Used to be a man always carried a comb in his pocket. Now, a fella gets looked at sideways when he extracts from his back pocket a comb and runs it through his mane. Combs are like fedoras: cool but outdated. But the grooming tools are extremely useful for things like, you know, combing hair. Errant strands is a bad look. In fact, a good comb helps your hair look fuller and healthier, two things that men of a certain age might appreciate. As not all combs are created equal, we sat down with Martial Vivot, a French-born master barber and owner of Martial Vivot Salon Pour Hommes, to talk about what makes a good one.
See more: Best Hair Products for Men
“The most important thing,” says Vivot, “is that you want to avoid plastic.” That seems like difficult advice to follow considering the vast majority of high-quality combs are made with cellulose acetate, a type of plastic. But what Vivot means is that one should avoid the standard petrochemical plastic, the kind those cheap-o black combs you find at most drugstores are made of. This type of plastic both causes static — “the enemy of hair,” says Vivot — and easily chips, turning the teeth of your comb into scalp-piercing needles. Holding a plastic comb before him and peering at the pointy teeth, Vivot shakes his head in disgust “Look at these,” he exclaims, “they’ll cut your scalp right up!”
In terms of leveling up, many high-quality combs are made with wood or even horn. The reason? “It’s keratin combing keratin,” Martial says excitedly, adding that this won’t react poorly with your hair.
And it’s not just the material that determines the quality of the comb; it’s the manufacturing, too: the best combs are saw-cut then hand-finished to refine the polish and smooth the teeth. In terms of manufacturing, the thing to avoid, says Vivot, are injection molded combs which yield extremely sharp teeth. “A comb should be gentle on your scalp,” he explains gently. Who knew there was so much to a comb? Keeping this criteria in mind, here are four excellent men’s combs at all price levels to seek out.
This comb is made with high-quality Italian acetate with saw-cut hand-polished teeth.
Founded in 1777, Kent bills itself as the world’s oldest hairbrush maker. The comb division is no slouch either. Like many of these styling combs there are two sets of teeth: narrower and thinner on one side and thicker but more widely spaced on the other. This allows for use on both coarse hair and fine hair.
This comb is handmade in Switzerland, glides through hair without damaging it, is biodegradable and hypo-allergenic, and affordable.
Speert is a Swiss company known mostly for eyeglasses. They use those same acetate purveyors to make their range of numbered combs. This one is ideal for most hair types, and glides smoothly without tearing up your hair.
Handmade in Switzerland in a comb-only factory, these Italian acetate combs are recognizable for the slight texture in their tortoise shell finish. Each tooth is saw cut individually and then tumbled smooth. As with all true acetate combs, there’s no static and the teeth are pleasingly smooth at the tips.
This handcrafted men's comb is made of cellulose acetate, and you get a comb with smoothly tapered teeth and rounded tips.
You can use this comb to shape and untangle the hair on your head, or also use it to tame your beard. It’s pretty much the ultimate handy grooming tool.
Wahl makes some pretty killer beard and hair trimmers. So it stands to reason that the brand's comb would be equally solid.
Wahl’s handmade comb has smoothly tapered teeth and rounded tips, is made from cellulose acetate, and can be used on every hair on your head and face.
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