Having a short beard is a milestone for every beard grower. Every long beard starts with a well-maintained short beard and there is no reason why it can’t look great when it is short. The thing about short beards is that they are curly, wiry, and hard to tame. This is, in part, due to the length of the hairs on the fact that they are not long enough to be flexible – and not heavy enough to be drawn down by gravity. This means that a lot of short beards are very bushy and look relatively unkempt. In this article, I will show you how to straighten your short beard so that your short beard looks as well-kept as a longer beard.
You can straighten your short beard by using a blow dryer, beard straighteners and heated beard combs after you have showered. You can also support heat treatment with the use of good quality products with moisturizing and hold components.
Why short beards are hard to control
To understand why short beards are harder to control we must have a look at the makeup and structure of the hair. The hair on your face is very thick, and oval in shape. This means that the hair grows in a curly fashion.
In a 2006 scientific article, the structural characteristics of beard hair was investigated using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. The beard hair was found to be broadly elliptical and the three main morphological features such as the cuticles, cortex, and medulla were clearly observed. This is an example of the optical microscope images that they were able to capture:
The fact that hair is made up of a variety of concentric sections with the inside of the hair consisting of the medulla and cortex with cuticles wrapping them and protecting the inside of the hair. This gives hair a incredible strength which can only be weakened by hydrating the hair with water.
The concentric overlapping cortex and cuticles of the hair mean that it is not very flexible when it is short. Think of it like a thick wire that is hard to bend.
This means that we need to use more forceful methods for straightening short beard hairs and, typically, we will need to use a variety and combination of methods to really straighten the short beard hair.
Here are all of the methods that I have personally used and that I think will work for the majority of people with short beards who want to make them as straight as possible.
Methods for straightening short beard hair
While you are looking at the methods for straightening short beard hair, below, realise that you are probably going to need a combination of these approaches to properly straighten your beard hair. Also, if you use heat treatment the beard will quickly conform to any shape that you brush it into but for strong and lasting hold you need to back it up with a product with strong hold – i.e. a high wax component.
The first option for straightening a short beard is using something that you probably have in your bathroom cupboard already. That is – a blow dryer.
I actually love my blow dryer even after purchasing and testing a variety of different beard straighteners the blow dryer is the tool that I returned to over and over again. I talk about it in my YouTube short video, below:
How to use a blow dryer on a short beard
Using a blow dryer after you have fully wet your beard and shampoo and conditioned it is really easy. Here are the steps that I go through when I am straightening my beard (whether short or long) using a blow dryer:
- completely wet your hair in the shower – make sure you get the water right to the base of your hair and allowed to sit in there for a few moments before allowing the beard to dry out.
- Apply a tiny amount of beard oil – I find applying a tiny amount of beard oil before blow drying my beard keeps the beard moisturised and better conditioned.
- Use a medium to high heat on your hairdryer and use a wide toothed comb to brush deeply throughout your beard – follow the comb closely with the hairdryer pointing slightly downwards.
- Switch to a natural bristle brush and turn the heat down a little bit whilst continuously brushing your beard into shape and continuing to follow the brush with your hairdryer.
- Once you have got the shape you require turn the hairdryer onto a cool heat setting and lightly brush the top layer of the beard until it completely cools down
Using these simple steps allows you to blow dry and straighten your short beard into a more manageable and straight position.
You can get an idea of the process I use when blow dry my beard in my YouTube video, below:
Hairdryers aren’t the only way that you can use heat to force your beard into a certain shape. Beard straighteners and heated beard combs are becoming more and more popular – let’s take a look at the options for a short beard.
There are two types of beard straighteners. Firstly, the sort with a heated brush. These types of beard straighteners look like a regular brush but have heated elements that wrap around the teeth of the brush and using them is as simple as brushing it through your hair.
Secondly, you can use beard straighteners which are two ceramic plates which are forced together with the hair between them. These are the sorts of straighteners that you have seen on women with long hair and they provide the most intense heat treatment to the hair because they act like a sandwich press applying heat from both sides.
If you only have a short beard you will not be able to use the ceramic plate straighteners because your hair will not be long enough. The only option you will have is to use a heated brush type beard straightener and for most beards they will be more than enough.
Using a beard straightener on a short beard
Using a heated brush type of beard straightener is very simple:
- towel dry your beard and use a hairdryer to remove 80% of the moisture – leaving your hair a little bit damp mean that the brush will work more effectively.
- Allow the beard straightener to heat up – turn on the beard straightener comb and allow it to fully heat up. Do not rush it as even the smallest amount of heat loss will result in ineffective straightening.
- Past the brush completely through your beard and move it slower than you would a comb – allowing the heating elements to spend as much time as comfortable against the hair. Because it is slightly damp your hair will be more protected and you can move the comb slowly.
- Repeat this across your entire face and do not push too hard into the beard.
- Use a natural hair resort brush to comb the beard in the direction that you wanted to sit and reapply any heat if it is not conforming to your initial pass with the heated beard comb.
For a short beard you want to buy a heat brush that is as hot as possible. Some beard brushes have a dual heat selection switch and you should always choose the hottest one as the short hair will require the maximum amount of heat to brush into shape.
Do beard straighteners work on short beards?
Yes, beard straighteners work very well on short beards. You have to make sure that you use the right type – heated beard brush as opposed to a ceramic plate type. As long as the heating elements are able to touch the outside hairs of your beard they will work very effectively!
Using heat treatment is a very effective way of how to straighten your short beard but you can also use other methods such as chemical relaxers.
Chemical relaxers are not as scary as they seem…
Another impressive way of straightening a short beard is with a beard relaxing cream. This is a chemical treatment for your beard and will semi-permanently give you a nice straight beard.
How to use a beard relaxer and straightener
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 you 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 evenly distribute throughout your beard
- 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 – this is to seal in and lock the hair in a straight position.
- Finish drying your beard how you would normally do so for example, with a hairdryer, and the process is complete.
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.
Letting it grow
One of the fun jokes that viewers and subscribers of my YouTube channel will be familiar with is that pretty much every beard problem can be solved by allowing it to grow.
I have been through a series of beard growth stages and I often like to halt my beard at a certain length so that I can enjoy my new look. After I get fed up with the length of the beard I typically grow out for three months.
Growing out a beard takes a fair amount of patience and persistence and self-control so that you do not trim off your growth gains.
I recommend letting your beard great for at least three months to see what the effect of the extra length does to the straightness of your beard. Even if you do not like the length you can always trim it back to your desired length.
Letting your beard out is a fun challenge and it allows you to see exactly how your beard will behave when it is longer – pretty much every problem I have encountered with my beard has been solved by allowing it to grow out.
Lastly, you can use products with a high wax component to control your beard.
Using the above methods to control and team your beard allows you to get your beard sitting straighter initially. But, you will need to put in some products to maintain that style throughout the day.
Here is a selection of my favourite beard products that you can experiment with.
Beard balm is a fantastic product that is easy to apply to a beard and does two things:
- it nourishes the hair with the ingredient such as Shea butter and jojoba oil.
- The level of wax in it holds the hair in place throughout the day.
The great thing about Beard balm is that it is incredibly easy to make and I have been making my DIY Beard balm for many years. Check out how I make my beard balm in my YouTube video, below.
If you have a short beard you should make, or buy, a beard balm that has a higher amount of wax than normal. I opt for a 50:50 mix of Shea butter and beeswax. Initially the wax is very hard but it softens over time as the mixture absorbs oxygen and moisture from the air.
If you find that beard balm is not providing the level of hold that you want you should consider using a beard wax. A beard wax is like a beard balm but it contains a very high portion of wax and it is typically used to hold handlebar moustaches in place.
Do not overuse a beard wax because it will quickly make your beard look heavy and oily – that is not something that you want for your beard!
Beard butter/beard oil
Although beard butter and beard oil does not contain any ingredient that will provide significant hold, using it will make your beard easier to manage.
Beard oils and beard butters absorbed into the hair and make it much more hydrated and easier to style with a variety of different methods such as combing and heat treatment.
Making sure that you use beard butter or beard oil as part of your daily is important for maintaining a healthy beard.
I have been using my DIY Beard oil for a number of years which consists of Argan oil, jojoba oil, sweet armed oil and a selection of essential oils. The great thing about beard oil is that it is very easy to make – all you need to do is make soils in different ratios.
Also, purchasing a non-scented beard oil is a fantastic way to maintain your beard without having an overpowering combination of scents on your face.
Speak to a professional
Lastly, if none of these options work for you should consider speaking to a professional.
Speaking to a professional barber is always an enlightening experience. They will tell you exactly what you need to do to keep your beard looking in its best condition and, I guarantee you, that they have seen every beard mistake possible.
Building a relationship with a good barber will be a worthwhile time investment.
I have only been to a barber a handful of times but each time I learn something new and I pay close attention to how they are styling and trimming up my beard so that I can replicate this at home.
In this article we have covered all of the important aspects of straightening a short beard. Straightening a short beard is a little bit more difficult along beard because the hairs are tougher and they are not long enough to be able to conform to any significant bending or shape.
By using a combination of heat treatment and strong hold products you will be able to straighten your short beard and keep it looking good throughout the day.
If you want a longer-lasting street beard you can opt to use a chemical straightener – not as scary as it sounds – to provide long lasting straightening for your beard. If in doubt, always speak to a professional so that your beard ends up looking the best it can!