You have finally decided to grow that beard you have always dreamed of. You have spent the last few months convincing your girlfriend, and finally she not only agrees but you have her full support. After all what is not to like about men with an epic looking mane. To make things even better your boss is not giving you that awkward “you are embarrassing me look” he has come to terms with you growing a full beard.
Your beard is showing all the signs of becoming that perfect, luxurious, mass of manliness you have always wanted. People on the street glimpse at your mane and smile thinking “he has done it, I want a beard like that”, you smile back and everything seems perfect.
But little does anyone know the dark secret that has been eating you up, you hide it well behind your smile. No one knows that the only thing you want to say to anyone that compliments your beard are: “Holy crap it itches so bad, please Lord help me!!!”. And they said the itch is just a short phase.
Yes, for most guys the beard itch is just a phase that lasts couple of weeks, however, sometimes it can stick until the end of time, that is until you shave your beard off.
But don’t worry, growing a beard should not be an agonizing experience.
In this article I will explain how to stop your beard itch and prevent it from ever itching again.
Why is your beard itchy and how to stop it?
The first step to treating that dreadful beard itch is to understand what causes it in the first place.
In reality there can be several reasons why your beard itches.
Your beard can be caused by one of the factors we will explain below, or the discomfort might be caused by several of these factors at once. So lets take it from the top.
The way you shave
This is the most common problem, and as we grow our beard most of us will encounter a beard itch that is caused by the way we shave.
Although in most cases inevitable this is just a normal phase that goes away in a week or so.
How does this happen?
The reason is quite simple, most modern razors are designed to give you as close shave as possible, this means that when shaving the razor head will lift out your hairs from beneath your skin and cut them, that is how you get that perfect, your face feels like a baby’s bottom type of shave.
However the problem arises when your hair starts growing back. As your hair strands grow out they tear apart your skin causing microscopic serrations. Thousands of these tiny cuts lead to skin irritation that makes you want to scratch your face off.
And that is just one part of the problem our once trusty razor causes when growing a beard.
The second thing the razor does is that it cuts your beard at an angle. And when the beard grows out to a certain length it will curl back. So the sharp tip of your hair strand will be constantly rubbing against your facial skin, and this can cause irritation. Not to mention that constant shaving toughens-up your beard which makes the matters even worse.
How to fix it
I need to be honest with you right off the bat.
When growing a beard you have to go through some suffering, and there is nothing you can really do to prevent the beard itch in the beginning. It is a phase that each beard grower has to go through, so just clench your teeth for a week or two and watch as things right themselves. You can however reduce this itch at the minimum with the use of a good beard oil.
Nevertheless growing a beard should not be an agonizing experience.
In order for you to go through this phase with as little irritation as possible is by trimming your beard once it grows to about ¼ of an inch. Supposedly this would take care of those sharp tips that by that time would start poking your skin reducing the irritation. At this point your beard is not nearly long enough to be called a beard and it might be patchy at places, so this will take care of the patchiness allowing time for the new hairs to grow out filling in your patchy spots. So it is a win win situation.
Dead skin cells
Thousands of dead skin cells are being shed from your face alone each day.
And this is not a problem at all if you shave each day.
You just use some facial wash regularly, and facial scrub couple of times per week, and the dead skin cells end-up in your sink. But as you grow a beard the game changes.
Your beard catches all the dead skin cells and holds them just above the surface of your face, not letting the skin fall away. This causes irritation and itching.
How to fix it
Simply put you just need to cleanse your beard.
And NO, you are not allowed to use your regullar hair shampoo for that purpose, or god forbid bar soap.
The reason being that the skin on your face is far more sensitive than the skin on your scalp.
Using a regular shampoo can lead to dry skin under your beard which will make matters even worse.
Using a regular bar soap would cause damage not only to your skin but to the hair strands as well.
So in order to properly cleanse your beard you should acquire a good beard shampoo, which as the name suggests it is formulated specifically for the purpose of washing your beard.
A beard shampoo would help with flaking of your skin, removing all those dead skin cells that are stuck between your beard and will at the same time soothe your skin eliminating that irritating beard itch.
As a man I understand that we don’t like spending too much time on grooming.
The reason why some of us grow beard is because we see it as a shortcut to grooming. Nonetheless growing a beard requires a certain degree of grooming.
It is not as tedious of a job as keeping a clean shaven face, but still some grooming is necessary. And keeping your beard dry is probably the hardest part of growing one.
Some of you might ask “How can a bit of water in your beard cause itching and irritation?”.
Quite simply, the water that we use to cleanse ourselves is not 100% H2O, it contains loads of impurities among which are minerals. What happens, when you don't dry off your beard completely after washing, is that when the water evaporates from your beard it leaves behind all the minerals crystallized on your beard. These minerals will eventually start rubbing against your skin causing irritation and itching.
The second reason why you have to dry off your beard completely is because of microbes and bacteria. They just love damp and dark environments such is your damp beard. If enough of these microbes spawn inside your beard they can cause severe irritation which will lead to itching and in some cases even worse.
And last but not least, is just a magnet for impurities.
When your beard is dry some dust, microbes, and impurities might get on your beard, but as you are constantly moving most of those impurities fall off. But when your beard is damp all those impurities that can be shaken off stick to your beard and settle there until you decide to wash.
How to fix it
Drying off your beard is a bit more tricky than you would expect, especially if you are a proud owner of a long, thick, luscious facial hair.
You should just take a towel and tap dry your beard. That being said, you should avoid rubbing the towel against your facial hair, as this will strip away the natural oils from your hair, and rubbing the towel against your beard will cause it to rub against your skin which can cause irritation and itching.
If after you tap your beard dry, you are not satisfied with the results, feel free to use a hairdryer to blow dry it. Just make sure it is turned on low so as not to damage your facial hair.
Beard or no beard, ingrown hairs are something that every man encounters daily, and we all know how irritating they can be.
How to fix it
The best way to deal with ingrown hairs is simply by inspecting your beard couple of times per week and once you spot and ingrown hair use tweezers to remove it. This way you will prevent your beard from itching before it becomes a real problem.
If you have a full beard that constantly itches, chances are that your hair is damaged from using harsh grooming products such are soaps or from heat styling.
When your hair gets damaged it will split from the tip to the root, which will significantly slow down the growth of your beard while at the same time irritating the follicle and causing beard itch.
How to fix it
If you have already damaged your beard you can always shave it and start fresh…
Nah, just kidding, the grooming industry has come up with beard repair products that are formulated with proteins that would penetrate your hair strand repairing it and moisturizing it at the same time.
Much like the dandruff in your hair your beard can also fall a victim to dandruff causing infection. And we all know how much dandruffy hair itches.
The culprit can be found in a yeast that lives on our skin, a yeast called Malassezia Globosa which feeds on the sebum oils that are naturally produced by our skin.
While feeding on our sebum oils the infection breaks the sebum oil into several components among which is the oleic acid which for most people is a potent irritant, causing redness and itching.
How to fix it
Same as your scalp, you can just use a medical or over-the-counter anti dandruff shampoo of your choice, apply it to your beard, let it soak for several minutes, wash off and you are all set.
I have saved the best for last. Dry skin is the most common reason for itchy beard and that is simply because the causes for dry skin are numerous starting from lifestyle, daily routine, environment, all the way to grooming habits.
In this section I will just say couple of words for the most common causes for dry skin.
- cleansing with hot water: Taking a long hot shower after a hard day of work can be a potential cause of beard itch. Hot water loosens-up all the natural oils that are produced by our skin and washes them away. Once your skin and hair are devoid of sebum oil, the moisture from your skin evaporates rapidly causing dry skin which leads to irritation and itching.
- cold weather: 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 evaporate into thin air leading to dry skin and beard dandruff.
- Harsh beard grooming products: The majority of the novou beard growers make the mistake of using the wrong products to keep their beard clean and soft. For example, some are tempted to use bar soap on their beard, and in the long run this proves to be a devastating decision. Bar soap not only damages your hair, but it also dissolves the sebum oil from your skin and hair causing them to loose moisture quickly leading to dry, irritated, itchy, skin. Also it might be tempting to wash your beard while shampooing your hair in the shower using the same shampoo. Well guess what, hair shampoos are also extremely effective at washing off the sebum oils from your skin and hair, and before you know it the itch will settle in.
- Stress: We all know that stress has a huge impact on our entire body, and that does not exclude the skin. Once we become stressed, our body is programmed to release a stress hormone called Cortisol which is known to break the collagen molecules in our skin. Once the collagen is gone our skin looses elasticity, leading to dryness, flaking, and eventually itchiness. Speaking of stress, lack of sleep can also contribute to the stress, leading to hormonal dissemblance which will affect our skin in the long run adding to the dreadful itchiness.
- poor diet: There have been numerous extensive researches that showed that the health of your beard is directly proportionate to the overall health of your body. Meaning the same nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are good for other vital organs are good for your facial hair and skin. So in the long run, well balanced diet means a healthy, itch free beard.
How to fix it
Starting from the top, STOP using hot water to cleanse yourself your beard will thank you, plus cold water is great for blood circulation.
Acquire shampoo that is specifically formulated for your beard, trust me it is worth it, don’t ever use bar soap on your face.
Try to destress as often as possible, reading a book, or listening to music are great pastimes.
Start eating healthy your entire body will thank you for it. While we are at it, try to incorporate foods that contain Biotin, vitamins B which help repair your skin cells, vitamins C and E which promote your body’s production of sebum oil, Omega-3 which are essential fatty acids that promote growth yes hair growth included.
What tools can you use in fighting beard itch?
When it comes to beard itch, or beard dandruff or dry skin under beard, far too often you would hear beard oil being shouted.
And yes beard oil is a great tool and an absolute must have for anyone that is thinking about growing a beard. However that is not the only tool that can be used for fighting beard itch.
Here are some other tools that will help you fight and keep the maddening beard itch at bay.
Beard brush or beard comb
If you have never tried it, you will just have to trust me, when fighting beard itch the tool you will most enjoy is your beard brush for several reasons.
First of all it just feels great running it through your beard gently scratching your skin under your beard, instantly relieving your beard itch. But the beard brush was not intended for this purpose although it is the best aspect of owning one.
Using a beard brush would help you scrub off all the dead skin cells bringing them to the surface of your beard making it easy to wash them off.
Regularly using a boar hair beard brush or beard comb will train your hairs grow in a single direction, which will significantly reduce the risk of scratching and having ingrown hairs that cause beard itch. It will also untangle any knots that you might have in your beard leading to irritation free skin.
It is an absolute must for anyone that is growing a beard.
Beard oil is specially formulated to closely mimic the natural oils that are produced by your skin and it helps moisturize and soften your skin and facial hair. Top notch beard oils are made-up of two types of oil a carrier oil and essential oil.
The carrier oils like jojoba, castor, almond oil, resemble the sebum oil that is produced by your skin they help coat your hair and skin preventing them from loosing moisture. At the same time, the essential oils help soothe your skin, and provide nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins, in addition to making your beard smell great.
Beard oil will also soften your facial hair reducing irritation the hairs can cause to your skin. For this purpose you can also use a beard balm, or beard wax, which do essentially the same thing as beard oil, but they differ in consistency.
However word of advise, if you are not sure what is causing your beard itch, you should first visit your dermatologist just to exclude the possibility of yeast infection. The reason is that the yeast on your skin might start feeding on the oils introduced on your beard escalating the problem further.
Same as the hair on your scalp your beard needs conditioning too, that is if you are going for a soft and downy feel. For this purpose you can use a regular hair conditioner but beware, those things that you put on your hair might contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the sensitive skin on your face.
If you want to play it safe you can look for specially designed beard conditioners like our quality beard balm that contain all those carrier oils and natural butters that will keep your beard soft and your skin irritation free.
As I have already mentioned. Beard shampoo like our gentle Seven Potions one is a must when growing a beard.
It is specifically designed for washing your beard and not only that a good beard shampoo will do an excellent job at cleansing your beard but it is also formulated to provide moisture and nutrients needed for your beard and skin.
How to keep beard itch at bay?
In order to keep beard itch at bay you would at least need your beard brush, beard oil, and beard shampoo.
First thing you should do in the morning before you wash your face is brush your beard with your beard brush. This will help exfoliate all the dead skin cells from underneath and bring them to the surface of your beard.
Then use your beard shampoo to wash your beard with lukewarm or cold water, rinse off thoroughly making sure that no beard shampoo remains in your beard. Tap dry your beard with a towel. If not completely dry, use a hair dryer on low temperature. Brush your beard again and you are all set.
If by any chance your beard itch is caused by Malassezia Globosa, do all the steps above but with an anti dandruff shampoo and skip the beard oil for a while, that is until you get rid of the yeast.
In conclusion, I would just like to remind you that growing a beard should be fun and by no means annoying, irritating experience that puts your sanity in question.
If you stick to the above guidelines I truly believe that growing a full luscious mane would not prove to be hassle at all, but a pleasant experience every men should try at least once in their lifetime.
Images courtesy: avemario/BigStock.com, Dean Drobot/BigStock.com, Yastremska/BigStock.com, Denis Rozhnovsky/BigStock.com, Tverdokhlib/BigStock.com.