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There is a lot of pride that comes with having a well-groomed beard. Some folks like to wear a beard because it makes them feel confident and mature. Others wear a beard to fill in and add depth to their facial structure. One might even argue that a beard is downright sexy, with many A-list celebrities sporting a beard at least periodically.
When you look at celebrities such as Drake, it is clear that having a beard takes a bit of maintenance if you want to keep it looking good. With more people trying out beards and still others growing them out quite long, demand for more sophisticated approaches and products to support beard maintenance is rising. Enter the heated beard comb, a grooming tool designed to soften and tame beard hair.
We asked master barber Khane Kutzwell, expert groomer Henry de La Paz, Aberlite founder Teng Ma, and board-certified dermatologist Kevin S. Berman, MD, Ph.D., to tell us all about heated beard combs. Keep reading to learn more.
Meet the Expert
- Kevin S. Berman, MD, Ph.D., is a board-certified dermatologist and a partner with the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Diseases, P.C.
- Khane Kutzwell has been a master barber and barber instructor since 2007. Based in New York City, she is the owner of Camera Ready Kutz, a barbershop geared toward, but not exclusive to, the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Henry de la Paz is an expert groomer and celebrity hairstylist based in New York City with more than 27 years of industry experience.
- Teng Ma is the founder of Aberlite, a company that specializes in manufacturing beard products, including heated beard combs.
What Is a Heated Beard Comb?
Simply put, a heated beard comb is an electric-powered grooming tool that radiates heat around bristles or tines, intended to soften hair as the bristles come into contact with the hair. Heated combs are not new to the market; people have been using them for years to straighten the hair on their heads. Folks have borrowed this beauty tool to groom their beards, although traditional heated hair straighteners are not designed for beards.
With the advancement of technology and growing market demand, heat combs have evolved to address beard hair, which is typically shorter and has a different texture to head hair. According to Ma, “typically, you need to have a 1-inch beard to use a heated brush. But the Aberlite Pro works for .5-inch beards,” which makes using the tool more accessible to those with shorter beards and for whom a traditional heat comb for head hair would not be ideal. Kutzwell tells us that she uses the comb on clients with “semi-long to very long beards... beards that have enough hair coming out of the face/chin to run the comb through.”
Benefits of Using a Heated Beard Comb
Ma tells us that a heated beard straightener can make a beard “softer, neater, longer, fuller, and more manageable,” which would certainly benefit people whose beard hair is rough, wavy, or otherwise hard to groom. But what do independent experts think? Kutzwell explains that she has used a heated beard comb on her clients. “It’s great for people who want to stretch the length of their beard, as well as for those who want a little more manageability for combing through," she says. "I use it in addition to beard products. When used with a heat protectant and beard oil, it acts as a deep conditioner." De la Paz believes that a heated beard groomer can “tame unruly beard hair, revealing a smoother and more polished appearance.”
What about the difference between using a tool like this versus simply applying a beard conditioner or oil as part of the grooming regimen? “For those with coarse, curly, or frizzy-looking beards, using a beard straightener is a better option than struggling with balms and oils,” de la Paz tells us. Moreover, he says that a heated beard comb is superior to chemical treatments applied to groom a beard. “A lot of men opt for chemical products to tame their curly and frizzy facial hair. Not only do such alternatives offer inferior results, but they can also damage the skin and hair follicles,” he says.
Who Should Use a Heated Beard Comb?
Ma tells us that some precautions are necessary before using a heated tool such as his. “It's not for all hair types. Some bearded guys use it every day, but others use it two to three times a week maximum. It should be safe if you pick the right heat setting and straightening time.” Kahne believes that the product should be used with a heat protectant applied to the beard beforehand, and cautions that the comb should “not be left sitting on the beard causing damage to the hair.” Berman tells us that “hair can be damaged by extremely high temperatures. However, such a high temperature is very unlikely to be achieved with a heated beard comb, and there is no significant drawback to using a heated beard comb.”
Is it possible to burn yourself with the product? Ma says that while possible, “it is very unlikely if you use it with caution.” He adds that someone using a heated beard comb should always start with a low-temperature setting (less than 350 degrees Fahrenheit) and a short operation time (less than 2 minutes). In the rare event that you burn yourself, Berman recommends applying a cool, wet washcloth to the burn before applying aloe vera. “Because the burn causes inflammation, taking ibuprofen orally and applying topical 1 percent hydrocortisone to the area will reduce the inflammation. As it heals, keep the area well hydrated with a petroleum jelly-based ointment," he says.
How to Use a Heated Beard Comb
Our experts recommend applying a protectant (they usually come in the form of a spray and contain heat resistant ingredients such as argan oil) to lubricate and moisturize the hair, before applying the comb to the beard. They also suggest using running a beard brush or comb through the beard to remove more stubborn tangles before using the heated brush or comb.
When applying the heated comb, they recommend running the comb downward following the grain of the beard. “A beard straightening comb should be used in a vertical manner with a protector guard to reduce the risk of burning your skin. On models designed for beards, the comb teeth are wider to prevent breakages and enable a smooth glide,” de la Paz tells us. Still Khane cautions us to “watch out for how many times you run the heated beard comb through the beard. Make sure the skin under the beard is moisturized and not super dry.”
According to Berman, there are multiple beard conditioners, oils, or balms that can soften and smooth a beard. Such products are “healthy for your beard hair, similar to using a moisturizing conditioner on your scalp hair after using shampoo,” he tells us. "Frequent use of a heat comb should not change the texture of your hair but using a beard conditioner along with it will keep the hair soft and healthy."
The Best Tools For Beard Straightening
As the beard trend continues to grow, we will be seeing more products and tools to manage a groomed beard. This professional straightening tool stands out in this new space. "The unique four-column bristle structure allows for closer contact to your face and scalp, which outperforms women's hair brushes on the shorter hair of men," says Ma.
Before putting a hot tool on your face, the experts we spoke to recommend a beard spray or protectant to moisturize the beard and skin. This product is a mist that you apply to a dry beard before using a heated tool. According to the brand, this thermal protection mist helps prevent frizz and protects the hair on your face from being damaged from the heat. This product is recommended for all hair textures and types.
This lightweight formula is designed to keep your beard nourished without clogging your pores. It is formulated with ingredients such as avocado, jojoba, and argan oils which are known to help moisturize and strengthen hair.