The number one complaint we hear about growing a beard is the itch, and the flaky skin that can go along with it. A little itch is always going to be part of hair growth, but a proper beard-grooming routine can go a long way toward alleviating the problem. Here are our best tips for nixing that itch.
Some of the flakiness you experience with beard growth is due to dry skin. Geography can make this even worse, as dryer climates can really suck the water out of your skin like a vampire on a co-ed's neck. Good news is, this is one of those problems that you can fix. It's even possible, if you're diligent in your beard care, to avoid it entirely.
One easy fix is also the most common health tip you're likely to hear: Drink plenty of water. Water goes everywhere in your body, and that includes your skin. If you don't have enough water, your body is going to start sending what water you do have to the most essential places first. You know how in sci-fi movies, when the spaceship gets damaged, they start "diverting power from nonessential functions?" Same thing here. If you're dehydrated or underhydrated, your body takes care of the organs first and forsakes the skin. It works from the center out. Drink enough water, and your body will happily hydrate your skin as well, leading to less or even none of that dryness that causes flakes.
Hydration products like beard oil are crucial as well, as they help prevent your skin from drying out. Keeping your skin healthy is important, and a good beard oil acts as a supplement to this. It soaks into the pores, plumps up the skin, and helps prevent loss of natural oils and moisture as well. If you only use one beard product, for the sake of your beard's health, make it beard oil.
Sometimes, even your best efforts to keep that skin hydrated just don't work out. The best laid plans of monsters and men, am I right? You end up with some skin flakes in your beard, and you're just not going for that "snowy evening" look.
So get rid of the flakes. This is where exfoliating comes into play. You can use an exfoliating product, most of which come in plastic tubes and have ingredients like ground walnut shells to essentially abrade dead and flaky skin away. Make sure after using a product like this to thoroughly wash your beard, as it's easy to leave behind chunks of product after you're finished scrubbing.
Using a boar bristle brush is also a great idea. We recommend them all the time for helping with the application of beard oil, but they also make for a gentle scrubber to rub away dead skin under your beard. Remember your beard follicles are sensitive, so never attack your face with a brush; always use gentle motions to do this. Be sure to do this before you shower, as skin flakes that are knocked loose by the brushing will just hang out in your beard until they are washed away.
A lot of people don't realize this, but dry skin is not the only cause of dandruff. In fact, it's not even the most common. Dandruff is caused, most often, by dirt and oil clogging up your hair follicles. Bacteria love to eat that nasty stuff, and so they take up residence. Dandruff is the byproduct of this sinister process. It doesn't mean you're dirty or gross; it happens to pretty much everyone now and then. If it happens more often to you, it just means you've got to work a little harder to fix it.
The answer here is simple enough; you just have to clean up. Our Beard Wash is a great solution for gentle cleansing that will remove dirt and oil without being too harsh and drying your skin out. Remember, a common mistake with beard washing is washing just the beard. For attacking dandruff problems, you need to focus on the skin under your beard and not just the hair. In fact, in all aspects of beard hygiene, you should remember to pay just as much attention to the skin under your beard as the beard itself.
(Check out this article on washing your beard for more tips.)
It bears mentioning that new beards tend to be the most itchy. This is for two reasons. First, new growth is always irritating, as you've got little sharp hair-daggers poking their way out of your skin. That's not going to feel good to anyone. This irritation generally causes some itch, and it's one of the many excellent reasons that you shouldn't shave (well, that's our opinion anyway)!
Second, even once that hair has sprouted, you're likely to get some irritation because the new hair will begin to curl, and the ends of the new hairs will scratch at your skin. Sure, it's not a very strong scratching, but it's being done by thousands of hairs at once, all of which add up to an uncomfortable feeling.
To an extent, this can be alleviated through the use of softening products such as beard conditioner and beard oil. That will at least make the hair less abrasive. Other than that, time is your main tool. You've just got to let it grow out. There's an awkward period around an inch or so in length where your beard is going to do this to you; once it gets past there, gravity will start to pull those hairs down enough that the ends will leave your skin alone.