Whether you’re sprouting your first whiskers or you’re a regular Dumbledore, growing a beard isn’t without its issues. And while everyone’s beard is different, there are a few common problems that are relatively simple to solve. Here are four of the most common, and what you can do to address them now.
1. Annoying Acne
If you’re growing a beard for the first time, you might be surprised to find annoying little red and white bumps dotting your facial forest. In fact, beard acne is a very common issue, even the most righteously bearded among men. Although acne is often associated with hormonal fluctuations during your teenage years, beard acne is usually the result of bacterial infection or irritation.
When skin cells die, they usually fall right off your face. However, your beard can act as a net, trapping those skin cells. The same is true of sebum, an oil your body naturally produces, and the mixture of it and dead skin cells can clog your pores and lead to acne.
Sometimes solving your beard acne is as simple as making sure to wash your face more often. Rinsing your face with warm water will help remove unwanted dirt, grease, sebum, and dead skin cells. You could also use a beard oil specifically designed to keep the skin under your beard happy and healthy. If you find that you’re still struggling with acne, there may be another issue afoot, and you might need some additional acne treatment. Beard acne is a common and solvable — though often frustrating — side effect of looking excellent.
2. Irritating Itchiness
Whether you’ve had a hairy face for a while or are just growing past your peach fuzz, you’ve likely experienced the itchiness. First it starts out small, but as your beard continues to grow, so too does the irritating sensation. Itchiness is an incredibly common side effect of starting to grow a beard, especially if you’ve been shaving. Shaving cuts your facial hairs at a sharp angle that, once they start growing, feel like scratchy little daggers on your skin. And it’s unlikely that having your face stab your face is the reason you decided to grow your beard.
Keep in mind that some itchiness will abate over time as your beard gets longer and less stabby. However, those with curly hair may also experience irritation from ingrown hairs, which curl and grow into their follicle, rather than outward. These issues may be alleviated by applying coconut oil, beard oil, and other topicals that have anti-inflammatory properties. But, in the meanwhile, just like scratching your skin elsewhere, itchiness can lead to other problems down the line. Part of growing your beard is being patient as you go through its different phases.
3. Dumb Dandruff
Santa might have an amazing beard, but that doesn’t mean you should want yours to snow. Beard dandruff is another annoying, yet fairly common side effect of growing a beard. It’s usually caused by a condition known as seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause a rash that flakes. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is still unknown, but it can be a reaction to the presence of malassezzia, a kind of yeast. This fungus breaks down oil produced by the sebaceous glands on your scalp and face, which can trigger a flaky rash.
Unfortunately, if you experience this kind of beard dandruff it’s likely a chronic condition that could flare up at any time. However, good hygiene will help reduce the rash’s frequency and potency when it does rear its ugly head. Another mild cause of beard dandruff is buildup of dead skin cells. If your beard flakes but isn’t inflamed, try a more robust hygiene regimen. Every good beard needs a little help along the way, so there’s no shame in finding the right product and routine for yours.
4. Perpetual Patchiness
Acne, itchiness, and dandruff are annoying to deal with, but they are fairly common issues. So is your beard growing out patchy, but this can be a source of embarrassment for many men. However, it’s important to note here that the quality of your beard is not a reflection of your worth as a man. What’s more important is deciding what you want in your life and summoning the courage to take action toward achieving your goals. And if growing a fuller beard is one of those goals, then there’s actually a lot you can do to move toward it.
Unlike the hair on your head, beard hair grows as a direct result of the levels of testosterone in your body. Besides genetics, you actually have a lot of influence over these hormone levels and can approach them from multiple angles. Exercise, especially strength training, has been shown to increase testosterone in the body. The same is true of eating foods like eggs, fatty fish, and dark leafy greens. On the flip side, finding ways to destress will help regulate your hormones and get your beard to look full and more Zeus-like over time.
Consistency Is Key
Issues with beard growth can definitely be frustrating. But, honestly, you can address most of them with proper hygiene, a healthy lifestyle, and supplementary products. Like other parts of your body, your beard can serve as a reflection of how healthy you are. There are tons of beard oils on the market, so it can be hard to know which works for you. Keep in mind that growing out your beard to your taste is a trial-and-error process, so be patient. Give it time, and you’ll soon find yourself looking wise beyond your years.