You’ve finally decided to grow that beard you’ve always wanted. Your girlfriend is pleased. Moreover, it’s showing all signs of becoming that luxurious, beautiful mass of manliness you envisioned.
Problem is, it itches. A lot.
And now you’re torn between admiring those pleasing glances in the mirror and being driven to madness by a sensation that has you on the brink of shaving the full-of-potential beard right off. Your girlfriend isn’t pleased. But she’s also not living in your skin.
Or, you’ve finally grown the beard, but it still itches.
Ah, what to do?
Well, rest easy friend. You’re not alone. That itchiness is part of the process. Your skin is just getting used to all that new growth and, with time, it will go away. But we get it; there are moments when the itch is so irritating that you feel the need to be locked away in a padded cell.
Again, have no fear. There are tried and true solutions to battle that itch and keep you on track to that new handsomeness you so deserve. We’re here to help.
Why Does It Itch?
Great question. The answer, in large part, is because you shave. That’s right. Those beard hairs were made sharp by your razor all those years, and when they start to grow, they irritate. That scruff is tough. Bottom line: Those hairs are growing as they should, but they’re acting like a toddler going through the Terrible Twos. There’s also dryness to contend with. That new facial hair will make your face dry to the point where it feels like it could start collecting dust.
Beards also pick up a lot of debris. Like your favorite necktie can sometimes attract bits of your lunch, so too does your beard attract dust, dead skin, and food particles. You really can’t avoid it.
So, that’s the why of it, in basic terms. Now let’s move on to the good stuff and how to fight the good fight.
How to stop beard itch
Time for the “how” of it. Each of the following steps, applied with care and persistence (repeat to yourself frequently “I will not shave my itchy beard!”) will help you power through the maddening itch.
1. Clean It
It simply stands to reason that if your beard is going to be a temporary holding tank for a multitude of particles, including bits of current and previous meals, then you’re going to have to clean it. Really clean it. What do you do with that favorite shirt which collects detritus and – perhaps – itches? You toss it in the washing machine; that’s what. Think of it this way: every day thousands of dead skin cells are shed by your face and end up stuck in your beard. If those cells are allowed just to sit there, they’ll cause irritation and itching.
But How Do I Clean It?
It’s an important question because keeping your beard clean is one of the most important, if not the most important, steps in maintaining a healthy, hearty and itch-free beard.
First, let’s consider another question – how often should you wash your beard? Every other day. Washing your beard too frequently can mess with the natural oils found in your beard hair. If it becomes so dirty that you need to wash it on an off day, then use water only and not soaps/shampoos.
Then again, don’t be afraid to use your own judgment when it comes to how often you wash your beard. Like every snowflake, every beard is different.
Step One: Generously apply shampoo/conditioner specifically made for beards. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive and dig deep with your fingertips all the way to the skin. This will keep your skin clean and well-hydrated.
Step Two: Rinsing thoroughly will allow the water to move your hair in all directions.
Note: The temperature of the water when you wash and rinse is important. If it’s too hot, you’ll dry your skin and potentially hinder the development of your beard. That said, use warm water as it helps open your skin pores. It will open the pores, and even provide a nice wake-up call to start your day.
Note No. 2 – Dry your beard fully after washing. Any water left behind can contribute to the skin irritation. The best method is to use a clean towel and gently pass it throughout the area.
2. Condition It
Using conditioner on your beard is another important step in defending against the itch. For one, the conditioner helps your beard maintain the necessary hydration it needs. It also softens your beard – another crucial link in the chain of proper beard care – and makes it more manageable. It will reduce split ends (yes, your beard gets them, too) and that will help ease irritation.
Beard experts suggest using conditioner specifically designed for beards but don’t be afraid to try the same stuff you’re using on your hair. Something to keep in mind, however, is how it smells. Beard products like shampoo and conditioner have their own (beard appropriate) smell. And then the question becomes, “Do you want your beard to smell the same as your hair, or your girlfriend/wife’s shampoo?” Your choice.
3. Moisturize It
If you want to keep your beard hydrated all day, simply using a conditioner may not be enough. That’s where a good beard oil or balm comes in. There are a lot of good ones out there that deliver on their promises and keep your beard soft and itch-free. Keeping it moisturized throughout the day also prevents your skin from over-compensating and producing extra oil.
Even just a few drops of beard oil each day will soften your beard and eliminate the itch. It’s been written that beard oil is the important tool in your beard maintenance box and who are we (or you) to argue? As mentioned above, it also comes with its own unique (manly) beard scent.
Want to spoil yourself? Here’s one way: apply a small amount of beard oil over the entire surface of your beard. Wet a hand towel with hot water – it helps to have a bowl of hot water within reach – and then place the towel around your beard. When the towel cools, dip it back in the hot water and repeat. Do this for 30 minutes and then give your beard a final rinse with cold water. Your beard will thank you.
4. Trim It
You’ve let your beard grow wildly, and you wonder why it itches? Come on man! Once you’ve grown that bad boy to a length you want, it’s time to get serious about trimming it on a consistent basis. Like other beard products, there are plenty of high-quality beard trimmers available, so choose what’s the best fit for you.
Start by slowly lopping off that excess hair that’s easy to spot because it’s sticking out. Among other positives, this helps the appearance of your beard since most beard hair grows in different directions – and looks messy and patchy if not trimmed.
Note: As vigilant as you may be about washing, conditioning and trimming your beard, it can still be a bit stubborn and cause discomfort. Be sure to look for ingrown hairs and remove them with tweezers if necessary. You’ll know they’re there by the little red bumps they leave on your skin. You’ll also know them by their incessant itch. Off with their heads!
Note 2: Once you’ve washed, conditioned, trimmed and oiled your beard, use an electric razor or safety blade to sculpt it, especially after it’s full-grown. Electric razors and safety razors give a more even cut, they’re gentler, and you’ll be able to deal more effectively with those ingrown hairs.
5. Brush It
The benefits of brushing – let us count the ways. Regular brushing will give your beard a smooth texture. It will give it a clean shape. It will train it to grow in a single direction and, in turn, reduce the risk of scratching and itching. But before you brush, here are some things to consider:
- Because the hair on your face is much coarser than the hair on your head, you’ll have to brush it differently.
- Using just any old brush won’t get the job done properly. Instead of reaching for your girlfriend’s or wife’s brush, invest a little money into a beard brush.
- Why a beard brush? Because the bristles on a boar hair beard brush, for example, are cut at different lengths than any old brush, you’re capturing the hairs at every level of your beard, giving you a more effective brushing.
- By increasing the efficiency of your brushing, you’re reducing the chances of getting split ends due to over-brushing.
- Using a beard brush is a no-brainer, but don’t think of it as a substitute for beard oil. Beard oil nearly trumps all.
- The best time to brush your beard hair is after you shower. But not the first thing after a shower. First, dry off your beard with a towel, as mentioned earlier. Once it’s dry – or reasonably dry – apply a nice beard oil. Then, and only then, brush your beard.
6. Eat Right
There has been plenty of research done which says the health of your facial hair is in direct proportion to the health of your body. In other words, the same nutrients that are good for your heart and other vital organs are good for your hair and skin. And, as we know, a healthy beard is one that doesn’t itch.
So, before you wolf down that fast food lunch when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have time for anything else, consider the things your beard needs from your diet.
- First, you can add the natural hair growth supplement Biotin to your diet. It helps improve hair quality and growth. Biotin contains vitamins B6, C and E, which are good for hair.
- Specifically, vitamins C and E promote your body’s production of sebum, a natural oil that lubricates and moisturizes hair.
- Vitamin A makes for healthier skin and healthier skin promotes better hair growth.
- B vitamins use the protein you eat to build new skin cells. Getting enough B vitamins also reduces stress and helps prevent hair loss. Not a bad combination.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential” fatty acids, meaning they are essential for normal growth – including normal hair growth. They protect cell membranes, which helps prevent your beard from becoming dry and brittle.
With that, we complete our go-to treatise on dealing with your itchy beard. Remember, there’s no need to suffer in silence, or even loudly for that matter. Take care of your beard, even when you think it doesn’t deserve it because of the way it itches. Wash it. Trim it. Give it beard oil and good food. That’s all. Soon enough, you’ll have a full-grown beard that knows how to act like one.