Keeping our beards well-groomed has never been more difficult. To say the least, our seemingly endless quarantine has made life extremely difficult for many businesses, and quite inconvenient for a lot of us. Our neighborhood barbers have lost their livelihoods until things open up again — while the rest of us just work from home watching our coiffures and bristles slowly grow out of control. Some of us have opted for home styling, maybe shaving it all down for a clean modern James-McAvoy-in-Split kind of look. Others have chosen to take full advantage of the shutdown to allow their fur to achieve maximum effect and length. Of course, the problem with all that growth is that a lot of us are also now facing curly and unruly pelts that are in bad need of assistance. Take a quick look through YouTube channels dedicated to beard maintenance, and you’ll find postings both praising and decrying the benefits of beard-straightening tools. For a little guidance on the heated topic, we spoke to some beard care experts.
Adam Reyes is the owner of Virile Barber and Shop, with four locations in New Jersey, including two in his hometown of Jersey City. They make up a bedroom community of beards of all shapes and sizes. Reyes grew up in the business, pursuing a career as a musician for a while before being drawn back to his grandfather’s and mother’s profession.
“I first started using straighteners in the shop for both hair and beards,” Reyes tells The Manual. “A lot of guys have a wave in their hair, but still want a straighter look. While I can use a flat iron to get the same effect, it’s easier to use one of these to straighten around the curves and angles of the head. For somebody who wants a tame, straight beard, these tools work well.”
Another hairstylist is Jeff Chastain, a former Frédéric Fekkai alum who opened his own shop in New York City, and specializes in beard work. “I’d use a round brush and teach guys how to style their beards at home,” says Chastain. “I wanted to make it easier, so I started cold-calling manufacturers, and drew pictures of what I wanted from a styling tool. I wanted something that would be safe to use around the jawline.”
In 2017, he debuted the Kuschelbär Hair and Beard Straightener, a heated straightening brush that went viral on YouTube. “At one point I had 25 to 50 million views,” Chastain says. And so a new era of styling hardware was born.
Two years later, another popular beard straightening device emerged: Væringjar. The heated brush was created by Faiysal Kothiwala, founder of beard care site The Beard Struggle, who came up with the gadget after receiving complaints from customers who would claim that their beards had stopped growing.
But that wasn’t the case at all. “The hair has just curled up,” Kothiwala says. “Using a beard straightener will make your beard longer while adding volume and texture.”
Kothiwala tells us that while some people like a more natural beard appearance, a straightened beard is more appealing in a business environment. “The big look in the U.K. right now is super clean-cut: A straightened beard with a slicked-back hairstyle.”
Ahead, our three grooming aficionados show us how to straighten our beards, and the best straighteners to buy now.
How to Straighten Your Beard With a Heated Brush
- Make sure the beard is dry. Hair is porous. If it’s still holding water, the heat will singe the hair cuticle, basically cooking it, so get the beard as dry as possible first.
- Condition the beard. Because you are cooking out a lot of the hair’s moisture, be sure to use an oil-based conditioner: A beard oil or beard balm is good. A water-based conditioner will just make the hair coil back up.
- Create tension. Reyes points out that, beyond the hair’s cuticle layer are hydrogen bonds. Those bonds are what keep the shape of the hair. Applying heat (like a blow dryer or hot comb), in combination with tension, allows us to reshape those bonds and our hair.
- Comb downwards. Run the brush through your beard slowly. Chastain suggests going 25 percent of the speed of your normal beard-brushing speed. “The slower you go, the straighter it gets,” he says.
- Preserve and protect. Add a bit of beard oil or balm to style the beard into the shape you want. “Tamp down the sides a bit,” says Kothiwala. “The beard may flare out from your face from all that added volume.”
How to Straighten Your Beard With a Blow Dryer
If you already own a blow dryer and brush or comb, there’s no reason you can’t use that to straighten your beard. Follow steps one and two in our previous guide, then proceed with your dryer of choice.
- Take a section of your hair the same width as the tool you are using; so an inch width of hair if you’re using a one-inch comb.
- Start at the bottom of your beard and work your way up to the cheeks, section by section.
- Turn the comb into the beard as you go.
Reyes cautions that, if you have had your beard trimmed at the barbershop, be sure to maintain the same style. If you had the beard trimmed while it’s more natural, and then straighten it (or vice versa), it may suddenly look messy because the hairs will be at different lengths.
The Best Beard Straighteners for Men
The Masc by Jeff Chastain Kuschelbär Hair and Beard Straightener
The Kuschelbär features four combs arched around a heat plate so your skin is protected while allowing for maximum control. Chastain claims his device will leave hair (beard or otherwise) straighter and softer. We chose this cordless version (with a USB charging cable) for its convenience, but there are also corded versions. The brush features 40 minutes of high-temperature usage (360℉, 380℉, or 400℉), and a safety off switch.
The Beard Struggle Vaeringjar Heated Beard Brush
While The Beard Struggle’s success was built on beard care products, this is its entry into the straightening category. “This version belongs to us, and we have a patent pending on the beard pick part of the brush,” says Kothiwala. “It’s crucial to adding volume to the beard.” The Væringjar features a USBC cable, three heat settings (320℉, 360℉, and 400℉), though most are happy with the medium setting. Kothiwala recommends using the brush with a heat-protecting spray.
Aberlite Max Beard Straightener
The Aberlite is designed to avoid both damaging your beard and burning your face. While the price point makes it the entry-level for the category, the unit does include five heat settings, ranging from 150℉ to 440℉ for tough-to-control hair.
The Baby Brush Crush Mini Heated Straightening Brush
While this heated mini brush isn’t ~ technically ~ designed for your beard it gets the job done seamlessly. Drybar’s baby brush heats up to 400℉, the optimal temperature for straightening and smoothing shorter styles. Plus, it comes with a 2-year limited warranty so you really have nothing to lose.
- 19 Black-Owned Grooming Brands You Can Support Now and Always
- The 11 Best Hair Gels for Men in Winter 2021
- The 11 Best Men’s Styling Products for Every Hair Type
- The 11 Best Beard Grooming Kits for Men
- The Ultimate Guide on How to Shape a Beard for Your Face Shape