On the one hand, a bit of gray in your beard and scalp shows wisdom and experience. On the other, it shows that you’re getting older.
For many men, the signs of aging are not only relentless in their march forward, but a tough thing to face in the mirror every morning. Hair dye is one solution to your aging angst, and so is beard dye.
Beard dye provides a versatile solution to obvious signs of aging which pop up on your hard-earned, studly facial hair.
In this post, we’ll look at how to dye your beard in 9 easy steps while also taking a look at three excellent dyes that we think you’ll like.
Don’t like the way your beard looks as you age? No worries, because beard dye is there to help.
- Before you begin: Should I dye my beard?
- What color should I choose?
- Temporary or permanent dye?
- How to dye your beard in 9 easy steps
- Maintaining your beard
- 3 Best beard dyes for men
Before You Begin: Should I Dye My Beard?
There’s no reversing the aging process, no Fountain of Youth that will peel away the years after we drink deeply from it. However, there are things you can do to make yourself look younger, and beard dye is one of those things.
Or, maybe you just like the idea of changing your beard’s color.
In any case, at this point the question of “Should I dye my beard?” is one you’ve pondered. And it’s always helpful to think about why you’re considering dyeing your beard. Every man is different, with different preferences, but here are some common reasons why some men go the beard dye route:
It’s a matter of aging
Those first gray hairs that pop up in a beard are confidence-killers for some men. Or, while not necessarily a blow to one’s self-esteem, you simply want to preserve your youthful appearance for as long as possible.
You want to change your look
Nothing too complicated here: you’ve grown weary of your beard’s natural color and you’re looking for a change. Maybe you’re the kind of guy who’s looking to rock his world, and the world of those around him, with a navy blue beard, or a pink beard. More power to you if you’re one of those gentlemen.
It’s a job/career thing
Youth is often valued in the modern workplace, rightly or wrongly. Again, the aging process is sometimes a detriment in the business world and some men choose to dye their beard to maintain a youthful appearance while potentially preserving their job status.
You’re willing to take the time
Dyeing your beard won’t consume your life but it will take up some time and add a few minutes to your morning grooming routine. Make sure you’re willing to make the time commitment, especially if you’re one of those guys who’s always running behind schedule in the morning. The good news, however, one application of a permanent beard dye will last you several weeks.
What Color Should I Choose?
OK, you’ve committed to dyeing your beard. Now it’s time to pick your beard color. In the majority of cases that means choosing a color that matches the hair on your head – unless you’re bald, in which case all bets are off.
Don’t get us wrong, you’re perfectly free to transform your beard into whatever color you want. If you want red beard dye while the hair on your head is dark brown, go for it. There might not be a lot of people like you out there, but you wouldn’t be completely alone, either.
There is, however, more to the process of dyeing your beard than simply picking “black” because your scalp hair is black. For one, beard hair is rougher, coarser, and drier than scalp hair, so dye absorption on facial hair is a bit trickier.
For some men, the best option is to use a beard dye that’s a shade lighter than the intended results – and the dye is applied twice, if need be. Professional stylists often suggest choosing a color that’s a couple of shades lighter than your beard.
The drawback of going “light” is that you risk not dyeing your beard dark enough, which means you may have to start the process over (and potentially have to buy new dye).
The other option is to use a darker dye, which takes less time and holds better when you’re trying to cover gray hair. But be careful in choosing black hair dye; it often looks too obvious and may make your face appear pale, especially in winter climates where the sun seemingly never appears until summer. A darker beard is often easier to maintain and the results may last longer than using lighter colors.
The key to coloring your beard usually boils down to this: you don’t want to color it so dark that people will immediately notice the changes. A beard that’s slightly lighter than your natural color is less jarring and noticeable to the outside world.
Temporary or Permanent Dye?
You have your choice of temporary and permanent dyes and there are big differences between the two:
- Permanent hair dyes (beard or scalp hair) are meant to retain their color long after their initial application – for several weeks or months to be exact. They aren’t actually “permanent” in that they’ll last forever, or until you shave off your beard, but you’re stuck with them once they’re applied. That said, make sure the color is what you exactly want if you go with a permanent dye, because there’s nothing easy about washing it out.
Permanent dyes get their permanence by mixing an oxidizer such as hydrogen peroxide, ammonia with a coloring agent. An advantage to permanent dyes is that they usually come in a wider range of colors – colors that are more natural-looking. However, they may damage hair because the chemicals are left in your hair for a longer period while you wait to get your desired color.
- Temporary beard dye doesn’t penetrate as deeply into your beard as do permanent dyes. Instead, the outside shafts of your hair are colored and there’s no chemical reaction as you get with a permanent hair dye. Temporary dyes fade rather quickly with shampooing and exposure to the elements, but they’re ideal if you don’t want to make a permanent commitment to a certain color, or if you just want a quick touch-up to keep those gray hairs undercover.
Temporary dyes come with a brush applicator which you use to apply the color on your beard. As mentioned, they’re great for random touch-ups and once the coloring dries (and it doesn’t take long), you’re ready for your day. Most temporary dyes wash out easily and you can apply them again the next day. Note: You’ll probably want to wash your temporary dye out at night because it can rub off on your pillow and sheets.
How to Dye Your Beard in 9 Easy Steps
Let’s get down to the actual business of dyeing your beard. It’s sometimes challenging but, like anything else, the more you do it the better you’ll get the hang of it.
The first step is getting organized which, in this case, means gathering all of the materials you’ll need:
- Beard dye (be sure to include an oxidant if required)
- Rubber gloves (to protect your hands from dye)
- Applicator (which may come with the dye or maybe a toothbrush, small comb, or mascara-type brush, depending on your preference).
- Paper towels (or cloth towels if you don’t mind getting them stained)
- Vaseline (which is used to protect your skin from the dye. Mineral oil also works).
- Tint remover (if the product requires it, that is. You can use a homemade tint remover made from 50% bleach and 50% water. Just make sure to test your skin for sensitivity first).
2. Do a sensitivity test
Mix up a bit of dye and place it in an inconspicuous place on your body (behind your ear, the inside of your forearm, etc) and leave it on for 24 hours. Wash off the area with soap and area when the time is up and check for redness or inflammation – which means you’re probably sensitive to that particular dye and need to choose another.
3. To wash or not wash your beard
There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to washing your beard before you dye it. School No. 1 suggests that washing your beard beforehand is a good idea because it removes dead skin cells while nourishing your hair follicles. This school also claims that a clean beard helps your hair to retain the dye.
School No. 2, however, says not even to shower before you apply dye because you risk robbing your beard of its natural oils that truly help to retain the dye. Of course, you can always apply beard oil, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
4. Provide protection
Apply a thin layer of Vaseline or mineral oil around the beard to prevent dye from leaking onto your skin. And don’t forget to protect your hands against staining and irritation: always wear rubber gloves. Rubber gloves work better than other types of gloves because they provide enough dexterity and sensation in the fingers. You’ll appreciate the extra bit of control once you’re applying the dye.
Dye definitely will stain your clothes, as well, so it’s a good idea to put on a tattered shirt and an old pair of pants before you apply your dye.
5. Preparing the dye
Many beard dye applications – such as Just for Men contain a tube of base color and a tube of color developer, which thickens the solution and acts as a filler. Mix the two ingredients in the tray that comes with your beard dye or another dish-like container, but don’t use the bristle end of your brush to do so because bent bristles make it harder to apply the dye to your beard.
Mix just enough dye to cover your beard once. Many dyes are good for multiple application, but you don’t want to overdo it – especially at first.
6. Apply your dye
After you’ve mixed the dye solution, dip the tip of your brush into the dye and apply it on your beard with an up-and-down motion. Work the dye deeply into your beard to ensure that you cover all visible patches. Make sure that you cover all of your beard’s hair while trying not to get dye on your skin.
7. Wait and test
Follow the instructions on the package (always!) for how long you should wait after applying the beard. Once you’ve waited the allotted time, do a color test by using a paper towel or cotton swab to wipe off a small portion of the dye. If it’s not dark enough, apply more dye and give it a few minutes. Remember, your best strategy is to start light and gradually increase the color’s darkness. The color will fade after the first couple of washings so it’s OK if the color seems a bit dark at first.
Note: Don’t wait too long – again follow the instructions on the package – to test your beard’s color after you’ve applied the dye, because your beard may take on more color the longer you wait.
Once you’re satisfied with the color, rinse your beard with lukewarm or cold water until all of the excess dye has washed out. Pat dry it with towels once the water runs clear.
9. Wash it
You’ll want to wash your beard at some point following your application of the dye. Your best bet is to use a shampoo that’s safe for color-treated hair.
Maintaining Your Beard
Dyeing your beard requires its share of effort and commitment, but maintaining a freshly-colored patch of facial hair isn’t quite as complicated. Let’s take a look at some rules of the road regarding the tender loving care of your freshly-colored beard:
1. Use a beard oil
We love beard oil and discuss its many virtues in other posts. Beard oil serves many functions, including that it helps smooth and soften your beard when the sometimes harsh chemicals of beard dyes make it feel and look rougher. Your beard grooming kit should always include beard oil, friends.
2. Shampoo carefully
The chances are that you’re going to want to shampoo your beard at some point rather than just rinsing it with lukewarm water. That’s perfectly normal, but it’s best to use a quality beard shampoo made for color-treated hair.
3. Keep on top of it
Beards grow quickly, so carefully monitor any signs of gray hair that necessitate the occasional touch-up. A touch-up isn’t as extensive as a full-beard coloring and doesn’t require the same time commitment. Just a few minutes here and there will keep your beard colored just the way you want.
4. Touch it up
Many dyes are non-permanent and can be re-applied every few weeks, or when you start to notice a few gray hairs. Doing so will also help give the appearance of a thicker, fuller beard.
5. Be patient
Beards require patience but we all know the reward for our patience – a wonderous beard that exudes confidence, positively affects those around you, and even has health benefits. The same is true for dyeing your beard – don’t throw your hands up in despair if the process didn’t produce exactly the color you were looking for on your first attempt. Remember, the dye washes away gradually and is replaced with new growth. Furthermore, there are products available that get rid of the color if you become truly desperate.
Whatever you do, however, don’t shave your beard!
Some Things to Remember:
- Don’t be afraid to check in with your local hair salon, especially if you’ve never dyed your beard. The pros there have plenty of good advice on colors, types of dyes, etc. They can even show you some tips, tricks, and techniques for applying the dye.
- Be ready for other people’s comments because the chances are that they’ll notice the changes, but hopefully in a good way. If the dye looks natural on your beard, you’ll surely get some positive comments but, hey, you may get some razzing, too. No big deal.
- Dyeing your beard is a commitment and like any commitment, you have to work your way through any struggles that may arise. It’s similar to growing a beard for the first time; you may have to endure some struggles, such as beard itch and patchiness, before it reaches its full potential. That’s why it’s often helpful to start with a temporary dye to get the hang of it.
- Follow directions! Even if you fear no evil, i.e., a poorly colored beard that makes your butt clench in embarrassment, it’s still important to follow the directions that come with your supply of beard dye. Dyeing your beard isn’t overly complicated, but a lot could go wrong, too – allergic reactions on your skin, stains on your skin, clothes, etc.
- Finally, timing is often everything, and one strategy for dyeing your beard advises that sooner is better. That is, if gray hair covers more than 20 to 30 percent of your beard, it’s more obvious when you start to dye it. However, you’ll get excellent results if you leave some of the grays in by blending them with your natural (and dye) color.
- A frequent question of beardsmen is, “Can I dye my short beard?” While the how to dye a very short beard isn’t that much different regarding the actual application, many experts advise that you wait for your beard to reach a suitable length before you dye it. The bottom line is that you’ll probably like the results better on longer whiskers.
- Are you thinking of dying your beard white? Some men do, especially around Christmas and they want to play Santa, but it’s hard to get the color you want with white beard dye. Your best option may be a spray-on color that provides full coverage even on the darkest of hair.
3 Best Beard Dyes for Men
Now that you’ve mastered the how-to of beard dye, it’s time to take a look – if you already haven’t – at some high-quality products that will make your job easier. Here are three beard dyes that we like and think you’ll like, too.
Just For Men is a well-known company whose hair dye products are second-to-none. And JFM’s beard dyes sell unlike any other in the U.S.
There’s a reason for their popularity and lofty sales, namely, they work. As you know, many products that come with a ton of hype don’t live up to their billing, but Just For Men’s Mustache & Beard Brush-In Color is worthy of its praise. It’s the best beard dye on the market, and certain at the top of the list when it comes to grey beard dye.
Here’s why we like it:
- The dye lasts a long time and you’re beard maintains its natural-looking color until the gray hairs start peeking through again.
- Just For Men’s Mustache & Beard Brush-In Color is easy to apply and works in a matter of minutes. There’s no standing around and waiting while you wait for it to dry, and the dye has a non-drip formula that helps eliminate the mess you get from other beard dyes. It comes with a specially-designed beard brush that makes the application process much easier.
- It doesn’t contain ammonia – a common ingredient in hair dyes that can damage hair and cause skin irritation. It does contain nourishing ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe, and chamomile. That said, it’s an excellent hypoallergenic beard dye.
- It comes in a gel form that’s quite thick but can penetrate deeply into even the bushiest and coarsest beards. It even helps to give your beard a fuller, thicker look (which many men prefer). It’s true: you can dye your beard to make it look fuller.
- You’ll like the accuracy of JFM’s Mustache & Beard Brush-In Color. Your beard won’t end up looking like it belongs to another man, and you won’t have that scraggly look that comes with gray hairs.
The bottom line is that you’ll like how your beard looks after using Just For Men Mustache & Beard Brush-In Color. The coloring looks natural – natural enough that it isn’t overly obvious that you colored your beard in the morning.
RefectoCil’s Cream Hair Dye is versatile enough to use on your sideburns and eyebrows but it’s particularly effective as a beard dye. Moreover, it’s more of a “permanent” option than some beard dyes and one application should last about six weeks.
Something else we think you’ll like about RefectoCil Cream Hair Dye is that it’s considered less irritating than many beard dyes, which makes it a good choice for you if you have sensitive skin. Of course, it’s always good to do a patch test on your skin to be sure that you don’t have a negative reaction (you should do this with every beard dye, not just RefectoCil).
Follow the instructions carefully – it’s our favorite mantra, if you couldn’t tell – and RefectoCil recommends that you let its dye set for 10 minutes before you jump into the shower. Yes, it’s a longer wait than with some beard dyes, but you’ll love the results and one application, as mentioned, will last you for several weeks.
Their natural brown dye No. 3, which we’re talking about here, is excellent for most natural brunette hair colors.
Note: You’ll have to buy RefectoCil’s dye and developer separately because they don’t come in the same package.
Henna Guys rank near the top when it comes to natural beard dye and their Dark Brown Henna Hair Coloring is no exception.
The marquee ingredient in this beard dye is henna, an herb grown in India used for a variety of purposes, including medicinal. It’s been around since the beginning of time – OK, perhaps not that long ago – and used to dye hair, skin, fingernails, fabrics (including leather). The stuff works.
But Henna Guys also packs their henna beard dye with a slew of natural ingredients, including indigo powders, neem, and false daisy. Neem, a.k.a. Indian lilac, has many medicinal uses, as well. What the Pack of Dark Brown Henna Hair Color doesn’t include are harmful ingredients such as chemicals, pesticides, metallic salts, and alcohol. In short, it’s the solution for how to color beard naturally.
Henna Guys are vigilant about not putting their powders on the market for longer than 12 to 18 months. Doing so keeps their powders potent with strong staining powder. They triple-sift their powders following production to ensure a fine, smooth texture in every batch.
A few other things worth noting about Henna Guys Dark Brown Henna Hair Color:
- It’s recommended that you leave the Henna dye in your beard for two hours after application before rinsing it with water.
- The powder comes in a 5.3 oz aluminum foil bag and contains 100 grams of dark brown henna hair coloring and 50 grams of pure henna.
- You can also use it on your scalp hair and mustache, and it’s suitable for men and women.
- It doesn’t work on black hair or lighten your hair color.
For many men, beard dye is a go-to option in the fight against aging’s obvious signs. Whatever your reasons for wanting to dye your beard, arming yourself with the best knowledge while observing best practices – such as applying beard dye correctly – will produce the best possible results.
Have you dyed your beard or are thinking about dyeing it? Do you have a favorite beard dye? If so, we’d love to hear your feedback or comments. We always look forward to hearing from you!