Beard styling and straightening had long been practiced by men across multiple cultures for thousands of years, but modern electric beard straighteners have revolutionized the game.
A beard straightener is worth it if you have a thick beard and are tired of curls, split ends, or coarse texture. Beard straighteners are unique devices that are different from hair straighteners and can give you a unique, sleek style.
Like any hair-care and fashion product, a beard straightener isn’t meant for everyone. A few alternative beard care methods can help you avoid the need for a dedicated straightener, but then you may miss out on some key benefits. Read on to see what is the best fit for you.
Is a beard straightener really necessary?
A good, dedicated straightening comb works by drying your beard hair while simultaneously brushing it down into place so that fly-aways and kinks are reduced. You can do the drying and the styling by using a hair dryer and brush from a dollar store.
So, a beard straightener is not strictly necessary. It is more like an upgrade to your styling process. But depending on the volume of your beard and how often you feel the need to straighten it, a dedicated straightener can be a godsend with the time and money on other products it could save you.
If you do purchase a straightener, be careful to avoid over-using it. A few times a week should be your upper limit. Your beard hair, and possibly your skin, will eventually get damaged through consistent exposure to high temperatures.
Can you straighten a beard with a hair straightener?
The technology used for hair straighteners is the same as what’s used for beard straighteners. Some may think that men are just now catching up to technology that women primarily used for decades.
But hair straighteners should not be used on beards. Hair on the scalp tends to be longer and looser than facial hair. The heating element and bristles on a dedicated beard straightener brush are designed for your facial hair.
If you do not want to buy a beard straightener, then it’s better to turn to a hair dryer, brush, pomade, and comb combo than a hair straightener. The latter is only viable for the longest of beards.
Benefits of a beard straightener
When you search for beard straightener products (or are prompted by ads to consider one), you will often see videos or photos of remarkable before-and-after pictures. The actual process of beard straightening, in general, can be risky, but a good straightener will mitigate those risks with these benefits:
- Save time by drying your beard more efficiently
- Dries your hair more safely
- Gives a uniquely smooth look
Efficient Hair Drying
Certain models of straighteners use ionic or tourmaline technology to augment the heat they exude to increase your drying efficiency.
Ionic models fire off negative ions by using electricity to excite a bit of metal inside the straightener. These negative ions interact with the positive charge in the water molecules, forcing them out and off your hair.
Tourmaline models get the same result, but instead of negative ions, they rely on the mineral tourmaline.
Safer Hair Drying
Vigorously towel-drying your beard can distress the strands of your hair, causing more breaks and split ends. So long as you use the precautions we’ve gone over, a straightener can be a surprisingly gentle drying method.
A Unique Look
If a beard dries without your interference, it will likely frizz and dry unevenly. But a beard after that’s dried and styled with a straightener is immediately distinguishable. Using other tools to straighten your hair can result in a similar look, but the crispness from a good straightener in practiced hands is hard to match.
Reasons to straighten your beard
Curly beards are cool, but there are distinct appeals worth noting for straightened beards, which can:
- Make it easier to apply product to your beard
- Make your beard look longer
- Look more professional for an important event
- Avoid having to comb through knots and cut split ends
- Reduce the chance of debris getting caught in your beard
Should I straighten my beard before I trim it?
There is no perfect answer to whether you should straighten your beard before a trim. Like most haircare, there is a lot of room for personal taste.
If you frequently straighten your beard, then it would make sense to trim it while it’s straightened so you can give yourself the best idea of what it will look like day to day. The inverse is also true. If you know that you won’t keep a straight beard most of the time, then don’t straighten it for a trim.
Should you straighten your beard wet or dry?
Beard straighteners work best when incorporated into your usual beard care routine. Hopefully, whenever you bathe, you wash your beard as well. Right after this is the best time to try straightening it.
Your beard should be damp to the touch but not sopping wet when you try to straighten it. At this stage, the cuticles of your beard hair are still open, and the hair itself is more pliable and has more volume. The straightener’s heat and brush will be better able to dry and fit your beard into place.
If you start straightening a very wet beard, you will need to expose your hair and skin to the device’s high heat for longer. This could lead to more damage and expend more energy than starting with a partial towel dry.
The best protection for your skin and beard when using a beard straightener is to spray or rub down your beard with some beard oil or equivalent product. This will hydrate and insulate your hair from potential damage from high heat.
How often should I straighten my beard?
Like the hair on the scalp, daily exposure to high heat can damage hairs and/or follicles. The recommended temperature for straighteners and dryers is around 350°F, which is hot enough to roast you like pork.
You should not use a beard straightener every day. For an upper limit, a few times a week is a good rule of thumb, but even that frequency may be too much for some people with more sensitive hair. It is up to you to be vigilant about how your beard reacts to your styling process.
If you need to straighten your beard every day, consider using a lower temperature to decrease the potential threat from the heat. You could also modify your sleeping habits to reduce the need for straightening in the morning.
Why you shouldn’t straighten your beard
There are undeniable and potential cons to weigh against the pros of a beard straightener or straightening in general. Reasons to not straighten include:
- If your beard is shorter than an inch, then it’s unlikely you will be able to straighten it much
- Your skin or hair is sensitive to high temperatures
- You are against a totally straight look or are thrifty to a fault (a friend of mine refused to buy a beard straightener and instead opted to use his handheld clothes steamer and comb…which is AN option)
- It just isn’t your style