Want to grow a big beard but can't handle the itch?
An itchy beard is annoying and uncomfortable. But worst of all, it can have you waving the white flag in surrender to the razor.
But stop right there. What if we said there was another way? What if you can have a beautiful suave beard without the itchiness?
By changing your daily grooming routine, you can banish the itch for good. So with some slight changes, let's look at how to stop an itchy beard.
How Do I Treat My Itchy Beard?
To combat an itchy beard, you must give your beard a daily wash with warm water. Always use specialist beard care products, avoiding chemicals like sulfates. Oil, wax, and cream with natural remedies like jojoba or argan oil will further keep facial hair itch at bay.
Why Is My Beard So Itchy?
An itchy beard is common. Even the most seasoned beard pros will have encountered the itch. So let’s find out why you’re clawing at your face.
Growing Facial Hair
Let's start at the very beginning of the beard journey. The simple act of shaving can cause itchiness further down the line.
Having a clean shave can leave hair follicles with sharper edges. As these hairs grow into stubble, the rough-edged hairs scrape against the follicles. And here lies the reason behind your itchy stubble.
What about a full-grown beard? Your Ned Kelly isn't immune to the itch and you can't blame a shoddy shave if your face hasn't met a razor in some time.
Dry skin is a common cause of itchiness amongst us proud beard owners. This can be in part down to beard strands absorbing moisture from the skin beneath.
So while your beard may shine and flow like a trophy of perseverance. Behind the whiskers lies a different story. A story of dryness and neglect.
Washing with the wrong products can wreak havoc on the skin beneath.
While folliculitis sounds daunting, it's a condition that you've likely experienced.
Hair follicles are small structures within the skin where all hairs take their form. Folliculitis is the term used to describe an inflammation of these hair follicles. Inflammation is likely to occur when
Have you ever taken a dull razor to unprepared skin? Do you know those burning small red bumps that follow? Well, you've experienced a shaving rash, and this is a type of folliculitis.
Not only shaving rash, but you might have heard of a barber’s itch, hot tub rash, and razor bumps. These are also types of folliculitis.
Ingrown Hairs (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae)
So now you know that folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. What about pseudofolliculitis barbae?
While it falls under the same umbrella because it’s an infection to the follicle, the term is more specific. Pseudofolliculitis barbae is the scientific name for an infection surrounding ingrown hair.
You’ll fall victim to ingrown hairs when your beard is at the stubble stage of growth. If your whiskers are susceptible to a few curls, then you may have a bitter experience.
Are you safe with a full beard?
Don't disregard the ingrown hair as it's not only the stubbled gent that is at risk. Anywhere that the beard length is shorter is prone. Think of the short tapered sides. Or below those precise shaping lines you spent hours getting right.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition common to the scalp, but all oily areas of the body are at risk. Meaning it is possible to develop it on the face, and if you do---you can expect the itch.
Falling into the category of a chronic form of eczema, it's identifiable by its rash and flaky skin.
For answers, let's turn to the . They point to an "inflammatory reaction to excess Malassezia yeast" as the cause. This yeast is an organism that lives on the skin’s surface. When Malassezia overgrows and the immune system overreacts, an inflammatory response occurs.
Tinea is a fungal infection that often takes the form of a ringlike pattern. Its circular form has given this infection the common name ringworm.
Tinea barbae is a ringworm specific to the beard area. Also known as tinea sycosis or barber's itch, if the infection is superficial it can appear as a . In worse cases, puss bumps called pustules may form around the hair follicle.
You catch tinea from contact with people, animals, or contaminated objects. Fungal infections will need medical attention to clear. They’re also mighty contagious, so no smooching.
How Long Does Itchy Beard Last?
You want the itch gone yesterday, but the time frame will depend on factors like the cause and length of the beard. Read on to find out how long before you're liberated from the itch.
Itchiness in New Beards
If you're growing from a close shave, you can expect the itch to subside after 1 - 3 weeks. As the hairs grow out from the follicles, less irritation will occur.
Itchiness in Fully-Grown Beards
If poor condition is the culprit, using beard products will relieve itch immediately. As you incorporate them into your daily routine, the itchiness will improve day by day.
Underlying medical issues may take longer. Specialist medical treatment will target the source. With tinea barbae, over the counter fungal treatment can take 1-2 weeks to clear up the issue.
How to Prevent Beard Itch
Now you’ve got an idea why you're itching your whiskers. Let’s get some answers and get you the relief you've been craving.
Cleanse Your Face
But be wise when picking your shampoo.
While cleaning your face with soap might seem like an obvious choice for a deep clean---think again.
Designed to cleanse the face and maintain a healthy beard. Specialist beard shampoos will wash away bacteria without stripping the beard dry. It’s time to give bacteria the elbow and say sayonara to a common perpetrator of the itch.
Condition Your Beard
Gents, there's no getting out of washing your beard. But what if a good cleanse is causing added brittleness? Even with a specialist shampoo, a clean beard can come at the detriment of softness.
Like head hair, following shampoo with conditioner will maintain healthy follicles. With added moisture in the beard you the skin underneath will benefit and keep the itch away.
Dry Your Beard
Dry the beard!? On one hand, use a conditioner to keep in the moisture---but then dry the beard?
There is a method in the madness. It's a common misconception that the natural approach to drying hair is the best. Quite the opposite, even having damaging effects.
Take it from a man whose credentials speak for themselves. A PhD in Microelectronics from Cambridge University. Not to mention his position as Chief Technology Officer at ghd.
"Leaving hair to dry naturally can be more damaging than intense heat."
"[Wet hair] changes the molecular structure of the strand straight away. Because when water is applied to hair, it is absorbed through the hard outer layer of cuticle into the cortex, which then swells up. This means it’s instantly weakened."
While Dr. Tim Moore speaks of head hair, the same principle applies to the beard. With weakened hair, we risk brittleness and poor condition that can cause the itch.
So the answer? Pat your hair dry with a towel and blow-dry on low heat.
There are so many beard products on the market, it's difficult to know what to look for.
So what makes a bad beard product?
Avoiding chemicals is a hack to understand which products to leave on the shelf. If the products are rich in chemicals, the itch won't go away and it may even further irritate your skin.
Sure, you'll get a deep cleanse out of sulfate shampoos, but it'll be too intense. Check the ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin or signs of eczema.
Allow Your Hair To Grow
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to work this one out. If a clean shave causes the hairs to irritate the follicles. Why not put the razor back in the cupboard?
Grow out a beard by avoiding shaving and let the hair advance past the follicle. You'll save yourself the irritation and have a bit of growth to show off. It's all positive!
Moisturize Your Beard
Keeping your beard moisturized makes the world of difference when fighting the itch. Soft whiskers will not irritate like those straw-like bristles.
So how do you keep your beard moisturized?
You've established a wash with a specialist shampoo, and conditioner will work wonders. But let's go even softer!
A post-wash application of oil, cream, or wax is your ally against the itch.
The oil will give your strands a healthy natural gloss. Excellent products will also moisturize the skin underneath. Cast your eye over the ingredient list. Are you seeing ? You're onto a winner. Apply after a wash and bam---itch reduced and you're protected against 'beardruff'.
Beard Cream or Balm
So styling wax is more about taming and shaping than moisture. Saying that, a will not only keep things in place, it'll also seal the hair shaft. This allows for a healthier beard with less itch. You can use both oil and wax for all-around results. There hasn't been a more dynamic duo since Batman and Robin.
Comb and Brush Your Beard
There are a few ways that brushing will get rid of the itch.
In the most literal way, brushing your beard will reach the skin underneath and will itch the itch. Soothing, yes, but it's only temporary.
So let's have a look at some more in-depth ways that brushing your beard will fight the itch.
Running a brush through your bristles will loosen dead skin cells and bring them to the surface. Doing this before a wash will ensure the shampoo rinses them clear.
Brushing after applying a product will distribute it throughout your beard. This will lend to improved condition throughout.
A well-made boar brush won't snap at the first snag. It'll be your companion in fighting the itch in the long run.
Cut at different lengths, boar bristles will also capture all lengths of beard. By brushing all areas, you'll minimize complications from ingrown hairs and poor condition.
Seek Medical Help
Unfortunately, sometimes, you can't eradicate beard itch with products and a brush.
Skin conditions like eczema and tinea barbae will need medication to clear up the issue. If you're showing symptoms, you must seek professional guidance. A pharmacist, dermatologist, or doctor will tell you the right medication to use. Sometimes, this might be a simple over-the-counter medication.
Proper Hygiene and Beard Care
So there we have it. All the information you need to combat the itch. In most cases, it'll all come down to good hygiene and giving your beard some much-needed TLC.
So jogging your memory:
- Cleanse your face and beard
- Condition your beard
- Dry your beard
- Avoid harsh chemicals
- Grow beyond a clean shave
- Brush your whiskers
- Seek medical help if you show signs of a skin condition
Have you got any other tricks that wage war on the itch? We'd love to hear them. Drop them in the comments below!