I have a very curly beard. I like it. However, I must admit that when I was young and reckless, I envied those chaps with the very straight viking beards. While I have come to accept the beard I was born with, there are many good reasons to envy the straight beard.
The Drawbacks of a Curly Beard
Each beard grows at about the same rate–half an inch per month–whether it is curly or straight. However, curly beard hairs grow in a big loop, while straight beard hairs just keep on growing downwards. So, in the time it takes for a curly beard to grow, say, half a foot long, a straight beard has grown three times as long, because the curly beard hairs keep on looping in on themselves.
A curly beard is distinguished from a wavy beard. Some beard strands have a slight spin in them, making them grow down in a spiral. But a true curly beard will get big loops in it, causing beard hairs to grow into other beard hairs, making it much more likely that you’ll get knots in your beard. Truly, owners of curly beards were placed on this earth to withstand great turmoil in order to attain finely honed patience. Take a bow, curly chaps.
Here is a bad boy that fell out of my beard recently. It’s a perfect coil. In fact, it’s so perfect that as I was trying to stretch it out to take a photo of its length, it sprung out of my hands and flew away. I couldn’t find it.
From follicle to tip, this coil measured only two inches, but when I stretched it out, it was six inches long. This, my friends, is why men with curly beards appear to have shorter ones.
To illustrate, here is a photo of my beard in its natural state, compared to my beard after I have straightened it with a hair straightener.
As you can see, my beard is much longer straight, even though it is the same exact beard. Protip: Many of the award-winning beard champions use hair straighteners to maximize their length for competitions.
A straightened beard will last a while, but it is not permanent. It will go back to normal once you take a shower. Here’s mine the next morning after straightening it. As you can see, it lasted, and is much longer than my normal beard.
Straightened beards feel silky and wispy. If you decide to straighten your beard with a hair straightener, be careful! Many hair straighteners get too hot and can actually burn through your beard, or permanently damage your beard hair. If you use just the right amount of heat, you can get by without any lasting damage, and your beard will be straight and smooth.
After much research, I bought a highly rated small ceramic hair straightener that maxes out at a medium heat. It is hot enough to straighten a beard, but not hot enough to harm it.
This is the one I use:
I like this one because it is smaller than a regular hair straightener, making it easy to use one-handed, and harder to burn your chin with. You can see more beard straighteners here.
Another option is to use a beard relaxing cream. Apply this to your beard and it will straighten it permanently. That’s right, this is a forever-change. Your beard will keep growing curly, however, so after a few months, you may need to go back and apply the relaxing agent to the new growth (not the old growth, which you already straightened with the relaxer). This stuff does not damage your beard! It is designed to fortify your beard hairs and make them more healthy. The one below has over 100 5-star reviews. You need to use it in combination with the beard straightening iron, however.
Here is another relaxer that has over 50 great reviews. This one has more bottles you have to go through, but it does not require the beard straightening iron, like the one above.
How to Straighten Your Beard
Straightening a beard is an art in itself. I’ve done it quite a few times and I’ll share with you my steps:
- Moisten your beard ever so slightly. I like to use a good beard oil. Rub it into your beard, and then comb it through every strand. This will protect your beard from heat damage.
- Start at the top of your beard–the strands closest to your cheek bones. Find a good horizontal slice of beard, and separate it from the rest of your beard. Make sure it is flat. Then, clamp it with your hair straightener and quickly drag it along your beard. If you go too slowly, you can burn and damage your beard. I usually count to “1” with each stroke of the beard straightener.
- Go over the same section multiple times to get every strand straight.
- Move onto a new slice until you have all the top hair of your beard straight. Then, bend your straightened hair upwards to reveal your lower layer of curly beard hair. If your beard is long enough, it should hold up on its own. Do the same thing–grab a slice of beard, separate it, then run it through with your beard straightener until straight.
- Continue downward until your whole beard is straight. It’s important to get your under-beard as well. This part of my beard, at least, is the curliest and longest. I achieved significant new length when I straightened my under-beard.
- When done, brush it through with a nice beard brush or beard comb. You’ll immediately notice that your beard is easier to brush, and you get fewer kinks and pulled-out strands. Squirt on a few drops of beard oil to add weight to it, and go forth into the world with a perfectly straight beard, you classy chap.
If you use a beard relaxing cream, follow these steps instead:
- Wash your hair with the relaxing shampoo, and towel try.
- Put on disposable gloves, and divide your beard into smaller sections.
- Apply the relaxing agent to your beard segments, piece by piece. Try not to get any on your skin. You need to apply it all within 30 minutes, so work swiftly. Once applied, massage it into your beard hairs (remember to wear the gloves). Finally, use a fine-toothed comb to get the agent closer to the root of your hairs.
- After 30 minutes, rinse the agent out. Do not shampoo it!
- Use a blow-dryer to dry your beard. Don’t use a towel, or else you’ll pull the agent off.
- Once dry, use the beard hair straightening iron to iron the waves and curls out of your beard, using the instructions I gave above.
- Once done, use the agent neutralizer to deactivate the relaxing agent.
- Using the enclosed shampoo, wash the agent out of your beard three times. (That is, apply the shampoo, lather, wash it out, and do it twice more).
- Rinse out the shampoo, and apply the moisturizing conditioner. Then, put on the enclosed plastic cap and leave yoru beard alone for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, rinse out the conditioner.
- Finally, towel dry your hair, and apply the “shine sealer” to your dry hair. Then, blow it bone dry.
- All done! You have a straight beard sir.
What causes a curly beard?
Curly beards, like curly head hair, are caused by the shape of your hair follicle, as pre-determined by genetics. Instead of having a straight hair follicle, a curly beard has follicles that are curved, like pieces of uncooked macaroni. The hair is formed in the follicle and forever grows at a curve, looping in on itself, giving you a curly beard.
This, incidentally, is an evolutionary enhancement to the straight beard. A curly beard keeps more hair closer to the face, and therefore holds more air trapped against the chin, providing warmer insulation. Back in the caveman days, a curly beard was an advantage to men who spent hours in the cold, compared to their straight-beard counterparts. So hey, you’ve got that going for you.
Today, many see a straight beard as a more attractive beard, but don’t let that get you down. Why, look at this dear fellow. Now that is an intimidating curly beard.
Whether your beard is curly, wavy, or straight, be proud of it, and sport it mightily! Take care of it using my beard maintenance tips, and it will serve you well for years to come.
What type of beard do you have? Does your lady have a preference? Share in the comments below, chaps.