Just a few years ago, an estimated 33 percent of men in the United States constantly sported beards. This number has grown considerably since then with quite a few more choosing to let their facial hair grow rather than adhering to a clean-shaven look. Of course, beards have also evolved in recent years. Rather than letting their beards get out of hand, men now prefer more meticulously groomed beard styles than in the past. In order to groom your facial hair properly, certain tools are essential.

The Right Comb

If you have only one tool in your beard-grooming arsenal, it should be a suitable comb. Though brushes are helpful, they tend to break tangled hair more so than unraveling the knots. Combs that are best for beard grooming are sturdy with both fine and wide-spaced teeth. This makes them appropriate for various lengths and hair thicknesses. They should also be smooth to help them glide through your beard and distribute grooming compounds more easily.

Keep in mind, when you’re dealing with stubborn tangles, it’s best to start at the bottom of the knots and gently comb them out a little at a time, working your way up as you go. Otherwise, you’ll defeat the purpose of the comb and do more harm than good. As a result, you’ll be left with a rough, frazzled beard rather than a smooth, healthy one.

A High-Quality Brush

Combs aid in dealing with tangles, but brushes help create a smooth, finished look. Most experts and self-trained beard wearers alike insist that round, boar’s hair brushes work best. Their tough, textured bristles remove dirt and dandruff from facial hair while training your beard to do what you want it to. Those bristles also go a long way toward distributing oils throughout the beard and conditioning skin to help reduce dryness and irritation.

Beard Oil

Facial hair is much coarser than what grows on your head. It also dries out more quickly. Beard oil helps soften the facial hair and gives it a nice sheen while replacing the much-needed natural oils that are often taken out by cleansers. It also makes your beard more manageable and easier to style.

You might also want to consider adding a specially formulated beard shampoo to your grooming routine. One that’s made with all-natural ingredients and doesn’t contain parabens or other harsh chemicals will clean and further soften your facial hair. At the same time, it won’t strip out the oils your facial hair produces on its own.

Beard Wax

If you have long or thick facial hair, beard wax will help with the styling process. Since the hair is so coarse, keeping it under control is often difficult. Beard wax provides superior hold and ensures your styling efforts don’t fall apart after a couple of hours. It’ll also protect it from wind and rain to prevent frizzing and damage.

An ever-growing number of men are realizing the appeal of letting their facial hair grow. Keeping beards healthy and looking nice requires a certain level of care, though. With the right tools and knowledge, your beard will be softer and more manageable. As such, you’ll be able to achieve and maintain the look you want with your facial hair.

By Leonel Thompson

Anna Thompson: Anna, a former fashion editor, offers readers a curated look into the world of high fashion. Her blog features runway analysis, designer profiles, and style tips.