Excellent, you have finally done it. You are finally a proud owner of a beard.
You have overcome all the obstacles on the way to looking as a real man should look.
You have fully committed yourself, overcome the prejudice at work, the mockery by your friends during which your beard made you look like someone who can't afford a razor, and not so much the itchy phase.
Now it is time to show the world the awesomeness which is your facial hair!
Except, you don't want to…
Every single hair on your face seems to be growing in a different direction.
Your beard looks as if the umpa lumpas living under it fired a confetti cannon. You have so much beard dandruff that your bush looks like a shaken snow globe.
You have never overcome the itchy phase, you have just gotten used to it, and your skin is scratched so bad that instead of itchiness you feel only pain.
Running your hands through your beard is a dangerous feat as it is as soft as a metal brush.
You think that it is a high time to cut the losses and just shave your wild mane off. Well, think again.
If your skin shows any of the above symptoms like beardruff (beard dandruff), itchiness, brittleness, split ends… most likely the skin under your beard is just dry. And this is a more common condition than you might think. So put aside your razor and commit to your beard for just a bit longer as dry skin under your beard is very easy to treat.
What causes dry skin under your beard?
Your beard is an extension to your skin. So in order to fully understand why your skin is flaking, why the itch never seems to end, and your beard looks unattractive, to say the least, let us take a closer look at your skin and see how it works.
I am not going to go into detail about your hair, so I will break the hair science into three main parts, those are:
- The hair.
- The hair follicle.
- The sebaceous gland.
Your hair follicle is the place where all the magic happens, your hair is formed inside it, and it provides all the nutrients needed for your hair to grow.
On the upper side of your hair follicle, the sebaceous gland is located which is responsible for oiling your skin and your hair with sebum oil which is an oily, waxy substance that coats your skin and hair preventing it from losing moisture and keeping them both healthy.
You need to take into consideration that the sebaceous gland can only produce a constant amount of sebum oil.
So the problem arises when your hair grows long enough, and the sebaceous gland is not able to produce enough sebum oil to coat it, and the skin. This means that your skin and hair are not able to retain enough moisture which leads to dry skin that cracks and brittle beard.
What are the factors that can trigger a dry skin under your beard?
Dry skin under your beard can be triggered by several factors and the most common are the following:
Washing your beard with hot water
Don't be a wuss, long, luscious and nice looking mane requires determination, persistence, and sacrifice. And when it comes to sacrificing, my recommendation is that you sacrifice the long hot showers, and washing your face with hot water as soon as you start growing your beard.
The reason for this is quite simple.
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 to 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.
So take a deep breath, use cold or warm water to wash your face and avoid long showers or long baths.
It is recommended that you limit your bathing time to 10 minutes or lower, and right after you are finished you should pat your beard dry with a soft towel and don't rub under any circumstance because that can scrub off the sebum oil.
Using bar soap to wash your beard
If you have just grown a beard you are most likely used to washing your beard with the same soap you use to wash the rest of yourself.
Well, stop right away.
The alkalinity in the regular soap is so high that it instantly strips your skin and hair of the all necessary sebum oil, and drawing moisture out of them.
To demonstrate how damaging the bar soap to your skin and beard is, take into consideration that some barbers apply beard soap to the beard before applying shaving cream, to make it brittle and shave off more easily.
Bar soap is not even recommended to be used on your face as the strong chemicals it contains damage your facial skin which is much more tender than the skin on the rest of your body.
After all, you are not using bar soap on your head hair, and your beard is not much different.
If you are living in a place with a colder climate, you should be aware that during the winter months there is usually little, or no moisture in the atmosphere.
This proves to be extremely challenging for your skin as even the slightest wind will blow away any moisture found on your skin and hair. When this happens the skin becomes dry and flaky leading to dry skin.
You don't bother drying your beard after you wash
If you are new to beard growing, you might find yourself surprised at how well your beard retains water from your washing routine. You will tap your beard dry with a towel, and only moments later you will notice a random drip.
This can prove to be a huge problem especially if you have hard water.
If you don’t completely dry off your beard, the water will evaporate and the tiny mineral particles will remain lingering on your beard. This can be quite disastrous for your skin’s health. And let me not mention the stink that damp beard causes.
You can’t just let it grow
You have to understand that growing a beard demands proper maintenance of your beard and the skin underneath.
If you don't take good care of your beard, the skin can lose all the natural oils become really dry, flaky, and more often than not itchy.
Harsh beard grooming products
If you want to grow a perfect, awesome looking beard, at one point you will need to use beard grooming products. And the cosmetics market aimed at men is just full of products claiming to be good for your facial hair, and we all know that that is not always the case.
So before you buy any type of beard grooming product, it is mandatory to check all the ingredients it contains.
My recommendation is to 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.
Stress always plays a major role in a range of skin-related problems such is dryness and beardruff.
When you become stressed, your body immediately releases excessive amounts of the stress hormone called Cortisol.
Excess amounts of Cortisol, break down the collagen, which is a hormone responsible for keeping your skin smooth and elastic.
Lack of collagen inevitably causes your skin to dry, and become flaky.
Use every chance to blow off steam, your skin will be grateful.
Lack of sleep
Much like stress the lack of sleep can be one more reason for dry skin.
Insufficient sleep for a long period of time can cause stress which as we already saw causes dry skin.
Also depending on circumstances, your body can produce some chemicals trying to make-up for the tiredness and lack of sleep, and these chemicals can to hormonal disbalance affecting the collagen hormone as well.
Altering the collagen levels the moisture content in your skin will change as well, leading to dry skin.
Tips for combating dry skin under your beard
No matter what the cause for dry skin under your beard, you need to act fast and remedy it as soon as possible, before it becomes a serious problem in your day to day life. Dry skin is not only uncomfortable, but it can become itchy or inflamed rapidly.
Here are some beard grower tips that will help you get rid of dry skin.
Brush your beard first
Most men usually brush their beard after they wash it, or after they step out of the shower. But logistically it is way easier to brush it before cleansing.
The reason is that with brushing you will untangle the knots, distribute all the oils evenly, which also makes your beard softer, and most importantly exfoliate the skin under your beard.
This means that most of the dead skin cells and beardruff will be brought to the surface of your beard where it would be much easier to wash it off.
Wash your beard
When I say that you should wash your beard I don't mean that you should use your regular hair shampoo that is full of chemicals, and even less a regular bar soap.
The skin on your face is different than your skin on your face which is much more tender, and using the same shampoo to wash your beard can be devastating for your facial skin.
Normally, the shampoo contains numerous chemicals which will strip your skin of the all so needed sebum oil, causing your skin to lose moisture rapidly and crack.
Using a bar soap for that matter magnifies the problem exponentially.
My recommendation is that you should get yourself a nice all natural beard shampoo, which is specifically designed to keep your beard looking great and help your skin retain moisture.
You should look for shampoos that contain vitamin E as they would help keep your skin healthy and moisturized.
Shampooing your beard two to three times a week will effectively prevent the skin under your beard from drying.
It is important to note that when using a beard shampoo you should not rinse off your beard right after applying the shampoo. Instead, you should allow the shampoo to work its magic and dissolve all the impurities in your beard, and wash it off after the recommended period of time, then rinse it to make sure that no residue has remained.
Be sure that you get rid off all the residual shampoo as it too can cause your skin to become dry and flake.
Always avoid hot water
This goes without saying, hygiene is extremely important for the health of your skin.
In order to maintain a healthy skin and nice looking beard, you would want to wash your beard at least twice a day. However when washing your beard avoid using hot water.
As I have already mentioned, warm water would loosen up all the natural oils that coat your skin and beard, and they would be washed off easily. Your skin will not be able to retain moisture effectively, which would lead to dry skin.
Try using warm or even better cold water when washing your beard or showering. Cold water will refresh your skin, and enable it to maintain all the natural oils.
Dry your beard thoroughly
This is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have a long beard. But it is imperative to dry your beard off completely after cleansing, especially if you are using hard water to cleanse.
Hard water contains loads of minerals which 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 not rub it against your beard under any circumstance as that would scrub all the oils from your beard and your skin.
If needed you can blow dry your beard with a hairdryer, while taking care that you set it on low, cool setting as warm air can irritate your skin.
Moisturize your beard
It is a well-known fact in the bearded community that as long as you keep your beard area well moisturized, you will never have dry skin under it. For that purpose you can use several different products, beard oil, beard balm, beard wax and everything in between, the choice is entirely up to you.
Beard oils are probably the most popular product to use at the moment, as they are usually made of all natural oils, and very few of them use any synthetic substances. However, if you have a problem taming your beard, you can also consider using a beard balm, or if your beard is extremely wild you can consider using a beard wax which usually contains beeswax and tree sap or resin to give it that extra hold on your beard.
You should always keep in mind that the products you buy contain all natural ingredients, as synthetic components inside your beard moisturizers can prove detrimental to your skin.
When buying a beard moisturizer, I would suggest that you pay attention to the ingredients used, read the product reviews online, or even speak to your friends to decide which type and brand of beard moisturizer is best for you.
Once you purchase your beard oil, you should use it at least twice a day, or maybe, even more, depending on how dry your skin is, and your daily routine (if you wash your face more often it would be advised to use your beard oil more often). But no worries, with beard oil a little, goes a long way.
The basic principle is that you should keep your skin moist in order to avoid drying up. If you are consistent with using beard moisturizers you will be amazed at how fast it yields results.
Brush your beard (again)
Brushing your beard often has loads of benefits which would show results after a period of time.
You should acquire a good beard comb or beard brush and brush your beard in one direction only. This would cause your beard to grow in the same direction and will prevent your hair from getting entangled. The fewer knots you have in your beard the lower the chances of skin irritation.
Regular brushing improves the aeration of your beard and the skin below. It also helps spread the oils of your hairs and skin evenly, making your beard easier to manage while at the same time massaging your skin and helping with the dead cell exfoliation and aiding blood flow to your hair follicles.
Watch what you eat
The food that you eat has a direct impact on your entire body including your skin. Maintaining a healthy diet can prevent your skin under the beard from drying.
The most important thing that you can do to keep your skin well hydrated is to drink a lot of water.
Try to incorporate foods that are rich in vitamin A in your diet. Vitamin A helps repair damaged skin tissue and encourages hair growth. To obtain vitamin A you should incorporate the following foods into your diet: cheese, eggs, milk, butter, pumpkins, carrots, papayas sweet potatoes.
Foods rich in vitamins C and E help promote the production of sebum oil. Vitamin C is mostly found in citrus fruits, lemons, peppers, and broccoli. While the vitamin E is most commonly found in almonds, peanuts, wheat, spinach etc.
The Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for the health of your skin and hair. They help protect the cell membranes of your skin and hair preventing your hair from weakening and your skin from getting dry. Omega-3 is found in salmon, walnuts, flaxseed etc.
Protein intake is very important for the health of your facial skin and hair. Fish, milk, poultry, eggs, rice, should be also included in your diet which would boost your skin regeneration and increase the formation of the keratin compound which is crucial for hair growth.
As we have already mentioned, stress is one of the main causes in a range of skin-related problems including dry skin and beardruff.
So use every single chance to blow off some steam from time to time.
Sleep, eat healthily and adopt a healthy exercise routine. Cut on sugar and caffeine, and forget about vices such are alcohol, recreational drugs, and cigarettes.
Use every chance to relax reading a nice book or just listening to some music.
Adopt a regular exercise routine
A healthy exercise regime has a cornucopia of benefits for your body including your skin and your beard.
The active workout will help balance the hormones in your body promoting hair growth, help improve blood flow, which is beneficial for your skin and hair as both will be provided with more nutrients. And it would also help reduce the stress levels.
For best results, a healthy diet should be incorporated into a regular workout routine.
Simply put the ideal daily routine to maintain healthy skin under your beard would be the following:
- Wash your beard using your favorite beard wash.
- Tap your beard dry (use a hairdryer if needed to dry it off completely)
- Apply a beard moisturizer of your choice (at least twice a day).
- Brush/comb your beard.
- Style it to your liking.
- Let it grow.
So what do you do if none of the above works?
In reality, everyone that grows a beard must uncover what is the source of the problem.
If your skin is flaking, the most common reason is that it gets dry, but unfortunately not the only one. Your face can flake for many different reasons such as fungus, oil and balm irritation, residue from the shampoo or conditioner, dermatitis…
So if your skin is flaking and feeling itchy I would suggest that you first visit your dermatologist before you take any further steps.
My point is that your beard would always require some maintenance, I mean it is not as drastic as maintaining a clean shave, but would still require quality products to look after it.
Dry skin under your beard is a very common problem, which takes less than a week to remedy.
So if you suffer from dry, flaky, itchy skin under your beard just follow the above routine and you will get rid of it in less than a week.
Put your razor aside and let that fur grow!