Better Beards

How To Get Rid Of Dry Skin Under Your Beard Once And For All

Get ready to say goodbye to that itchy beard for good

by Bryan Levandowski
Originally Published: 
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One of the most common issues that prevent a beard from looking and feeling amazing is chronic dryness, and those who suffer from even a mild case are well aware of the signs. In today’s world of shiny, glistening, looks-like-it-could-be-in-a-Pixar-movie, Insta-perfect beards, a dry beard can ruin the party with its coarse texture, itchiness, flakiness, and even beard dandruff. And it’s not just a cosmetic thing, either — a dry beard often means there’s something else going on, such as dehydrated skin or an oil imbalance.

However, the good news is that there’s plenty you can do daily to up the health of your beard. Even if you think your beard is in generally good condition, it’s still a good idea to implement a few preventative measures into your routine to nix any problems before they start. To get the lowdown on what it takes to achieve a damn fine beard, we talked to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Daniel Belkin, MD of the New York Dermatology Group.

Why Do Dry Beards Happen?

To understand beard health we also need to look at skin health. Both skin and hair are lubricated by sebum — our skin’s natural oil — which is secreted from sebaceous glands located deep within the hair follicle. In normal-functioning skin, there’s enough sebum to moisturize and protect the skin as well as the outward-facing hair follicle. But when we remove these oils, whether by over-cleansing or using harsh soaps, or by long-term exposure to cold, dry air, which can strip away valuable sebum, that’s when the trouble starts. Skin that’s too dry can start to flake and become irritated, while hair that does not have enough sebum coating smoothing its cuticle can feel rough and dry.

Belkin also said that as we get older, our skin naturally becomes less oily, and therefore prone to dryness. The key is to achieve a balance between keeping your beard clean and groomed without disrupting the body’s natural protection systems. “Stripping too much away with soaps can cause excessive dryness, while letting oils accumulate on the skin under a beard can lead to overgrowth of yeast that thrives on these oils, causing seborrheic dermatitis or beard dandruff,” says Belkin. On that note, if in addition to dryness you notice that the skin beneath your beard appears red or pink, it could be beard dandruff, which requires a different strategy.

How to Get Rid of Dry Skin Under Your Beard

The focus should be more on hydration at first. “I'd look for hydrating lotions, oils, or serums that can penetrate down to the skin without sitting on top of beard hair,” he advised,” says Belkin. “Oils, in particular, are a popular choice for a lot of guys because they can soften the hair as well as the skin, and there are many options out there today with hefty skincare benefits to boot.

Belkin’s personal favorite includes C & The Moon’s Malibu Made Glow Oil, which contains a blend of five organic oils with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties that’s as great for skin as it is beard hair. Tom Ford Conditioning Beard Oil is ideal for guys who want a scented option, as it contains a variety of nourishing oils and vitamin E.

If oils aren’t your thing, a beard cream might be the perfect alternative, but Belkin warned that cream-type formulas tend to benefit guys with shorter beards better than those with longer ones, as they can create build-up in thicker beards, which is not pleasant. Bevel Beard Conditioner is made with shea butter, aloe, and coconut oil to lock in moisture and keep your beard super soft and lush.

Once you’ve got your moisturization strategy sorted, it’s time to find a cleanser specifically formulated for the beard area. Scotch Porter’s Moisturizing Beard Wash is formulated with aloe vera to thoroughly cleanse both the beard and the skin underneath without disrupting that essential oil balance and works great for most guys. For those with excessively oily skin and/or who are prone to beard dandruff, Belkin recommended a stronger cleanser like CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, which does the heavy-duty job while still respecting the skin.

How to Moisturize Skin Under Beard

If you’re opting for an oil, after cleansing massage a few drops into the beard and skin below with your fingers. However, be sparing, as oils go a long way, and using too much can lead to a greasy feeling and overpowering scent.

For creams and lotions, the application is pretty self-explanatory. The amount you use depends on how thick and long your beard is. Start with a small amount and increase until your beard and skin feel comfortable, to avoid the dreaded beard build-up.

The Bottom Line

Getting a great beard should be a piece of cake for any guy. Although some of us can get great skin and an awesome beard with minimal effort, others need a little help. Fortunately, the solution comes down to a simple beard care routine with the right products, but the key to making it work comes down to regularity. While it may seem excessive to have a separate beard care routine, taking an extra few steps here and there can have a huge effect on your overall image.

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