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Most Common Problems Caused by Beards

Beards are in. According to research, it's not only the perfectly manicured facial hair that's turning heads (in a good way) but also the scruffy look. [Are Women Attracted to Men with Beards? | Psychology Today] Men who shunned facial hair in the past are growing beards with good reason. There’s scientific evidence to suggest that people perceive men with beards as being more masculine and physically stronger. Researchers have also found women are likely to find men with beards more attractive than men with clean-shaven faces. [A multivariate analysis of women's mating strategies and sexual selection on men's facial morphology (nih.gov)]

It’s not only the people looking at men with beards that likely have these perceptions of manliness, but also the men themselves. Bearded men reported stronger feelings of masculinity and even had higher serum testosterone than clean-shaven men. [A multivariate analysis of women's mating strategies and sexual selection on men's facial morphology (nih.gov)], In addition to making men look stronger and more masculine, beards can hide those not-so-perfect facial features. It’s like a natural form of cosmetic surgery!

Though beards enhance the perception of masculinity, many men experience skin problems caused by their beards. Such beard problems include irritated skin, ingrown hair, and acne, just to name a few. These problems can cause discomfort and a feeling of self-consciousness. If you’re experiencing new problems with your beard, here’s what might be causing them and how to fix them.

Irritated, Itchy Skin

Sometimes beards get itchy and irritated, often due to factors such as shaving with a dull razor or chemicals/fragrances found in shaving products

To cure your itchy skin, consider rubbing a moisturizer in a circular fashion to reach the skin under your beard hair. A few other steps to alleviate skin irritation under your beard include:

  • Gently cleanse your beard and the skin beneath it.
  • Use a clean towel to blot dry.
  • Use an exfoliating scrub to prevent ingrown hairs.
  • Use a product to condition your beard, such as beard conditioner, beard oil, or a gentle moisturizer.
  • Comb or brush your beard.
  • Repeat once or twice a day.

Beard Dandruff

Another common beard problem is dandruff. Beard dandruff is often caused by a type of yeast commonly found on the skin known as Malassezia. The tell-tale signs of beard dandruff are flakes, an itchy rash, scaly skin, or greasy patches under your beard. [DIY treatment for 5 common beard problems (aad.org)]

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, treat under-beard dandruff by gently brushing your beard daily before washing your face. Short-term use of over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% solution can help treat the rash and greasy patches. Shampoo your beard and scalp at least once a week. Use a dandruff shampoo that includes one of these dandruff-fighting ingredients:

  • 2% zinc pyrithione
  • 1% ketoconazole
  • 1% selenium sulfid

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs and razor bumps are names for the same dilemma. Short, curly hairs that grow wrong under the skin’s surface or hairs that grow out then curve back into the skin can cause painful or itchy bumps. Medically called pseudofolliculitis barbae, this condition tends to happen more often in men of African or Asian descent. [Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment options (nih.gov)]

Dermatologists recommend these tips for preventing ingrown hairs. [A dermatologist's top tips for a healthy beard (aad.org)]

  • Consider not trimming your beard, or:
  • Shave the parts of your face and neck around your beard when your beard hairs are softer—at the end of your shower or right after you get out.
  • Use a pre-shave gel applied to the beard for 30 seconds before shaving.
  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free shaving cream (again to soften hairs) and apply it for 2 to 3 minutes before shaving. Use a moisturizing shaving cream even if you use an electric razor.
  • Use a sharp—not a dull--razor.
  • Use short strokes and go over each area only once.
  • If you want your beard hair to grow downward, shave in that direction. And don’t pull the skin tight or press the razor down while shaving. Think gentle.
  • Use lukewarm water for rinsing and rinse thoroughly.
  • Pat your skin and beard dry, leaving a little moisture behind.
  • Massage in moisturizer (on your face and onto the skin under your beard with a circular motion).

Here’s a hack: You can train your facial hair to grow in one direction by gently brushing hairs with a clean, unused, soft-bristled toothbrush. Do this daily to get your hair growth to go in one direction and help prevent ingrown hairs

To treat ingrown facial hair, follow these steps:

  • Use warm water, an exfoliating brush, and exfoliating scrub to wash the affected area.
  • Use a sterile needle or tweezers to gently pull out any ingrown hairs that have looped back into your skin.
  • Use rubbing alcohol on the surrounding skin to prevent infections

With time, most ingrown hairs will heal on their own within one to two weeks as the hair releases from your skin as they grow. If all else fails, dermatologists are among the types of physicians that offer laser treatments that can eliminate or diminish ingrown hairs. To avoid complications, be sure to visit a dermatologist who is experienced in using laser treatment in light- and dark-skinned men.

Beard Acne

Acne is one of the most common beard problems. Beard hairs can trap skin oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, which can clog pores and cause breakouts without good skincare. Dermatologists recommend a few simple things to prevent beard acne, including:

  • Try to keep your hands away from your face because they carry dirt and germs.
  • Wash your entire face, including the bearded skin, once or twice daily with a gentle cleanser and avoid scrubbing because it tends to make acne worse. Dermatologists recommend using a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acid — ingredients that fight acne.
  • Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and blot skin dry.
  • Apply an acne-fighting topical.

Sparse or Patchy Hair Growth

Some men find their beards come in unevenly or not at all. Burns or scarring on the face can prevent hair growth, and sometimes genetics comes into play. Regardless of the cause, loss of beard hair or patchy facial hair growth can be traumatic for men. The good news is there are simple solutions that have been proven to work.

DefenAge’s topical hair serum has been scientifically shown to stimulate the regeneration of hair follicles even in severely injured skin. The active ingredient is alpha-defensin 5, which is the patented technology found in DefenAge skincare formulas. [Stimulation of the Follicular Bulge LGR5+ and LGR6+ Stem Cel... : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (lww.com)]

The science behind DefenAge is this: Defensins improve skin quality by stimulating LGR6+ stem cells so that defensins can regenerate/refresh skin under the beard and scalp. In the process, Defensins improve the condition of the skin and scalp and normalize oil production. (Multi-Center, Double-Blind, Vehicle Controlled Clinical Trial of an Alpha and Beta Defensin-Containing Anti-Aging Skin Care Regimen With Clinical, Histopathologic, Immunohistochemical, Photographic, and Ultrasound Evaluation - JDDonline - Journal of Drugs in Dermatology). Defensin molecules have been shown in multiple studies to reprogram dormant cells in the body to hydrate and promote new, younger-looking skin.

Doctors using DefenAge skincare in their practices have anecdotally reported that clients’ hairlines, brows, and beards have become healthier along with treated skin. By improving the health of the hair follicles, DefenAge makes skin and hair quality healthier, according to the company that makes these products.

In addition to using good skincare products, be sure to practice optimal grooming to improve beard hair quality and coverage. A patchy beard might mean it hasn’t grown out completely, so try to let growth happen. In other words, let your facial hair grow over months to see if the patchiness disappears. If the coverage of your beard still isn’t ideal, consider facial hair fashion. There are many different styles — from shorter beards to the 3-day stubble.

Sometimes, men need a little extra help. But not everything that works for the scalp also works for facial hair. For example, minoxidil is an FDA-approved ingredient to treat hereditary hair loss on the scalp. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends consulting a dermatologist before using this over-the-counter option to grow hair on the face.

In addition to creams, follicular unit extraction (FUE) can be used to grow hair on the face by transplanting hair follicles from one area of the body to another. [Beard Reconstruction - PubMed (nih.gov)]

When to See a Professional

You can't always tell what's going on under your beard. If you continue to have problems after at-home treatments or experience significant hair loss, visit a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can determine what is causing your skin issues and prescribe the correct treatment.

Bumps on Beard

Not all bumps on beards are caused by acne or ingrown hairs. Sometimes, men notice benign bumps such as moles or actinic keratosis. It’s important to conduct regular skin checks because some skin cancers can develop underneath your beard. If you notice a new bump or a mole that is changing, growing, or bleeding, see a dermatologist.

Regular Beard Care

[Beard Grooming – How to Fix a Patchy Beard | Gillette]

Avoid common beard problems and keep your beard healthy by combing or brushing it daily. Combing or brushing beard hair keeps your beard healthy and looking good and can also help hide any patchy parts. Find a comb or brush that is not only easy to hold when beard grooming but also does not cause the hair to get caught or tear. Some recommend wooden combs to limit static.

There are hair care and conditioning products specifically for beard hair. These include shampoos, conditioners, and even oils that can help soften hair follicles, nourish beard hair, and improve beard hair health.

However, dermatologists caution against using beard oil for those who are acne prone. For men who have acne, a small amount of conditioner for beard grooming is OK, but it’s best to avoid using pore-clogging oils. [A dermatologist's top tips for a healthy beard (aad.org)]

Beard oil is recommended for men with normal to dry skin, while a light, fragrance-free moisturizer is recommended for sensitive (itchy or dry) skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. [A dermatologist's top tips for a healthy beard (aad.org)]

Don’t forget about the importance of general health. Good physical health, including healthy eating and exercise, goes a long way toward making skin and hair healthier.

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