How to Maintain a Healthy, Happy Beard
Millions of men sport some kind of beard, whether it's long and exotic or short and stubbly. But how do you groom it? Here's some good advice on how to keep your facial hair healthy and lookin' good regardless of the style you choose.
Basic beard care
Washing your beard two to three times per week will keep it fresh and clean. Keep it conditioned and hydrated to grow a strong, healthy beard rather than a dry, brittle one. Like hair on the head, beards want to be trimmed to keep ends healthy and even. However, don't use regular hair products on your beard. Those strands are special, and they require their own special routine.
Use beard-specific shampoos and conditioners. Opt for ones that emphasize moisturizing, which will give you a softer beard and prevent dryness and discomfort, the greatest beard-based enemies. Choose products with a pleasant scent, because you'll definitely be smelling them. Hair products containing coconut components are great because they smell divine, and the coconut is incredibly hydrating. Conditioner also helps with styling, and you can hydrate further with a beard oil, which adds extra moisturizer and helps prevent dandruff.
Beyond application of top-quality products, you'll want to use a beard brush to keep your beard nicely groomed and distribute those products evenly. A beard trimmer is important for keeping strands even and creating a defined shape. Of course, not everyone wants a defined shape, so you can skip that step depending on the length and look you desire.
Finally, keeping your beard hygienic is key. Even short beards can collect crumbs and sweat, and a longer beard is more prone to collecting food and bacteria. Regular washing will do most of the work, but a beard-restoring balm can disinfect it and keep you feeling squeaky clean.
Common problems & tips for maintenance
Ingrown hairs, dryness and itchiness are some of the most common challenges when growing and maintaining a beard, particularly in the early stages. If you're experiencing these irritations, try massaging a cold-pressed avocado oil into your beard and skin. Do not scratch. Just as with mosquito bites, scratching will only further irritate the skin. Don't jump for the razor, either, because shaving won't necessarily stop irritation.
Dandruff & acne
You might also experience dandruff or beard acne from bacteria accumulating around the hair follicles. For dandruff, try a eucalyptus or grapeseed oil product for hydration. If you're struggling with beard acne, try tea tree oil, which reduces inflammation and alleviates breakouts.
Thickness & length
Thickening and lengthening the beard can also be frequent struggles for some. You might experience dry, brittle strands with a shorter beard, or you could have an unruly, tangled beard with thicker, longer strands. If you're struggling to grow your beard longer or to get the thickness just right, try beard-friendly supplements with vitamins A, C, D and B-12, biotin, niacin or saw palmetto. Look for products that are marketed specifically to support beard growth and thickness, but beware of product safety, as most supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Choose shampoos, conditioners and other beard products that are sulfate-free and contain primarily natural ingredients, as these are gentler on your beard and the skin beneath.
Odors & shaping
Smelly beards are inevitable if you're not washing regularly to remove oil, dirt and bacteria. A consistent washing routine can help prevent unfortunate odors, and as mentioned, oil-rich beard lotions and creams are especially good at giving your beard an attractive fresh scent. For shaping, brush your beard when it's wet and conditioned to gently groom it without irritation. Then, add oil to help tame any unruly strands.
Don't let your beard grow wild without care. Your skin won't like it, and your beard will end up dry, uneven and unkempt. And don't forget about your mustache; it needs love and care just like the rest of your facial hair. Research beard shapes and natural fades to create a hot look that's clean and healthy.