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Which Is Better For You, A Beard Comb or Brush?

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By: Adam Williams

Maintaining your beard is an oddly complex process.

When looking at beard brushes and combs, the options are almost limitless.  I mean, just a quick search for a beard brush on a popular online retailer site yields hundreds of results.  This is just brushes we are talking about, after all, right?

The same goes for combs as well; you will see tons of wooden combs, synthetic, and ox horn as some of the most popular ones.

Both beard combs and brushes essentially tackle the same goal of just trying to keep your beard in order, right?

However, after researching quite a bit and breaking down this epic battle on deciding between a beard comb or brush, things get quite interesting (way more than I would have ever initially).

If you take great care of your beard, you will want to ditch that cheap drugstore comb and get one that will make your beard look way better and healthier.

Related: 8 Beard Comb Benefits

First a Look At The Boars Hair Bristle Brush And Comparing It To The Synthetic Counterparts

As I eluded above, the last thing you want to do is go to your local drug store and pick up a cheap comb.

There are several reasons for this and why it’s so darn important to make sure that you take a long hard look at brushes made specifically for your beard.

Here’s the deal:

The hair on your face is much coarser than the hair on your head.

Therefore it needs to be cared for differently and coincidentally needs a different tool to maintain it.

If you use a much higher quality brush like one made of boar hair bristle will notice right away one of the most significant differences: length of the bristle.

When a bristle is cut at different lengths like that of a brush made with boars hair, you will reach follicles at every level of your beard, giving you a much more effective and even brush per stroke.

The fewer times you need to brush your hair will help improve the long-term health of your beard by reducing the occurrence of split ends.

Which is an excellent thing since you won’t have to trim your beard as nearly as often, especially if you are trying to grow out a yeard (beard for a year for the newbies out there)!

But here’s the deal, bristle length is only one thing.

By and far, the most significant advantage of using a boar’s hair bristle brush over a synthetic brush and even beard combs is its natural ability to trap in oil to provide an equal distribution of oil within your beard.

When we mention oil, we are referring to two specific types of oil, sebum (one that your skin naturally produces) and oil provided from products like beard oil and beard balms.

Adequate distribution oil will help maintain the long-term health of your beard.

Last but not least – a brush will help train your beard follicles to grow in a uniform direction.

Here’s what we mean by that:

If you are growing a beard for the first time – or simply growing it longer, you may notice that your mustache hair starts to curl up into your mouth.  In addition, the beard follicles along your cheek and jawline will also likely be growing in several different directions.

This is where a quality beard brush changes these annoying little nuances of growing a beard.

When using a brush for a few days, typically for beardsmen, their follicles will start to fall in line and eventually grow in the desired direction.

Now everyone’s hair is different, so it’s very much on a case-by-case basis.  Some men do have to use a beard brush in combination with a beard wax to keep things orderly throughout the day.

Just a quick note on other fibers:

Now at the beginning of this section, we were giving synthetic combs a hard time.  For the most part, they are usually considered “cheap,” mass-produced, and most importantly, perform poorly.  However, there is such a thing as high quality synthetic brushes used for the hair on the top of your head.  High-quality synthetic brushes for your beard are a bit harder to find.

Another animal fiber that is starting to gain more popularity across all different types of men and women beauty supplies is the re-introduction of horsehair fibers.

These fibers will also do a reasonably good job helping spread around the oils evenly into your beard.

When It Comes To Beard Combs, What’s The Difference?

Everything.

No, seriously – there are significant differences when it comes to beard combs.

When it comes to combs, you see HUGE differences between your average drugstore comb and one that has been hand cut and polished for your beard.

If you were to pick up a comb off the shelf, 99.9% of the time, they are poured into a mold, stamped out, packaged, and sent to the store for sale.

You might be thinking to yourself; it’s just a comb after all; how bad can it be?

Here are the key differences that you need to know:

For cheaper combs – since they are stamped out of a mold, they have tons of microscopic jagged edges along the comb’s teeth.

Therefore when you run a low-quality comb through your hair, you break down the integrity of the beard follicle shaft with each stroke.

This means that your beard follicles are gradually getting torn apart, making them much more susceptible to breakage and split ends.

Naturally, when you have several split ends within your beard, you are going to have an increased occurrence in tangling, which for some men, may drive them crazy if they like to stroke their beard throughout the day.

But the damage doesn’t end with just an annoying split end.

Unfortunately, the best way to resolve a split end is to cut off the tip of your beard effectively.  While every beard needs to get trimmed now and again, more frequent split ends will ultimately lead to you having to trim your beard more regularly.

Secondly, when you use a cheap comb, your beard will be much more ‘staticky’ (is that even a word?)

The core purpose of why you would use a comb in the first place is to style your beard – so the net gains that you get out of combing with a cheap comb will likely be negative compared to a comb of higher quality.

Lastly, plastic molded combs are typically pretty flimsy and will be much more susceptible to having their teeth broken (especially if you keep it stored in your pants pocket).

While I won’t go on regarding the downsides of combing your beard with a comb containing broken teeth, let’s just say that it doesn’t help matters 🙂

So does that mean we are lost and are forced to use beard brushes only to maintain an unruly beard?

Absolutely not.

When you break it down, there are several quality beard combs on the market, from wooden to sawcut – heck, even bone and ox horn combs as well.

However, here at Tools of Men, we found one set of combs that tends to stand out above the rest – Kent beard combs.

But why are combs like those made by Kent good for your beard? 

First, let’s covered out they are made.

Instead of being made in a factory in China – Kent combs are handmade in the U.K.

But more importantly, Kent handmade combs are known as being saw-cut combs.  This means that every comb is literally cut with a saw and then polished to ensure there are no microscopic jagged edges like those on the molded cut cheap comb.

Therefore when it runs through your beard, you can rest assured that the amount of damage being caused is minimized (not eliminated but minimized).

Secondly, the ends of the teeth are also polished, so just like in between the teeth, this causes very little damage to your hair follicles but also very little damage to your skin below your beard.

What Is The Best Time To Brush or Comb My Beard?

Overall the single best time to brush or comb your hair is after a shower.

But not directly after a shower.

Your morning routine should look something like this.

First, you should jump out of bed and into the shower.

While there, you should be using a decent beard wash.

After showering, you want to dry off your beard with a towel and let it air dry for a couple of minutes.

Once your beard seems reasonably dry (only a couple of minutes), you will want to apply the beard oil.

Beard oil is the ultimate tool in your beard maintenance box.

It plays a critical role in making sure that it not only stays well hydrated and well-nourished.

Not only will beard oil make sure that your beard appears natural and healthy, but it also makes sure that it is soft and doesn’t have beardruff prevalent.

But before I go too long of a tangent about beard oil, you can read about all the benefits of beard oil here.

So after applying beard oil, you will want to run your comb or brush through your beard.

If you are using a brush, you will ONLY want to do this about once a day.

Brushing more frequently – even if it is with a high-quality beard brush WILL damage your hair.

However, if you use a comb, you can get away with combing about 3-5 times a day without causing any additional damage.

Cleaning Beard Combs & Beard Brushes

Both brushes and combs must be cleaned regularly to prolong the life of the brush and improve performance. Cleaning either a comb or a brush is fairly easy. However, certain precautions must be taken as they are made from natural materials.

We put together a detailed guide on how to clean beard combs. The article covers all the popular materials, including wood, cellulose acetate, metal, and horn.

Most beard brushes are made from boars’ hair bristles, a natural animal fiber. Therefore, they must be carefully cleaned to prevent damage or splitting of the bristles. Here’s a short guide on how to clean a boar bristle beard brush.

Should I Comb Or Brush My Beard?

There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether to comb or brush your beard.

If you are going for a fuller, more natural look, generally (although this doesn’t hold true for every guy), you will want to brush your beard.

On the other hand, if you are going for styling purposes, you generally (again same rule holds true as above – that it doesn’t work for every guy), you will want to comb your beard.

If your main goal is to get your mustache out of your mouth or to begin training your hairs to grow in the direction that you want, it’s best to start with a high-quality boar hair bristle brush.

Here’s the truth, though:

All guys have their very own preference on either or and in fact, many of them prefer to use a comb to get out the knots and tangles of their beard first with a comb and then brush it to train their hairs and lastly comb it (again) to style it even further.

Here are a couple of thoughts of what beardsmen around the web think:

beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men
beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men
beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men
beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men
beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men
beard brush vs comb testimonal - tools of men

The point is this:

It’s your beard – therefore, you will find out what works best for you and what doesn’t.

If it’s your first-ever time investing in any beard brush or beard comb, I would recommend that you pick up both.

Overall it’s a relatively small investment, and in the end, you may end up using both of them in your daily morning routine.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more.

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