The Best Beard-Taming Brush of 2017

(And Why We Recommend Boar Bristles)

Our pick for best beard brush

After reviewing 6 of the most popular beard brushes, we’ve found the Liberty Grooming Beard Brush to be the right pick for most men. It’s a manly-looking brush that smooths out tangles and evenly distributes beard oil, from the tip of your beard down to the follicles. The top-notch construction, materials, and performance justify its slightly higher price point. Plus the Liberty Brush is warrantied for life – if you find it isn’t the right fit for your beard, just send it back.

NOTE: at the time of publication, this product was out of stock.  A company rep claimed it would be 2-3 weeks to restock.  We think it’s good enough that it’s worth the wait, but if you’re in a hurry, check out some other picks below.

It’s a pain shopping for beard brushes, isn’t it? You know it’s an essential tool for your beard grooming routine. You can’t just steal your girlfriend’s brush (a lot of us have tried – ouch!) But, at the end of the day you’re still just shopping for a hairbrush.

Let’s face it Beard Bros. We don’t have a lot of experience in this department. We don’t want to try a bunch of brushes. We want the one that works and we want to move on with our lives.

Our pick for best overall beard brushThe Best Beard Brush

That’s why we picked the Liberty Grooming Beard Brush for the majority of beardsmen. It’s made from 100% boar bristle and strikes the right balance between firm and soft, so that it can penetrate all the way through your beard without feeling like a cactus against your skin. The beechwood handle is long and feels sturdy, which gives you some control as you work the brush through your beard.

It’s also one of the longest beard brushes out there, over 8 inches long from tip to tip, enough to cover your cheek from the point of your jaw up to your ear. Longer beardsmen found the size just right, as it cut down on brushing time by covering more surface area per stroke.

At first, the size made some of our testers with smaller beards feel as though they were using a firehose to water the garden. But most adjusted eventually. The size also makes detailed work around the mustache a little unwieldy. Finally, Liberty’s brush is really not the best product to keep with you around town.

Liberty includes a free cleaning comb with this brush, an excellent add-on that we’ve used several times. As with all wooden brushes, be careful washing in water. Later in this guide, we’ve included a 411 on wooden brush care.

Overall, this is a fantastic pick for almost every beard and one of the best on the market. It gets high marks from a variety of beard types, and even the short beardsmen come around on the larger size.  It works great with or without beard oil (find a few great beard oils here). If you’re going to get one brush, this is great value.

Our pick for on-the-go types and short beards less than 1″ long

The Second Best Beard Brush

Why it works great for travel and short beards

The CanYouHandlebar Beard Brush solves the modest shortcomings of the Liberty version. It’s great for travel, as a second beard brush for the car or office, and works well to touch up a beard later in the day. It’s also even softer than the Liberty due to the use of 100% horsehair bristles.

The circular design (with no handle) fits well in most people’s palms at just under 3″ in diameter. If you have especially large hands it may start to feel a little difficult to grip.

It comes in a little unremarkable tin carrying case. Still, it works. We highly recommend something protective for on-the-go brushes, as the residue of beard oil attracts all sorts of debris that you don’t want stroked back into your beard.

For guys with short beards (less than an inch long), this brush was a hit. As all of their brushing is so close to the skin, the softness of the horsehair really made a difference. Our reviewers admitted that they pampered a little longer than necessary to get more of that luxurious feel.

The CanYouHandlebar Brush also works great for any beard length as a touch-up product that coaxes stray hairs back into order. It is possible to overbrush your beard, particularly with a more robust and stiff boar bristle. All our reviewers found this brush a bit more forgiving, and said it smoothed out the surface of the beard without too much tugging.

Why it’s not as great on long beards or with “wet” beard oils

However, there are some serious limitations we should warn you about. For guys with thicker and longer beards, the brush may not fully penetrate your beard. Instead our bushiest beards complained that it seemed to just move hair around the bristles rather than through them. This is probably due to the softer horse-hair, as well as the density of the bristles (which you can see in the photos but becomes even more noticeable in person).

As a result, the CanYouHandlebar brush also is not ideal for use with “wet” beard oils (those that are liquid at room temperature). It seemed to smear oil on the surface of the beard rather than spreading it within. Many users even reported that their hands were better instruments for distributing wet beard oils – and isn’t that a big reason to get a brush in the first place?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The CanYouHandlebar brush was designed for application of the brand’s dry beard oil. The extra beeswax and thicker texture of this product require you to work it into your beard a bit more, so a softer brush with more bristles is suited to the task.

Finally, the brush could use an initial clean out of the box (again: not in water), as it does shed a few bristles when you first get it.

Nevertheless, we absolutely recommend this product for specific uses. If you intend to keep a short, manicured beard style, or if you just need a second brush to spruce up your beard in the afternoon, this is a good one to pick up. Like the Liberty product, they’ll refund you if you find it just ain’t workin’ out, so there’s really no downside.

Our pick for best budget beard brush

Zeus Beard Brush

The Zeus Beard and Moustache Brush does a respectable job for a lot less coin. It’s made of 100% boar bristles and has a pear-wood handle. For straightening, detangling, and working in beard oil, it’s a handy little tool, but a bit stiff for some of our tastes.

It’s created from “first-cut” bristles, which are the part of the boar hair closer to the skin, and thus have a bit more spine to them. Like all natural bristles, these do soften out over time.  Some people prefer the stiffness because it busts through tough knots and (theoretically) exfoliates the skin under your beard. Having tried both, the Liberty brush seemed to do the job just as well and took it easy on our chins and cheeks.

If the size of the Liberty brush is a concern for you, this one rings in at 5″ long and about an inch wide. As a result, it allowed us to control our ‘staches with a bit more ease, but we wouldn’t say the difference was too noticeable. The Zeus brush might also be small enough for some folks to feel comfortable traveling. It wasn’t designed for that purpose, so you’ll need to find a sunglass bag or something similar to store it in.

Bottom line: this is a suitable brush, well-priced for boar bristles (although we suspect there’s some nylon in there too). But if you know you’re going to remain bearded, you may want to spring for the superior Liberty, unless it’s size deters you.

Why you should use a beard brush

Source: reddit

A good beard care routine makes a big difference in how your beard looks. Guys who don’t take care of their beards look like hobos. They are telling the world that they have a beard only because they’re lazy and don’t want to shave.

By neglecting your beard, you also give up on one of the best benefits of a beard. When your beard is soft, tamed, and scented with a nice product, it invites attention and caresses (with your permission)! It shows the world you care for yourself and invest in a tidy appearance.

Benefits of brushing your beard

Brushing your beard provides three main benefits:

  1. Spreads beard oils and balms evenly
  2. Detangles and softens your beard
  3. Trains your hair to grow in a consistent direction

We’ve talked before about how to apply beard oil, and a brush is a critical part of that routine. Think about how much more surface area there is in the bristles of a brush compared to your hands or a comb. The brush’s fibers also absorb oil, preventing any spots in your beard from getting too much lubrication.

Brushes also do a great job of pushing oil to the surface of your skin and into oil-deprived follicles of your hair. This promotes a healthy beard and keeps the skin underneath your beard from drying out, thereby also preventing the dreaded beard itch and gross-looking beardruff flakiness.

Brush vs. comb

Finally, brushes detangle, soften, and train your hair. A comb also works for these applications, and your choice of implement depends on your needs. To create a slightly fuller, volumized beard, a brush is your pick. Combs will create a slightly more manicured and tapered look.

Combs do not have nearly the ability as brushes to coat your beard hairs evenly with oil. We find a lot of people will use a wide-toothed comb in the shower to get rid of tangles, and then brush their beard when dry with some extra beard oil.

What to look for in a beard brush

Boar or horsehair bristles

All of our picks for best brushes have one important characteristic in common.  They’re all made from natural animal hair.

There’s a reason that a bunch of well-regarded ladies’ publications are recommending boar bristle brushes as some of the best available (if you don’t believe me here, here, and here).

It’s because animal hair more effectively distributes oil throughout your hair. While we at Beardspo haven’t seen any firm science to suggest why, we believe we have an answer. Animal hairs have a scaly exterior called a cuticle, as you can see in the magnified photo of a deer hair below:

Hair Cuticle Closeup
Source: MicrolabNW

These scaly cuticles provide extra surface area to grab oil from one spot in your beard and carry it throughout your hair. We suspect that it also helps drive oil into your hair’s cuticles, as the small edges of the hairs in your beard interact with those in the brush.

Compare that to synthetic, nylon bristles, which have a smooth and uniform surface.

The synthetic bristles also do not soften over time.  They always feel pricklier than animal hair.

And while all bristles will fall out, we’ve noticed that synthetic bristles seem to fall out faster, leaving traces in your beard.

In short, unless you have a serious reservation about using animal products, stay away from synthetic. And beware – some brushes will claim to use boar bristles, but mix in synthetic bristles to control costs (as in some of the products we reviewed).

Handle and bristle softness

Beyond that, the best beard brush will depend to a degree on your preference.  We prefer a handle for better control.  We tend not to like the military-style, handleless brushes because it’s harder to see what you’re doing with your hand blocking your vision.

We prefer a brush with enough stiffness to really loosen knots and penetrate the whole beard, while not making it feel like we are nuzzling a piece of sandpaper.  It’s definitely a balancing act.

Curly, straight, long, short – adjusting for your beard

We do recognize that every beard is different, so our pick may not work perfectly for you. That’s why we’ve chosen products with money-back guarantees. We think most of you will be quite pleased with our picks, but you may have to adapt.

Longer beards usually prefer a larger sized brush (like the Liberty). It will cut down on brushing time, distribute the pulling of your hair over a larger area, and train the hairs to line up a little better. You also need some sturdy bristles to bust tangles.

Shorter beards may lean towards softer bristles because those bristles will more often be making contact with your face.

Curly beards can be tricky – each curly beardsman develops their own preferences. Almost all the curly beard posters on this beard forum recommend a boar bristle brush on their dry beards.  That’s likely because the oil distribution allows your hairs to line up better – when properly oiled, hair’s don’t snag as much.

Bristle density and plug spacing

Also, for any beard type, we are inclined to minimize the amount of abuse we inflict on our beard. Tugging on the hairs of the beard ultimately weakens the follicle and causes hair to fall out. Enough of that and it’s possible to develop patchy spots – not a good look.

To make sure you aren’t tugging at your beard, you’ll have to pay attention to the density of the bristles and the spacing of the plugs (the holes that contain bristles) in each brush. The nice brushes pack a good density of bristles in each plug, but space the plugs reasonable far apart to allow the brush to move through your beard.  You may need to find something that’s the right balance for your beard (particularly if you have a curly, tangled beard)/

How to clean your wooden brush (or comb)

First of all, do clean your brush. It’s an oil-laden sentinel on the lookout for all manner of dirt, dust, and whatever else is in your bathroom. You’ll only have to wash it once to convince yourself it’s worth it, because it will be quite dirty.

How to clean boar brush
Source: JustPrimalThings.com (a good guide to cleaning)

Guys: be careful washing with water on your wooden handles. All our recommended products – and most brushes on the market – have wooden handles. Put enough moisture on wood and it will rot or develop mold.

It’s happened to us as we’ve started to use wooden combs and brushes.  And it’s nasty! Imagine you’re at the gym one day, you notice a funky smell, and figure out it’s coming from a fine green mold on your comb. Imagine that mold going back into your hair.

You have two options:

  1. Dry clean your comb
  2. Go with the dip method

Dry cleaning is simple, it involves using another brush or comb (like the one that comes with the Liberty Beard Brush) and running it through your beard brush to shake out gunk.

You can also dip your brush in water, work some gentle soap through it with your hands, and dip-rinse again in water. Be careful to only immerse the bristles, and not to invert the brush. Dry it bristles down. Simple. Done.

The other products

Smooth Viking Beard Brush: a decent brush and a good value. We prefer a beard brush with a handle, whereas this is the “military style” without a handle. Our long-bearded reviewers found it didn’t penetrate their beards enough. If used as a travel brush or for shorter beards it might work as a cost-effective alternative to our CanYouHandlebar pick, but we think the softness and feel of the CanYouHandlebar product makes it worth the extra coin.

The Beardman Beard Brush: sold at a reasonable price point for 100% boar bristles, but that appears to be because – to our eyes at least – it’s actually a mixture of synthetic and natural hair. In any case, it was a little prickly and never stopped shedding. Next.

Rocky Mountain Beard Brush: a reasonable cost and value, but we didn’t include it as a best pick because opinions differ about the contour of the bristles. Some reviewers liked it, others found the shorter middle bristles too short. Also, again, no handle or bevel for grip.  Don’t they know we’ve got oily hands when we’re using these things?

Repsol Beard Brush Combo: we hesitated to test this one because we saw 5-star reviews from people that were actually posting negative reviews (they got full refunds for posting 5 stars). We’ve had bad experiences with companies that fake reviews, so we stayed away.

Conclusion

Many beard brushes out there will do the job just fine. What’s important is that you get a beard brush and use it.

As with many things, you can get cheaper products, but we suspect that most of them are cheating and using synthetic bristles along with some mix of natural hairs. We had no such reservations with either the Liberty Beard Brush or the CanYouHandlebar Beard Brush.

Tried another beard brush we should test and include in this guide? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll try to put them in our next update.

Happy bearding!

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