A beard is an alternative to a clean-shaven face. It’s not an alternative to a clean face. If you try to get out of your obligation to keep your face clean, it might drop you an internal memo in the form of persistent itchiness or send up a general SOS in the shape of embarrassing beard dandruff. But with the right bag of tricks, you can be saying “Clear Skin. Full Beards. Can’t Lose” faster than you can give your mustache a twirl. Let’s break down how to tend your newly bearded landscape.
Even if you’ve got a magnificent beard, there is still going to be plenty of non-bearded skin on your face. There’s no reason to abandon your nose or your forehead just because your cheeks happen to have hair on them. And don’t ignore the exposed skin on your cheeks just because it is beard-adjacent. If you stopped using something like this charcoal face wash just because you didn’t know how to adjust your slathering technique to the reduced surface area, you’re not ready for the pros. College running backs don’t just sit down on the field when they get to the NFL because the space between the hash marks is smaller. Don’t be afraid of letting the face wash splash against the fringe of your beard. It can handle it.
And now we arrive at the perimeter of your beard. What’s your plan here? Are you just letting things go or do you have a strict demarcation point between the forest and the plains? If you are still shaving the borderlands on your neck or cheeks, you remain vulnerable to painful razor bumps, especially since those neck creases have always been the dangerous territory for ingrown hairs. Keep some razor bump cream handy since that helps eliminate the bacteria collecting on the outskirts of your beard and soothes the irritated skin in the no man’s land between the shaven and the unshaven parts of your face.
Into the Woods
You aren’t exactly sure what is going on inside the mysterious thickets of your facial hair, but you can tell it is getting a little oily in there. You’ve heard a lot of bearded friends talk about the horrors of disturbing the natural balance of beard oils. And you may have encountered boutique beard oil products on the shelf and then seen a listicle about “homegrown beard oil.” Perhaps you thought to yourself, “My beard is collecting plenty of grease. Do I just let that process keep going until I can figure out a way to monetize it?”
There’s some chance your face is magically sprouting tiny Jojoba shrubs and expressing kernels of the argan tree from its pores. If that’s the case, congratulations on being able to identify the Jojoba plant, much less cultivate it on your face.
But if your beard is actually collecting yesterday’s breakfast and last week’s dead skin, you might want to slow down your entrepreneurial roll and invest in some gel moisturizer for oily skin. You do want to avoid rocking the natural equilibrium of your beard oil, so there’s no need to grind that bar of soap into your beard hair or overdo it with the shampoo. You don’t have to necessarily invest in a special beard shampoo, but keep in mind that the ecosystem of your facial hair can be more sensitive than the habitat of your scalp, so it’s wise to use some caution.
Speaking of that facial hair ecosystem, the skin beneath your beard is no longer getting the bonus exfoliation that came with the regular scrape of that razor blade. If you start noticing those flakes of dry skin scattered across your beard, it’s a plea for exfoliation. Don’t try and do a little casual freelancing by reaching up and scratching at your beard with your dirty fingernails when you feel the itch. You can loosen up the pores with some warm water and gently massage in a scrubbing solution. Follow up with a moisturizer.
You might feel a little strange shopping for a beard brush or comb – let alone beard oils – but if you’re serious about beard maintenance, you should get the right tools. Otherwise, it’s like watching somebody take care of their yard with craft scissors and a salad fork. It’s a good idea to comb out your beard before a trim so that you can dislodge loose hairs and see what the shape of your unsnarled beard actually looks like. A good brush down to loosen gunk up before you clean your beard is also recommended.
To listen to some beard oil salesmen, you would think that the secrets of the universe were dispensed from their tiny bottles. But beard oils can help soften the beard and soak down through it to help hydrate the skin.
A beard is a distinguished adornment! It is a protective shield! But it doesn’t come equipped with its own janitorial staff, so make sure you keep the skin beneath those whiskers clean.