushes are considered to be more ‘heavy duty’ and ‘invasive’. Tough tangles and unsolvable knots are no match for these devices, as they roll right over areas that are particularly compromised.
Travel Beard Brush
The palm-sized beard brushes that fit perfectly inside of tough, manly hands are also known as travel beard brushes. These devices are much smaller and more compact compared to regular brushes, and can easily be taken on business trips in hand luggage or even in a work briefcase.
Pocket beard brushes are almost always made from wood. They vary in size so you’ll be able to choose the most suitable ones for your travel needs. There are even beard brushes as small as a nail brush, so you can even keep one in your blazer pocket at all times if necessary.
Quality branded travel beard brushes usually come in some sort of case or tin. This is to keep the bristles safe from damage whilst rolling around inside of a luggage or toiletry bag. It is advised that you hang onto the case that your beard brush comes in as it will greatly extend the longevity of your brush.
Best Beard Brush
These are two beard brush brands that we know, trust, and love! Your local barber will likely be able to source them for you or, alternatively, you can order them directly online.
Best Overall Beard Brush
We love everything in the Beardbrand range, but their brush is the overall shining star. Made from 100% boar’s hair, the brush is a sleek design featuring dark wood and silky varnish. It’s a product that is made to last; you can tell just by looking at it.
To sweeten the deal, Beardbrand offers their boar’s hair brushes in regular sized, cylindrical form, and travel sized. Given the quality, the bushes are very reasonably priced. You could snag all three for under $80, or just invest in the one that sticks out most.
This is the quintessential beard tool — their words, not ours!
Best Travel Beard Brush
Husky Beard Brush
We also enjoy the ruggedness in design of this travel sized beard brush by Husky Beard. Also made with 100% boar’s hair, this brush is suitable for use on beards of all lengths and densities.
The brush pairs well with any oils and balms you might want to use. Husky Beard claims that their travel brush works to prevent dandruff, which is a common occurrence when moving between different climates.
At under $10, this brush is a bargain!
Cleaning a Beard Brush
A quality beard brush is an investment, and any reputable beardsman will tell you so. Beard brushes will deteriorate naturally over time, especially ones made with natural bristles, and the best way to prolong their life is to follow proper care procedures every so often.
Experts recommend a mixture of shampoo and water to clean the bristles of any beard brush or comb. If the brush has a wooden body, you’ll want to submerge only the bristles in the solution to prevent warping of the wood. Plastic or bamboo brushes can be fully submerged in the water and shampoo mix.
This mixture will work to loosen any dirt and grime living between the teeth or bristles of the brush. If you’re struggling to get some noticeable grime or stray hair out of the device, use an old toothbrush to scrub into the smaller gaps. Some people also use cotton balls to clean in those hard to reach sections. Use a drop of beard oil on the cotton ball whilst doing so for optimal results.
Bathrooms tend to be moisture rich parts of the home. Beard brushes are best stored in cool, dry zones. If it is not convenient to store your brush outside of the bathroom, at least keep it in a zoned off area such as inside of a vanity cabinet. Anywhere the brush doesn’t have to come into direct contact with steam from the shower or sink will be ideal.
We hope you had enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two about beard brushes! If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in learning about body brushes, which can be used to remove dead skin cells and support the health of the lymphatic system. To learn more about this subject, check out our comprehensive post on the subject here.