If you’re one of the many men who's used lockdown as an opportunity to see what you could really do with your beard, you may not have realised that such a specialised grooming tool even existed.
But, of course it does.
And you know that, if James Bond had a beard, he'd definitely be using one – the old smoothie.
Why buy a beard straightener?
If you want to straighten your beard, you have a number of options – but using straighteners meant for the hair on your head should not be among them. GHD straighteners, for example, will reach 185°C - many other straighteners will get even hotter. And the design means that there's nothing between your flesh and the heating plate. Anyone who's ever burned their hand or ear on one will shudder at the thought of waving it near their face.
There are plenty of techniques that’ll help you tame your beard, to some extent. You can condition it when you shower. And post-shower, you can apply beard oil or wax. You can also comb out your beard while drying it with a hairdryer or use a styling tool such as the Revlon One Step Drying and Styling Brush.
But dedicated beard straighteners are really useful for men who have frizzy, coarse or wild beards that need a little extra taming. Especially those who’ve tried a lot of products to no avail. They're also handy for formal occasions when your beard will largely be in charge of the first impression you make – and you'd like that impression to be a little more sleek.
Just like conventional straighteners, beard straighteners use heat to straighten your hair. This means that, when buying, it's important to see what other technologies they'll use alongside it to protect your hair and get the most from the process.
Ceramic coatings on bristles or plates are a popular option. A ceramic coating holds the heat well and distributes it evenly. And if the product mentions ionic technology, that means it emits negative ions that will help to smooth your hair shafts. (And by the way, ionic technology is a take on a NASA innovation. No, really. You can thank NASA for your very straight hair.)
Where to buy
So, where can you buy them? Unsurprisingly, specialist beard care sites have some options.
Grizzlyadam.co.uk (great name), purveyor of beard care and related grooming items, has only one option.
It's a corded beard straightening comb, currently priced at £29.99. It uses negative ion technology to smooth and help protect your hair from heat damage. It heats up in 15 seconds and when you’ve finished your beard, you can also use it to style your hair.
If you're wondering, the blue strip is the heating plate and the bristles are designed to prevent it from getting too close to your face.
The advantage of this product is that it's going to get hot quickly and, because it's corded, you can spend as long as you want on styling. However, a cordless straightener is going to be easier to work with.
However, it's a really nifty-looking cordless beard straightener that's retailing for £51 (down from £59.99). It has three heat settings and ceramic coated teeth on the brush. Other nice features of this product include its safety lock and USB charging port. It comes with a travel pouch as well.
Its only downside seems to be that it doesn't heat up instantly. This means that some of its battery life is wasted before you can use it, and so it'll need to be charged between each use. If you have a longer beard, this product may not be for you as you might not have sufficient styling time between charges.
Beauty site Ninth Avenue also has a contender in the form of the neat little Aberlite Pocket compact beard straightener. It costs £61.20, down from £102. It has a temperature range of 167°C - 204°C, which you'll easily be able to check via the LED display.
It has an ionic jet, which will also help with smoothing, and fixed bristles so you can't accidentally burn your scalp. It's corded, so less manoeuvrability but on the other hand, no need to worry about battery life.
When all else fails? Amazon. And here we've hit the motherlode. As you might expect from a site that prides itself on selling all manner of wild things, it has quite a number of options.
You should check them out, not only for the straighteners themselves but for the collection of beard model pics. (Are those real beards? Are beard models a sub-section of models? Are they like hand models?)
My pick would be this Vikicon cordless straightening brush, which is retailing for £49.99. Before I even get to what's great about the product, the Swedish company that made it has an amazing tagline: 'How to be a Viking Berserker'.
Plus, the product page has a lot of before and after shots of beards, which is something there's not enough of in the world.
The brush itself is a very nice-looking piece of kit. It has three heat settings: 150°C, 170°C and 190°C, depending on your beard type and condition, and the temperature is displayed on an LED screen. It uses ionic technology to smooth your hair. It's also cordless and the battery life should get you three styling sessions, after which you'll need to charge it for an hour.
Do you need a beard straightener? To summarise: it harnesses NASA technology and Vikings would probably have enjoyed one, so I think the answer is clear.