Ok guys, there is a lot of beard care items out there. With so many different types of products how do you know which one to use? Well beardsman, I'll tell you! First we need to talk about the three things you need to maintain your beard.
1.) combs/brushes- this is necessary to keep that sexy groomed appearance. Its a fact- beards are downright sexy...unless they look like two mice got in a fight in that thing. You don't want a patchy uneven beard. Combs / brushes achieve the look you want. But the type of brush/comb does matter.
Combs- used for long beards. They won't offer much help for beards shorter than 1-2 inches. If a comb is right for you- stay away from plastic or metal combs- they will do more damage than good. The points where the teeth touch are commonly sharp and will break the hair giving you a patchy appearance and keep growth to a minimum as your beard can't grow longer if it is constantly breaking off. Wood combs are the way to go for sure- BUT make sure that you allow them to dry thoroughly between uses because water will eventually break them down if they stay wet all of the time. It is best to brush your wet, freshly washed beard to keep the hair from pulling and breaking. The dryer the hair the more prone to breakage by a comb. Best thing to do is wash it, towel dry it, apply beard oil (it is a great conditioner/tamer), THEN comb the oil through it to remove the tangles and train the hair to grow down, not out. You can let it air dry from there or blow dry it- what ever works for you. Leave the comb at home though- it is best used on wet hair, so for through out the day touch ups use a brush.
Brushes- Great for everyone- short or long beards. Get a good quality brush made of boar hair. The metal and plastic bristles will actually do a better job of breaking your hair rather than grooming it. Boar bristle beard brushes are light enough to not break the hair but strong enough to give you that sexy groomed appearance. These brushes were actually used to improve hair texture before the beard conditioners came into light due to their ability to carry sebum (the natural oil your skin/scalp produces). Your brush holds the natural oils and spreads it across your beard which nourishes the dry hair making it softer. The more you brush, the straighter and more nourished your beard becomes. The trick with these is to use on a DRY beard. Combs are best used on wet hair, brush best used on dry hair. Basically you use the brush (on a dry beard) in the morning before you go and then throughout the day to keep your beard in check.
2.) conditioner- beard oil. Great for any length beard. Beard oils are blended with nourishing oils that are designed to prevent breakage or damage to your beard which in turn will create that sexy, even, groomed look. They also do an amazing job of nourishing the skin underneath the beard which is easily agitated from soap residue left over from washing or chemical based/preservative filled beard oils/creams that the hair holds onto the skin all day (causes itching and dry flaky skin). They are best used for conditioning- NOT shaping. Use your oil after you wash your beard. Wash, towel dry, apply beard oil, and brush it through. Beard oils only create a nourished look- so they are best at preventing the crazy fresh from the woods wild man fought a bear two weeks ago look :)
3.) shaping/taming- beard balm. Best used for beards longer than 2 inches. Beard balms are wax based (beeswax based balms are the best in my opinion- the wife of a fellow beardsman, take it from me- wives always know best when it comes to hair) substances that are strong enough to hold the hair in the desired position. My husband's beard is really good at growing outward which has a tendency to make his face look abnormally large for his body- he is 6'1, lean, and has dark curly hair, so when his dark beard flows three inches outward he looks like he has the head of a giant on a tiny mans body- just doesn't proportionate (sorry honey! its true though!- I love you- xoxo). But when he trims the sides to keep it from going outward it just doesn't look as full and sexy as it could. Beard balm was his answer. Don't let your beard flow out- you want it to go down. You want the sexy lumberjack look, not the lion with a huge head look. The best way to achieve this look is to use beard balm. So for your routine you will need to wash, towel dry, apply beard oil to condition it, comb through it to remove tangles and even it out, then apply your beard balm and shape it. It sounds like a lot of work, but really it takes less than 5 minutes.
Hope this clears up a few questions about what product to use when. I know it can be overwhelming!