Hair Combs vs. Beard Combs

Hair combs and beard combs are nearly identical grooming tools.  But do you really need to own both?  Let’s explore their subtle differences below:

Feature Comparison

Here’s a table providing the differences between both hair combs and beard combs:

FeatureHair CombBeard Comb
Size7 to 8″4 to 5″
Teeth SpacingNarrow to MediumMedium to Wide
IntentUntangling and StylingUntangling, Styling, Oil Distribution
Material (Most to Least Popular)Plastic, Metal, Wood, HornWood, Plastic, Metal, Horn


hair and beard comb on a measuring mat
Hair Comb (left) vs. Beard Comb (right)

The most significant difference between both a hair comb and a beard comb will be the length.  

  • Hair Combs: Typically around 7 to 8″ in length.
  • Beard Combs: Typically around 4 to 5″ in length.

The difference in size allows for better control when combing top-of-the-head hair or facial hair.

Additionally, the smaller size of the beard comb allows you to store it in your pocket, backpack, etc., for midday touchups (such as after eating a meal).


The form varies within hair combs and beard combs.  Here are a few popular types of combs to demonstrate their design differences:

Hair Combs

several hair combs isolated on white background

Beard Combs

several beard combs isolated on white background

As you can see above, most hair combs feature a long and slender body with the teeth on only one side of the comb. However, beard combs tend to favor a rectangular design and may feature teeth on both sides of the comb.

Teeth Spacing

The spacing between the teeth, also known as the gullet, varies between hair combs and beard combs.  Here is some general guidance:

  • Hair Combs: Will either have one or two different widths on the comb.  Both widths are typically narrower than most beard combs.  Additionally, some hair combs may be designed for specific hair types (thin, thick, etc.).
  • Beard Combs: May have one or two different widths.  The spacing of wide teeth is significant and is used to untangle knots in facial hair.


How and why you use a hair comb and beard comb differs slightly; here’s why:

  • Hair Combs: Used for untangling knots and styling only.
  • Beard Combs: Used for untangling knots, styling, and distribution of natural and supplementary beard conditioning oils.


Unsurprisingly, the material for both hair combs and beard combs are similar.  You will find that wood, metal, horn, and plastic are all commonly used.   

The most notable difference here is the popularity of the material for both categories.  Most hair combs rely on plastic or cellulose acetate (a plant-based plastic), whereas most beard combs are made from wood (sandalwood, pear wood, walnut, etc.) or plastic.

Are Two Separate Combs Necessary?

Given all the similarities in features, you may be wondering if it’s even necessary to own a separate hair or beard comb.  The answer is – it depends.   Here’s why:

Oily Conditioner:  Beard combs are nearly always used in tandem with a conditioning agent such as beard oil or beard balm.  When you comb a beard after applying a conditioner, it will make the comb feel oily and somewhat greasy. Some men may not want to run an oily comb through the hair on top of their head.

Form: Some beard combs have teeth on either side of the comb, making it difficult to achieve perfectly coiffed hair.  Additionally, a rectangular hair comb would be much more difficult to control for back-of-head combing.

Minimalist Mindset: If you want to own fewer grooming products, using one comb for both head and facial hair is completely fine.  Consider using a moderately sized hair comb for both head and facial hair grooming.

The Takeaway

While the difference between a hair comb and a beard comb is subtle, they are two different grooming tools when examined closely.  We hope that this guide helped in your understanding and research.

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. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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