Dry skin and beard dandruff are common problems for many men and are preventable in most cases.

Below is a look at why dryness occurs and a brief overview of your options to resolve dryness and irritation of the skin beneath your beard:

What Causes a Dry Beard?

Your beard can exhibit dryness due to three primary reasons: environmental factors, skin limitations, and overwashing.

Environmental Factors

Most men grow a full beard during the winter months, as facial hair can be an effective way to keep your face feeling measurably warmer.

However, during the winter months, humidity is often lower, which leads to dry skin.  

Most men neglect to moisturize or condition the skin beneath their facial hair when growing a beard.  After an extended period, the skin beneath facial hair begins to exhibit many of the common symptoms of dry skin, including itchiness, redness, and flaking.

Skin Limitations

At the base of every hair follicle you have sebaceous glands.  Sebaceous glands excrete sebum oil.  Sebum oil is a lubricant that helps to moisturize the skin (source).  As facial hair gets longer, not enough sebum oil can be produced to adequately moisturize the skin and hair.  

A conditioner must be applied regularly to supplement the sebum oil.

Overwashing

Like the hair on top of your head, a beard shouldn’t be washed daily.  Overwashing your beard will lead to dryness.  A dry beard as a result of overwashing is common, especially if you are using a bar of soap or shampoo to cleanse your facial hair.  

Instead, consider using a natural beard wash.  Natural beard washes compliment the sebum oil while removing dirt.  

Face Lotion Works Well for Stubble

If your beard is less than a couple of weeks in length, a thin face lotion is a suitable conditioner.  

Face lotions can help to coat facial hair while also helping your skin retain moisture better.

We advise against applying body lotion to your beard as it is often thicker in consistency.  The thicker body may cause the lotion to clump and not get worked in as quickly.

Beard Oil is Designed to Alleviate Symptoms of Dry Skin

Derived from carrier oils and essential oils, beard oil is a relatively new product designed to condition both skin and facial hair.

Here’s a summary of the key ingredients and why they matter:

  • Carrier Oil: Derived from seeds, nuts, etc., carrier oil is found in many naturally-based grooming products.  Carrier oils are mild and deliver most of the benefits of beard oil, including moisturizing and nourishing the skin.  Common carrier oils include jojoba, argan, sweet almond, grapeseed, and more.
  • Essential Oil: Provides the fragrance in beard oil.  Essential oils must be diluted and should never be directly applied to the skin.  Men with sensitive skin should avoid using essential oils.  Medicinal claims of essential oils are unproven.

Beard oils are available in many different scents, with most having a woodsy or masculine scent.  Many unscented beard oils are available.

You can simply purchase a carrier oil instead of beard oil to receive many of the same benefits while also saving money.

Beard Balm is More Effective at Conditioning

Like beard oil, beard balm contains both carrier oils and essential oils.  However, beard balm also contains butter and beeswax.  

These two additional ingredients provide some noticeable benefits to dry skin:

  • Butter: Typically shea or cocoa butter, this ingredient is often found in hydrating-focused face and body creams.  Butter helps to provide an extra layer of moisture to the skin.  
  • Beeswax: Found in lip balms, beeswax is a protectant for the skin.  Beeswax is also effective at locking in moisture on the skin.  Additionally, beeswax does provide some hold, making it suitable for styling your facial hair.

Like beard oil, the scent can vary greatly, with most beard balms relying on earthy or masculine aromas.  Unscented beard balm is available for men with sensitive skin.

Consider a beard balm if you have extremely dry skin, as it may provide quicker relief.

Frequency of Application & Expected Results

A conditioner should be applied to your face daily or once every two days.  The regular application should quickly resolve any beard itch or flaking.

Stop using a conditioner if your beard begins to appear greasy.  

We hope that the above information helps you to grow a much more comfortable beard.

Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

Published: September 23, 2016

Last Updated: May 4, 2021