Beard hair tends to feel rough and coarse, and, while you may have gotten used to it, your beard hair doesn’t have to feel this way. After all, you wouldn’t want the hair on your head to feel this way, so why treat your facial hair any differently?
Just like your hair, beards require some TLC now and again, to keep them healthy, conditioned, and looking their best. Not only will your beard feel better, but it will look better, too. Taking care of your facial hair will mean it’ll look shinier and more presentable, plus it will also make it look more youthful - which is always a bonus.
What makes our beards rough to touch?
To understand how to best take care of your beard, it’s good to understand the science behind it. There are several reasons why your beard may not feel soft:
- Weather: Your environment can play a huge role in the condition of your skin and hair, which is why some of us get drier skin in the winter for example. Exposure to weather extremes like heat or cold can dry the skin out and deprive it of moisture.
- Stripping hair of its natural oils: If you’ve ever gone without putting a conditioner on your hair, you may notice it feels dry and coarse. Well, beards work in the same way. When you wash your beard, you actually strip it of its natural oils which the skin produces to keep the hair moist, and if you’re taking these oils away with soap or shampoo, you need to replace them with a beard oil, conditioner, or moisturizer.
- Dehydration: We all know that it’s good to drink a lot of water, but did you know that our water intake contributes to our hair and beard growth and condition, too? By simply drinking water regularly throughout the day, you’re likely to find that your skin, hair and beard will vastly improve in condition.
- Split ends: Just like the hair on our head, our beards can get split ends too, usually from exposure to weather, or through rough handling of your beard when you wash and care for it. Another thing to consider is that the longer your beard grows, the coarser it will become as it’s been exposed to the heat and cold for a longer period of time, which explains why new hair usually feels softer. Split ends happen once that the protective layer of a cuticle at the end of the hair is destroyed, making your hair feel rough to touch and unruly in appearance.
- Lack of maintenance: You shouldn’t trim your beard only when it gets long, instead you should always be paying attention to your beard. If you want to grow your beard, trim it every 6-8 weeks to keep the hair healthy. If maintenance is your priority, and you want to maintain the shape and length, trim it every 3-4 weeks instead. You should also be using products on your beard, just like you would on your skin and hair to boost softness and manageability.
- Diet: Your diet affects every part of your body, and the healthier your diet, the more your hair and beard will thank you for it. Keep reading to find out how you can improve your diet and get a softer beard…
How to make (and keep) your beard soft...
Like we said before, you wouldn’t leave your hair unwashed, so don’t do it to your beard. How often you wash your beard depends on your hair and skin type. We’ve broken it down to help you identify which category you fall into:
- Oily skin
If your skin feels oily to touch, it’s likely to be because it produces excess oil (sebum). This is natural, but can be annoying, as you may find that your beard and hair gets greasy quickly, too. If your skin is more on the oily side, it’s best to wash your beard more frequently – even daily if your skin can tolerate it without breaking out – as this will prevent buildup in your pores, which can lead to undesirable ‘beardruff’ and even acne.
- Dry skin
If your skin is on the other end of the spectrum and feels tight to touch, it’s because it doesn’t produce much sebum. To avoid drying your skin out even more, wash your beard sparingly, about every 2 – 3 days. If your skin still feels tight and flaky, cut back to every 3 – 4 days instead, or invest in a good beard oil that will provide extra moisture - more about that coming up.
- Combination skin
You might find that your skin is a combination of the two above - oily on the T-zone (your forehead and nose) but dry everywhere else. If this is the case, try to balance it out by washing your beard every other day. If you’re getting oily in between washes, rinse your beard with plain water and no product.
- Coarse/thick hair
Coarse or thick hair tends to be on the drier side, and if you have curly hair, it can feel even more parched of moisture. With these hair types, you'll have to work extra hard to ensure they stay moisturized, because it’s easier for sebum to travel down straight hair than curly hair. To avoid dehydration (and ensuing frizz), try washing your beard less frequently, about once every 3 days should do it. You can also try a beard oil, which we'll look at a bit later on.
- Thin hair
Thin hair usually gets greasier faster than thick hair, so you can get away with daily washing to remove the extra oil. Daily washing will also make your beard appear fluffier and fuller, which is great if you suffer from a patchy beard.
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2. Check your diet!
Packing your diet full of nutrients will have a big impact on the condition of your beard, how quickly it grows, and how soft it feels. Not only this, but a healthy diet will make your skin clearer and more vibrant, and you'll feel better for it on the inside, too.
- Vitamins E and C promote hair growth and moisture by encouraging the production of sebum - your body’s natural oil. You can find these vitamins in citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, spinach, and mangoes.
- If you struggle with a sparse beard and have hair that’s on the thinner side, you’ll want to integrate more B6, B12, and Biotin into your diet. These vitamins boost hair growth which will make your beard appear fuller and thicker. You can find these B vitamins in fish, poultry, and eggs, or, if you’re vegetarian or vegan - nuts, brown rice, oatmeal, and wheat germ.
- Nobody wants a dry, brittle beard, which will feel rough to touch. Omega-3 fatty acids will protect your cell membranes, helping to combat and prevent beard itch/dryness. You can find it in fatty, oily fish like salmon, or in flaxseed oil and walnuts - which you can always whizz into your daily smoothie.
- Protein consumption is essential for producing keratin, which smooths down the hair’s cells and makes it appear sleeker. Since we don’t produce keratin automatically, we need protein so that it can be converted into amino acids. For this, make sure your diet is rich in fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, rice, beans, and pulses.
3. Use the right products
Many men seem to think oils and ointments are reserved for women only, but they’re wrong - beard oil or balm is essential for keeping your beard in optimum condition in between trims and keeping dryness at bay, which will make your beard look better and feel a whole lot softer.
- Beard balm
Balms mainly contain beeswax, cocoa butter, and/ or shea butter, which gives them a denser feel and look than oil, making them best for longer, thicker beards. Balms are usually a creamy, waxy substance that melts when you rub it into your hands. It’s best for thicker, frizzier beards that need a combination of hold and conditioning. It can be good for taming curlier beards or beards with lots of flyaways too, and for making them look and feel softer.
You should apply beard balm to a freshly washed beard, using a comb to ensure you distribute the product evenly.
- Beard oil
Oil provides the same nutrients as a balm, but often gives the hair less hold, so it’s good if your beard requires less shaping and maintenance but you want a product that will soften the hair. Oil is great for adding shine and taming split ends, meaning your beard will look softer and feel more refined.
Beard oil should be used twice a day if possible, once in the morning and then again at night. You can also apply slightly more at night time to allow this to slowly penetrate your follicles and boost softness. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you have greasier hair or oilier skin, you may find that oil makes things worse - so use sparingly.
There is no better time than "now" to get that rad beard. Take these tips and make them your own. When you apply them regularly, you'll leave your male friends impressed - seeing them wanting to have a man mane just as soft and stunning as yours.