#Natural Hair Care for Men: Beard Grooming & Maintenance
One for the gents!
I have been asked by a few people now to provide some information on how to take care of their beards. The first time someone asked me I thought it was a weird question. It's just facial hair, right? Wrong! It's the same texture as the hair that grows out of your scalp, which means it's also prone to dryness and brittleness. The fact that its facial hair means that you have to combine hair and skin care to make sure you don't end up with spots/pimples or rashes. A number of products and oils that are fine for hair may cause irritation and even inflammation of the skin. Most men probably use shower gel to wash their beards, if they wash them at all. This isn't going to be enough if you want a soft, glossy beard. So, I've done a little research on beard grooming and maintenance. I hope it's helpful.
Keep it Clean
You gents with beards are part of 'Team Natural' whether you like it or not. Unless of course, you're relaxing the hair. So, like the hair on your head, you need to keep it clean. While a soap or shower gel may cleanse, it's also going to strip the hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and maybe even a little itchy. Invest in some shampoo. I recommend a baby shampoo or sulphate-free moisturising one to reduce the drying effect of shampooing on hair and skin. One lather and rinse twice a week should be enough. Conditioning afterwards is also a good idea. You don't need to pile on the product, just smooth a little over the beard in the shower, wash the rest of your body and rinse it out at the end. Some people recommend leaving some of the conditioner in. If you have sensitive skin, this may not be a good idea, it may also leave a little build up so try it out and see if you like the results.
Now depending on how long your beard is, you may need to detangle the hair. Do this in the shower too. The best time to do it is probably before you rinse out the conditioner. Long or short, you should give your beard a brush. A small comb or soft bristle brush should do the trick. Try not to scratch the skin on your face in the process. Rinse your face off with cool water afterwards. This will close the pores on your face and the cuticle trapping the moisture in and preventing dirt from entering your skin.
There are a number of oils and butters to choose from for moisturising. Oils nourish and replenish the hair and skin, locking in moisture adding vitamins and antioxidants, they can protect from the sun and many also contain anti-bacterial/antiseptic properties. The best oils to use are natural oils and other plant-based ingredients. There are so many to choose from. I've only listed a few examples below. Alternatively, you could just opt for a leave in conditioner or light moisturiser. Whatever you choose, remember to use just a little and smooth it onto your beard with your hands in a downward motion.
Everyone is different.
If your beard is a little thin and you're trying to add volume or thickness, then Castor oil may help. It's best not used undiluted on the skin, so try it mixed with another oil. Use it sparingly. It is very thick and sticky/gloopy and some people have reported getting pimples after using it on skin. Half a penny-sized amount/ a few drops rubbed into your palms and then smoothed over the beard in a downward motion should be enough. Alternatively, rub a little on to your bristle brush and then brush the beard down/into place.
Sweet Almond Oil: Contains moisturising, nourishing properties and is easily absorbed. It leaves skin soft and smooth without that greasy feeling, and because it's not greasy, it won't clog your pores. It's rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and E and is said to relieve dry, itchy skin. It is also said to help condition, nourish, and soften hair.
Argan Oil: Is rich in vitamin E, and essential fatty acids that help reduce wrinkles. It contains natural anti-inflammatory agents that help with inflamed skin. It improves skin hydration and elasticity. When used on hair it penetrates follicles to moisturise, replenish nutrients, and help fight breakage to promote soft, silky hair with gloss and shine. Its nutrients promote hair growth and help reduce hair loss.
Coconut Oil/Extra Virgin Coconut Oil , is a great moisturiser. It's also a light oil, although it can be a little greasy. For the skin, the rich natural fats are easily absorbed for smoother, softer, feel and a healthier appearance The oil also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. In hair care it is used as a hair tonic to stimulate the scalp and encourage hair growth. NB: Some people have reported breakouts after using the oil for long periods of time. A little goes a long way so Use sparingly.
Olive Oil: (One of my favourites) holds the moisture close to the skin, and coats it to prevent loss of internal moisture. It's a good oil for dry skin. The fat composition of olive oil is similar to that of human skin, so it rarely causes allergic reactions. Olive oil is believed to help keep skin soft, supple and younger looking. In hair care, it helps repair split ends, control dandruff, and makes your hair shiny, silky, and lustrous.
For more information on a variety of oils visit: http://www.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com/ingredients/baseoils.aspx
Natural oils and essential oils (e.g. Lavender, Lemon, Rosemary, Peppermint, Tea Tree oil) have many benefits, but as mentioned already, some, can cause irritation. When using an essential oil, remember to mix it with a carrier oil such as Olive, Castor, Almond, Coconut Oil. Roughly 1 drop of essential oil for every 2 tablespoons of the carrier oil. NEVER apply essential oils directly to face or skin, and don't use more than a few drops in a mixture. If you are prone to acne, a few drops of Tea-tree oil mixed into your carrier oil may help.
Bumps, infections, and ingrown hairs
Here are a few tips for treating/avoiding bumps and ingrown hairs:
- Make sure your shaving kit/equipment is always clean.
- Exfoliate once a week. Yes guys, you need to do this too! It removes dead skin cells, dirt and product build/oil. You can actually use a soft bristle brush to gently exfoliate the skin under your beard. This will keep the pores open and allow new growth to come through.
- Try not to shave too close to the skin. Apparently, this increases the chances of getting ingrown hairs and bumps.
- DO NOT pick at bumps and ingrown hairs with fingers or nails. If you think you can remove them yourself, use a sterile needle or tweezers to do so. Place a warm, damp towel over the area to soften the skin. Try to make sure the ingrown end is out of the skin rather than plucking it out completely as this can lead to swelling and scarring.
- Be sure to apply antiseptic to the area after (ingrown hair) removal.
- Try to keep the area clean and free of hair.
- Growing out your beard also reduces the chances of ingrown hairs as longer hair is less likely to get trapped under the skin.
I think that's all I've got for now. Let me know how useful the info is.
Until next time,
Stay Healthy, stay Happy, stay Blessed.