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Why is my beard always tangled? [SOLVED]

Beards are a strange beast. No matter how much you take care of them they always seem to get themselves in a tangled mess. A tangled beard is hard to brush and it looks wiry and scraggly even though you are trying your best to style your beard nicely. In this article, we are going to have a look at all of the reasons why your beard may be tangled and exactly what you can do about it.

Your beard is always tangled because you are not brushing it enough with the right sort of brush and it is probably dry. Using a good quality natural bristle brush as well as a deep hydrating product your beard will return to a smooth and manageable masterpiece in no time.

Don’t worry. Having a tangled mess of a beard is completely fixable and is something that you can change by doing a series of small steps regularly. Remember, that this isn’t about changing one big thing about your beard maintenance schedule it’s about implementing a number of small things and performing them regularly.

You are not brushing it enough

The first culprit of your tangled beard is that you are not brushing it enough. And by enough, I mean for enough time in the morning and also the frequency that you should brush or comb your beard.

In the morning, after sleeping on your beard all night, you should brush your beard for a minimum of two minutes. It doesn’t seem like a long time but when people are brushing their beard we have a tendency to rush through what is probably one of the most important parts of maintaining a beard and keeping it tangle free.

Secondly, you should brush your beard at least three times a day. These are at these times:

  • in the morning – in the morning is when you are undoing all of the damage that you have done to your beard over night. If you are a restless sleeper this morning brush will be very important.
  • In the afternoon – I recommend that you carry with you a small pocket comb by which to brush your hair in the bathroom of your workplace or public toilet. I carry with me a small wooden pocket comb with wide and narrow toothed spacings so I can give my beard a quick brush to remove the tangles in the afternoon.
  • After returning from a hard day at work or play – you should aim to brush your beard when you get in from your daily activity. This will remove any dirt or grime that has built up over the day as well as ensuring that it remains tangle free for the rest of your evening. If you are going out for a nice evening then you should also reapply beard oil and beard balm to keep your beard looking awesome.

The type of brush that you use for these daily maintenance brushes is very important. I know that my first come was a cheap plastic comb which had razor-sharp edges (due to the manufacturing process) and I’m certain caused me more broken hairs and split ends than if I had not done anything to my beard.

You are using the wrong sort of brush

In the early stages of having a beard it is common to assume that all beard brushes are made the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As your beard grows and gets longer I recommend that people invest in three different types of brushes and combs so that they can effectively remove the tangles from their beard:

  • a plastic comb – the plastic comb should be a low static and machined comb which has no sharp edges at the coming interface. I really recommend the Kent fine tooth beard comb as it is sawcut and is made from a low static material.
  • A wooden comb – a small wooden comb is perfect for carrying about with you during your daily life as well as using as your main comb. I like to use a comb which is made from a thin bit of wood and can easily fit in my bag or pocket. A wooden comb does not impart a static charge onto your hair as your brushing it ensuring that the frizziness is not due to static.
  • A natural bristle brush – getting a natural hair, all bristle brush is a really excellent way to put final touches to your beard style. The added stiffness of the ore hair means that it’s an easy and effective way to tuck away those pesky flyaways hair and also allows you to distribute products such as beard oil and other styling balms easily. One of the best natural hair beard brushes at the moment is the ZilberHaar Beard Brush.

Using these combs and brushes will make sure that your beard remains tangle free throughout the day and that it won’t be painful when you are raking through your beard in the morning.

You are brushing your beard in the wrong direction

This is a common question in the beard community as there are conflicting reports about brushing your hair with or against the grain. If you want a full run down on the best way to brush a beard check out my other article – combing beard against the grain – a good or bad idea – click here.

Combing beard against the grain

What direction should I brush my beard

There is no one way which brushing your beard is right or wrong. Getting to know your beard and the way in which hairs grow on different parts of your face will enable you to come up with the best beard grooming direction for your particular beard growth pattern.

After applying a liberal amount of beard oil you can brush against the grain as it has a number of benefits. Brushing against the grain which is typically in an upwards and outwards direction has a number of utilities for your beard:

  • distributing beard oil better – sometimes you have to brush upwards to distribute the beard oil evenly throughout your beard and to get it to the roots.
  • adding volume to parts of your face where there is little hair – brushing outwards and upwards gives an added boost to your thickness and can be followed up with a light downwards brushing to make sure that it doesn’t look frizzy.
  • getting to persistent knots – sometimes hair knots are found right deep under the neck and in other places brushing upwards and outwards allow you to get to those areas.
  • To find hairs that are significantly longer than others – sometimes I brush my sideburns upwards and outwards because it allows me to see where the super longhairs are and where the hairs need to be trimmed.
  • Drying – if you have a really thick beard and you need to get to the depths of its to dry properly (no one likes a musty smelling beard) you can brush upwards while blow drying your hair to dry it out from the roots.

Brushing against the grain can help get those persistent knots and tangles out while also adding volume and other benefits to your beard. You shouldn’t leave your beard in a state where it is only been brushed against the grain. You should also finish up with a comb which goes with the grain of the beard. This will allow it to sit in a final styled position.

After brushing against the grain you can brush with the grain. Going with the direction of your beard growth allows you to shape and control the lines of the beard. And at this point I often use scissors to trim any of those nuisance hairs which just won’t lie in position.

I don’t trim more than a couple times a week as I find I was becoming overzealous and my beard was getting shorter and shorter. In other words, I was cutting it quicker than it could grow.

You should now brush your hair into the shape that you want it to sit in for the rest of the day.

You are not applying beard oil for brushing

Before combing your hair you should apply beard oil so that the comb glides effortlessly through the beard hair and is also able to overcome any increased friction due to knots or tangles.

It is very uncommon that your beard is genuinely knotted together – unless you have not brush your hair for a significant amount of time. If you do find that your beard is snagging do not be too rough with it and rather do a multiple number of light sweeps through the problem area as opposed to pulling your comb all the way through and risk breaking the hair. What feels like a snag is just a temporary weaving together of beard hair that is curly.

I like to apply between three and five drops of beard oil to my hair before brushing. Any beard oil which you purchased commercially or that you make your own from a combination of jojoba oil, Argan oil, and essential oils, will be perfect for applying just before brushing through your beard.

Beard oil is not the only product that will provide a smooth and tangle free combing experience. You also have to do regularly condition your beard with a beard moisturiser or conditioner.

It is dry

I think the number one issue with beards is that they become very dry, very quickly. The thing about a beard is that it sets out in the environment all day, every day, and is exposed to sunlight, UV rays, wind, and other climate properties like cold or humid air.

Keeping your beard well hydrated will definitely help combat any issues you have with your beard becoming continuously tangled and will also make it a lot easier to comb and maintain.

If you want to know more about the best beard conditioners that you can use to rehydrate your drive beard hair check out my other article – the 10 best beard conditioners [beyond oil and palm!] – Click here.

best beard conditioners

Using a beard conditioner will also have a load of awesome benefits for your beard. Not only will it be tangle free but it will also provide all of these awesome benefits:

  • It nourishes and moisturizes the beard – one of the biggest benefits to your beard – it makes it lovely and soft and will make your wirey hair much easier to manage.
  • It helps softens the stubble on the face – If you are not one for growing a long beard but prefer to keep it close to the skin it’ll help soften the ends of the hairs and make it way less spikey!
  • Imparts a healthy shine – A well-conditioned beard is one with a nice healthy shine to it. If you want to find out more tips and tricks to making your beard shine – check out my other article.
  • It makes combing and styling easier – having hair that doesn’t grip the comb and sits well after it is brushed into place is an achievable outcome if you use a beard conditioner regularly.
  • It reduces irritation and dry skin – the skin under a beard is not easy to look after. However, the regular use of a conditioner will leave the skin nourished and irritation-free. If you are worried about bacteria and a smelly beard you can also use a beard conditioner with essential oil that has antibacterial properties.
  • They leave a nice fragrance The last and maybe one of the strongest effects noticed by others is that a good beard conditioner will leave your beard smelling lovely! Choose a beard conditioner that has a smell that you like and, if you have a significant other, make sure that they also like the smell! There is nothing quite like a lovely smelling product!

Using these beard conditioners will be your secret weapon for keeping your beard completely tangle free and looking healthy throughout the day.

There are a load of split ends

Your beard may also be suffering from a multitude of split ends. Split ends are bad because they expose the inner shaft of your beard hair to the environment. This accelerates the drying out of your beard hair whilst also adding extra fibres which can easily become tangled once they are interwoven.

Think of a beard with lots of split ends like a natural version of Velcro.

The more split ends you have in your beard the more likely that your beard is able to get completely tangled up in itself to the point where it is irreversible and knotty. You can easily identify if your beard has a load of split ends because the symptoms of having a load of split ends are easy to see by these symptoms:

  • dullness – beards that have a load of split ends appear very dull. The dullness comes from the fact that the cuticle (outside scales of the beard hairs) are not playing flat. If your beard looks particularly dull and frizzy at the ends of the hair this is a symptom for you to identify an advanced stage of split ends.
  • Dryness – dryness causes brittle hair. If you find that you are suffering from a lot of hair fall during brushing and detangling your beard you should consider using a beard conditioner as soon as possible.

By using a magnifying glass you can look at the ends of your beard hair to see if they are split. It’s very easy to identify and if you don’t have a magnifying glass you can see split ends with the naked eye once they have become a bigger issue. You are looking for beard hairs which fork at the end or are significantly thinner at the end due to the loss of the outside protective layer of the hair.

You toss and turn in your sleep

It could be that you toss and turn quite a lot in your sleep. If you are a relatively restless sleeper your beard could easily become tangled through all of the tossing and turning that you do at night.

There is a product on the market which allows you to protect your beard while you are sleeping. For a complete run down on this product (known as a beard wrap) check out my other article – the best beard wrap for sleeping [a full comparison guide] – click here.

A beard wrap that is used for sleeping not only protects your beard due to the soft silk lining, but it also helps seal in beard balm and oil if you apply your beard oil or balm before bed.

Besides investing in a beard wrap you can also change your pillow for a silk pillow cover which will mean that the torsional strain on your beard is reduced as the beard hairs are less likely to become trapped and twisted while you have your head on the pillow.

You may have very curly hair

Lastly, your beard may be continuously tangled because you have an incredibly tight curl on your beard. If you are of an African descent your beard will be very curly. This curliness could increase the likelihood that your beard is continuously tangled.

This doesn’t mean that you have to put up with continuous beard tangles but it does mean you have to pay extra attention to your beard maintenance and care routine.

Carrying a beard brush with you as well as a small portion of beard oil or beard balm (depending on your preference) will enable you to do quick beard touchups throughout the day so that your beard remains tangle free and completely manageable.

Summary

Fear not! Having a continuously tangled beard is a problem that many men face. It is not the end of your beard journey by any means and it is easily resolved by taking a series of small steps regularly. Invest in the three types of beard comes that I have mentioned in the article above whilst also being sure to keep your hair well moisturise and conditioned.

By doing little bits to your beard every few hours your beard will remain tangle free and looking smooth and manageable throughout the entire day.

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!