When first impressions are everything, a well-groomed beard can make all the difference. Whether you’re already a fully-fledged member of the beard club, or you’re growing one, taking good care of it with proper beard maintenance matters.
Just like the hair on your head, the rate that your beard grows, plus its fullness and evenness often come down to genetics. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do. In fact, improving the condition of your bristles could be just the ticket to creating a healthy, full, lustrous beard.
1. A healthy beard starts with healthy skin
Healthy skin is the foundation for a thick, healthy beard. Kirstie Sherriff, skincare expert and founder of Proverb Skincare, warns men to avoid this common skincare blunder. “Whatever you do, you should not be washing your face with soap, shampoo, or shower gel – as soap contains antibacterial properties that are designed to strip the skin to rid the bacteria. Stripping the natural oils on your face isn’t ideal and can cause skin irritation and congestion.”
She also recommends that you choose the right kind of cleanser for your skin type. “For dry and aging skins, use balm and oil cleansers. For oily skins use lighter cream cleansers (avoiding gels and soap as they are too drying) and sensitive skins should use balm and clay cleansers.”
Plus, washing your face separately outside of the shower could be beneficial. Hot showers can dry your skin and leave the pores open, increasing the likelihood of dirt and grime seeping in. Ideally, cleanse your face with lukewarm water.
2. Cleanse your beard the right way
You might think there is only one way to wash your face properly. Think again. To avoid premature aging and sagging skin, Sherriff says, “You should push up on the skin with the tips of your fingers, making sure to press down on your pressure points along the eyebrow and temples helping to start your day on a positive note.” But the same can’t be said for your beard.
“You almost have to think of your face as 2 halves. All professional facialists that I teach have to deal with this zone differently. If you pull upwards you can irritate the hair follicles and frankly, it can just feel damned uncomfortable, like someone is pulling your hair. So, in the beard zone when you are applying product or using a face cloth I would go downwards towards the neck – the complete opposite to the rest of your facial skin.”
Aromatic Facial Cleanser
3. Use a clean face cloth every time
To avoid the build-up of oil, dirt, and grime that can lead to breakouts you should be using a new cleansing cloth every time you cleanse. “I would always suggest having 10 flannels or muslin cloths, one for every day of the week, plus a few for the days that you are washing them! While you may think you haven’t used a face flannel since you were a child, they are a therapist’s best friend. They provide a gentle exfoliation to your skin and the beard area and ensure you are clean. They can hold bacteria though, so you need a new one each day,” suggests Sherriff. “Once you have washed your face, you should be gently patting the face dry, leaving the skin still a little damp as this will help to lock in the moisture when applying moisturizer.”
Organic Muslin Cloth
4. Exfoliate & moisturize to avoid ingrown hairs & blackheads
A gentle, natural exfoliator 2-3 times per week can help to prevent ingrown hairs (common in the stubble phase) and blackheads. For dry or sensitive skin types, make sure you are using gentle products and tools to avoid skin irritation.
Moisturization is a key component of any great skincare and beard routine because it can lock in moisture and soften hairs to help prevent dry, flaky skin. “Many people think that if you struggle with acne or oily skin you don’t need to moisturize – this is completely false,” says Sherriff. “For those that may find their beard to be itchy, dry, or flaky – I would always suggest first that the problem is linked to the skin rather than a beard not being right for you. Without moisturizing the skin beneath your beard, it will naturally become dry.”
If your skin is dry, your skin will naturally produce more sebum in order to moisturize it – this can create excess oil and lead to breakouts. Remember, this can be exasperated by not protecting your skin in the sun too. Wearing SPF is crucial to avoiding sunburn and dry skin that ultimately leads to physical signs of aging like dullness, sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. And it matters what’s inside your body too. Drinking the recommended 2-3 liters of water per day can help to clear skin and provide a healthy glow.
Salicylic Acid Exfoliator
5. Do you need beard oil or balm?
To avoid the dreaded beard itch from dry skin or beard dandruff, moisturization is essential, and softening beard oil, nourishing balm, or conditioning cream could add that extra layer of hydration to keep whiskers soft and help to tame any frizzy ends or flyaways.
Although beard oils seem easier to apply over moisturizers, Sheriff advises using moisturizer first and foremost to keep the skin beneath the beard in tip-top condition, even if you’re adding beard oil to your routine. “For acne-prone skin, you will need a beard conditioner. For normal to dry skin types, you should be using beard oil. For sensitive skins, you should be using a gentle moisturizer and or beard oil with calming properties such as chamomile, calendula, and aloe vera.”
Nourish Post-Shave & Beard Oil
6. Beard growth tips
As with most things in life, the best things take time, and growing a beard can be a long game. Patience is key, and so is leading a healthy lifestyle. Staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and keeping stress levels down all help the body to function healthily encouraging healthy skin, nails, and hair.
If you’re been following a strict skin and beard care regime and leading a healthy lifestyle and your beard is still growing patchy or slowly, you could try adding some supplements or key ingredients to your diet. Proteins, iron, and amino acids are essential to contribute to the natural growth of skin, hair, and nails.
7. Steps to a well-groomed beard:
1. Wash your beard properly to remove any crumbs, leftovers, or dirt that hasn’t dislodged using a cleansing routine suitable for your skin type. “You should be washing your beard with a beard shampoo specially created for beards. We would always suggest avoiding your regular hair shampoo as this can contain heavy-duty ingredients such as sulfates or phthalates that can strip the skin of its natural oils,” says Sherriff.
2. After washing, moisturize your skin and beard area according to your skin type. Use upward motions on the top half of your face, but downward motions (move in the same way your hair grows) from your beard downwards to avoid irritation.
3. Then comb through your beard. “It is the prime time to give it a brush and detangle, as the hairs will be a lot softer and easier to style,” says Sherriff.
4. Next, once it’s dry, trim your beard if you need to. Use a comb to push your hair into the style that you will wear it, then trim any strays such as hairs that hang over the lip with facial hair scissors. Always wait until it’s dry because that’s how you’ll wear it. With scissors, you can get a more precise cut, but if you prefer, you can also use a beard trimmer. Just make sure it’s on the right setting for the length you prefer and cut with caution – you can trim more off but you can’t stick any back on!
The mane attraction
When your beard might be the first thing that people notice about you, you should give it the care and attention it deserves, and that starts with a healthy lifestyle and skincare routine. Whether you’re growing a five o’clock shadow or a lion’s mane, let this be your reminder to show your bristles more love.