No one beard is greater than another. Whether it’s short or long, dark or light, straight or curly, your beard is an expression of you and your manliness and nobody can take that away from you (except maybe your barber). But there are certainly downsides to all of the above and men with curly beards struggle with some beard-battles that are unique to this hair texture. We’ll shed some light on exactly why your beard is curly, review some of the concerns you may be struggling with and offer some tips on caring for those curls.
WHAT CAUSES CURLY BEARD?
So you have straight hair on your head but curly hair for a beard. How does that happen? And can you fix it? The short answer is no. The long answer is yes (and we’re going to tell you how).
The relative straightness or curliness of your hair is determined by biological factors – that’s the part that’s unfixable. Although hair follicles are often pictured as being perpendicular from the skin’s surface, they actually come in different shapes and sizes. Hair follicles fall at an acute angle from the surface of the skin and the follicles producing curly hairs have curves like Kim K. That means that the size and shape of the hair follicles on your face are the cause of your beard curls… well, that and genetics. Basically, when your hair is formed it grows in a loop that closes in on itself and the more curved your follicle path is, the curlier your hair will be.
That strand of hair also has a shape, and this plays a role in the varying degrees of your hairs straightness. Hair, for most people, isn’t completely round. In fact, it can be anywhere from flat (coiled/kinky) to semi-oval (wavy) or round (straight) to oval (curly).
THE PROBLEM WITH CURLY BEARDS
Curly beards pose a number of problems for the bearer. The good news is you can fix most of these with hardly any work, the kind of work we all enjoy.
That awkward moment when you spot a guy with an 11” beard and yours is coming up short with only 7”? You can sleep well at night knowing that your curly beard is way longer than it looks! Beards, both curly and straight, grow about half an inch per month. But because curly hair grows in a loop, it looks much shorter than a straight beard that grows downwards. A straight beard can measure a foot and a half in the time it takes a curly beard to measure a third of that!
If you struggle with the length of your beard, curly or straight, you might need a little boost. Explore our guide, to learn how biotin helps beard growth.
That same looping effect caused by curved hair follicles is the reason that beard hairs grow into other beard hairs – a problem that gets worse the thicker and coarser your hair is. This is why curly beards are prone to knots and tangles. When you can’t comb through your beard, you can’t get product through evenly and you can cause damage by trying to comb or brush them out.
When your hair is tangled and you can’t comb it properly, your beard is going to feel rough to the touch. Your beard might even end up looking rough – without the right product application your hair can turn dull and develop noticeable damage like split ends.
DIRT, GERMS & ACNE
Curly beards sit closer to your face, trapping air (among other things) closer to your skin. Although this provides warmer insulation, it also means that all of the bacteria, dirt and germs that get trapped in your beard are more easily transferred to the skin beneath your beard. This can cause anything from irritation to blackheads, pimples and acne.
CARING FOR YOUR CURLS
Curly facial hair has its downsides, yes, but it’s nothing you can’t handle once armed with the right knowledge. There are a few things you can do to ensure those curls look and feel their best.
KEEPING IT CLEAN & HYDRATED
This should go without saying but it’s always worth repeating: you should be washing your beard on the reg. Keeping your beard clean and hydrated is important no matter what kind of beard you’ve got. Make sure that face is seeing a thorough shampoo and conditioning at least three time a week to combat bacteria, dirt and oil buildup (especially because curly beards keep that dirty hair close to your skin where it can cause bigger problems). As far as hydration is concerned, a good beard balm, oil, butter or blend of carrier oils will help smooth and tame your curly hair while keeping it strong. FYI – dry hair is brittle and prone to breaking, which won’t help your length either.
THE PROPER TOOLS
The most important tools in your beard arsenal are your comb or brush. If you’re going with a comb you should be using a wide-tooth to straighten your curls. A boar bristle brush, on the other hand, can smooth and tame frizz, making your beard look shiny and healthy. These soft bristle brushes are less abrasive than your everyday brush and they won’t rip your facial hair or irritate your skin.
It’s probably best you head to a professional to take care of this component in your grooming regimen. Getting your beard trimmed every three weeks or so will help you maintain shape, which can easily get out of hand with curly hair. Trimming also minimizes the number of split ends you have and doing it regularly will give you a softer, tamer, healthier beard.
One of the most annoying aspects of having a curly beard is the rough texture. But if you keep your hair follicles healthy, your beard will be softer to the touch and easier to manage. There are a plethora of products that can help smooth your beard (like beard oils) and applying these with a good brush will make all the difference in how touch-able your beard is.
Make sure to read our in-depth article, if you’re interested in getting the low-down on the benefits beard oils.
In the quest to tame your facial hair, your products are your best friend: beard butters helps you shape, beard balms give you texture, beard oils hydrate and provide shine. There’s a product for every need and curly beards are no exception. Keep looking until you find the right combination to suit your needs.
Learn more about what beard butters do and how they can help in our overview.
CUTTING OUT YOUR CURLS
Hold your horses for a second and let us explain – we don’t mean actually cutting your beard! We would never suggest that because we know just how precious it is. What we mean here is to give you some suggestions on how to get your beard hair straighter, making it look longer, thicker, shiner and better in general. There are a couple of things you can do to accomplish a straighter beard.
Letting your beard dry naturally will only encourage those curls. The easiest way to fix this is to use a blow dryer. After towel drying your beard, take a blow dryer to it while you run a comb along its length. You’ll have a dry, straight beard in no time.
There are a lot of options in terms of straightening your beard: from permanently straightening with a relaxer or cream to temporarily fix it with a flat-iron. Explore our guide for all the information you’ll ever need on straightening your beard.
If you look on the bright side, men who grow curly beards have the best of both worlds: they have the option of wearing their beard curly or straightening it out. You can’t do that with a straight beard, mostly because they’ve yet to develop a curling iron small enough. Curly beards also tend to be thicker and more luxurious than their straight counterparts – but with that thickness come struggles with texture, shine, tangles and, most importantly, hygiene. That’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little knowledge and even less effort so keep on growing!