Category: Shaving & Beard Care

Beard 911: Dry, brittle, flaky facial hair

I live in a cold, dry climate and my beard naturally lacks moisture so I have to bolster my hair’s minimal moisture with conditioners, oils, and balms.  Many beard oils are available on the market today and most of them are pretty good.  Things to look for when selecting a beard oil or balm is an avocado, almond, grapeseed, or coconut oil base.  These oils are similar to the oils in human skin and hair, and are therefore more easily absorbed than other oils.  Organic, all-natural, and vegan oils are readily available if those kinds of things are of importance to you but that all comes down to personal preference and I am ill-equipped speak to yours.

I make my own beard oil and beard balm from scratch using a variety of carrier and essential oils, beeswax, and natural conditioners.  In a future post I will be providing a few recipes and sources for supplies in the event that you want to try your hand at making your own beard-care products.  For now we’ll focus on the process of repairing damaged hair and keeping it supple and healthy.

The first step on your journey to a healthy beard is to trim all of the dry, split ends away with a pair of barber’s scissors.  A decent pair can be had for 15 bucks on Amazon or at your local drug store.  If you’re particular, you can find a pair just for your beard.

To begin you’ll need a beard wash.  The hair on your face is very different from the hair on your head, and regular shampoo can dry out and severely damage your beard.  Again, I make my own beard shampoo but there are many quality products available for purchase as well.  Look for a gentle, castille soap based product, or simply use liquid castille soap.  As far as commercial products go, I fancy Bluebeard’s Beard Wash.  It does a great job cleansing without drying out my hair, it smells great, and it contains deep conditioning oils that repair damage.  Apply your beard shampoo, homemade or commercial, just like your normal shampoo.  Your beard may require a couple of weeks to adjust to the new soap, but once it does you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Once you’ve washed your beard with a gentle shampoo you need to use a heavy conditioner in the shower during your normal routine.  I don’t make my own conditioner, and instead use Mane N’ Tail conditioner, originally made for horses.  The best thing about Mane N’ Tail is that it’s made to be rinsed out like most human conditioners, or left in the hair all day which is my preference.  I chose this conditioner because it’s less expensive than making my own conditioner and it works like a dream.  A little goes a long way, and I’ve only had to buy one bottle in the past year.  If the idea of using a veterinary product on your face is weird for you or if your beard is in really bad shape, Bluebeard makes an intensive repair rinse-out conditioner that works wonders despite being pretty pricey.

Once your beard is trimmed, washed, and conditioned, you can towel dry it and comb in your favorite beard oil.  If you’re new to the world of beard oil, I suggest Badass Beard Care’s Sandalwood and Vanilla .  It is specifically formulated to stop beard itch, nourish hair, and minimize dry flaky skin.  I’m intrigued by The Blades Grim‘s “Smolder” oil, but I haven’t had occasion to try it.  If you check it out, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.

I follow up my homemade beard oil with a beard balm made from beeswax, lanolin, and conditioning oils.  Balm not only seals in the moisture from the oil but also helps style and tame bushy beards like mine.  When I don’t have my own concoction, I use Wild Willie’s Beard Butter.  The consistency is good for my course facial hair, it smells amazing, and I like the effect it has on my beard’s texture.  I always comb in my balm to ensure even distribution throughout my beard.

I also take vitamins to promote hair growth and I’ve noticed a colossal difference.



Taming the Beast: Beard combs and brushes

Some men are lucky enough to have straight, easy to groom facial hair.  If you’re one of those men, I’d be happy to send you passionate hate mail if you leave your address in the comments.  If you’re like me and have a mane like a bramble bush, a good beard comb and/or brush is essential to avoiding the classic caveman look.  Available choices for combs include plastic, wood, bone, and horn, while brushes are available in natural and synthetic bristles.

I strongly recommend steering well-clear of plastic combs and brushes because they build up static electricity that can make grooming difficult.  Plastic tends to catch and pull the hair a bit more than wood or horn too, which can be painful and is hard on your beard.

Wood and bone/horn have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and hair type.  I prefer horn because the tines are smoother, causing less tug-n-pull.  Horn is also non-porous and therefore water-resistant.  Unfortunately the non-porous nature of horn and bone means that it does not absorb oils and lotions.  Wood will absorb whatever you put in your beard, holding it for future combings and conditioning your beard longer when you don’t have your oils on you.  This also means that wood is more likely to be damaged by exposure to water–including a quick wash cycle in your laundry…which has happened to me more than I care to admit.

Still, washing a horn comb isn’t brilliant…

Synthetic brushes are cheap, but you get what you pay for and natural bristle brushes aren’t much more expensive.  Natural bristles absorb any oils or lotions that you use in your beard already, conditioning the bristles against wear and leaving trace residue in your beard when you groom it.  Brushes give a different texture to the beard hair, slightly polishing the strands and softening them without the tug and pull of a comb.  On the other side, brushes don’t tame scraggy beards as well as a comb and may leave the beard puffy.

I haven’t actually used this brush, but I’ve heard very good things about it and it looks like a great product. The other advantage to this set is that it comes with a comb.  Although the comb is made of bamboo rather than horn, it will give you an idea of the difference between a brush and comb if you’ve never used either.

There are many natural horn combs and brushes available, but my absolute favorite is the EQLEF Buffalo and Sandalwood Beard Comb.  I find that this comb is thick enough to put up with my abuse, large enough to use for my head and facial hair, and smooth enough that it doesn’t pull my beard.

This one is a decent economical option for shorter, thinner beards but I noticed that it pulled my hair quite a bit (especially after 3 or 4 wash cycles).

If you’re not sure if a comb or brush is better for you, there are some great sets available that include both along with balm, oil, or both.