Whether you prefer burly or well-groomed facial hair, keeping the skin underneath your beard healthy is critical to a personal grooming routine. Without proper maintenance, you risk developing itching, flakes, and painful ingrown hairs that might tempt you to reach for your razor.
Instead of going clean-shaven, try adopting these tips for keeping your beard handsome and healthy.
Choose a Cleanser According to Your Skin Type
It’s easy to forget you have skin underneath a mound of facial hair, but neglecting to cleanse and hydrate underneath your beard correctly can lead to issues like acne, “beardruff,” and constant itching.
If you’re not already washing your face twice daily with a cleanser formulated for your skin type, it’s time to start.
- Acne-prone and oily skin: It’s a common misconception that oily, acne-prone skin doesn’t require moisturizing, but the opposite is true. Your skin produces more sebum when it lacks hydration, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. Glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide are excellent for controlling oil without stripping away your natural skin barrier.
- Dry skin: Flaky, itchy skin needs help in the hydration department, so you’ll want to use a rich, creamy cleanser with humectants. Look for glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and squalene.
- Sensitive skin: Choose soap-free, fragrance-free products with soothing ingredients like aloe, green tea, chamomile, and witch hazel.
- Normal skin: If your skin doesn’t have dry patches or excessive oil, you have much more freedom with your cleansers. Ensure they are non-comedogenic and don’t leave your skin feeling itchy or tight after use.
Pamper Your Whiskers With Shampoos, Balms, and Oils
Regular shampoo is not formulated for the delicate skin on your face, so washing your beard with whatever you have lying around the shower can be very irritating. Beard shampoos, on the other hand, have gentle ingredients that are skin-safe and won’t strip away excessive oil.
The same goes for conditioners. Beards are notoriously rough and scratchy, which can cause a problem for men with sensitive skin that reacts poorly to constant friction. Conditioning your beard with specially-formulated products can help your facial hair stay soft and hydrated, especially if you tend to have dry skin.
Beard balms have a similar texture to pomade, with a waxy feel that helps lock in hydration. In addition to moisturizing and softening, they can help you keep the shape under control and tame wayward whiskers.
Beard oils are excellent for curly or dehydrated facial hair. Thanks to their humectant ingredients, they act like a leave-in conditioner and are more lightweight than balms. Look for formulas with skin- and hair-nourishing carrier oils like jojoba, grape seed, argan, and coconut.
Maintain Your Tools
When you groom your beard, be mindful of sterilizing and properly storing your tools. Allowing them to collect dead skin, bacteria, and airborne debris is a recipe for potentially dangerous skin conditions ranging from breakouts to severe infections.
- Disposable Razors: Rinse the blades off under a running tap, allow it to dry upright in a cup or stand, then use a cover to protect it from bacteria and debris until you’re ready to shave again. Replace the blades every 5-7 uses or 2-3 weeks, whichever comes first.
- Safety Razors: First and foremost, never leave your safety razor in the shower. These old-school tools are prone to rusting, thanks to the all-metal construction. For the same reason, you should also carefully dry the blades and housing after each use. If you notice build-up or oxidation, thoroughly scrubbing with olive oil-based Castille soap and an old toothbrush can restore your setup to its sterling status.
- Shaving Brush: If you prefer to whip up your lather on a shaving brush, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure the bristles don’t become a comfortable home for harboring microbes. You can keep germs at bay by thoroughly rinsing every bit of soap or cream after every use and allowing it to dry bristle-side down, so the water doesn’t drip into the handle. Once a week, it would be best to give it a deep clean by lathering up a drop of dish soap, leaving it to soak in a cup for a few minutes, then soaking it in a 1-to-1 vinegar water mixture before rinsing under a warm tap.
Use the Right Trimming Technique
Even the biggest, thickest beards need regular trims to maintain shape and style. Facial hair is prone to split ends, especially if you tend to have dry skin, so trimming away the unhealthy, older growth helps ensure that newer growth can thrive.
Before putting the blade on your skin, shower or wash your face with warm water. The heat and humidity will soften the hairs, making them less likely to tangle or tug on the blades. You should also protect against razor burn with a thick, high-quality shaving oil or cream. It provides a cushion against irritation for your skin and further softens the hair.
As you shave, be sure to move in the direction of the hair growth. When you “go against the grain,” you’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs. In between each swipe, rinse the blades under warm water to keep them free of debris that could cause them to “skip” on your skin and leave behind hair patches.
Finally, end each shaving session with a hydrating treatment for your skin and beard. Prolonged exposure to water actually dries out the skin because it leeches out your natural oils. You’ll want to finish your grooming by rehydrating with your beard balm or oil and a facial moisturizer for your skin.
Take a “Hands-Off” Approach
Avoid touching and rubbing your facial hair unless you’re actively grooming your beard.
Your hands are covered in bacteria and skin oils that can clog your pores, leading to breakouts. If you need to tidy up while away from home, consider carrying a beard comb in your pocket. Not only does it help you keep your hands out of your facial hair, but regular brushing can also untangle coiled-up hairs that could become ingrown.
Need Skincare Guidance? AST Can Help!
It’s never too late to treat your skin with tender, loving care. If you need help selecting products that will help you keep your beard comfortable and well-maintained, we encourage you to stop by one of our locations. Our skincare experts will help you find the right ingredients to treat your skincare concerns and start you on the right path to facial hair happiness.