Most bearded men wash their beards in some way or another. And that's a great habit to get into. A few years back, before the proliferation of beard products and information, the most the average beardsman would do was a quick rinse in the shower - maybe with some oil-stripping shampoo, or even bar soap. But these days we have beard wash to help is keep our manes clean. However, as a producer of beard shampoo, we've started to realize that a lot of people aren't really sure how they're supposed to be cleaning their beards.
1. You're just washing your beard
The most common mistake we've seen is that some people focus entirely, or mostly, on their beard hair when washing. But think about the way you use shampoo on your hair (or used to, if you don't have it anymore). The focus is always on the top of your head. You work those suds in at the scalp first, hair second.
Why is that? Well, let's look at what shampoo actually does.
If you can't watch a video right now, or just don't want to, here's the basic breakdown:
- Your skin produces an oil called sebum. When people talk about your body's "natural oils" that's what they are talking about.
- Oil builds up overtime in your hair - particularly at the follicles. This build-up makes your hair gross and the follicles grosser.
- Because sebum is an oil, it does not mix with water. That's why we invented soap - aka surfactants. They bond chemically with both water and oil, allowing you to wash away oils with water!
This can cause you to feel a little nasty in and of itself, but the big problem comes in when bacteria sniff out the oil that's hanging out there at your follicles. Then dead skin from your scalp (or in this case, your chin) gets mixed in, and suddenly the bacteria have access to salt, fat, protein . . . it's pretty much a damn bacterial buffet. So we spoil their fun by throwing a surfactant on them and sending them to hell (well, the nearest water treatment facility).
When you wash your beard, focus primarily on washing your face with the beard wash. You don't even need to bother that much with washing the actual hair - the lather in our wash is pretty robust, so it's going to catch a lot of the gunk in your hair on the way out. In fact, you should give very little focus to your actual beard hair. Unless you:
- Go to the beach a lot
- Work in a coal mine
- Just ate a bunch of tacos
- Have just completed a viking raid and are covered in sweat and the blood of the fallen.
Essentially, unless your beard is actually DIRTY, don't worry too much about cleaning the hair. Your beard is made up of thick, coarse hair that is pretty much always desperate for moisture. The sebaceous glands on your chin just aren't prepared to handle as much hair as we beardsmen like to wear. Let it keep some of its natural oil (and our wash will help put a little supplemental oil on there to keep it from drying out). But make sure you clean those follicles with a good gentle scrub.
2. You're doing it too often
A lot of people was their hair every day. It's an easy default setting for us. You clean yourself every morning, you brush your teeth every morning, you use the soap every morning, why not clean your hair every morning?
If you're paying attention, you may already be able to guess why not.
The oil in your hair is good for you. This was not a mistake of evolution. It's supposed to be there. But it can cause problems if it stays there too long. They key is in finding out what "too long" means for your beard.
When we are asked "how often should I wash my beard?" we generally defalut to the answer: every three to four days. This is not entirely accurate though. The more accurate answer should be: When it looks or feels dirty.
I (Austin) wash my beard every three to four days. More often than that, and I'm stripping too much oil too often. If your beard does not produce or retain much oil, you can probably wash just once a week, or even less. If you've got a particularly oily beard (and aren't you just a diamond in the rough), you probably need to wash a lot more often - possibly even daily. Actually, here's a chart that might help.
Basically, try this. Wash your beard. Then rinse your beard every morning, put on beard oil as usual, and go about your business. How does it feel the next day? Fine? Okay, go to day two. Repeat. Repeat. When you get to that day when you feel kinda oily, kinda itchy, make a note of it. That's when the oil build-up is starting to become a problem for your face. That's how many days you should go between washes.
3. You're using too much
Remember that, for most of us, you're not washing a very large area with your beard wash. Most users should not venture past a dime-sized portion of wash. Too much, and you're going to dry your beard out - no matter what wash you use.
Our wash is made with gentle surfactants and infused with oils to minimize their effects. The plain truth of it is that every cleaning agent is designed to also remove oil. That's just how it works. If a beard wash was not capable of drying out your beard, it is not capable of WASHING it, either.
It's best to stick to moisturizing washes like ours, but even then there's such a thing as too much beard shampoo. Use more than a small portion and it's going to work TOO well, and leave you with a face full of sun-baked hay. Keep the amount to what's prescribed, and don't increase it - even if your beard is bigger now than it was when you first started using our wash - until you start feeling like you're still a little dirty after the wash. And then, add a few molecules for next time.
The moisture and acidity of the hair on your face is a lot harder to control and far more delicate than what's on your head, so taking care of it requires a gentler, more surgical approach. It takes some practice, mostly because no one can tell you exactly how to do it. The above are just guidelines. Good ones, but every beard is different. Like snowflakes, we are! Use this guide to help you, but you've got to find what's best for your beard on your own.
4. You're using a hair conditioner
Normal commercial conditioners include ingredients like silicone that can dull your beard and even result in tiny silicate flakes. Beard Monster's Beard Conditioner is a more traditional cream rinse, made of an emulsion of water, natural oils, and shea butter. Even the BTMS wax, the thing doing the emulsifying in the emulsion, is helpful in conditioning without giving you any of the problems a regular, store-bought conditioner does.
Beard washing should absolutely be followed up with a conditioner, as well as an after-shower routine including beard oil and/or beard balm. But using a cheap bottle from the grocery store is not doing your beard any favors.