Dryness, flakes, itchiness, and irritated skin. These are all-too-common afflictions for many beard growers. You may have either experienced these problems yourself while growing a beard, or noticed it in other men. It may have even been the reason why you gave up on growing a beard in the past.
Fortunately, our understanding of the science of beards is constantly expanding, and there are now proven ways to deal with this frustrating problem. In this post we will discuss the causes of dry and flaky skin under your beard, what to do about it, and what kind of products can help you achieve the beard of your dreams without the hassle of irritated skin.
Coping with dry, itchy, or flaky skin under beard
In the process of growing a beard, most men are met with a series of challenges. A few months down the line, for instance, a common complaint is unruly beard hair, flyaways, or tangles. For men with exceptionally long beards, simply keeping your beard safe from food, fire, zippers, etc. can be a full time job.
However, the very first problem that most men run into as their beard progresses through the early, stubbly phases is plain old skin irritation. While the most intense phase of irritation is usually over by the time your hairs have passed the half-inch mark (ie. when short, sharp stubble and the resulting ingrown hairs are gone), low-level irritation can linger pretty much indefinitely. While brief and mild stages of discomfort are normal when growing out your beard, long term itchiness, dryness or flakes could be signs of a problem that needs to be addressed.
The good news: you don’t need to suffer through irritated skin under the beard anymore. The right approach can fix this kind of beard problem in a matter of days.
However, if you are going to address the symptoms of irritation, the first thing you need to do is understand the causes. Only then will you be able to pick the right course of action to remedy the issue.
Common causes of flaky or irritated skin under beard
As we already mentioned, the earliest phases of beard growth are often the itchiest simply due to ingrown hairs. You see, when you first shave your beard, the tips of your beard hairs are cut into sharp points. If these manage to get caught on your skin (either because you shaved too close or because your hair is naturally curly and re-enters the skin after growing out), this can result in severe discomfort.
Luckily, this cause of irritation is short lived and easy to treat. For most men, simply shaving with the grain leaves the tip of the hair just far enough outside of the follicle to prevent hair from catching on the skin. By about a week or two after starting to grow your hair out, the itchiness from the sharp points of newly grown-out hairs should start to subside without any special treatment.
You may have noticed that itchiness and dryness tend to increase during the winter months, particularly if you live somewhere where the winter tends to be cold and lack humidity. The dry air can actually suck the moisture right out of your face—which is also why people often complain of chapped lips during the winter months as well.
Your face naturally produces moisturizing oils and is capable of retaining moisture. Oil-producing glands (called sebaceous glands) around your follicles constantly provide your face with much-needed moisture. However, long beard hairs can give your sebaceous glands an extra heavy-duty job, since they need to provide moisture not only for your skin but also for the shafts of your beard hair. Later on we will mention a few simple ways to lend a little help to these hard-working glands.
Poor washing practices
Men new to the bearded lifestyle can easily make the understandable mistake of treating their beard just like they treat the hair on their head. Unfortunately, this approach can have extremely uncomfortable effects.
Your beard hair is fundamentally different from the hair on your head. Different texture and differences in the follicles and glands mean that your beard requires a unique approach to keep healthy.
The main mistake that most men make is simply washing their beard too often. Applying shampoo everyday or every other day (like many men do to the hair on their head) will inevitably strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it prone to dryness, which in turn irritates the skin underneath.
Another mistake is using the wrong kind of shampoo. A specially formulated beard shampoo will have a significant effect in reducing dryness and itchiness compared to even a high quality head shampoo.
Finally, showering in water that is too hot can dry out both your skin and hair follicles, with poor results for your beard and the underlying skin.
How to combat dry skin under beard
We should start this section with a disclaimer. The following are general guidelines for enhancing the comfort and moisture of your beard and this skin underneath. Certain problems that cause redness, dryness, flaking or irritation can be caused by less common issues such as fungal or bacterial infection, and these should be addressed accordingly.
However, there are a few things you can do that will almost certainly improve the way your skin feels as your beard grows out on top of it.
Being careful not to mistreat your beard is the first big one. This can include overwashing or washing with hot water, as we mentioned in the previous section, but it also includes less obvious mistakes like touching or playing with your beard too much, washing your beard too little, or frequently getting food in your beard.
Brushing your beard often can actually be quite helpful. This is true not only because it helps keep your beard neat and clean, but also because a high quality beard brush made from natural boar bristles will naturally pick up your face’s oils and spread them across your beard, helping to keep it conditioned.
The absolute best thing you can do to prevent dry, itchy skin under your beard is to keep your beard well moisturized. The best way to do this is with beard balm or beard oil.
Fight flakes and dry skin the Wild Willies way
Wild Willies beard butter is a rich beard balm that uses natural ingredients to keep your facial hair strong, soft, and healthy. The added moisture is sure to make your skin more comfortable and soften the sharp, broken points that come with dry beard hair.
Our beard oil contains the perfect mix of natural oils and vitamins that will keep your beard soft and healthy even in the driest conditions. Give your sebaceous glands a break!For all your other beard care needs, check out our online store, complete with everything you need to grow the beard of a lifetime. Have our high quality, affordable products shipped right to your door, without leaving the comfort of your own home.