Here’s an unfortunate beard fact: Facial hair wicks away moisture, allowing it to evaporate before being absorbed into the skin. The end result is a dry, flaky (and super itchy) face. Worse yet, facial hair also catches oil and dirt near the hair follicles, which clog pores and cause acne.
But don’t ditch your glorious winter beard just yet: Following this dermatologist-approved advice, the skin under your facial hair can be smoother and cleaner than, uh, something very smooth and clean (we just had lunch and can’t think of good analogies on a full stomach, sorry).
Clean Thoroughly (And Often)
“I recommend steaming the skin in a warm shower (or with a hot washcloth) to loosen the beard hairs and soften the skin underneath,” dermatologist Anthony M. Rossi explains. “Then, scrub your face with a face cleanser.”
It’s worth doing this twice a day—once in the morning and once again before bed. “Facial hair tends to trap oil and gunk around the hair follicles, which can lead to even more inflammation and clogged pores,” Rossi previously told us. “That’s why we generally tell those people with lots of hair to tack an extra wash onto their routine, especially if they’re using beard oils or anything like that.”
Treat Your Face like Your Scalp
“If your beard is long and thick, then you can treat it like your scalp, with a gentle shampoo and conditioner,” say dermatologist Lisa Chipps. This will help reduce the amount of oil and gunk trapped around the hair follicles, which will reduce acne and irritation.
Exfoliate Regularly (But Not Too Regularly)
Because you’re not shaving—which removes the top layers of skin—using exfoliating scrubs two or three times per week is a must. That’s because exfoliating removes dirt and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, which keeps your skin clean and unclogs your pores.
To exfoliate properly, douse your beard (and face) with warm water to open the pores, which will loosen any lingering dry or dead skin. Then, use your fingers to gently scrub in a small circular motion with an exfoliating cream (that is, a cream filled with abrasive ingredients designed to physically scrape away dead skin).
Moisturize After Washing
“I like to use a face moisturizer with SPF where my beard isn’t, since I have light skin (plus it helps reduce wrinkles around the eyes and forehead),” explains DSC’s resident beard stylist, Travis Fields. “I also use a light amount of beard oil (or pre-shave oil) to help my beard feel fresh and reduce itchiness caused by dryness. Using too much oil won’t do your skin any favors, though.” For best results, scatter a few drops of oil well into your beard (and onto your skin), then use a comb to gently spread the oil throughout.
That’s it! But don’t stop there: If you’re going to rock a big beard, you have to put together outfits that suit it. Don’t worry—we found a stylist to help us out with that, too.