Let’s face it, beards and all types of facial hair styles are everywhere now. Many men, including myself still see their mane as an expression of personality, masculinity, a fashion statement, or a grooming shortcut.
I understand that some of us think that growing a beard would save you a great deal on face washes, moisturizes, overpriced blades, and not to mention the time and effort it takes to keep a clean shaven face. And they just let it grow being utterly unaware of a flaky secret that many facial hairs hide, the beard dandruff.
Beard dandruff is no fun. In fact, it's ugly and frustrating...
No need to worry though.
On this guide we'll tackle this very common condition among bearded men and we'll discuss the causes and cures of beard dandruff so that you finally get a healthy and soft beard.
What is beard dandruff?
Similarly as the dandruff on your hair, beard dandruff is a natural response of your skin to irritation.
Beard dandruff can be caused by several factors.
Dry skin under your beard, harsh beard grooming products, stress, lack of sleep, cold weather. Sometimes, similarly as with regular dandruff, irritation caused by a microbe that goes by the name of Malassezia globosa (yeast), or more often than not, a combination of stress, improper grooming and yeast.
In order to fully understand how to prevent your facial skin from flaking leaving your beard look like a snow globe that has just been shaken up, we should take a closer look at each beardruff (beard+dandruff) causing factor separately.
If you have naturally dry skin, you should know by now that you have to use moisturizers, and growing a beard does not mean that you should skip this step.
But why people with normal or oily skin get beard dandruff as well?
To answer this question, we will have to take a closer look into your hair.
As I am not a doctor I will try to explain this in layman terms.
I will break down the hair science into tree main parts.
Your hair, the hair follicle, and the sebaceous gland.
Your hair follicle is the home to your hair strand. The hair develops in the hair follicle and it provides your hair strand with all the nutrients that your hair needs in order to grow.
On the upper side of your hair follicle lies attached the all so important sebaceous gland, which is responsible for oiling your skin and coating your hair with sebum oil.
Sebum oil is a waxy, oily substance that coats your hair and your skin moisturizing them and keeping them both healthy.
The problem is that your sebaceous gland can only produce definite amount of sebum oil. So as your hair grows longer, the sebaceous gland is not able to produce enough sebum oil to coat your hair and skin. This in terms eventually leads to insufficient sebum oil coating which causes your skin to loose moisture which leads to dry skin under your beard that would with time crack and produce beard dandruff.
Beard grooming products that don’t agree with your skin
While growing your beard, at some point you will have to start using beard grooming products.
That is, if you like to keep your beard soft and well presented.
But if you want to grow an attractive looking mane you most likely would need to get stuff to keep your beard happy.
The problem is that the market is just flooded with products that claim to be just perfect for you, but as we all know marketing is not the most honest business in the world.
So before you buy any type of beard grooming product, it is mandatory to check all the ingredients it contains.
My recommendation is always go for all natural products. Many of the products on the market contain harsh chemicals, and alcohol which can strip your skin of all the natural oils, clog your pores, and result in dry skin.
Talking about harsh grooming products, you should definitely avoid using a regular bar soap.
Bar soaps are usually designed to do the heavy lifting, like cleaning the dirt from your hands, killing bacteria and dissolving any dirt particles. This means that they are extremely caustic.
Washing your beard with a bar soap will immediately strip your skin and hair of sebum oil, causing your skin to loose moisture which leads to cracking which causes beard dandruff.
We all know that stress can be devastating for our mental and our physical health, this includes your skin too.
Stress always plays a major role role in a range of skin-related problems such is dryness which leads to beardruff.
Scientific research has proven that when you become stressed, your body would respond by immediately releasing excessive amounts of a stress hormone called Cortisol.
Cortitisole is known to break down your collagen molecules, which is a hormone that keeps your skin smooth and elastic. With the collagen gone your skin will immediately become dry and flaky, causing beard dandruff.
As you can imagine lack of sleep is directly connected to stress. Not getting enough sleep over a period of time will eventually cause you to stress out. In turn, this will contribute to dry skin as we have mentioned above and lead to beardruff.
Also under some circumstances in order to make-up for the lost sleep your body will respond by producing chemicals which can lead to hormonal disbalance which can also affect the collagen hormone as well. If the collagen levels in your body are altered your skin will in time start to loose moisture causing your skin to flake.
If you live in a colder climate, you know that on those cold days there is usually little or no moisture in the air. This can prove to be extremely challenging for your skin to retain any moisture as even the slightest wind can cause all the moisture to literaly evaporate into thin air leading to dry skin and beard dandruff.
Same as with your hair and scalp, beard dandruff can be caused by a yeast that loves to crawl under your hair. It goes by the name of Malassezia Globosa and it feeds on the sebum oil that is used to moisturize your skin and hair. To make matters even worse, while feeding on your sebum oil this microbe is breaking it down into oleic acid.
And if you don't know what oleic acid is, you better read on. For most people, this is a potent skin irritant which can cause dandruff as well as redness and itching.
But no worries, Malassesia is found on everybody’s scalp and face so you are not alone and luckily it can be treated quite easily.
Sebnhoreic dermatitis is a skin condition that is common among people which affects the oily areas of the body such are scalp, chest, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids and of coarse your face. It is a condition that causes scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff.
Doctors have not yet confirmed what causes Seborrheic dermatitis but research conducted shows that it can be related to Malassezia Globosa or a fault in the immune system.
Factors that can cause Seborrheic dermatitis are stress, depression, weakened immune system and sometimes some medication.
How can you cure beard dandruff and prevent it from appearing again?
When it comes to beard dandruff, the first thing that gets mentioned is a good beard oil.
Just slap some of that on your beard and you are ready to go.
And don’t get me wrong, beard oil is a must if you are trying to grow an astonishing looking, healthy mane, but unfortunately the reality is a tad more complicated.
As you can see from above there are many factors that can cause beard dandruff and luckily beard oil is not the only solution.
So how do you go about ridding your beard of the all so dreadful beard dandruff?
Start eating healthy
This might come as a surprise, what does food have to do with beard dandruff?
As we know the food that we eat has a direct impact on our entire body and our skin is no exception.
Maintaining a healthy diet can prevent your skin under the beard from drying, and more importantly some foods will provide essential nutrients and, vitamins and minerals. All these will keep your skin well nourished and your beard healthy.
The first thing you have to do to keep your skin well hydrated, which will prevent it from cracking and flaking is to hydrate yourself.
And I don’t mean drinking juices, certainly not coke, or any type of pop for that matter, or alcohol, but try to incorporate water in your diet.
You can disregard the strict rule of two liters per day. I mean it is just a pointless average, everyone has different needs, and the water intake can vary depending on your daily routine.
My point here is that don't let yourself feel thirsty. Just grab a glass of water every half or one hour which will be more than enough to cover your daily water intake.
Eat more cheese, eggs, milk, butter, pumpkins, carrots, papayas, sweet potatoes. These foods are rich in vitamin A which not only helps repair damaged skin tissue but it also encourages hair growth. So not only will you rid yourself from dandruff, but your beard will benefit from these foods as well.
Talking of vitamins, when fighting beard dandruff, you should try to incorporate foods that are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E in your diet.
Both vitamin C and E help promote the natural production of sebum oil. Vitamin C is mostly found in citrus fruits, lemons, peppers and brocolli. While the vitamin E is most commonly found in almonds, peanuts, wheat, spinach etc.
When it comes to skin and hair care, the Omega-3 fatty acids seem to play an important role, and in fact they do. They play a major part in protecting the cell membranes of your skin and hair from weakening, which allows your cells to retain water more effectively, thus preventing your skin from getting dry. You can find Omega-3 in salmon and other types of fish, walnuts, flaxseed etc.
Foods like fish, milk, poultry, eggs, rice are vital for the health of your skin as they contain large amounts of protein. Protein plays important part in your skin regeneration, while at the same time it also aidsthe formation of the keratin compound which is crucial for hair growth.
Now that you are aware of the delicious food that you will have to eat in order to protect yourself from and/or cure beard dandruff, what will you do with all that energy?
I mean if you just sit around it will just turn into fat, and that is not the greatest way to complement your beard, so why not adopt an exercise routine.
Regular exercise will bring you number of benefits not only for your muscles, or physical appeal, but for your skin and beard as well.
Workout is proven to help balance the hormones in your body, promoting skin regeneration, sebum oil production, and the increased blood flow will contribute to better nutrient dispersion through your skin. In addition, this will help it regenerate at a much faster rate than usual.
Workout has also been proven to reduce the stress levels for which we will speak in a moment. So in order to give your body the best chance to fight beardruff you should come-up with a suitable workout regime, coupled with healthy food choices.
As we have already mentioned, stress can be one of the main causes in a range of skin related problems, and beard dandruff is one of them. For that reason you should really use every chance you get to blow off some steam.
Just put all the problems of the day behind and focus on something you like.
Sleep, eat healthy, and adopt a healthy exercise regime.
Try reading a good book from time to time, as it is a proven method of making you leave all the problems behind, or just sit back in your favorite chair listening to some music.
Things that contribute to stress and that you should avoid are nicotine, coffeine, sugar, alcohol or any recreational drugs.
Hot water is a big NO
Hygiene is extremely important for the overall health of your entire body. And most of us feel that we need to wash our face at least twice a day. Both in the morning and in the evening, and shower at least once each day.
Growing a beard, or fighting beard dandruff should not in any way alter this routine.
However, when you grow a beard you would want to avoid using hot water to bathe.
Remember the sebum oil that we have mentioned before? It is a waxy oily substance that coats your hair and skin moisturizing them and allowing them both retain water more effectively.
Splashing hot water on your face would cause the sebum oil to loosen up and wash off easily causing dry skin under your beard which would eventually lead to beard dandruff.
Quite simply, once the sebum oil is gone from your skin and beard, your skin will not be able to retain any water. This will cause your skin cells to dehydrate die off, your skin to flake, and voila a perfect recipe for beardruff.
Do not ever leave your beard damp
This is probably the biggest problem when having a beard, especially a long one.
The longer your beard, the more challenging to dry it off after you wash. However if you decide to disregard drying your beard thoroughly, well… beardruff just loves damp beard, especially if you use hard water to cleanse.
Hard water contains minerals and once the water evaporates these minerals will remain inside your beard, if left for a long time can contribute to dry skin.
It is really important that you tap your beard dry completely with a soft towel. But remember not to rub it against your beard under any circumstance. That would scrub all the oils from your beard and your skin, and rubbing your facial hairs against your skin will for sure irritate it.
If needed you can use a hairdryer to blow dry your beard, while taking care that you set it on low, cool setting as warm air can irritate your skin as well.
Use a shampoo specially designed for washing your beard
Yes, beard shampoo is a real thing and we're very much proud of our gentle beard wash.
Remember that we spoke about harsh grooming products that do not agree with your skin?
Well that is because the skin on your scalp and your body is different than the skin on your face.
Facial skin is usually more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. For that reason if you use your regular shampoo to wash your beard you might give yourself a bad case of beardruff. And don’t even ask how harsh a regular bar soap is on your facial skin.
Men have realized this and for that reason they have created the beard shampoo. It's not just another regular shampoo as it's specifically formulated for use on your beard.
Beard shampoos are way milder than the ones that you use on your beard. Great beard shampoos like the one we developed here at Seven Potions, are formulated to condition your hair and moisturize your skin underneath your beard so you can rest assured that beardruff does not become a reality for you.
Moisturize your beard properly
One of the main causes of beard dandruff is improper beard moisturization. Lucky for you there are several beard care products that we develop that would help with beard moisturization.
Beard oil is one such product, it is a specially formulated oil mix which mimics the natural oils produced by your skin and helps moisturize your facial hair and the skin beneath.
It is made up of two main types of oil:
- Carrier oil, which makes up 95 – 99% of your beard oil and
- Essential oils which make up the rest of the beard oil mix.
When applied to your beard, the beard oil would coat your skin with protective layer of oils which would prevent the moisture from evaporating from your skin, and a beard oil like our Seven Potions would also contain oils which would provide nourishment and protection for your skin. Healthy skin means a dandruff free beard.
Beard balm in essence does the same job as the beard oil, it only differs from beard oil that it acts a bit as a styling and shaping aid in addition to being a conditioner.
It usually contains shea butter and sometimes beeswax (Seven Potions beard balm contains both), that makes it a bit thicker in consistency than beard oil and makes your beard appear thicker.
And finally beard wax, which is similar to beard balm but even thicker in consistency. It contains large amounts of wax and sometimes even resin to give your beard that extra hold.
And by the way, make sure you check out our all natural beard wax.
Choosing the right beard moisturizer is entirely up to you, they all do the same job, and the choice would only depend on how long and wild your beard is.
If your facial hair grows in different directions and the beard oil does not remedy the situation, you should probably switch to beard balm. And if you're looking for stronger hold, give beard wax a try. However, whichever moisturizer you choose you will be on the right path of fighting beardruff.
Use a beard brush or beard comb
When it comes to fighting beard dandruff these two tools seem to be considered obsolete by most men, and that is where most of us are wrong.
The beard brush, or the beard comb have proven themselves as vital in fighting beardruff.
Using a beard brush to brush your hair does not only make your beard look great, but it is also a great tool for exfoliating dead skin cells from under your beard.
In fact, our beard brush is made of 100% first-cut boar bristles that give the brush an excellent backbone. This is also why it's able to exfoliate the skin very effectively while at the same time, make your beard soft and healthy.
Skin free from dead skin cells is less prone to irritation and eventually flaking and dandruff.
What’s more using a beard brush would bring those dead skin cells to the surface of your beard making it a breeze to wash off while you take a shower or wash your beard.
Using a beard brush or beard comb will help you untangle all the hair which would prevent any irritation to your skin.
And these two tools would allow you to distribute the oils in your beard and skin evenly. Providing an almost uniform coat of oil on your skin will prevent it from cracking, irritation and beardruff.
What should your daily beardruff fighting routine look like?
Beardruff is not the worst that can happen in your life, it is a very common condition that most of men suffer, lucky for us, eliminating beardruff is not a challenging task at all.
Above we have explained how to fight the dandruff causing Malassezia globosa. But if you only have dry skin under your beard the problem would be even easier to fix.
Beard brush is number 1
First thing you would need to do is to get a beard brush as it will make your life much easier when fighting beard dandruff and the first tool to use every morning.
You should start by using your beard brush to exfoliate your dead skin cells from your beard, this would bring all the beardruff to the surface of your skin making it easier to manage.
Wash your face preferably with a specialized beard soap or shampoo.
Tap your beard dry with a soft towel, do not rub under any circumstance as that can irritate your skin.
If you have a longer beard use a blow drier on warm to dry it off completely.
Apply your beard oil or balm
Brush your beard again with your beard brush. This will help untangle all the hairs and distribute the applied beard oil evenly.
You are all set to go about your daily routine.
So the next step that you should take would seem fairly logical, just shave your beard off and make the bastard suffer.
Of course I'm kidding!!!
Lucky for us, no one shaves their hair just because they have dandruff. Otherwise, what are we doing here?
Beard grooming companies like ours, have provided us with chemical-free products to take care of this nasty condition. So if shaving is not an option, you can always count on us.
To conclude, I will repeat myself one more time, “beard dandruff is a very common condition”, and luckily it is not that hard to fight. However my advise would be that before taking the matters into your own hands it would be best that you see your dermatologist first and discuss the matter with them.
So, if dandruff doesn't seem to go away even after you tried every single method to fight it, you should consult your dermatologist to uncover the root of the situation and decide on all further actions according to their advice.