When researching and ultimately deciding on a beard comb, one of the most important features is the material that it’s made from. In this article, you will learn the advantages and disadvantages that each material offers.
Beard combs are made from wood, metal, bone/horn, or artificial materials. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of each:
The most popular beard comb material is wood, often made from sandalwood, pear wood, or walnut wood varieties. Wooden beard combs are naturally anti-static and may be lightly scented depending on the source of timber. Teeth width varies and typically contains one or two spacing widths.
- Typically priced the lowest of all materials.
- The small form makes it easy to store in your pocket.
- Easy to control on medium and short beard styles.
- Smooth, sanded wooden teeth won’t rip or break individual follicles.
- Fairly good durability.
- May help distribute some beard conditioner throughout the facial hair.
- Individual teeth are susceptible to breaking.
- Small cracks between teeth can cause pulling or breakage of facial hair.
- Often they don’t have a handle, making it difficult to use on longer beards.
Metal beard combs vary in both size and weight. A metal beard comb can be small enough to store in your wallet or large for home use only. Metal beard combs can be made from stainless steel, carbon fiber, aluminum, and other hybrid blends. Teeth width varies and typically contains one or two spacing widths.
- Most durable of all materials and will likely last a lifetime.
- Teeth are unlikely to break or bend.
- Fairly affordable.
- It may have additional features such as a ruler or bottle opener.
- The teeth are rarely polished, leading to an uncomfortable combing experience for both facial hair and skin.
- Poorly constructed combs may damage the beard follicle with heavy use.
- Has a cold and sterile feeling.
Bone or ox horn beard combs provide a luxurious and silky smooth combing experience. Sourced from steer or bovine, horn beard combs often carry a significantly higher price due to the labor process required during manufacturing (source, source). As a result, Horn beard combs aren’t nearly as popular, and it can be challenging to find one from a reputable manufacturer.
Horn beard combs feature hand-polished individual teeth and are naturally anti-static.
Given the natural source of the material, bone can dry out if unused for a prolonged period.
- Smooth teeth allow for repeated combing with a reduced risk of beard damage.
- Bone is a porous material allowing for better distribution of an applied beard conditioner.
- A proper beard horn comb will typically cost more than $20.
- Susceptible to cracking or chipping if not regularly oiled.
Synthetic combs vary in quality and price. The composition can be plastic or cellulose acetate. While both very similar in appearance, plastic is made from petrochemicals (source), whereas cellulose acetate is plant-based (source). Both types of plastics are subject to static, especially when used in dry conditions (source). Premium combs, particularly those made from cellulose acetate, are saw cut and hand-polished, leading to a softer, more luxurious experience.
- Widely available.
- More affordable than other materials.
- Static in long beards can be annoying.
- Quality varies greatly.
Nearly all beard combs will have one or two teeth varying widths on the handle.
For tight, dense, and curly beards, a comb with wider teeth is preferred. Wide-set teeth will make it easier to untangle stubborn knots.
Men with relatively straight or thinner facial hair follicles can use either narrow or wide-set teeth.
When to Replace
While a beard comb should last a lifetime, you should get it replaced when damage occurs. Common issues that may require replacement include the following:
Broken Teeth: For horn and synthetic combs especially, broken teeth can occur. Often caused by dryness, improper storage (in a pocket), or simply falling and getting damaged, a tooth may chip off. Using a comb with broken teeth may damage the hair follicle or scratch your skin.
Cracking: Wooden combs may crack or splinter, especially if it is stored in an extremely dry environment. Wooden combs with cracks between the teeth can cause facial hair to get stuck and pulled out – which can be pretty painful.
The material of which beard combs are made varies. However, after learning the advantages and disadvantages of each, we hope that this guide serves as a reference point to help you decide which type of beard comb will meet your expectations.
Of course, if you want some recommendations, check out our review of the best beard combs.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.