Should you straighten your beard before trimming?

Straightening your beard is a regular occurrence and is part of a well-considered beard maintenance and grooming regime. However, is there a time where you shouldn’t straighten your beard? For example, should you straighten your beard before trimming? Will straightening your beard because your trim to be rubbish. Or, is it the secret ingredient for making a trim as perfect and well-defined as possible? In this article, we are going to go over whether or not straightening your beard before trimming results in a better-looking beard or one where it just seem a little off.

Whether or not you straighten your beard before trimming comes down to whether or not you normally straighten your beard. If you always straighten your beard then trimming it when it is straight will be advantageous for your trim. If, on the other hand, you do not straightening your beard regularly i.e. daily trimming when your beard is straight may not be the best option for you.

Before you decide whether or not you should straighten your beard before trimming there are a few considerations that I think you should take into account. In the next section I’ll talk about the four biggest considerations you need to make so that your beard looks its best straightened or not.

Should you straighten your beard before trimming?

Top Considerations

This question isn’t as straightforward as you may first think. Sure, we use beard straighteners regularly so it adds that extra pizzazz and perfection to the lines of our beards but straightening your beard before trimming may not end up with the best beard trim for the style that you are going for.

It’s very similar to getting your hair cut at a barber. When I was getting my haircut in my early teens there was a trend for the barber to get your hair absolutely soaking wet with a misting spray before cutting it. This ended up with cleaner lines – as was the style of the time – but when you went home your hair returned to its natural dry shape and it always ended up much shorter and looking kind of strange.

I don’t want this to happen to your beard so here are the considerations for whether or not you should straighten your beard before trimming.

If you always straighten your beard

The first question that you should ask yourself is: do I straighten my beard every day? If the answer is yes, then you almost certainly want to straighten your beard before trimming.

This is because your beard hair will be straighter than how it sits naturally for the majority of the day. Trimming and your beard is straightened will give you the best lines and shape for your beard.

The downside of doing this is that if for some reason one day you do not have the opportunity or you decide not to straighten your beard you may end up with a very different style to what you are normally used to or expecting.

If hairs are not straightened they tend to curl up significantly and so you could end up with a much shorter beard than you normally have. Not necessarily a problem but something to consider.

If you do not straightening your beard every single day I would argue against straightening your beard before trimming. If you go to the barber and they start straightening your beard before trimming I would ask them if you questions about what the style will do if you do not straighten the beard. They may have a good reason for straightening your beard at that time that you want to make sure that the style that is cut into your beard at the barber’s is as good as the style you are able to achieve at home.

It’ll get shorter when you wet it

Straightening your beard hair works by disrupting the bonding that occurs within the protein of the hair. These bonds can be broken and reformed once the beard is heated to above 180° C. However, this breaking and reforming of bonds is not permanent.

As soon as you wet your hair is beard will return to its pre-straightened condition. Women around the world know exactly what happens to straightened hair as soon as it rains – which is why they are so careful to avoid getting their hair wet if they do not want a change of style.

The issue is that your beard will get significantly shorter once it returns to its natural state. This is particularly true if you have very curly hair on your face – the effect will be even more pronounced.

It’ll control the flyaway hairs

When you straighten your beard with a hot beard comb you can easily control the problem parts of your beard and force the flyaway hairs into position. The question is – do you actually want to control these flyaway hairs or do you just want to cut them off.

I am in two minds about this…

On one hand, I am a big believer that if you are able to just trim away problem hairs that is the ultimate way to control your beard. I did it for many years without any significant thinning or issues with style of my beard. A good style is 90% trimming and about 10% products and heat treatment. At least in my opinion.

While, the other part of me says that if you cut away to many of these flyaway hairs you can significantly cut away at the density of your beard. This is particularly problematic if you have a thin beard – you do not want to cut away any density away from the main bulk of your beard.

Therefore, I feel like straightening your beard if it is then well avoid you having to trim the flyaway hairs whereas if you have a full dance beard cutting away at the flyaway and problematic hairs is the best solution – and the one I use.

While trimming, it can be really easy to cut off too much and significantly thin out your beard. This is particularly true if you are trimming up your beard daily and cutting away the flyaway hairs with scissors.

It won’t straighten evenly

Another aspect of beard straightening that is under appreciated is that unless you are using the ceramic plate straightening method a heated beard brush or hairdryer does not straighten the beard evenly.

Using a hot beard comb only straightens the hairs which come into contact with the heat elements. This is typically the very outside hairs of your beard. The beard brush does not touch the hairs which are in the depths of your beard and therefore they remain untouched by the beard straightener and natural.

This means that different hairs on different parts of your face will be straightens to different extents. So, when your beard gets wet the straighter hairs will curl up more than the bulk of the hair sitting the middle of your beard density.

You could end up with some interesting growth patterns and effects in your beard if this happens significantly. You could end up with a very short front placard of hair while the hairs behind remain curly and thick and a bit longer than the hairs that sit on top of them.

How to prepare your beard for trimming

Trimming is the number one thing which defines your style and can keep your beard becoming unruly and wiry. But preparing for the trim is one of the most important parts of achieving a defined and well maintained beard.

Here are all of the steps that you should go through before trimming your beard. I trim up my beard every couple of weeks because I don’t want it to grow any longer and I want to slowly trim up the fuzziness which appears throughout the fortnight.

If you want to grow your beard I recommend that you do not touch your beard for at least three months. A couple of times I’ve gone through a growth phase with my beard and I have refrained from using any sort of trimming device on my beard as even the smallest amount of trimming can put you back in terms of length.

Shampoo/Condition

You should always start your preparations for your beard trim with a good shampoo and conditioner. You can check out my other article – Best beard soap [the ultimate guide and products] – click here to be taken to article – if you want more detailed knowledge of the best beard soaps to buy for your beard.

Shampooing and conditioning is beard with dedicated beard shampoo and conditioner is important because the products will be especially formulated for your face and not your head. We are all tempted to use head shampoo on our beards but it will result in them drying out too much.

Blowdry

Before trimming my beard I always give the beard a little bit of a press with a towel to remove the bulk of the moisture and then I blow dry my beard at a medium to high heat until it is relatively dry.

The reason I try out my beard before trimming is that it gives it a better representation of how it can sit throughout the day. However, the question is whether or not it’s better to trim your beard wet or dry?

Is it better to trim your beard wet or dry?

The way I look at it is like when you go to the barber and they let your hair for cutting it. Yes, you will get better lines once it is wet but when it dries you end up with a shorter style than you were expecting. I like to trim up my beard when it is completely dry potentially with a little oiling so that it sits the way it normally does after my morning beard routine.

I think for the majority of cases you want to trim your beard when it is completely dry.

Before trimming I want my beard to look as bad as it can possibly look all on its own. This will give me the best opportunity to trim it into place and get rid of those hairs which are just completely unruly.

Light oiling

After I’ve completely dried out my hair using a blow dryer I put a small amount (two drops) of beard oil throughout my entire beard. This just locks in any small amount of moisture which still remains in the hair and stops it from leaving the hair shaft while the hair is still a little bit warm.

I allow the oil to soak in for about 5 to 10 minutes before using my beard straightener.

Straighten (optional)

This is the part that this article is all about! I straighten my beard before trimming because I straighten my beard in some form every single day. I either use a hairdryer to comb and brush the beard while I apply heat or I use one of my beard straightening combs to straighten out the outermost layer of hairs on my beard.

If you do not straighten your beard every single day you should leave this part out. You’re better off trimming up your beard when it is naturally dry through the blow dryer than if you apply direct heat to the hairs via a beard straightener.

Trim up your beard

Regularly trimming your beard is one of the best ways to keeping it looking awesome. The good news is you can do this at home with just some very simple tools such as a well-made trimmer and some scissors. The areas that you need to focus on are your cheeks, sideburns, moustache, and bottom shape of your beard. The more you do it the more your growing confidence and you will grow your skill level so that your beard gets better and better. You can save a fortune by learning the simple tricks to trimming up your beard.

If you want to know more about how to trim a beard check out my full article – how to trim your beard and keep it looking sharp – click here to be taken to article.

If you want a quick rundown on how I treat my beard check out my YouTube video, below:

Here are the important parts that you need to pay attention to to trim up your beard:

  • your neckline – the neckline is where your head joined your neck and is more visible on shorter beards. The biggest mistake people make is trimming it too high. You should find where your head attaches to your neck and use that to guide your neckline trim.
  • Sideburns – sideburns are the connector between your head hair and your beard. Shorter hairstyles should be blended into your beard so there is a seamless connection with a gradient but if you have a baldhead you can opt for a heart-shaped line and it does look very cool. Arguably, the best way of doing it is by using trimmers and practising your fading technique.
  • Cheeks – The side and cheeks of the beard are easy to maintain. I use a combination of trimmers set on grade 5 to sweep downward on my face and light trimming with scissors. This keeps any super long hairs in check.
  • Moustache – Arguably, the largest variety of shapes and styles are reserved for the crown of your beard – the mustache! The beards that first attracted me into growing one had large mustaches and thick long – even fancy – styles. However, the practicalities of having a long mustache quickly forced me to reconsider growing a massive one!
  • The beard shape – This is one of the biggest grooming choices you have to make when you have a beard. What style are you going to choose? I recommend googling and saving an imageboard of all of the beards that you come across and love. Personally, I like full medium-sized beards heavy on the chin. that is what I’m heading towards! As in my previous post – beard-growing tips, do not even attempt to shape your beard for at least 6 weeks worth of growth! The awesome long beards can take years to get to the owner’s desired length. Get the first beard shape put in by a professional. Don’t be cheap research a good local barber and book yourself in for an appointment.

Should you straighten your beard before heading to the barber?

The best way to tackle this is to ask your barber. Some barbers like you to go in with a freshly washed and conditioned beard so that it acts like a blank canvas for them to cut in your style of choice.

Other barbers will tell you to maintain your beard as usual and turn up as if you are going out for the day whilst others will wash your beard while you are in the barber’s chair.

If you are unsure about whether or not you should straighten your beard before heading to your barber, and you cannot ask them, I recommend leaving your beard as natural as possible. If you are in the barber’s chair and you are concerned about them using a beard straightener (because you don’t have one at home yourself) I would stop them and ask whether straightening is a good idea if you cannot reproduce what they are doing at home.

Summary

Straightening your beard before trimming can be a good idea as it labels you to perfect the lines of your beard. It is a good idea if you use your beard straightener is regularly and you have no plans on stopping.

You probably shouldn’t straighten your beard before trimming if it’s not something you usually do all you want to keep your beard bushy.

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!