Looking after your beard, and soothing the damn itchiness!
Whatever period you’re currently in on your beard journey, the likelihood that you’ve experienced some itchiness is probably quite high. It may just be a casual itch you barely notice, or it could make you want to shave the hair clean off your face completely!
Read more about what causes itchy skin and how you can soothe this.
What causes a beard to itch?
If you are at the beginning phase of beard growth, you will inevitably encounter itchy skin as the hair is growing through. As the hair is allowed to continue growing, it will pull the thicker part of the hair through resulting in the skin getting irritated and therefore itching.
This phase does subdue thankfully; we like to think it as the initiation of the bearded. If you can get through this stage – you deserve to wield a beard! Which is probably why bearded folk tend to acknowledge each other. It's almost as a “well done for making it this far!”
So why then once we have surpasses this annoying stage do we suffer more itching? Yet another test you ask?
The short answer is no. There are numerous reasons why you may still experience itchiness.
- Your face is used to being washed and exfoliated regularly, which usually would have done the job of removing any dead skin cells are now gradually having to make their way through the beard hair. This is where stage one of grooming comes in: get a decent comb—more on this in a little bit. In fact, I have stopped to comb my beard three times already while writing this.
- Make sure your daily hygiene is in check. If you are prone to getting dirty, work in hot or dusty environments. The dirt, sweat, food…you name it can cause issues if not attended to.
- Facial hair is a moisture robbing b*stard! As it grows and just in general, it can draw moisture away from the skin. This is where those beard products come in, but more on that shortly.
- You may have an allergic reaction to what you’re currently using on your face. So check the ingredients and start analysing what you could be reacting to. Some people don’t respond well to certain carrier oils or essential oils.
- You may have a fungal or bacterial infection or suffer from atopic dermatitis. In which case you should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing consistent problems.
Tips to prevent the itchiness
Here are some tips to help you and your beard journey.
The Beard Comb and Brush
Now, this is going to sound strange, but the same applies to groom a horse. Yup, told you… Anyway, as mentioned earlier, as dry skin cells build up in the beard, what once was usually shaved off or washed off during your usual daily routine, now has to hurdle your facial hair. Aiding the movement of the skin with a comb or a brush will help to remove those dead skin cells.
There is no right or wrong tool to use here. It depends on what works for you. I tend to use a combination of two combs because my beard is quite long. I start with a wide-tooth comb to reduce the tangles, before moving to a finer toothed one, to do the finer grooming. This way I don’t end up with a pile of plucked beard hair (well as much anyway).
Try to use the comb to apply slight pressure to the skin underneath to help release any skin still attached to your face (that sounded a little wrong, made me think of The Walking Dead for some reason). Using a comb after oiling will also help to ensure your skin gets some of that good too.
The Cleaning Routine
This is where the crowd is very much divided. Some tell you to wash the beard regularly, and others not so much. In truth, again, this depends on the individual. Referring to myself as an example yet again, if I’m in the shower, my beard is getting washed! Whether that is using a beard soap or a –are you ready for it- normal shampoo…! I hear some of you gasp here. “But wait, normal shampoo dries beard hair out doesn’t it?!” Maybe it does for you, but I wash my beard daily (unless I am having a slug round the house-can’t be arsed to clean myself day) swiftly followed by a Jojoba enriched conditioner afterwards, which I leave in a while cleaning the rest of my body before rinsing out and my beard is absolutely beautiful. I have never experienced any issues using regular shampoo, and dare I say it, even when using Head and Shoulders.
I don’t know about you, but since having a beard, I have lost the ability to even eat cereal without dribbling milk through my beard. So that is definitely getting washed out! Do you drool while you sleep? Yes? Wash that out! Your saliva contains a shit tonne of bacteria – so get it out! If shampoo dries your beard out, then isn’t that what beard conditioning products are for…? Which lines me up nicely to the next step.
PRO TIP: If you have a long beard (anything over 2”). When you clean your beard, make sure to dry it properly. Leaving it moist out of the shower, possibly even with leftover shampoo is not going to do you any favours. Use a hair drier on a low heat and dry that beard.
Beard Conditioning Products
OK, so remember when we thought beard oil was the be-all and end-all when it came to beard care? Now you have beard balms, butters, specific shampoos, beard straighteners etc.
Do you need all of this? Again, depends on how serious your beard game is. I know people with beards in their late sixties who have never used beard care products in their life. However, personally since using a plethora of products, I have found my beard is growing better, stronger and healthier than it ever did. Which means trips to the barbers, which I’ll come to in a bit.
For most, a Beard Oil is absolutely fine. Especially if you have a well trimmed short beard, for example. If you are trimming your facial hair on a regular basis, then for one, you shouldn’t get as much issue with dry skin build up that a decent beard oil can’t soothe. Whatever length of beard; a beard oil should be in your grooming kit as absolute standard!
As you grow your beard you may hate the stragglers as the beard starts to grow out of your initial comfort zone. This is where a Beard Balm comes in handy. The addition of wax helps to add some style to the beard. Whilst locking in the conditioning properties of whatever else is in it.
For me now, I love applying a Beard Butter at night, which just makes my beard feel ridiculously soft the following day. Sometimes I use it during the day, especially if I am blowdrying the beard.
What to look for in beard care products
Beard products vary massively in what goes in them, but also the quantities and qualities of the ingredients. Here are some of the things that I suggest you look for in a beard product, and why they are good for you and your beard routine. Unsurprisingly, these are what you will find in RUNESILK products.
Jojoba Oil closely resembles the skins natural sebum. It can regulate the amount your body creates, and helps build a protective layer over the skin. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It also helps to protect against dryness, breakages and split ends. No wonder many beard care producers add Jojoba oil to their products.
Argan Oil shows a regular appearance in a vast number of premium hair products. It is known to moisturise skin and hair. It is an anti-oxidant and has anti-inflamatory properties, and is said to soothe atopic dermatitis.
Sea Buckthorn Oil also known as the holy fruit of the Himalayas is an absolute power house of an oil. Rich in various vitamins and minerals and naturally full of anti-oxidants. It contains folate, biotin, and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E, omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9.
Sweet Almond Oil great oil for hair and skin and also helps to reduce the thickness of some oils popular in beard care products, as it is a very light and fast absorbing oil.
Hemp Seed Oil the main talking point of this oil, among many other benefits, is that it contains gamma-linolenic acid, which is a powerful anti-inflamatory and helps to reduce skin irritation. It also has anti-aging properties to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles.