Everything You Need To Know About Straightening Your Beard Safely
To straighten or not to straighten your beard? That is the question.
Your beard can grow curly, straight, or anywhere in between. Curly, kinky beard hairs are very common and, compared to straight hairs, can be harder to style and control.
Almost all beardsman will have problem spots that don’t behave the way they want. Some men choose to straighten their hair because it feels scraggly, untamed, or uncomfortable. Straightening your beard with light heat can eliminate dips and waves and aid in refining your beard. We’ll go over everything you need to know in this article.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Understanding Your Curly Beard
- The Science - Heat on Beard Hair
- How to Straighten a Beard
- Maintenance Tips for Straightened Beards
- Common Questions About Straightening Your Beard
Beard hair is thicker, coarser, and more textured than the hair on your head. Heat, when applied correctly, can help refine and style your beard hairs.
You can use a beard straightener or a blow dryer and comb to achieve a straighter beard.
Make sure to always coat your beard hairs with beard oil before applying medium to low heat with a constant motion to prevent heat damage.
Finish your styling with beard balm and a beard brush for maximum hold all day long.
Understanding Your Curly Beard
Whether you decide to embrace your curly beard or tame it, here is what you need to know about those curly strands.
Why do men have curly beard hairs?
Genetics play a significant role in the texture and type of hair that grows in your beard. If your father or grandfather had a curly beard, often you will too.
Two things cause curly beards:
1) The shape and angle of your follicles - Follicles are the innermost part of your hairs that anchor them to the skin. The follicle’s size decides the thickness of the hair, while the angle determines the curliness.
The Shape Of The Hair:
- Straight Hair = Perpendicular angle, circle-shaped follicle
- Wavy Hair = Slightly Angled, more oval-shaped follicle
- Curly = Angled, very oval-shaped follicle
2) The tightness of the keratin bonds - The proteins inside your hair fibers are held together by keratins. The tighter those bonds are, the curlier the hair.
The Science - Heat on Beard Hair
How the Heat Works
Hydrogen molecular bonds hold your hair together and determine the natural shape of your strands. Science shows that applying heat or water to these bonds rearranges them allowing them to be temporarily modified or styled with tension.
The formula for straightening your beard hair is Heat + Tension = Direction. You will want to keep this combination in mind as you refine your straightening technique.
Is Straightening Your Beard Safe?
The Answer - As long as you apply heat appropriately and moderately to your beard, yes, straightening your beard is a safe and efficient way to style your beard. There are many variables you should be aware of that can increase your risk of heat damage, such as too high of a temperature, heat applied for too long, and improper hair preparation before applying heat.
Studies show that the sweet spot for using heat on hair is 185 Degrees Celsius (385 degrees F); anything above that can lead to heat damage. A good beard straightener will allow you to control the temperature with an LED panel, or adjustable buttons.
Regarding a blow dryer, another study showed that using heat at a temperature of 95 degrees celsius (202 Degrees F) with constant motion at a distance of 15 cm or 6 inches is safer than naturally drying hair. Always stick to the medium or low settings on your blow dryer to prevent damage.
Should You Straighten Your Beard Hair?
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference and your ideal beard style. We have outlined the pros and cons of straightening your beard below to help you make that decision.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Straighten
- Speed Up Styling Routine - Regular straightening will keep your beard tangle and knot-free while training your beard to lay the way you want with less effort over time. In the long run, this makes your grooming routine easier.
- Lengthens Your Beard - Heat gives your beard length while adding volume and texture. Curly beards show less growth, and since the hairs grow in spirals, they have more risk for split ends, rough texture, and even hygiene issues.
- Easier to Trim Beard - You can trim your beard more accurately when straightened. Curly hair can be unpredictable, but straightening before a trim allows you to keep your beard symmetrical and refined. Keep in mind, it’s best to trim your beard in the style you wear it!
- Prefer A Refined Beard Style - Straightening gives an appearance of purposeful style and upkeep that some men choose for their beards.
Reasons Why You Might NOT Want To Straighten
- Extra Cost - While beard straighteners come in a range of prices ($20 to $120+), there is still an additional cost that some may not want to invest.
- Risk Of Damage - Regularly misapplying high heat on your beard can damage the hair’s outside cuticle, causing it to become dry and brittle.
- Prefer Natural Beard Style - Some beardsman have a higher tolerance of tangles and choose the organic appearance of an unstraightened beard.
How To Straighten A Beard
Curly beard hair can be controlled through heat and applying the right beard products with a consistent beard maintenance routine. Heated tools can speed up your beard routine and help you achieve your ideal beard style.
What To Know Before Using Heat On Your Beard
- Always Use Constant Motion - when using a heated brush or blow dryer, do not leave it in one place on your beard for too long. Constantly moving the heat around prevents the outer layer of the hair from getting too hot and drying out.
- Make Sure Beard is Dry (for Beard Straightener) or Damp (for Blow Dryer) - make sure your beard is correctly dried with a towel or blow dryer before styling with a beard straightener. Studies show applying heat directly to wet hair will boil the protective coating (cuticle) on your hair and cause significant structural damage. When using a blow dryer, you’ll want to do the opposite and make sure your hair is damp.
- Apply Beard Oil 5 Minutes Before - oil products do an excellent job coating your skin and hair to prevent damage. Always apply beard oil or heat protectant before using heat on your strands. Beard oil has a higher smoke (or boiling point) than water. Let the beard oil soak in at least 5 minutes before applying heat.
- Keep The Temp Low - use the lowest temperature with heating tools that still allow you to achieve your desired style. To determine which one works best for you, you will need to test different temperatures on your blow dryer or beard straightener.
- Make Sure You Have A Proper Work Area - make sure you have a flat, water-free surface to place your heat tool. Some Beard Straighteners can stay hot for a few minutes after turning off, so you will want a surface capable of handling the temperature.
Three main methods to make your beard straight:
Method 1: Using A Beard Straightener
A beard straightener is a styling tool that uses ceramic, ionic, or porcelain heating technology to tame and straighten beard hairs. There are essentially two types of styling tools available: The heated brush and the heated comb. The most common and versatile of these is the heated brush.
With these tools, heat is applied directly to the hairs via heated coils located in the bristles. Since the heat is direct, it is easy to isolate certain areas of your beard or specific wavy sections to straighten.
The most common mistake you can make when using a heated brush is using too high a temperature and damaging your hair.
How to Use Heated Brush
- Make sure your beard is clean, conditioned, and dry. Using heat on a wet beard can boil the water and damage your hair.
- Apply heat protectant or beard oil to prevent damage and let that sit on your beard for 5 minutes. You want the beard oil to absorb into the hair to lock in moisture and adequately do its job.
- Turn your beard straightener on, preferred heat (we suggest no more than 385 degrees F), and let it thoroughly warm up - it could take anywhere between 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on your tool.
- Start by creating tension, guiding the hair on your downward cheeks. The slower you go, the straighter your beard will be. Be careful not to let the heat sit in one place too long, as that can cause damage to your beard hairs.
- Move to your chin, brushing hairs down or slightly outward if your beard is longer to prevent creasing. If you have a short to medium beard, you will want to think about straightening your beard in layers. Hold up upper layers of hair with your beard comb or beard brush while brushing downward with your beard straightener.
- Next, straighten the remaining sections, focusing on finalizing the style of your beard. If you have a long beard, you may need to get the under areas to get through all the volume.
- Don’t forget your mustache. Push the hairs with the straightener the way you would like them to lay, parting them directly in the middle of your face.
- Finish by applying beard balm to help everything stay tidy and in place for the rest of the day.
- Remember to turn off your straightener.
Gentleman’s Grooming Tip
For straightening problem areas or eliminating dips/waves in your beard, brush hairs out the side to straighten using your face as a backboard to create tension, then brush them back down to lay flat. Remember, heat + tension = direction!
Method 2: Using a Blow Dryer and Beard Comb
A blow dryer paired with a beard comb is one of the most versatile heating tools to add volume and straightness to your beard. The cold shot feature is beneficial in locking those hydrogen bonds the way you styled them.
While blow drying tends to be the longer method, it has the least potential for heat damage since you control the distance and temperature that heat is applied. Always use low to medium speed and temperature on your beard paired with constant motion to prevent damage.
This method leaves your beard with a more naturally styled look. A combo of both a blow dryer and a beard straightener might be beneficial for those who struggle with frizzy, coarse, or curly beard hairs.
How to Use Blow Dryer
- Wash or wet your beard to prepare hairs to be straightened.
- Partially dry your beard with a towel; gently pat and not rub to avoid tangles and pulling out hairs.
- Apply heat protectant or beard oil while your beard is partially damp to prevent damage. Let that sit on your beard for 5 minutes. Allowing the beard oil to soak into your skin and hair will coat the areas locking in moisture and protecting the hairs from heat.
- Grab your blow dryer; always use low speed and low temperature on your beard.
- Start working your beard comb through your hair with your blow dryer at least 6 inches from your beard. Focus on combing hairs downward, creating tension to straighten the strands.
- Next, get up under the body of the beard with your comb to add volume. Start at your chin and comb the hairs outward, separating the strands and fluffing the layers of your hair.
- Switch to cold temperature, and go back with your comb to style the hair where you want. The cold air resets those hydrogen bonds, “setting” your hairs where you placed them.
- Finish by applying beard balm to help everything stay tidy and in place for the rest of the day.
Comparing Straightener VS Blow Dryer
Gentleman’s Grooming Tip
While each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, some beardsman choose to use a combo of both to do the styling job. You can grab a blow dryer and a beard comb to apply tension to straighten and add volume to your strands. Then come back with a beard straightener to refine the sideburns and mustache and eliminate any waves or dips.
|Beard Straightener||Blow Dryer|
|Unique Features||Can operate one-handed||Has a cold shot to lock in style|
|Heat Application||Heat applied directly to hairs through coiled bristles||Heat applied indirectly, distance of heat controlled, and additional tips available for different drying styles|
|Styling Control||Can isolate certain areas or waves to straighten||Cannot isolate areas, usually styling full beard with this tool|
|Degree of Straightness Achievable||Most straight, easily eliminates dips and waves||Least straight, more natural look with higher volume|
|Length Of Beard||Any length of beard, short to long||Best for medium to long beards|
|Time to Straighten||Quickest method||More time-consuming|
|Cons||Direct heat creates more risk for heat damage||Loud, no cordless options|
Method 3: Applying Beard Relaxing Cream (Not Recommended)
We want to start by saying we do NOT recommend this method.
The active ingredients in beard relaxers are powerful and harsh chemicals called Alkalis. Beard relaxers work by forcefully breaking the keratin bonds that define the curliness of your strands, making them straighter.
This process is very aggressive and can cause increased facial shedding, split ends, and flatten your beard hair completely. While there is always a risk of damage with improper use of heat, using beard relaxers is almost guaranteed to create adverse effects. A study found that around 95% of subjects that used these products had a negative reaction.
If you still want to try this method, we recommend searching for a relaxing cream with natural ingredients not marketed as an instant straightener.
Maintenance Tips for Straightened Beards
While beard straighteners can play a big part in your grooming routine, we don’t recommend you throw your other beard products out the window. Keeping up with a consistent beard routine in combination with straightening will make styling easier and hold hairs in place longer.
- Keep Your Beard Styled With Products - You should complement the use of heat on your beard with beard oil and beard balm to prevent unnecessary dryness and maintain straightness all day.
- Brush or Comb Beard Hair Daily - To help train your beard lay flat, making styling more manageable and quicker overall. Daily brushing or combing can help promote blood flow and growth while distributing natural oils throughout your beard. Read up on the differences between a comb and a brush and the benefits of each tool.
- Don’t Wash Too Often - Overwashing or using products not designed specifically for beards can leave your beard frizzy and the skin underneath dehydrated. Washing your beard with beard wash about 2-3 times a week will give you the best results.
Common Questions About Straightening Your Beard
Can you Straighten your Beard with a Hair Straightener?
Using a hair straightener on your beard is not recommended. The larger plates of flat iron hair straighteners have a higher risk of high heat damage and the potential to burn your face. You want to stick with products and tools made specifically for your beard.
Do Beard Straighteners Work?
Yes! However, results differ from person to person based on their technique and commitment to their beard care routine. Keep in mind that there is no magic way to straighten your beard permanently. You need to have an excellent daily grooming routine to keep your beard looking sharp.
Can You Straighten Your Beard Every Day?
For most beardsman, when used moderately and appropriately, daily heat can benefit your beard. However, it is essential to know and pay attention to your beard and adjust your routine as needed. For men with naturally dry beards applying heat a few times a week might be best. Others may prefer a combo using indirect blow dryer heat daily and adding indirect beard straightener heat a few times a week.
If your beard does start feeling dried out or damaged, you can always take a break from straightening and reach for your trusty beard oil or beard balm to bring moisture, luster, and shine back into your beard.
Can You Straighten Your Beard Naturally?
While consistent beard product application and regular grooming can help you train and gain some control of your beard, you will never accomplish the level of straightness you could by applying light heat. Breaking the hydrogen bonds and directing them to lay the way you want is the most efficient way to straighten your beard. That being said, beard products like beard balm and beard oil can make your beard easier to style and straighten to an extent but your beard will have a more natural look.