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Curly Beards: Styles, Maintenance, Pics, and Everything Else You Need to Know

The first time you grew out your beard, you may have been surprised: the hair on the top of your head? Straight as a pin. The hair coming out of your face? Curly as a question mark. Weird, right?

Androgenic hair, which includes chest, leg, and beard hair, is usually curly, and a lot of men end up getting frustrated with their curly beards. That’s a shame, because curly beards are the best. They’re usually thick and healthy-looking, and with a little effort, they tend to look far more masculine that straight, thin beards. Hands down, if we had to choose one beard to rock for the rest of our lives, it would be a curly beard.

That said, though, they’re not easy to style and they’re not easy to care for, and that’s why we’re here. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to own your curly beard, starting with…

Curly Beard Styles: Pics to Help You Choose

We know that we when you visit a post like this, what you’re really looking for are pictures.

So, of course, we aim to please. Here are our favorite curly beard styles (and if you’re a bald fella and you’d like to see more, visit our “Beard Looks for Bald Guys” for more).

The Close-Cropped Curly Beard: Very Easy, But Takes Some Trimming

A curly beard can look great when cropped close to the face because the curls add an extra layer of density that can be groomed and accentuated. A close-cropped curly beard tends to round out easily, making it a great option for men with narrow faces who want to add just a bit of width (as opposed to a ducktail beard, which can work for guys with broad faces, who want the appearance of more length). It gives the impression of bulk and can even make your neck and shoulders appear broader, and who doesn’t want that?

The main obstacle with this beard type is keeping its shape. A short but dense beard like this can get out of shape quickly, meaning you have to be vigilant with your grooming. Trimming scissors work great to get those sudden curls that pop out in the morning, but you’ll also want good beard balm and fine comb to keep it well formed.

The Wispy Curly Beard: Carefree but Also Responsible, Somehow

curly beard styles

As your curly beard reaches medium length, the hairs will start to curl multiple times, potentially giving it a wispy look. This is especially true if your beard isn’t quite as dense.

A wispy beard looks good on any man, but it’s a great match if you have equally curly hair. This way it produces that lion’s mane look, and with a little effort, you can grow this into some really distinctive looks (like a Van Dyke, among others).

If you’re purposefully going for the wispy style, the good news is it doesn’t require too much maintenance. You just have to tread the line between wispy and disheveled. The best way to do this is to wash it a few times a week and brush it out after drying.

The Full Curly Beard: Very Masculine

A full curly beard like this one looks very masculine and can add a lot of age and experience to your face. The curls add density and allow you to shape the beard to complement your face in the perfect way. There’s something Viking-like about it, and that’s fantastic.

For instance, in our example, the man has grown out the chin more than the sides, giving a triangular look that’s still very full thanks to the curls. This makes the chin and jaw appear bigger and stronger.

A beard like this is beautiful but it’s also a commitment, and you may need a handy selection of grooming products. A beard wash can clean out the dense depths of the hair, and balm will help keep it moisturized, comfortable, and flexible. Regular brushing is important to keep it from tangling, and you may need both a trimmer and razor to get each part of the beard the right length.

Full, curly beards are great, and if you can grow one of these out, chances are you can grow a yeard, as well.

The Michelangelo Curly Beard: Straight-Up Awesome

This full-length, well-developed beard with lots of elaborate but well-kept curls is one of our favorites. It’s both stylish and timeless. In fact, we call it the “Michelangelo” because of how often you find it in famous sculptures and paintings from Renaissance artists like this statue of Moses by Michelangelo:

Of course, everyone wants to look like a Greek god or Biblical hero, but this beard isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and attention to detail. Not only do you need the right consistency of wavy-curly hair, but you need to have your grooming routine down pat, as well.

As you can see, healthy, voluminous hair is essential to this style. That means keeping it hydrated, moisturized, and nourished. You’ll want to use beard oil or balm daily and apply it with a fine wooden comb. You’ll probably also have to use some kind of heated brush to maintain the consistent waves and curls.

Finally, you’ll need some scissors to trim the ends of the beard and mustache and shape it. These should be small and sharp so that you can trim accurately without breaking any hairs or causing split ends.

The Bushy Curly Beard: Both Merry and Stern

This is one of our absolutely favorite curly beard styles. For years, the bushy beard was the staple of lumberjacks, moonshiners, and otherwise old men whose facial hair was just too thick to hold back. Recently, though, it’s become popular with all ages and looks stylish with just about any outfit. It widens and elongates the face while adding a square, angular look that a lot of men like.

At first glance, it seems like bushy beards must not require much grooming. And it’s true that shaping the beard probably isn’t going to be much of an issue. Still, you’ll want to brush it occasionally to get out any tangles.

More importantly, you’ll need to keep the beard comfortable because bushy beards run the risk of getting dry and itchy. Find a beard oil or balm with essential oils that keep your skin moisturized and fresh while softening the hairs so they don’t irritate the skin.

Alright! There you have it—those are our favorite curly beard styles. We hope there's something here for you! While we're here, we should probably discuss...

How to Maintain a Curly Beard Day-to-Day

Wouldn’t it be nice if beards came with instructions? Well, they don’t, and that’s why you need us. Here’s how to handle that handsome curly beard of yours:

1. Wash It Vigorously

Curly beards tend to be thick, making it hard for shampoo to penetrate down to the base of the hair. When you wash your beard, make sure to use a shampoo or wash specifically for curly beards. These usually have ingredients that help carry the shampoo through the hairs.

Additionally, use your fingers to massage the shampoo down into the beard. With your fingertips, gently pull out the curls while applying shampoo. This will remove dirt and debris from the depths of your beard. This dirt and debris causes the hairs to frazzle and splay apart, making the beard look less uniform.

However, you do have to be careful when shampooing a curly beard because irritating or drying out the skin or hair could actually make things worse. Again, washes specifically made for curly beards help with this because they usually include natural ingredients that remove dirt and debris without cutting too much oil.

Similarly, while you should get the shampoo deep down into the beard, don’t massage too aggressively. Always use your fingertips, never your fingernails, and be gentle with the skin.

Finally, don’t wash too often, certainly not every day. This can overdry the skin and hair and damage it, leading to breakage and fraying. How often exactly will depend on your skin and hair type, but you should probably stick to 2-3 times per week.

2. Moisturize It A Few Times a Week

Moisturizing a beard is always important, but it’s extra necessary for a curly beard. If the hairs are dry, they’ll frazzle easily instead of curling together in a uniform way that looks professional and unique.

The best options for this are beard oil and beard balm. These products include powerful carrier oils and essential oils that help trap moisture in the hair and skin. Many of the essential oils can also help treat problems that many men who have curly beards deal with like split ends and skin irritation.

Apply beard oil or balm after you shower, especially if you wash your beard. First, lightly remove excess water with a towel, then apply the oil or balm by massaging it into the skin and then running it along the lengths of the hairs, making sure to pull out the curls to get the moisturizer to every part of the hair.

3. Blow Dry It and Comb It

Once you’ve applied your preferred moisturizer, it’s time to blow dry your beard. Blow drying really helps curly beards because it dries the hair at a uniform rate making it easier to groom and keep neat. On the other hand, if you let your beard air dry, the hairs won’t dry evenly, which is what can lead to that frazzled, unkempt look.

After you’ve blow dried your beard, you can comb or brush it. Alternatively, if you’re especially dexterous, do it at the same time. This is the best way to comb your beard into a smooth, well-groomed curly style.

4. Trim, Trim, Trim

Once you’ve combed out your beard, you can use a beard trimmer to shape it and remove any split ends or rebellious hairs (and if you’re looking for a recommendation, we usually go with Wahl beard trimmers—they’re very good). Of course, you don’t have to do this every day, or even after every wash, but you can if you want. That said, if there's any part of your beard you shave down to the skin, you’ll definitely want to do that pretty frequently so that it doesn’t start looking scruffy.

Keep in mind, these instructions are for a curly beard—if you merely have a wavy beard, you don’t need to groom it so intensely.

Products That Can Help You Make the Most of Your Curly Beard

Did you think we’d let you get away without providing some product recommendations? Of course not!

With that in mind, here are some truly helpful tools that we like a lot, that you can use to grow and maintain your curly beard:

Grow-A-Beard Beard Brush and Beard Comb Set

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Grow-A-Beard brush and comb set is one of our favorite tool kits for the man with a curly beard. It has all the basic tools you need in a compact package, allowing you to enhance your curls while keeping them looking neat and professional.

The set comes with a double-sided comb, one coarse and one fine. This way you untangle the beard with the coarse side and apply the beard balm or oil, then you can straighten out the hair with the fine side. The bamboo design also helps distribute oils, and it's antistatic to avoid frizzing and tangles—excellent.

On top of the comb, there’s also a brush that helps you clean the beard and remove the dirt and crime that can make curls look unkempt. Plus, it carries your body’s natural oils down the hairs, which can give it that shiny, healthy look.

Lastly, the included stainless-steel scissors can be used to trim off split ends and trim up your beard’s shape, something men with curly beards need to do regularly. The super sharp blades can trim the hair without damaging it.

All of this comes in a convenient package with a carrying bag so you can look professional on business or leisure trips. In fact, the comb even fits in your pocket, so take it to work and out on adventures.

Arkam Premium Beard Straightener

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you have a really gnarly curly beard that doesn’t seem to respond to traditional combing and brushing, you may want to give the Arkam premium straightener a try. The ionic heating technology can relax tough beard hairs so you can brush them out into a uniform style.

Specifically, there are three different heat settings so you can get the right amount of straightening without overheating and potentially damaging your hair. The maximum setting reaches a powerful 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which sounds like a lot, but the device has an anti-scald protection feature designed to protect your skin.

One extra feature that really makes the Arkam straightener stand out is the 360-degree rotating cord. Beard grooming is always harder than head-hair grooming because there are many different angles. The rotating cord makes it a lot easier to straighten every part of your beard in a uniform way.

As an added bonus, Arkam also includes a wooden double-sided comb. With this you can straighten out the beard without causing static or tangles. Plus, it’s pocket-sized, so you can carry it around for little fixes whenever you need.

PS: You can check out our beard straightener reviews if you want to learn more.

Tame the Wild Elite Beard Straightener Essentials Kit

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking for a straightening kit—and kits can make it a lot easier to get everything you need to straighten a beard—this kit from Tame the Wild has just about everything we’d look for.

It starts with the orange walnut beard soap made with natural ingredients that can remove dirt and grime without overdrying, keeping the hairs healthy and flexible. Then, you have the beard balm with bee's wax for added support when you brush it out with the heated straightening brush. Those are a good one-two punch to get your beard ready for straightening.

The thing we like best about the kit, though, is that it can prohibit your beard from fraying with a heat-protection spray you can apply before using the straightener itself. Put this on before using the brush, and you can turn up the heat to fully relax the hairs without doing any damage to their internal structure. It’s also got anti-scald technology, which—we’re not sure how older straighteners were sold without this technology!

Lastly, you get a double-sided comb for removing tangles on the go. That’s a fantastic little tool if you find yourself on the road a lot.

Professor Fuzzworthy’s Beard Shampoo

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For those who love having a curly beard but just want it to look a little neater, a great option can be a beard wash that gets out grease and grime to accentuate your curls, one like Professor Fuzzworthy’s beard shampoo.

It uses natural ingredients like castor oil and honey that don’t damage hair or strip oils causing frizz and split ends. Instead, the ingredients can soften your curls and allow them to curl together in a stylish, uniform way. In fact, this wash is designed to not only wash your beard hairs, but hydrate and nourish the skin below it.

Last but not least, we love the smell, woody with a hint of sailor thanks to the Tasmanian Seaweed extract. It’s an altogether masculine scent that smells great by itself, but pairs nicely with a lot of other scents, too, which can be great if you’re wearing a cologne or eau de parfum.

SheaMoisture Beard Wash

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another good shampoo for curly beards is SheaMoisture’s beard wash. Specifically, if you prefer gel over a bar wash, this is a good alternative.

It’s a wash that not only removes dirt, but designed to moisturize too. It has both carrier oils and butters, maracuja oil and shea butter, that can trap in moisture and keep your hair healthy and ready to groom.

A gel wash like this one is really convenient, allowing you to cleanse your beard while you’re in the shower. Plus, it makes grooming, combing, and straightening that much easier by strengthening the hairs and making them resilient to future damage and flexible for shaping and styling.

Honest Amish Beard Balm

Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Honest Amish makes great beard products, and their beard balm is no exception. We recommend it for just about any beard, but it will especially help those rough, curly beards than get unruly.

After you’ve washed your beard, you can apply this balm to lubricate it so you can comb or brush it out. Plus, it can soften the curls which makes them mesh together better without poking or irritating the skin. For some gentleman, it can even help eliminate beardruff (although Bluebeard Original Beard Saver is our favorite product for that task).

There are a number of great ingredients in Honest Amish’s beard balm including butters like shea and cocoa for maximum moisturization. There are essential oils as well including cedarwood, anise and clove. These help prevent inflammation that can damage the hair and cause uneven growth. And it smells great too.

Andis 82105 Ionic Styling Hair Dryer

As we pointed out, a good blow dryer can really help you groom your curly beard. It lets you dry it evenly, so the curls stay more uniform and professional looking.

We recommend the 82105 blow dryer from Andis. It uses ionic heating that more quickly dries your beard without damaging the hair or stripping oils. Plus, it has three heat settings so you can avoid overdrying.

What makes it stand apart, though, are the horizontal orientation and multiple attachments. Traditional blow dryers can be hard to angle correctly with your beard, but that’s less of a problem with Andis’s model.

The attachments then let you comb out the hair, drying it straight. Choose between the thicker or finer attachments to avoid tangles and get just the right style.

Curly Beard Grooming Tips to Look Your Best

A few of the guys here at RTG have curly beards, and they said that the most difficult thing wasn’t growing it out, but grooming it after it came in.

With that in mind, here are some pointers:

Trim It Consistently

The biggest complaint most men have with their curly beards is that, regardless of how much time and effort they put into them, they still end up looking unkempt and scruffy. Naturally, it helps to regularly trim and groom the beard as we laid out above, but these trimmings should be as consistent as possible.

This means keeping the same general shape and length. Plus, if there’s any part you shave down to the skin, you should keep this area consistent and try not to shave any hairs you normally grow out.

Consistent trimming will train the hairs so that they’ll more readily assume the uniform look you want when you groom it.

Trim It as You Grow Out, Even If You Don’t Want To

Now, if you’re in the process of growing out your beard, you can’t exactly trim it the same way every time, but you should still trim it regularly. Many men want their beard to grow out as fast as possible, so they don’t trim it until it’s reached the desired length. This isn’t a good idea with a curly beard because it will make it that much harder to get uniform once you are ready to trim it.

Get a Blow Dryer, Even If That’s Not Part of Your Routine

If you don’t have a blow dryer for your hair, we strongly suggest investing in one for your curly beard. Like we talked about, air drying your beard can cause it to dry unevenly, so the hairs splay away from each other and look frazzled. Blow drying provides an even dry that makes grooming that much easier, especially if you use a comb or brush in combination. Some blow dryers even have a comb attachment for added convenience.

Don’t Overdry It or Overtreat It

While using a blow dryer and other products and treatments can help you straighten out your beard and keep it looking neat, you don’t want to overdo it. Too much heat or harsh chemicals can physically break down important proteins and organic structures in the shafts of the hair, damaging them. Ultimately, this will just cause more tangles and split ends.

When using a blow dryer, you can use warm air, but stay away from the hottest setting. Similarly, hold the end of the blow dryer at least six inches from your bear so you don’t burn it or the skin underneath.

Stay Hydrated, My Friends

The whole reason you need to moisturize your beard with beard oils and balms is that these oils trap water into the hairs. This keeps them healthy and helps the hair follicles better utilize nutrients to grow and thrive.

The hair needs to have the water in the first place, though. To keep your beard well hydrated and healthy, make sure to drink plenty of water. Also avoid situations that may dehydrate you and your skin. For example, if you spend a long time in the sun, make sure to take extra water and drink a lot.

Challenges You’ll Face with a Curly Beard

Most beards pose some issues when it comes to grooming and self-care, but curly beards post some unique challenges. Here are some of the challenges you’ll face, and what you’ll need to do:

In-Grown Hairs: Look Closely for These

In-grown hairs are arguably the most frustrating part of having curly facial hair. Because the hair curls back in on itself, it can actually curl back into the skin and start growing into it. Usually this happens when the hair is shaved below the skin, causing it to curl before it exits from the follicle. This then causes irritation and inflammation, usually appearing like a clogged pore or zit.

Sometimes, though, this can even happen when the hair has already exited from the follicle. This is more likely with extremely curly hair and can be very annoying. The best way to deal with this is regular grooming, which will help keep the ends growing out away from the skin.

Split Ends: Look Very Closely for These!

Split ends occur when the end of a hair literally breaks into separate pieces. This may be just at the tip of the hair, or it may extend far down the shaft, potentially all the way to the skin.

Split ends are often the result of weak hairs, which can be caused by nutrient deficiencies or dryness, problems that often plague curly beards. Avoid this with beard balms or oils that have essential oils that provide nutrients and trap in moisture.

Tangles: These You’ll Know About, Because They’re Irritating

Of course, curly beards tangle a lot easier than straight beards. The hairs can curl around each other causing clumps and knots that feel strange, are difficult to groom, and look unkempt. The best way to avoid tangles is regular grooming that includes combing and brushing with an adequate beard balm or oil. A moisturizer like this keeps it easier to separate the hairs and straighten them out.

How to Straighten a Curly Beard

This takes a little practice, but you’ll have the hang of it in no time. By the way, we’re not saying you should straighten out your curly beard—it probably looks fantastic. If you wanted to, though, here’s what you’d do:

Use Beard Balm or Beard Oil If You Can

By itself, this isn’t a way to totally straighten your bear, but you can definitely get it straighter, especially if it’s not too aggressively curly in the first place.

Get a nice, moisturizing balm or oil and massage it into your hair while pulling out the curls to the length you want. You’ll find that this increases their lengths and makes them stay straighter.

Use Beard Wax (But Don’t Overdo It)

Beard wax has a lot of the same ingredients as balm and oil but includes wax, usually bee’s wax, that holds your beard in place. Most men use beard wax to achieve elaborate styles, sometimes even for competitions. However, you can use it to hold your curly beard straight.

Comb It Out (Gently!)

One of the easiest ways to straighten your beard is to comb it out with a comb or brush. This works especially well if you combine it with beard oil or balm.

First, make sure you’ve moisturized your beard adequately by massaging your oil or balm getting along the entire length of the hairs. Then gently comb the hair downward from your skin until they’re fully lengthened. Make sure you comb straight down to make sure the hair doesn’t tangle.

This process will work a lot better if you do it while you’re blow drying the hair. This way, it dries into place. If you can, try to point the air of the blow dryer in the direction you’re trying to straighten the hair. Then, once you’re finished, blow dry up underneath the beard to make sure it’s evenly dry.

You may have to repeat this process several times to get the hairs to stay straight. Even so, it may not stay straight on your first try. Keep at it. Over the long run, this will train the hair to be straighter.

If combs or brushes work well for you, you can even try a heated one. The heat breaks down chemical bonds in the hair that cause it to curl, thereby allowing it to hold the shape you give it with the comb.

Use a Chemical Beard Relaxer (But Not Too Often)

You may see some beard oils or balms call themselves “relaxers,” but that isn’t what we’re talking about here. Instead, chemical beard relaxers include powerful ingredients like sodium or potassium hydroxides, the technical terms for lye.

While you might find these chemicals in everyday soaps and shampoos, beard relaxers have high concentrations of them. They break down the keratin bonds in your hair that give it its curly shape, thereby causing it to straighten out.

Chemical beard relaxers work very well, but they’re also really harsh. Using them frequently will ultimately damage your hairs and cause split ends, dryness, and irritation. We recommend using these products sparingly, only on special occasions when you need to get a straight beard as fast as possible.

Even still, you should apply as little as possible. Of course, the exact amount will depend on the size of your beard, but start with a dime-sized drop in your palms and apply it like beard oil or balm after you’ve washed it.

Use a Straightener Every Couple of Days

One of the most effective ways to straighten your beard is with a straightening iron, ideally a miniature one that allows you to more easily straighten every part of your beard without burning yourself.

  1. Make sure the straightener is heated to the appropriate temperature.
  2. With one hand, pull strips of your beard out and away from the rest of it.
  3. Clamp the strips with the straightener starting at the base, and then run the straightener down the hairs slowly until they’re straight.
  4. Repeat with new strands until you’ve straightened the whole beard.

Straightening your beard this way is by far the most time consuming, but it also works the best. The hair will usually stay straight until you get it wet again. Just make sure you don’t hold the iron against the hair too long or use heat too high or can damage it, causing fraying and split ends.

How to Make a Beard Curly

Unfortunately, curling a beard is a bit more complicated than straightening one. Although you can boost natural curliness with good moisturizers and beard wax, you’ll get the best results with some kind of specialized tool like a beard curler or curling brush.

Like with straighteners, you can get mini curlers that let you more easily access the different angles of your beard. These are especially good for getting those French curls on the ends of your mustache.

Like with a straightener, you want to take small strands at a time and crimp them between the curler, slowly bending them into the shape you want. Just make sure you don’t hold the hair too long or else you might burn it.

Punjabi Method

Beard curling is very popular in the Punjab region and other parts of India and Pakistan. Usually performed in barber shops, it involves applying a relaxing liquid and then curling the beard in numerous places and pinning it that way. The pins are then left in for 90 to 120 minutes.

After taking the pins out, the beard is washed and rubbed down with beard oil. Then a blow dryer is used to shape it.

You might not be able to find a barber who knows how to do this exact method, but you could try something similar at home. Find some kind of firm hair pins or clips like bobby pins. Use them to curl the hair however you want, just don’t leave them in longer than a couple hours. You don’t want to damage the hair.

This probably isn’t going to look perfect the first time you try it, but practice helps. Plus, it’s just a fun experiment.

If you’d like to learn more, here’s a fascinating video about it. It’s not in English, but it’s still super-interesting to watch:

What Causes Curly Hair, Anyway?

Why do you have a curly beard? What’s up with that? Some of these things you can control, and some you cannot. The first, you cannot:

Follicle Shape

A hair follicle is basically the little tunnel in your skin the hair grows out of. Its angle helps determine how curly your hair is. If the tunnel is perfectly perpendicular with the skin, the beard hairs grow straight out.

However, if the follicles are oriented at an angle, the hair will curl as it comes out and then repeat the pattern as it grows. In fact, some hair follicles are even S-shaped, which can cause a dramatic curl.

Hair Shaft Shape

When you look at a hair with your bare eyes, it looks perfectly round, but that’s rarely the case. In fact, most people’s hairs are at least slightly ovaled, especially when it comes to beard hair.

Round hair is usually straight, but the more oval-shaped the hair is, the curlier it will be because this reflects asymmetrical cell growth. For example, nearly round hair will probably be wavy, while hair in an almost flat oval will come up coiled and kinky.

Keratin

Keratin is a type of protein found in your hair. It’s partially responsible for giving your hair its shape and holding it that way.

While the other two factors in hair curliness can’t be changed, your hair’s keratin is what most straightening or curling methods go after. Whether it's heat from an iron or chemicals in a beard relaxer, breaking down your hair’s keratin can make it more flexible so that you can form it into the shape that you want.

Curl It and Keep it Going

Curly beards—despite the extra effort they sometimes take—are a great and distinguished look, and they’re almost always really masculine. Hopefully there’s a curly beard style here that helps you sport your curly beard with style, but if you have any questions, please feel free to jump over to our “Contact” page and drop us a line. In the meantime, be good and have fun!

Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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