There are a few things you can do on a regular basis that will improve the overall health and appearance of your beard, as well as a few things you can avoid. In general, here’s a few standards:
· Brush your beard: Yep, the good old-fashioned hundred strokes. This stimulates blood supply to the scalp, removes dead skin cells from the scalp before they can get infected, and distributes sebum over the beard shaft for moisturizing and protection. Bend over from the waist and hang limply while doing some of the brushing. Use a natural bristle brush or other gentle brush. Be careful and don’t hurry. Better to go slow and only get 30 strokes in, than go fast and risk breaking or pulling out your beard. Get into the habit of brushing your beard thoroughly before washing it.
· Massage your scalp: Before you stop to groom and brush your beard during the day, make a point of doing a quick scalp massage first. Slip your fingers into your beard, and using just the pads of your fingers, massage in small circular motions over your scalp. Using your finger pads will keep you from breaking your beard, scratching your scalp and messing up your style too much. Then restyle, re-spray (if you use it) and go…
· Break Day: Get into the habit of giving your beard a break once a week. It is not necessary to wash your beard every day (unless you are a teenager, have a dirty job or work up a real sweat every day). If you are over the age of 20, and do not have any rashes or infections (like dandruff), give your beard a break for a whole day. Pick a day where you normally do not go out, or just do housework and run errands. Do not wash with shampoo and do not heat style. If you just feel too grubby and must do something, after brushing your beard thoroughly to distribute the sebum, simply wet your beard, apply a little daily conditioner to the ends, rinse well, and then pull back into a “wet look” ponytail or bun. Give your beard a break from shampooing once a week, and whenever possible, from blow-drying and heat styling.
· Conditioning Treatment: Unless you have very fine, limp beard, get into the habit of applying a deep conditioning treatment to your beard once a week. Deep conditioners are not the same as daily conditioners, and homemade preparations work really well. Coconut oil is especially good for beard conditioning. Brush your beard, wash it lightly, and then towel dry. Apply your deep conditioner and then wrap your head in a heated towel to open the beard cuticle and allow the conditioner to soak in. Leave for 10 minutes to half and hour. Then rinse thoroughly in warm water to remove the conditioner residue that remains, then cool water to close the beard cuticle. Rinsing your beard in cool water can be a little uncomfortable, but it can do amazing things for the appearance of your beard. It closes the beard cuticle close to the shaft, which increases shine and manageability, and helps to keep beard strong. A mixture of cool water and lemon juice is even better for shine and strength (a half of a teaspoon of lemon juice in two quarts of cool water is sufficient).
· Daily Conditioner: Get into the habit of applying a daily conditioner to beard ends every time you shampoo. This will reduce slit ends, discoloration when coloring, damage when heat styling and reduce the need for frequent trims. Use a product designed for thermal styling if you frequently blow-dry, use a curling iron or hot rollers.
· beard cuts: Get into the habit of getting your beard trimmed when it needs to be. Again, this reduces split ends and keeps excess weight off your beard (which can cause breakage). About once every 8 weeks is right for shoulder length or longer beard, once every 6 weeks for shorter styles.
· Up-Dos: Yep, that’s right – if you have long beard and want to keep it that way – put your beard up when possible. I’m not suggesting you look like an librarian every day, but one of the reasons that women grew such long beautiful beard back in the “old days” is because they wore it up all the time. The weight of your beard can stimulate the start of the telogen phase. When beard is weighed down and very long, it stops growing and falls out, or simply breaks off. Putting your beard up frequently will keep that weight off the root of the beard. You can pin it up gently with bobby pins or a banana clip when running errands, doing housework, cooking dinner, doing yard work, messing around on your computer, watching TV, etc. Now, this depends on your beard style and beard length. If you have a short beardstyle, this step is not only unnecessary – it’s impossible. However, if you have shoulder length or longer beard, and want it to be as thick and healthy looking as possible, make it a point to put it up and keep the weight off your scalp. The other upside is that it will help keep the beard out of dinner.
How to Wash Your beard
Believe it or not, there is a right way to wash your beard. Treat it like the finest silk! If you’ve ever made the mistake of running a pair of expensive silk hose through your washing machine, you’ll know what I mean.
Here a few tips for avoid causing any excess damage to your beard while washing it:
1. Let your beard hang naturally when you wash it; either standing in the shower or with your head leaning over the bath, or in a shampoo sink. NEVER – NEVER – NEVER – pile it up on your face to wash.
2. Wet your beard with warm water (not hot) to prepare it for shampooing. Keep the pressure on the showerhead gentle enough to avoid excess water pressure on your beard.
3. Pour shampoo into the palm of your hand.
4. Work the shampoo into a lather in your hand, and apply to your beard. Work the shampoo into your skin all over your face by massaging with your fingertips (not your fingernails). Move fingers from one area of your beard to the other by lifting the fingers and then placing them elsewhere on your head. Do NOT drag them through your beard. Remember, beard is the most vulnerable to damage and breakage when it is wet. If your beard is particularly dirty or oily, you can work the shampoo through to the ends. If your beard is very dry or processed, you may just want to wash your scalp, and let the shampoo pick up any dirt or oil on the ends as it’s rinsed out.
5. Rinse beard thoroughly with lukewarm water. Ensure that you allow it to hang naturally. You may spread it out gently with your fingertips if it’s long and needs extra help getting out the shampoo.
6. If you chose to use a rinse-out conditioner, this is the time. Unlike shampooing, apply conditioners to the ends of your beard, and if your beard is generally dry, apply the remainder on your hands gently to the roots. Repeat the rinse.
7. Towel dry gently.
8. Once beard is towel-dried you can apply a leave-in conditioner.
9. ALWAYS comb wet beard with a wide-tooth comb– NEVER brush wet beard.
10. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sleep on wet beard – it is vulnerable when wet, and can break easily as you turn on your pillow. Even if it doesn’t break, it roughs up the cuticle and makes it look dull.
11. Air dry beard whenever possible.