A common question among many men focuses on the necessity of using a variety of products vs. using just one or two. For instance, why not just use your regular hair shampoo on your beard? What’s the big deal with the beard wash vs. hair shampoo debate?
The reasons are many, as it turns out, and we’re here to examine them while taking a closer look at cleansers and conditioners meant for your beard and those meant for your scalp. In the end, we hope you’ll take a closer look at your beard grooming routine, while understanding why using products designed for a specific job pays off in a healthier beard.
BEARD WASH VS. HAIR SHAMPOO AND WHY THEY’RE DIFFERENT
There are many reasons why a man would think it’s OK to use regular shampoo on his beard. For one, it’s convenient: there’s that bottle of shampoo already sitting in the shower, why not use it and kill two birds with one stone?
Well, for one, you might also kill your beard but that’s a point will get into in a second.
Another reason follows the “it's all hair after all” line of thinking which is, again, faulty. Facial hair and head hair aren’t the same, as various studies prove.
Of course, some men will always point to the cost – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and argue that spending money on two kinds of shampoo takes its toll on ye olde budget. But, hey, if you’re truly committed to having the best-looking, healthiest beard possible, then you have to invest in it financially, as well. Besides, if push comes to shove, you can probably think of a few ways in which you waste money every day.
Let’s dig deeper, however, and point out the differences between Beard Wash and hair shampoo, and why you can’t rely on your handy bottle of scalp cleanser in the quest to make your beard look its best.
BEARD WASH 101: WHAT IT IS, WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT
If we had to choose one major difference between Beard Wash and regular shampoo it’s this – Beard Wash doesn’t include chemicals that strip your skin of its natural oils. True, you can find natural shampoos that don’t disrupt your skin’s chemistry like most mass-manufactured ones do, but shampoo meant for your scalp is supposed to keep oiliness to a minimum so your hair doesn’t look like it has a perpetual sheen of grease.
But what’s this business with natural oils? It comes down to the sebaceous glands present at the root of each hair follicle which produce an oil called sebum. Sebum keeps the skin and hair, whether it’s on your scalp or your beard, moisturized and well-nourished, which is essential for its overall health. A lack of sebum, as you can imagine, can easily produce dry, brittle hair – which then looks like a dull, lifeless mass of broken hair and split ends.
Sebum, in short, regulates how much water enters and exits your skin while protecting it from fungal and bacterial infections. Too much sebum, however, can clog skin pores, so it’s OK to remove some of it – which is what Beard Wash accomplishes, i.e., it gets rid of the excess while retaining the appropriate amount to keep the beard moisturized properly. Head hair generally doesn’t need the same amount of natural oils to stay moisturized without looking greasy, so hair shampoo is formulated to get rid of more of those oils.
The bottom line is that you need those oils if you want a great-looking beard, which we assume is your preference. A beard that has the right amount of natural oils has a natural luster and sheen to it, not one that looks contrived in some way.
There are other ways in which Beard Wash benefits your whiskers in a way that hair shampoo doesn’t:
- High-quality beard washes contain ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-bacterial to promote a healthy, great-looking beard that’s also comfortable.
- Comfort is sometimes a life-or-death (OK, not literally) issue for men who suffer from beard itch. Beard itch is a common problem among beardsmen. A lack of sufficient hydration is the cause of many beard “annoyances,” not the least of which is beard itch. Another cause of beard itch are infections of the hair follicles caused by bacteria, as well as the itchiness caused by irritated, inflamed, and scaly skin.
- Another beard annoyance is beard dandruff, aka beardruff - those pesky flakes of dry skin that occur when a beard becomes too dry. And it’s not necessarily your fault because the longer your beard gets, the more natural oils it takes to meet the demand of your hair follicles. In most cases, there’s not enough oil to keep up with the growth, which is why moisturizing products such as Beard Oil, and Beard Balm are must-haves for your beard grooming kit.
- Beard washes and shampoos – which are the same thing, btw – are formulated to manage your beard’s oil content at the most suitable levels. Any product that’s too oily and greasy leads to too oily and greasy skin. The same is true of products, such as many regular shampoos, which wash away too much oil and leave your beard and the skin underneath it too dry.
- Products not intended for use on the beard, such as shampoo used on the scalp and head hair, can weaken the roots of your facial hair follicles which, in turn, increases the chances of them falling out, breaking, or developing weakened roots that impact their long-term health.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH WHEN IT COMES TO USING BEARD WASH/SHAMPOO?
Most men shampoo their hair every day, which isn’t recommended, to be honest, and many also think that they should shampoo their beard every day. But, if anything, you should shampoo your beard less than you shampoo the hair on your head - even just once or twice a week.
Another thing to look for when scanning a Beard Wash’s ingredients list is silicone. You want to avoid silicone products; not because they’re all bad or evil, but because they aren’t water soluble. That means, for one, that they’re harder to wash out of your hair than water-soluble shampoos. Why include silicones in beard products? Well, they help make your beard look shiny, which many men desire. Silicone fills in the porosity found in hair, artificially plumping the hair to make it look healthier and shinier. On the other hand, premium products without silicone will help make your beard look shinier by actually making the hairs healthier, not just plumping them.
A final note on Beard Wash: make sure what you buy is what it claims to be. There are a lot of products out there that claim to be Beard Wash but are simply regular shampoos that are re-bottled.
HERE’S A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD WASH YOUR BEARD
The main rule of thumb when discussing how often you should shampoo/wash your beard is “less is more.” In fact, it’s an adage that applies to many things about beard care - including the amount of product you use for each application. A little truly does go a long way.
But let’s break down the beard washing frequency question a bit more:By skin type
If you have oily skin – because it produces more sebum – you can wash your beard more frequently. While you want the skin and beard to retain natural oils, too much oil can clog your pores and lead to beardruff and acne. If you have dry skin, however, too much washing will dry it out even more, so you should wait three or four days between washes. Men with combination skin, meanwhile, can safely wash their beard every few days and, in fact, can even just rinse their beard with water if it becomes a bit oily before their next wash.By beard type
Coarse, thick beards tend to be drier than thinner beards. Curly hair also is typically on the dry side. If your beard is coarse and/or curly, less frequent washing is better. If your beard is thin you can wash it more often because it helps to make your beard appear fuller. The same can be said if you have a patchy beard.By climate
If you live in a dry climate, such as a desert region or some place like the upper Midwest where winters are harsh, your skin and beard will tend to lack moisture. That’s why it’s important to leave enough time to allow your sebum to build up before your next washing. And always follow up with a conditioning product, like Beard Oil and Beard Balm to replace the lost moisture.
If you live in a wet climate, particularly one with high humidity, your skin and beard probably have more moisture than if you lived somewhere else. But too much moisture can make your skin stickier and attract excess dirt and micro-organisms that can clog pores.
We’ve also discussed how your occupation can affect how often you wash your beard. The dirtier the job, the more often you should wash it. Men who spend a lot of time outdoors usually need to wash their beard more. Or, if you work out consistently, meaning you sweat a lot, you may need to wash your beard more regularly, as well.
WHY IS A BEARD DRY AND ROUGH IN THE FIRST PLACE?
That’s a good question and we’ve already talked about it a little, like how the skin beneath the beard produces less natural oil. As your beard grows, it’s harder for the skin’s sebum to keep up with the growth. The result is a beard that’s in need of additional hydration. Washing it, especially with shampoo not formulated for a beard, can further deplete the supply of oil.
Lack of proper care is another reason why a beard becomes dry. Products such as Beard Oil, and Beard Balm – all of which we’ll talk about later – are essential for keeping your wonderful whiskers from becoming dry and lifeless. Daily combing and brushing also help.
A beard’s roughness often stems from having too many split ends among your facial hair. These split ends will continue to split the hairs up the shaft all the way to the root if left untreated. The result is dry, frizzy, and unhealthy hair.
HAIR SHAMPOO AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T USE IT ON YOUR BEARD
Regular shampoo, the kind you use on your head hair, that is, basically has two primary purposes – to clean your hair (yes, a Captain Obvious moment) and to rid your hair of oil that makes it look greasy. The longer you wait to wash your hair, the greasier it looks.
One of the reasons why your hair tengods to look greasy is the skin beneath it. The skin on your head is thicker than the skin under your beard, and it has more glands, pores, etc., which means it produces more oil. Meanwhile, the skin under your beard needs a gentler wash because it’s thinner and produces less oil than the skin on your scalp.
Shampoo contains surfactants that affect how it performs as a whole. Surfactants provide the lather and detergent-like (cleansing) qualities of shampoo, particularly anionic surfactants. Common anionic surfactants found in hair care shampoo are sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and other sulfates that can damage hair when used consistently over a long period.
Another chemical you’ll find in many generic shampoos is polyethylene glycol, which is used in everything from skin creams, and even in paintball fills. While the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t banned it, some people report adverse physical reactions, such as allergies, when exposed to it.
But it all circles back to natural oil produced by the skin when comparing Beard Wash to regular shampoo. Because you want to preserve the oil found under your hair follicles, at least enough to keep your beard hydrated and with a nice sheen, you’ll want to avoid the relative harshness of hair shampoo.
SO, HOW IS MY FACIAL HAIR DIFFERENT FROM MY SCALP HAIR?
Hair is hair, right? Until it isn’t, that is. What’s on your head isn’t the same as those hairs that comprise your fabulous face ‘fro. Here’s why:
- For starters, facial hair is of a type called androgenic hair, which sprouts – beginning at puberty – thanks to levels of the hormone androgen in your body. While it goes through the same growth phases as scalp hair (anagen, telogen, catagen), those phases happen at slightly different times which, in turn, influences how long or short your beard hair gets.
- Androgenic hair growth and testosterone work hand-in-hand. The more testosterone a man has, the more facial hair he’ll grow. On the flipside, men with an over-abundance of testosterone are more likely to experience male pattern baldness than men who have less – which is one reason why a man with a full beard and a bald head isn’t an uncommon sight.
- The skin beneath your scalp is different than the skin underneath your hair follicles. Scalp skin typically is oilier than facial skin, which is why regular shampoo has ingredients to get rid of the oil.
- Beard hair is thicker than scalp hair.
- Scalp hair can be straight or curly or bristly, or whatever, but facial hair grows thicker and curlier. Again, it comes down to how facial hair reacts to testosterone and androgens, which make hair follicles twist and begin to curl.
- Does your beard hair have patches of color that you won’t find anywhere else on your body? Don’t be surprised. Also, don’t be surprised if your beard shows signs of graying before your scalp.
So, all that said, there are definite differences between facial hair and scalp hair that cause each to require different kinds of care. That means differences in the products you use, how often you use them, and the types of tools used (for example, a beard brush isn’t necessarily suitable for brushing the hair on your scalp).
HERE’S HOW TO WASH YOUR BEARD WITH BEARD WASH
To be clear, washing your beard with Beard Wash isn’t as complicated as say, brain surgery (or any surgery, for that matter). However, there are a few rules of the road to follow to ensure that you’re giving your beard the best scrub possible without overdoing it.
- You should use the same mindset for shampooing your beard as you do for shampooing your scalp hair. That is, you want to massage your shampoo down to the skin because, technically, you’re washing the skin even more than you’re washing the hair.
- Apply a small amount of the wash in your palms and rub them together. Then apply it all over your beard while making sure you massage the skin. You don’t need to use a ton of the stuff, but just enough to work up a decent lather. By “small amount” of wash, we mean about a nickel to quarter size of wash, or about 2 centimeters for those of you who live outside the U.S.
- Use the tips of your fingers to massage the wash down to your beard hair roots and beyond. Make sure to move the hair in different directions as you apply it to ensure that you cover all of it. Don’t be afraid to massage it in more aggressively if you have a new beard; many beard care experts say doing so will stimulate hair follicles and encourage better growth.
- Pay close attention to the temperature of the water as you wash your beard and rinse it afterward. Hot water will dry your skin and affect the overall health of your beard, as well as its growth. Your best choice is to use warm water, which will open the pores.
- Rinse carefully while making sure that you leave no traces of wash behind.
- Dry your beard thoroughly after you’ve rinsed it. Use a clean towel and don’t rub your beard vigorously to get the moisture out because you can damage hair follicles. Instead, pat it gently until the moisture is gone.
- We strongly recommend applying Beard Oil or a beard balm after you wash and condition your beard. Your beard will feel amazingly soft after you use a shampoo or wash designed for it. Don’t be surprised if those beard hairs feel almost as soft as your head hair once you’ve finished washing your beard.
As far as brushing your beard, please use a brush designed for beards. Premium beard brushes have bristles made of boar’s hair and their frame and handle made of wood. Don’t use a plastic-bristle hairbrush. Yes, they cost less, but they are rougher on your hair than those with boar bristles.
A QUICK WORD ON BEARD OIL.
There are so many beard products available today that a man trying to keep a well-maintained beard shouldn’t have any trouble finding something that’s useful to him and his fabulous man whiskers. But Beard Oil is one of a few products that should come with a label that says, “You MUST use this stuff!” Simply put, it’s a fundamental grooming product that all beardsmen should have.
Beard Oil is recommended for most, if not all beards, especially those in the early stages of growth when beard itch may feel like a medieval torture method. It’s a light oil that you apply to your beard after you’ve cleaned and conditioned it. It absorbs quickly into the skin to provide additional hydration but won’t leave your beard with an overly-shiny finish.
Beard Oil consists of carrier oils and essential oils. The job of carrier oils is to “carry” essential oil to the skin, and they provide nourishment for the hair and skin. Carrier oils are typically vegetable oils that come from the fatty portion of a plant, and some of the more common ones include jojoba oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, and castor oil.
Essential oils, on the other hand, give plants their distinct, characteristic aroma. They’re considered volatile compounds, which is why a carrier oil is needed to transport them to the skin and hair follicles. Essential oils don’t have the health benefits of carrier oils, but they provide the fragrance of any aromatic product, whether it’s Beard Oil, perfume, or cologne.
Among the most common essential oils are eucalyptus, tea tree, pinewood, cedarwood, and sandalwood.
It comes down to this with Beard Oil: it provides so many benefits to your beard, whether used alone or in conjunction with other beard products. Grab a bottle of Beard Oil and consider it your right-hand person in the quest for the perfect beard.
There a few things to keep in mind when applying Beard Oil. For one, it is most effective when applied to a slightly damp beard (the small amount of water will help carry nutrients deeper into your beard hair). Next, pour a few drops of oil into your hands and rub them together. Be careful not to use too much oil because your beard will look overly oily (or even greasy, which isn’t the look most beardsmen desire).
Start by applying the oil at the ends of your whiskers and work your way through to the face. Distribute the oil as evenly as possible; a beard brush or comb works well for making sure you get even distribution. Or, you can even apply a few drops of oil to your beard brush and work it throughout your whiskers that way.
THE SCOOP ON BEARD BALM.
Beard balm is another go-to product for men looking to take their beard grooming to the next level.
As you’d expect from a product that includes beeswax, beard balm has a heavier viscosity than beard oil and provides a hydration boost as well as gives your beard a nice shine that never looks greasy.
While balm doesn’t have the same kind of vice-grip hold, it’s strong enough to hold down unruly beard hairs and fly-aways that often defy your best grooming efforts.
Like most beard products, there is no shortage of balms to choose from in the men’s grooming marketplace. Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re choosing a balm the best suits you:The hold
How stiff of a hold do you want from your beard balm? The amount varies, in large part, due to the concentration of beeswax found in each product.Natural is best
We strongly recommend choosing a balm that has natural ingredients. Products with natural ingredients are good for your beard, the environment, and your overall health.Check the oil
Consider the oils in the balm’s list of ingredients. Jojoba, grapeseed, and coconut are among the best. Also, the best balms use natural butter such as shea and cocoa butter.Can it take on beardruff?
If a beard balm doesn’t help in the fight against beardruff (and beard itch, for that matter), then it’s probably not worth your hard-earned money.
A final note on beard balm: it’s generally more effective when your beard becomes long and thick. A longer beard usually means more stray hairs that seem to defy your best grooming efforts, which is where beard balm can come to the rescue.
Nonetheless, beard balm isn’t only for men with long beards. You can use it on shorter beards as you would beard oil to provide an additional bit of hydration.
Finally, it’s OK to use beard balm and Beard Oil at the same time. Our advice is to be conservative with both products when using them in conjunction.
HOW TO APPLY BEARD BALM IN 5 STEPS
There’s nothing rocket-science-like about applying beard balm, but it helps to know a few tricks of the trade so that you can make the most of its many benefits.
- Your first decision while working with beard balm is deciding when to apply it. The ideal time is after you’ve showered and while your beard is still damp and warm – when it will absorb your balm’s key ingredients.
- Scoop out a small amount of balm from its jar. You don’t need much, just enough to cover your thumbnail.
- Rub the balm vigorously in your palms until it’s fully melted.
- Apply it to your beard in a downward motion, starting at the cheek line at the top of your beard. Work it in deeply – down to the roots of your beard – while spreading it outward to the tips. Don’t be afraid to dig deep while applying it to the roots of beard hair follicles.
- Rub the balm in until no traces of it remain. Once you’ve finished, we recommend using a beard brush or comb to tame stray hairs while giving your beard a more groomed look.
Well, that wraps up our look at Beard Washes vs. Hair Shampoos and Conditioners. We hope that you understand the importance of using products meant for your facial hair on your facial hair and those meant for head hair on your head hair. The differences between the products are significant, as are the results when they’re used correctly.
Do you use Beard Wash? How often do you incorporate them into your grooming routine? Have you discovered any tips or tricks that work for you? We’d love to hear from you!