The Different Types of Beard Brushes

Beard brushes are a grooming tool that can help keep your beard neat and tidy. They come in various styles and materials, so it’s important to know the differences and figure out which type is best for you.

This guide will cover the various bristle types, handle materials, shapes and styles, bristle lengths, and sizes. Furthermore, we’ll also answer a few common questions about beard brushes that many first-time beardsmen have when deciding which is right for them.

Let’s learn about the different types of beard brushes!

Bristle Types

Beard brushes come in many different bristle types, including boar, horse, synthetic, and various natural materials. We’ll share how each of them impact your beard care routine.

But first, a visual comparison:

diagram showing the different bristle types found in beard brushes


boar bristle beard brush isolated on white background

Boar bristle brushes are the most common of all bristle types, and for a good reason. Boar bristles are known for their natural flexibility, so they won’t pull or tug on your beard, and the porous cuticles help distribute the natural oils along the shaft of your facial hair. This results in both perfect conditioning and styling.

Furthermore, as you use a boar bristle brush, the bristles will soften with time, helping to further condition and to prevent split ends, helping your beard to look more even and presentable.

Given that boar hair has a natural stiffness to the fiber, it makes it ideal for those with curly, wavy, or long beards, as it can help to smoothen out unruly hairs and prevent frizz.


horsehair beard brush sm

Slightly more pliable than boar hair, horsehair brushes are a fantastic option for a gentler brushing experience. The pliable backbone of this bristle type works best on thin or sparse beards.

Aside from the backbone, horsehair bristles are effective at evenly distributing beard products such as oils and balms, helping you to achieve a more polished look.

Horsehair isn’t nearly as prevalent in the grooming world due to the anthrax scare during World War I. In fact, the CDC recently published a historical review that provides some fascinating insight into the history of horsehair brushes and the anthrax scare.

Nylon / Plastic / Synthetic

plastic beard brush s m

Nylon/plastic/synthetic brushes are a great choice for someone looking for a budget-friendly option. These brushes are lightweight and flexible, making them easy to maneuver through the hair and preventing tugging or pulling on the beard hairs. Stiffness can vary from stiff to soft; it depends on the manufacturer. Due to the varying stiffness, it may or may not work for your facial hair density, texture, and length.

One of the notable downsides to synthetic brushes is that they are non-porous. Unfortunately, this means they won’t be able to distribute beard products as effectively as some of the other natural bristle types.

Natural Materials

vegan beard brush sm

Not all beardsmen want to use a product made from animal hair or not eco-friendly. For those beardsmen, a variety of natural materials, often marketed as vegan, that can be used to make beard brushes.

The natural materials companies use will vary, including cactus, tampico, bamboo, and even wood. The benefit of using natural materials is that they are often more eco-friendly and can be more gentle on the skin. They also work well for men with sensitive skin or who prefer hypoallergenic grooming products.

Handle Materials

beard brush sitting on a beard balm tin

While bristles are by far the most important feature of any beard brush, the handle material can be a nice little bonus, especially concerning comfort and style. Here are a few different handle materials that you’ll come across when shopping for a beard brush:


From pear to sandalwood, beard brushes are made from various wood types. Wood provides that classic look and feels that so many men love. As a bonus, wood is eco-friendly and affordable – so even if you are keeping a close eye on your budget, you can still get a quality beard brush.

When cared for properly, wood will last you for years. Just be sure you don’t leave it in countertop puddles, as this can cause the wood to rot, soften, or fall apart.


Another common material you’ll find in the marketplace is plastic. Equally affordable, plastic is a bit more expressive material and can come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. Plastic is also lightweight, making it a good choice if you are looking for a travel-friendly beard brush.


Lastly, composite brushes may contain a combination of materials. These are often sold by no-name brands or those looking to cut corners at all costs. While they may be affordable, they are often not as durable as the other materials and may not last as long. We recommend avoiding these brushes if possible.

Style & Shape

round and square beard brush isolated on a graphic

Beard brushes are available in a plethora of shapes and form factors. Here are a few things you should know:

Round / Oval / Square / Military Style

Able to fit comfortably into the palm of your hand, a round or square brush (or some shape in-between) allows you to get adequate leverage to brush your beard. In addition, this style of brush is much more compact, making it suitable for travel.

However, this smaller form factor works best for men with medium to shorter beard lengths, as you won’t be able to apply as much leverage as you would with a paddle-style beard brush.


Military-style beard brushes are just a marketing term. There is no official definition of a military-style beard brush per the US military. However, it is commonly used to describe a rectangular or round beard brush.


Paddle beard brushes are ideal for those with longer beards, as the wide head paired with the addition of a handle makes it easy to move the brush through the entire beard quickly. The increased leverage makes it easier to untangle stubborn knots and style the beard.

Bristle Length & Stiffness

Bristle length and stiffness will significantly impact the type of facial hair style that can be achieved with a particular brush. Generally, shorter bristles are better for grooming and maintaining shorter beard styles. They can also create natural, textured looks to your style. In addition, the softer and shorter bristles will offer more control as they are easier to navigate tighter contours.

Longer bristles will provide less control over styling and can be more difficult to clean. However, they have the added advantage of penetrating down to skin-level. This helps to provide better distribution of oil and potentially relieve beard dandruff.


Size is important in finding the right brush for one’s facial hair needs. A beard brush that is too big can overwork the hair, causing damage. Additionally, a larger brush makes it harder to get a specific area of the beard, such as around the mustache or mouth, leading to an uneven and unsatisfactory look.

On the other hand, a brush that is too small can make it difficult to manage a longer beard. So when thinking about the size, think about it in relation to the length of your beard. You’ll want to get a larger brush if you have a longer beard. A smaller brush will work just fine if you have a shorter beard.

Common Questions and Answers

Here are a few common questions that men often have when understanding beard brushes:

Will a brush help my beard growth?

Repeatedly brushing your hair likely won’t have any effect on the growth rate of your beard. In fact, overbrushing your beard may actually lead to hair loss. In a 2009 study, scientists found that when women reduced their hair brushing frequency, they experienced less hair loss source.

We recommend only brushing your beard twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Equally important is to apply a conditioner to keep it hydrated and healthy.

Does beard brushing make hair softer?

Yes, regular beard brushing can help to make the facial hair softer. Brushing helps to evenly distribute natural sebum oil throughout the facial hair and helps to break down any tangles in the hair follicles. This can help to soften the facial hair and give it a more luxurious feel.

Which type of brush do professionals recommend?

When clients ask us what beard brush we use, we always recommend a boar hair bristle brush as it will work best for most beard types and helps to increase the effectiveness of conditioners.

How should I choose a beard brush?

When choosing a beard brush, the most important thing to consider is your facial hair texture, length, and personal preference regarding animal fibers, eco-friendly, etc.

Do I need a beard brush if I use oil and comb?

Beard brushes are not necessary, but they can be helpful if you are looking for a fuller, more defined look to your facial hair style. In addition, they can be beneficial if you live in an exceptionally dry area, as they can help distribute the natural oils in your beard more effectively than a beard comb.

Ultimately, both serve a role in proper beard maintenance.

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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