As the air turns cold and the first snowflakes flutter gently to the ground, I feel a slight tingle in my beard. This small itch is a harbinger of doom, proceeding the four horsemen of the dry-beard apocalypse: dandruff, dryness, coarseness, and itch. But unlike in Terminator 3, beard doomsday is not inevitable. The tide of dry, itchy beards can be turned, and I’m here to teach you how!
If you have facial hair, you know how unpleasant wintertime can be. A beard can quickly get dried out and itchy even in the summer. Preventing these issues really just comes down to the age-old basics of beard care: proper washing, hydration, and brushing. It’s not hard, but it is essential to follow these three steps properly to keep your whiskers happy and healthy.
Wash Your Beard (properly)
Even at the best of times, beards are coarse and dry. Using the shampoo you put in your hair, or worse, ‘multi-purpose’ body wash, will only worsen this. Instead, go for a wash explicitly designed for your beard. These are more gentle and cleanse the hair without drying your skin and hair. Simply using the right kind of wash means the difference between a crispy dandruff-filled beard and a soft, luscious one.
Conditioner, cream, or balm, I don’t care. Just do it! In the winter, I use all three. Even the most gentle of washes dry your beard, and once your whiskers get over an inch, they get extra dry. Your skin produces enough oil to keep short hair healthy, but once they get far away from the face, they need some extra help. I use the in-shower conditioner from Tremendous every time I wash, the same as I would a hair conditioner. The big difference is that this stuff is way richer and can get deep into coarse hair to hydrate it. When I use an in-shower conditioner, I find my whiskers much stronger and less prone to breakage.
While keeping the hair strong is important, your skin also needs some hydration. For most beard–havers, a beard cream is the only product that really solves beard itch. This stuff makes your hair silky and soft, so it doesn’t irritate your skin in the early stages of growth. For folks with longer beards, it helps replace some of the naturally-occurring sebum that your whiskers like to steal from your face.
Beard oils are easily the most popular choice for beard hydration. They come in a wide array of scents but, more importantly, different oil bases. While many base oils exist, they fall into two main camps: light oils for shorter beards and heavy oils for bigger beards. While oil isn’t super effective at hydrating your skin and can even clog pores, it feels marvellous on the beard and gives your whiskers a shine and plumpness. I use my conditioner with each wash, my beard cream every second day, and my oil on days I want my beard to look extra spectacular. You can go as minimalist or maximalist as you want; using one product is excellent, and using all three is even better!
Finally, a note on balms. Beard balms are an excellent product but are misunderstood. Folks often reach for them expecting rich, nourishing moisture and are disappointed. Balms won’t hydrate deeply the way a cream will; instead, they are designed to lock moisture into the hair. You can use as many hydration products as you want, but if you go trekking in the snow, your beard will still be dry afterward. Balms are like a suit of armour for your hair, trapping all that moisture inside so they won’t dry out quickly. They can also lock moisture out of your hair, so always hydrate before applying a balm.
Brush your beard!
I can’t say it enough: beard brushes are magic. When it comes to dry, itchy beards, a boar bristle brush does a few things: first, it feels fantastic! The gentle scratchiness of the bristles is a great feeling, and it helps to knock loose any dandruff or buildup you may have. Brushing a dandruffy beard in the morning means you won’t be shedding it onto your shirt throughout the day, which is obviously a good thing.
The brush also pulls oils through your hair to distribute them more effectively. Whether using beard oil or relying on naturally occurring sebum, this leads to softer, happier hair. And finally, the brush reduces static charge, which is absolutely necessary for winter! The Kent of Inglewood beard brush is a great way to get started, but if you feel like investing, a Kent of England brush will last you decades.
With these tips, you’re well-equipped to combat the evil forces of dryness. If you need further beard assistance, check out our other articles or get in touch for more help!
A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.