Ok sure. Combing is easy. Who would need a guide? And yet here you are, my friend, and I congratulate you. After reading this guide, you will comb beards better than 99% of all bearded fellows on earth. Embrace your destiny!
Tricky things can often be deceptively simple. It took me a while before I perfected the art of combing my beard without losing any beard strands along the way. Here are my tips.
Brush vs. Comb
Ah, the eternal debate–should I use a brush or a comb to groom my beard? To me, this like Chevy vs. Ford, or Pepsi vs. Coke; it’s a matter of personal preference. If you like brushing, get a beard brush. If you like combing, get a beard comb.
Personally, I prefer to use a beard comb because a brush will pull out more beard hairs before their time. The final stage in a beard hair’s growth is the telogen phase, when the hair rests in your follicle for days, weeks, or even months before finally being pushed out by the new growing beard hair. When you use a beard brush, the brush has more points of contact with your beard, giving it greater grip. This grip tends to pull out beard hairs in their telogen phase, which reduces the thickness of your beard. So, if you want a nice, thick-looking beard, use a beard comb.
How to Kill Beard Tangles
The trickiest step to combing a beard is conditioning it well enough so that you don’t get snags and tangles when combing. Snags and tangles will not only damage the teeth of fragile combs (made from horn or plastic), but they can harm your beard as well. I’ve pulled more beard hairs out of my face by tugging on a stubborn snag than I would like to admit.
There are three ways to condition your beard before combing to avoid snags:
1) Beard Oil
Beard oil is a liquid beard conditioner that is quite in vogue at the moment. Dab a little in your beard before combing to make it slicker, which makes it easier to untangle kinks as you comb.
There are hundreds of beard oil brands to choose from. Browse a collection of my favorite beard oils to see what is available.
There are many ways to use beard oil, which I explain in my article, “How to apply beard oil“.
2) Beard Balm
Beard balm is a buttery substance that melts in your hands. Once melted, rub it all up in your beard to really coat it well. In my opinion, beard balm conditions a beard better than oil, and makes it much easier to comb. See my video on how to use beard balm, below.
3) Anti-Tangle Spray
The final option is to use an anti-tangle spray, designed for baby hair. I think beard oil and beard balm works great, but some of you may not have any handy. If that’s the case, baby anti-tangle spray totally works on beards, though it has a unique, “baby-fresh” scent.
Next comes the combing. Using your favorite beard comb (I prefer one made of wood or animal horn), comb downwards in even, steady strokes. Start slowly. If you go too fast, you won’t leave the balm enough time to do its thing, and you may still snag your beard. Start slowly and comb the beard balm all through your beard. Once you’re certain it is free of snags, you can pick up the pace a bit.
An important, but oft-neglected part of combing a beard is to comb your underbeard. The underbeard, or neck beard, is often full of strong, long, densely-packed beard strands. If your beard is curly like mine, then these hairs may curl up under your chin in a big mass, making your beard look thinner and shorter than it really is.
Lift up your beard, and, using a beard comb or beard brush, gently comb your underbeard downward. This action will release strands from the underbeard tangle in batches. You may need to apply some more beard balm to your underbeard, if you missed it when conditioning earlier.
Comb through your underbeard until it is all untangled and falling freely. Then, comb deep into the front of your beard, and bring the comb downward in firm, steady, slow strokes. This should catch all the fibers of your beard–underbeard included–and organise them into nice, straight swaths of beard.
Wax It Up
Once done, I suggest using a beard wax to hold your beard in place. Over the course of the day, your beard will rub against your chest, your neck, and other beard hairs, and it will want to coil back up and get tangled again. Using a soft beard wax, wax the front and fringes of your beard. If you use enough of it, your beard should stay in place throughout the day, while still swinging free like a beard should. Watch my video on waxing a beard for more info.
And there you have it, gents. Do you comb a different way? Let me know in the comments below.