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How to Use a Beard Brush

How to Use a Beard Brush: Steps, Pics, Snark

So, we’re going to be very upfront about this: there’s really not much to brushing your beard. Whatever your instincts are on how to use a beard brush, well… they’re probably going to get the job done just fine.

That said, we’ve been known to screw up just about anything, so we appreciate the need for guided instructions.

Here, we’ll give you a detailed set of steps on how to groom your beard with a comb, how to use a brush to distribute beard oil and balm, and…

You know what? Actually, there are a few parts of this that aren’t too intuitive!

So with that in mind, we’ll start with…

First Things First: A Beard Comb vs. A Beard Brush

This is the sort of thing that females seem to grasp intuitively, but males don’t always seem to know (and we didn’t, anyway!): a comb and a brush are very different tools, used for very different purposes.

For beards, and beard comb has long, thin points (sometimes called “tines”), that you use to… well, to comb through your beard hair. They’re usually pretty loose, and they do a good job of untangling knots and smoothing things out.

Here’s what a beard comb looks like:

Beard Comb

That comb is one of our favorites, but the way—it’s the Viking Revolution Two-Sided Beard Comb. It just costs a few bucks, and we like it a lot.

In a perfect world, you’d have a beard comb and a beard brush, and you’d use the beard comb first. You don’t need to use it before you brush your beard—you can use just a brush, and that would be fine—but a comb can help, because it can be difficult to jump into brushing a beard without combing it first.

A beard brush is a little bit different than a comb, because instead of those long thin points (sometimes called “tines”), it’s got bristles, which are super-duper thin, but somewhat flexible.

Here’s a beard brush we like a lot. It’s the Seven Potions Beard Brush, and while many brushes are rectangular, this one is rounded:

Beard Brush

The shape of the brush doesn’t really matter too much; we just like the round one because it’s easy to grasp.

Notice how thickly bound the bristles are:

how to use a beard brush

There’s a lot of variation in bristles, and some of them are very firm (good for thicker beards) and some are very flexible (good for thinner beards). Bristles can be synthetic—and that’s great if you’re vegan or don’t want to use animal products—but a lot of guys go for boar’s hair bristles, which are widely considered the “top-notch” bristle for beard combs.

And there you have it! Now you know about the tools you’ll need to comb and brush your beard. We actually wrote a post about beard brushes vs. beard combs here (including what to look for when you’re buying one), so check that out if you want to know more.

By the way, if you don’t believe that a brush can actually move your beard, check this out:

Messy Beard That Needs to Be Brushed

Behold: the power of a brush.

OK, moving on:

How to Use a Beard Brush: Steps

OK, so you can start by combing your beard to get the knots and tangles out, or you can simply skip that step. Up to you. We should, however, list that as…

Step 1 (Optional): Comb Out Your Beard

This doesn’t take long, and just like brushing, it feels pretty good. Start underneath your beard…

How to Comb Out Your Beard Before Brushing

…and then comb outwards, toward your chin:

Combing Your Beard

Then start at your sideburns and mustache and comb down.

We mentioned earlier about that comb—it’s the Viking Revolution Double-Sided Comb, and you can read about it and our other favorite beard combs here.

When you’re done with that, put the comb away, reach for the brush, and…

Step 2: Brush Your Beard Out from Your Neck

Basically, you’re going to do the same thing you did with the comb—brush from the back of your chin under your jaw to the front of your jaw:

How to Brush Your Beard

There will probably be a little resistance from your facial hair, so be firm but gentle and tug at your whiskers a little bit to get the brush through them.

Give it four or five strokes—six if you’ve got the time—and then…

Step 3: Brush Your Beard Down from Your Sideburns

Our beard model, Sven (hello, Sven!) doesn’t have much in the way of sideburns…

Using a Beard Brush

…but it’s still a good idea to run the brush over that area, as it stimulates the skin (and we describe why that’s such a good thing in our “Why It’s a Good Idea Should Use a Beard Brush” section below).

After that…

Step 4: Start Brushing Downwards on Your Mustache and Beard

Here’s where you get everything lined up. Start brushing downward on your beard:

How to Brush Your Beard

and don’t forget to brush that mustache downwards, as well:

Using a Beard Brush (step by step)

After that, everything should be very organized—but it might look a little too straight. If that’s the case, you can do some gentle re-arranging with your fingers, and get your beard into place:

After You Brush Your Beard

There are a couple of fly-aways on that beard that need to be snipped off, but it’s looking to be in much better shape than it was.

Step 5 (Optional but Recommended): Add Some Product to Your Brush

One of the best ways to keep a beard from becoming an itchy, flaky mess is to use some sort of moisturizing product. Some guys like beard oils, some guys like beard balms, and some guys like beard butters.

We’ve written extensively about each of the products and why they might be a good option for your own personal grooming routine, but because beard oil is probably the most popular, that’s what we’ll use here.

We’ve got one of our favorite beard oils here (which would be Honest Amish Beard Oil), and we’re using the dropper to dispense just a bit of the beard oil into the beard brush. You can literally drop it directly into the beard brush:  

Beard Oil on Your Beard Brush

You don’t need too much—maybe 4 to 5 drops for a medium-length beard, or 6 to 8 for a longer beard.

After that, brush your beard in the same way you have above—out from the neck, and then down from the sideburns, mustache, and chin—and you should be good to go, and the beard oil should be nicely distributed through all parts of your beard. Nice!

Step 6: Clean Your Beard Brush

There will be a lot of build-up of beard products in your brush, but that’s not the real reason you want to clean your brush: the real reason is because there’s a lot of gnarly bio-material (facial oil, hair, skin flakes, etc.) that gets caught in there, and that stuff can stink after a while.

So… you want to get that stuff out.

Cleaning your beard brush is pretty simple, and here’s basically what you need to do:

> Drip a little bit of shampoo (or even better, beard shampoo) into the brush…

> Massage the bristles a little bit…

> and then rinse it underneath warm water…

> …and then store it in a safe place, with the bristles facing down, so that the water can whisk off of it.

And there you have it! That’s how to use a beard brush.

How Often Do I Need to Brush This Monster?

Once a day is fine, and some guys brush less than that. The more you do it, the more you’ll get a sense of what works for you. Some guys brush twice a day—once in the morning and once at night—and others brush a couple times a week. You’ll figure it out.

One thing we should mention, though: you can brush your beard a little too much, and you probably want to stay away from that. If you find that your skin is achy or sore, you’re probably overdoing it, so… tranquilo! Brush less.

When Should I Brush My Beard?

You can brush your beard whenever you want, but!

It’s best to brush a dry beard, and not a wet one, so doing it first thing in the morning is great. If you’re one of the literally millions of guys who want to brush their beards after a shower, just dry your beard as much as possible with a towel first.

Again, it’s best to brush a dry beard, and pretty much every beard website you’ll come across will probably say that, but we know that guys are going to want to do this out of the shower, so do your best.

Alright! Now you know pretty much all you need to know! However, you might be wondering WHY all this is necessary, so we should probably segue to…

Why It’s a Good Idea Should Use a Beard Brush

Listen, you don’t have to do this. There are plenty of guys who don’t brush their beards, and they lead happy, productive lives. It’s up to you. In the grand scheme of things, who cares?

That said, there are some pretty compelling reasons to brush your beard, and some legitimate benefits. They include:

It’ll Make Your Beard Softer

Most guys approach beard brushing from a grooming standpoint, and do it because they want to look clean and presentable and not dopey. All that’s good.

But the secondary benefit that you get from brushing is a soft, cushy, pillow-like beard, and that’s also pretty fantastic. Running your fingers through a clean, comfy curtain of facial hair is just a pleasant experience, and that makes beard-brushing a worthwhile endeavor on its own.

But, think about this more broadly for a second: when women are asked about a beard, the first thing many of them say is “I don’t like course, stiff, scratchy beards.” And—why would they? Those kinds of beards are awful, and they don’t feel good for anybody, least of all the person who isn’t used to it.

And that’s why a soft beard is such a wonderful thing: it can turn an undesirable beard into a desirable one. A good brushing routine can be the difference between a rough, course, repellent beard, and smooth, inviting, soft one. Up to you! 

Combing Can Make Your Beard Less Itchy and Dry

Most guys don’t realize this, but having a beard can do a number on your skin. When you have whiskers coming out of your face, many of the natural oils in your skin (including, among others, sebum), are drawn down the shaft of your whiskers, and AWAY from your skin. The result, of course, is dryer skin, and all the issues that come with dry skin—itchiness, flakiness, and irritation.

Those issues are particularly bad when you first start growing your beard, because the skin on your face is 1) being poked at by pointy whiskers, and 2) not used to dealing with less oils in your skin. And while those issues tend to ease up after a while, for many guys, they don’t—in fact, they get worse.

So a proper grooming routine, complete with brushing and then the application of one or more moisturizing products—a beard oil, or a beard balm, or even better, a beard butter—can you make your beard less itchy and dry, and even more importantly, the skin underneath your beard less itchy and dry. That’s a wonderful thing.

It Can Help You “Train” Your Whiskers

If you’re new to having a beard, you might be very surprised at how wildly it grows in. It’s all so random—in some areas, your whiskers will grow in thick and strong, and in other areas, they’re loose and wispy—if they grow in at all. And, then—and this is a surprise to a lot of guys—your beard hair will grow in odd directions. You imagine it’ll grow out and down, but those whiskers have a mind of their own, and very often they grow every-which-way.

A beard comb can help with that, especially if you use it every day. Once-a-day brushing can gently remind your whiskers, “Hey there—here’s the way you should grow in.” It’s not fool-proof, and very often your beard will continue along its stubborn path, but that’s the one shot you’ve got at redirecting the growth of your whiskers. If you’ve got facial hair growing in wonky ways, it’s worth a shot.

One other thing—you can train your facial hair, but you don’t need to start too early. If you’re working with stubble, you can wait off a bit, until your facial hair is a little bit longer—a centimeter or so.

It’ll Invigorate Your Skin and That’s a Good Thing

It’s funny—most of the beard products you’ll buy say they help your beard, but most of them actually help the skin underneath your beard. That’s a good thing, because the skin underneath your beard is every bit as important as the beard itself.

So how does a beard brush help your skin? Well, by running a beard brush through your facial hair, you’re gently tugging at the base of your hair follicles, and thereby tugging on the skin beneath it. When you tug on that skin, it increases the blood flow to the follicles and skin, and more blood flow means more nutrients and hydration. All of that is really important to a healthy beard.

So while it might seem that you’re simply grooming yourself, you’re actually triggering a chain reaction of events that can increase the health of your skin, and therefore your beard. Who knew there was so much going on with a simple brush of your beard? Wild.

You’ll Be Able to Tell How You Need to Trim Your Facial Hair

This is something we’ve seen a lot with guys who don’t comb their beards: they do a lousy job of trimming their beards, and often have to go to a friend or barber to trim it correctly.

Why is that? Well, when you comb out your beard, you’ll see exactly how it lays—where it’s too long, where it’s too short, and where you need to scale it back (or let it grow). There’s simply no way to know all that if you don’t comb out your beard, because left on its own, a beard is deceptive—it curls and pulls back in places and looks short where it’s long and long where it’s short, and when you go to trim it, you end up hacking away at it and looking crazy.

So the only way to really know how to trim your beard is by brushing it out. When you do so, you know exactly what you need to cut and where to cut it.

You May End Up Using Less Beard Product

It’s hard to describe how effective a beard comb is at distributing beard oils and balms and butters throughout a beard, and it’s hard to describe how ineffective your fingers are at that same task. Even when you really work the product in, you can’t really get it along each strand and down each length.

When you can’t distribute beard products properly, you end up using more than you need—and that adds up over time, and after a while, you’ve spent way more than you need to. No need for that, man! Keep your money in your wallet, where it belongs.

OK, So We Were Wrong Above

What better way to end a post than with an apology? Above, when we said that combing your beard is pretty simple, we were mistaken. There’s actually a lot going on, and it’s all important.

So, here’s to you and your healthy beard! May you comb in good health. Be good, have fun, and happy beard!

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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