Many men hear of how great a beard brush could be for their beard but just aren’t sure of the technique. A question asked by many is what direction? Should you brush a beard up or down?
Although there is a great deal of variability here due to the vast number of beard styles there are, the following rule-of-thumb generally applies. Brush your beard towards your chin for a neat, full, and uniform look. In other words, this means down your cheek beard and fore beard, and up your neck beard in a forward direction.
Of course, there is a lot more to it than this. Beard hair is notorious for sticking out in all sorts of directions. To tame it properly it may require varying the angles slightly to get a well-balanced look.
What we’re going to talk through is why this simple technique works so well, as well as a step-by-step routine for brushing your beard in this way.
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Why you should brush towards your chin
This means down your cheek beard and fore beard, and up your neck beard.
There are three reasons why this simple rule is worth remembering. I want to talk through them one-by-one. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it sure is important.
1. It gives you a routine
Well, the main reason I generally like to follow this rule is that it gives me a simple, easy-to-remember routine that I can use without having to overthink.
It’s satisfying to know that I have a structure to my beard brushing process. It’s an easily repeatable system that actually works, and I appreciate that.
2. It creates a neat, sharp beard outline
Brushing the cheek beard down towards the chin will flatten out any stray hairs sticking out and will sharpen the outline of the beard. It should, in theory, produce more of a V-shape to your beard.
If this isn’t what you want, try brushing vertically downwards along your cheek beard to produce a more square-shaped outline.
The fore beard is the hair over the chin that usually forms the lowest point of the beard. It can get long, depending on what style you’re rocking. Brush down the fore beard, neatening and straightening it.
Overall, brushing the cheek beard and fore beard downwards in the direction of the chin area will give the beard a nice, sharp outline.
Remember, by doing this you’ll generally be brushing with the grain (in the direction of hair growth) which almost always produces a neat result. Any strays will be gently pulled in the direction you want them in. It just looks so much neater.
3. It can add volume
The neck beard can more difficult to brush. It forms the bulk of the lower beard and although it remains out of sight, it’s vital in giving the fore beard support from behind. Flattening it out too much can make the lower beard look – well, flat.
N.B – the term “neck beard” sometimes refers to the unsightly, untamed rug of hair that can extend towards the chest untrimmed.
I’m assuming this has been trimmed and you’re left with an acceptable amount of neck hair above the neckline. This is what supports the fore beard, and this is what we’re going to brush.
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Back to the point – why brush the neckbeard upwards?
Brushing the upper parts of the neck beard gently upwards towards the chin gives the lower beard fullness, and supports the fore beard from behind very well.
Overall, this adds to the balanced appearance you’re hoping to achieve by brushing your beard. As you’ll see, it adds volume, and volume is what many men want.
How to brush your beard in 8 professional steps
Again, having a routine is crucial to effective beard grooming. It isn’t difficult, but many get it wrong. Follow these steps for consistently impressive results. Remember though, don’t brush too often. Start off with once a day and see how it goes.
1. Wash and clean your beard
This may sound obvious, but if you’re going to brush your beard, be sure to get the washing done first.
It’s recommended that you use a gentle beard wash to clean your beard 2 to 3 times a week.
Doing it too much can rob your skin of the natural sebum oil lying at the bases of the hair shafts.
Using head shampoo for this is possible, but not recommended. The chemicals used for scalp hair are pretty harsh on beard hair, and also facial skin. Again, this is far more likely to rob that sebum oil we’re trying to protect.
This sebum oil can be used to your advantage. Although it can start to clog if left alone, when brushed, it’s re-distributed across the beard from the bases to the tips of the shafts. This makes the beard look well moisturized, but not oily. So do clean it, but don’t over-do it.
Start by simply washing your beard with lukewarm water. Run it through your fingers and don’t pull or tug too hard. Avoid hot water, as it can damage the integrity of the hair.
Then, apply a quarter-size amount of your beard wash to your palm. You can always top up later. Rub it into your fingertips to create a lather, and apply it into your beard.
Don’t make the mistake of simply focusing on the surface hairs. Get in deep and massage the beard wash in using your fingertips.
Let it sit for around 30 seconds before rinsing it out with lukewarm water.
2. Apply some beard oil if you’d like
If you’re going to apply some beard oil, which I’d definitely recommend, do it before you brush your beard.
Drip it directly into your beard, or simply onto your palms and then onto your beard. It doesn’t really matter which you choose.
Doing this before you brush your beard will allow the bristles to very efficiently distribute the oil across the beard in the same way it does to your natural sebum.
It gives it a nice, slick shine while ensuring that the oil doesn’t cause the beard hairs to clump together and cause patchiness.
3. Brush everything upwards first
This may sound like madness, but there’s a method to it. Using your beard brush, brush all of your beard hair upwards. Yes, this will give your beard a Mufasa-style mane that shouldn’t be seen in public. But don’t worry, it won’t be.
What this does is lay the foundation, you could say. It gives you something to work with. A starting point.
If you were to just rock up to your mirror and start brushing immediately, you’ll most likely find that the hairs are clumped together, tangled, and not facing in their natural direction.
Brushing everything upwards will separate some hairs and have most of them facing a similar direction.
After this is done, you can start moving them into the direction you want them in. This brings us to the next step.
4. Brush the cheek beard and fore beard with the grain
With the grain means in the general direction of hair growth. This will in most people be downwards – i.e vertically downwards, towards the chin, or as is usually the case, a mixture of both.
It’s best to just see what works best for you and suits your particular style. The beauty of brushing is that you can “force” the hair to lay in the direction you want it to.
If you’d rather brush vertically downwards as opposed to diagonally downwards, try it out.
But don’t confuse “force” with being heavy-handed or rough. You don’t want to cause damage or pull out that glorious hair.
Boar hair bristle brushes are brilliant because they work their way so easily through beard hair. They have a very similar consistency to beard hair, so you don’t need to use a lot of force.
If you feel as though you’re getting a lot of resistance in a particular direction, don’t risk pulling out beard hairs by persisting and applying too much force. Change angle, and try again.
5. Don’t forget the mustache
You’re usually better off using a proper mustache comb for this, but if you wanted a quick fix you could run your brush through it.
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Brush downwards through your mustache to keep it looking neat. This will also allow you to spot any hairs creeping over your upper lip so you can cut them if you wish to.
Once your mustache has been primed, feel free to use some balm to style it however you’d like. It’s much easier to do this effectively once it’s been freshly brushed.
6. Try brushing your neck beard upwards
This step varies from one beard to another. Like I said earlier, the neck beard is the bulk of the lower beard – just be sure to trim it so you have an acceptable, defined neckline.
This neck hair lies behind the fore beard and gives it support. Take your beard brush and brush this hair gently upwards towards your chin.
This can make the lower beard look nice and full, and often adds a great finishing touch.
If you feel as though this looks too untidy or “puffy”, undo it. Try brushing downwards. Or, just leave it alone. This step is the best one to experiment with.
7. Step back and analyze
You’re most likely happy with what you’ve just done. But take a step back, look in the mirror, and search for any stray hairs that may have escaped the process.
Be sure to put them thoroughly back into their place.
The direction in which you brush your beard is important. However, as you’ve learned, there is no one single answer. Sometimes you brush your beard up, and sometimes down. The direction depends on the area of the beard being brushed, and more importantly, on the nature of your specific beard.
Beard hair can be crazy – sprouting in all sorts of different directions. But knowing how to tame it with a brush is a science and an art.
There are general rules you can follow to make things a lot easier, such as brushing with the grain or towards your chin for your cheek beard and fore beard. Experiment with your neck hair – try brushing upwards towards the chin to give the lower beard fullness.
Most importantly, have fun with it.