How to straighten your beard without heat [5+ easy options]

Heat can be particularly damaging for beard hairs. Beards tend to dry out relatively quickly because of the low amount of oils they are subjected to from the natural sebum production on the skin’s surface. Having a dry beard results in many unfavourable beard problems such as dryness, frizziness, breakage and brittle hair. Heat can exacerbate dry beard issues, and many people are looking at ways to straighten their beards without heat.

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You can straighten your beard without using heat by using smoothing products and hairdryers set on cold while holding and brushing until dry. Alternatively, you can use pinning and roller techniques as well as chemical straightening and relaxing creams to straighten your beard.

In this article, we will go through how to straighten your beard without heat and all of the techniques at your disposal.

We need to understand exactly how beards become straight when heat is applied. If we want a straighten a beard but do not want to apply heat, we have two impart a similar effect on the beard.

Let’s look at what happens at the molecular level when you straighten a beard.

How beards get straight

Biologically, human hair is a complex fiver with various morphological components. The shape of the cross-sectional profile and the chemical structure cause the hair to curl and bend in particular directions.

One reason why hair is curly is because of the hydrogen bonding between the proteins that make up your hair. The protein that makes up hair is called keratin and relies on hydrogen and sulphur bonding to form curls.

The easiest way to alter hydrogen bonding is with heat.

The heat applied to keratin is enough to disrupt the hydrogen bonding temporarily. As the hair cools down, it takes the shape it is held in. This reason is why ceramic type straighteners are very effective because they hold the hair flat and straight as it cools down.

Adding curls to a beard, through cold perming, disrupt the disulphide bonds in the keratin molecules, and the hair adjusts and becomes freer to move and curl. A neutraliser such as hydrogen peroxide is added to reform the disulphide bonding, which locks in the shape.

Ultimately, straightening your beard relies on breaking the bonds and re-forming them the beard is in the shape you want it to sit in.

Water vapour penetrates the hair fibre and can cause the hydrogen bonding to revert to its natural position. This reversion is why heat straightening is only a temporary fix for a particularly curly beard.

Hair straightening creams

Hair straightening creams use a formulation of chemicals designed to disrupt the bonding in your hair and make them relatively straight. Unlike heat, they do not fully disrupt the chemical bonding in your hair, so you cannot expect it to straighten your hair fully, but it does help it become straighter than if you were to let your beard dry naturally.

You can accelerate the straightening process by using heat on your hair, but it is unnecessary.

Most hair straightening creams will help keep your beard straight for about 2 to 3 weeks.

To use a hair straightening cream, you must go through all of the steps below:

  • Beard preparation – thoroughly wash your beard with shampoo and ensure that you have not dyed your beard recently. Some of the die chemicals can interrupt the cream. Dry your beard with a microfibre towel and let it absorb all of the water.
  • Application of the straightening cream – Comb your beard and divide it into smaller sections approximately 2 to 3 inches wide. Take the cream in your hand and apply it from the root of your beard to the tips. Comb your hair to ensure full and even distribution and allow it to dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Final steps – Once the cream has dried, you can wash your beard with lukewarm water and use a cold blow dryer to style your beard. Your beard will hold the style which you create while it is drying.

Doing this regularly does not harm your beard, and you can repeat the process as often as you need to.

Cold hairdryer

Another option for straightening your beard without heat is to use a hairdryer on a cold setting and hold the hair in place with a comb.

The act of washing your beard in hot water can disrupt some hydrogen bonding. Water molecules hydrogen bond between themselves and can get absorbed into the hair’s protein. This high hydrogen bonding affinity means that they can easily insert themselves between the hydrogen bonding of the keratin proteins.

As the water leaves the hair, the keratin molecules start to bond with themselves again and, if they are held straight, can hold a new shape.

The cold hairdryer approach is not as efficient as using a hot hair dryer or heat tool as it does not disrupt the hydrogen bonding uniformly but will straighten out a curly beard without using heat.

This process is temporary, and your hair will revert to its natural shape when you get it wet again.

Brush until it is dry

Because of the high affinity of keratin to absorb water, you can brush your beard as soon as you leave a shower to help it lie in a flatter state.

As the water molecules evaporate from your beard hairs, the keratin will form hydrogen bonds between the protein units. Brushing your beard until it is fully dry will force the hydrogen bonding into a straighter configuration than it would lie naturally.

It doesn’t matter how fast the beard dries, and heat would certainly speed it up, but being patient and using a soft bristle brush to comb the beard into its final resting state will help your beard become straighter without using any heat tools.

Physical hold

Disrupting the chemical bonding of your hair is one way that you can straighten your beard without using heat. However, the act of evaporation from your beard hair can also help reset the bonds when it dries.

Physically holding your beard hair in place whilst the water evaporates from deep within the hair shaft allows you to straighten out some of the larger waves and curls.

Here are the preferred ways for holding your beard in a straight orientation as your beard dries.

Jumbo rollers

You can use large rollers in your beard if your beard hair is long enough.

Using large jumbo rollers in your beard while drying helps hold the beard hair flat against the jumbo roller. Do not use rollers that are any smaller than 3 inches in diameter. The curvature of the roller will become very obvious, and you could end up adding much larger waves to your beard than you want.

Pinning

You can use hairpins on your beard as it dries after a shower to straighten your beard hair without heat.

A top tip is to use non-crease clips from Amazon to pin your hair in the direction you want it to set during the day.

You can take the pins out after approximately 30 minutes. Some people like to leave the beard pinned all day which provides long-lasting physical hold and can help train the beard to grow in a certain direction.

Tying

Tying your beard with plat or hair ties can also help remove any large waves and curls from your beard.

The only issue with this approach is that you may end up with kinks and divots in your beard once the plat has been removed. This approach works particularly well if you have a thick and dense beard that can easily brush out the dents caused by physically holding your hair as it is drying.

Permanent chemical straightening

You can use chemical straightening for straightening out a particularly curly beard. The great thing about this approach is that you only have to treat your beard every few months, and it will also save you time during your daily routine.

Unlike keratin treatments and creams which are temporary and wash out after about three months, chemical relaxers are permanent and will last until your hair grows out.

This approach is a fantastic option if you want to do the treatment once and you want to forget about straightening your beard for a long time.

Using a beard relaxer and straightener is incredibly simple.

It is something that you can do at home. You can fit it into your weekly or monthly routine with ease. And if you can use shampoo and conditioner, you can quite easily use a beard relaxer.

Here are the basic steps:

  • wet your hair in the shower like you would usually do when shampooing your hair
  • Apply the relaxing shampoo from the roots to the tip of the hair – divide your beard into smaller sections if you have to.
  • Use a fine-tooth comb to get the relaxing agent to distribute throughout your beard evenly
  • leave the beard relaxing shampoo in for about 30 minutes – go about your normal showering routine
  • after about 30 minutes, rinse your beard with water to remove the majority of the relaxing shampoo
  • once a note of the shower, blow dry your beard on a medium heat setting
  • use a straightening iron to straighten out any of your curls
  • apply the neutraliser to stop the relaxing cream from working and lock your straight beard hair in place
  • using the shampoo that came with the beard straightener cream, wash your beard three times.
  • Towel dry your beard and apply the sealer to seal in and lock the hair in a straight position.
  • Finish drying your beard how you would normally do, for example, with a hairdryer, and complete the process.

Your hair will stay straight for a relatively long time, and the new hair growth will be curlier than the straightened part.

You can repeat this process once the new growth makes up about 25 to 50% of your beard. Be careful not to repeat this process too often as the chemicals used, including sodium hydroxide, sodium thioglycolate and ammonium thioglycolate, can dry your beard and make the beard hair dry and brittle.

Natural options

Some natural options may help you straighten out your beard using products you already have in your home. The great thing about using natural and readily available treatment options is that you can mix and match the treatments until you find something that works specifically for your beard.

People have developed the recipes in this section over many years, and you may be able to find one that works for you.

  • Coconut milk and lemon juice – use coconut milk and lemon juice on your beard twice a week for two months to relax and straighten your beard hair. Mix 1 cup of coconut milk with five tablespoons have lemon juice, two tablespoons of olive oil and three tablespoons of cornstarch. Apply to your beard and allow it to sit in there for at least 20 minutes before washing out using your normal beard washing routine.
  • Milk and honey – mix one whole cup of coconut milk and add one tablespoon of honey. Mix the ingredients and then distribute evenly throughout your beard hair. Allow it to sit in your beard for at least one hour before washing it out using your regular beard shampoo.

By doing these interventions regularly, you may be able to use your beard tools less and minimise the risk of heat damaging your beard hair.

Summary – how to straighten your beard without heat

Breaking the chemical bonds in your beard hair and resetting them in a straighter formation is one of the best ways to straighten your beard. The low heat straightening is done using chemical straighteners and drying techniques which disrupt the hydrogen bonding and keratin protein structures deep in the hair fibre.

Staying away from heat tools may be useful if you struggle to hydrate and condition your beard. There are plenty of options, including chemical straighteners (which provide a permanent straightening solution), or you could use straightening creams and other temporary interventions, including natural products like milk and honey.

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!