I have had some beardy friends tell me that they grow out their beards in winter so they can avoid shaving and facial care. These same people are often complaining about itchy skin. A few of them even complain that they can’t get their beard to look nice for work. One friend’s boss even told him to trim his beard or suffer a write up. I won’t bother to tell you what their spouses say about the smell. I think that growing a beard can be less maintenance over all than daily shaving, but there is an amount of care that is still required for the best results. So let’s discuss the basics.
Beard care starts with cleanliness. Washing a beard is overrated in some circles, but is an invaluable aspect of beard care in the winter. A man’s neck naturally produces beneficial oils to protect the hair shafts, so be sure to wash with shampoo specifically for beards. Most of the oils will remain, and only unwanted grime and odor is washed away. This will help protect the hair shafts, as well as the sensitive facial skin underneath. Washing the beard is the necessary first step in basic beard care. As a matter of fact, you have to wash your beard before you comb it.
How often do you comb your beard?
For some this is an optional activity, but for most this is necessary. Not only does combing detangle the beard, but it draws those beneficial oils across the whole shaft of hair. It’s important to avoid combing too much, but a few swipes every day after washing will greatly increase the health of your beard. Be sure to comb your beard, not brush it. Beard hair is naturally more brittle than head hair, so a brush is just hazardous.
A comb is recommended, and not just any comb, but a big-toothed wooden comb that is made just for beards. Combing just after washing and before conditioning has the best results. Yes, it’s a good idea to use conditioner on a beard.
One aspect of beard care that I have often seen neglected is conditioning the beard. Some really think this is only for head hair. This is not so, especially in winter. Beard conditioner is designed to stay in the beard. Think about what this does: on windy days, when snow falls, or during a trip to your favorite buffet. No environmental assailant comes in direct contact with the shafts of your beard. The benefits of this are really noticeable the next time you comb and wash your beard.
As an alternative (or in addition) to conditioner, there is a product called Beard Oil. This will supplement the natural oils produced by the neck. Apply this after you wash and comb your beard, and before any conditioner you apply. Beard oil produces similar results to conditioner, but it’s not as effective at getting grimy things to slide out of your beard. It will protect the shafts of the hair to a small extent, but it is more for nourishing and hydrating. Food will comb out of your beard a bit more easily, and harsh weather will not pose as much of a threat. If you only choose one product to wear in your beard, the oil has more well-rounded benefits. Keep this in mind though; as you nourish your beard on the outside, be careful to nourish your insides as well.
Taking care of your health is also taking care of your beard. So, if you want a nice manageable beard that looks good, you need to take care of your whole self. If you are dehydrated, then your beard is dehydrated, and all the beard oil in the world will do you no good. Also, eating a varied diet will provide all the vitamins and minerals that your whole body needs. If the vital systems aren’t getting what they need, they will pull nutrients from other areas of the body to fulfill their functions. One of the first places that the body will pull from is the hair and nails.
So making sure you get all the essential vitamins and minerals will not only benefit you into old age, but will make for much easier hair care. Follow the food guide pyramid and you’ll have all the nutrients your body needs. Win and win. And remember, moderate exercise can only help, and is actually required for the proper function of some of those vital systems… which will improve the state of your beard indirectly. So, when considering that your beard requires nutrition just like the rest of you, consider that maybe less is more.
Once in a while, your beard will benefit from a good trim. Just because you’re growing out your beard doesn’t mean that trimming becomes useless. Beard hair gets dead ends just as easily as head hair, even if you have a daily beard care routine. Also, if your beard is like any other beard, it grows unevenly which makes grooming and shaping unnecessarily difficult. Just go get a trim. A barber will know exactly how to tame the mountainous terrain of long growth, and smooth out the rough edges of a closer cut. This is a very good investment. If you’d rather be hands on, you’ll get better with practice. Just get a few decent tools (including beard scissors) and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. See our article How to Trim a Beard for more info.
If your beard and facial skin have had a particularly rough winter, then consider a spa day. There are spas that have days just for men, too. For hair that has gotten especially brittle, or skin that is dry and rough beyond the help of beard oil, a spa treatment could be a simple and relaxing answer. Often, this will set thing straight in just one treatment. This is an easy and natural method for taking care of a weathered skin and beard in the winter. Spa treatments work wonders for sensitive skin too. And a lot of the high quality spa products use natural ingredients.
Whether you have sensitive skin or not, or whether you go to the spa or stay home, using natural ingredients will bring the most benefits and the least frustration to your beard care routine. Often, products with unnatural ingredients need other products to counter some of their ill effects such as the need to wash most conditioners out. That is because of the alcohols and some of the chemicals they use. Facial skin is more susceptible to damage from these types of things, too. There are all kinds of reasons why natural ingredients are better.
While we’re talking about natural ingredients, we should also discuss any styling and shaping products you may want to use. There are products made specifically for men’s facial hair: beard balm and moustache wax.
Both have applications for winter beard care and are very useful to have. Beard balm has a softer, more gentle hold and moustache wax will tame any unruly tufts that your follicles decide to unleash. Both are typically made from natural ingredients and will wash out easily.
I think there’s a misconception that beards don’t require any maintenance and a clean shaven face is maintenance-heavy… but both ideas are extreme and incomplete. Having an ENJOYABLE beard requires a bit of maintenance, but still, in my opinion, less than daily shaving. I think the best way to end this article is to let you know of some high quality products with an excellent reputation: Grizzly Adam Beard Care. Their products make beard care easy, and they have decent sales once in a while. They have a bundle pack that includes their beard oil, comb and a pair of scissors, which would be a great place to start. If you get the beard shampoo at the same time, you’ll save on shipping. This is a great place to start, or shop around a bit before you decide this is the route you want to go.
Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know for winter beard care:
– Wash with beard shampoo
– Use appropriate comb
– Leave in conditioner
– Beard oil
– Keep hydrated and eat nutritious foods
– Trim occasionally
– Consider spa treatment
– Use products with natural ingredients
– Beard Balm and Moustache Wax for shaping