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Growing a great beard is a monumental achievement and source of great pride, but what happens when you start noticing flakes of skin in your beard? Well, don’t panic just yet. It’s most likely that you’ve got beard dandruff and it can definitely be managed.
We’ve put together some information on what dandruff actually is so you know exactly what you’re going head to head with. We’ve also included some tips and tricks on getting rid of your dandruff effectively and preventing future outbreaks.
What is beard dandruff?
Beard dandruff is exactly the same as normal dandruff on the scalp, except it affects the skin underneath your beard instead. Like normal dandruff, your skin will be flakey and sometimes mildly itchy.
The tiny yellow, white or grey flakes will become dislodged from the skin and fall into the body of your beard. Scratching will increase the flakes and the irritation of the skin under your beard. If you’ve got a darker beard, these flakes will be very prevalent and it can be super embarrassing.
Dandruff flakes can be easily dislodged from the beard, by brushing a fine-toothed comb through it quickly or blowing them out with a hair dryer. But most likely, your flakes will reappear within a couple hours. Dandruff is one of those conditions that needs to be treated long term otherwise it will simply keep returning.
Luckily, there’s lots of great options when it comes to long-term treatment that will be able to effectively manage your beard dandruff. But before we get into that, we’re going to give you the lowdown on what causes dandruff so you can understand what’s going on in your beard!
What causes beard dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition that affects roughly half the population at some point in their lives, meaning one in two men will suffer from it. Despite it being extremely common, the exact cause of dandruff has not been identified just yet.
One common misconception is that dandruff is caused by dry skin, but it’s actually the complete opposite that’s true. Dandruff is the result of the overproduction of sebum on the skin which leads to irritation and flaking.
Beards are the perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria – dark, dense and often moist due to your natural oils. Even if you’re very thorough with your beard hygiene there’s always the chance that something sinister can be hiding within.
One of the main contributing factors of dandruff is a naturally occurring fungus that everyone has on their skin called Malassezia globosa.
Malassezia sits on your skin feeding on the natural oils you produce and breaks them down into oleic acid. If you’re sensitive to this acid, your skin will start to renew your skin cells in an effort to rid the surface of the Malassezia.
Losing dead skin cells is a normal process, but under these conditions you will be losing them so fast that the cells will clump together and flake off. And that’s how dandruff begins. Depending on how sensitive you are to the oleic acid, you can have a few barely noticeable flakes or it can be quite severe with very obvious flaking and constant itching.
Dandruff can also be made exacerbated from factors such as naturally oily or dry skin, overgrowth of yeast on the scalp, excess shampooing and conditioning and stress among other reasons. You’re also more susceptible to suffering from dandruff if your diet is high in trans and saturated fats or you often neglect to brush your hair.
Before starting on any kind of treatment for your skin condition, it’s always best to go to the doctor and get them to officially diagnose you. Dandruff has very similar symptoms to quite a few skin problems (like dry scalp, scalp scabs) so it can be easily mistaken with something else.
Once you’ve got a diagnosis, you need to start treating your dandruff as soon as possible. Now for what you’ve been waiting for – read on to find out the best ways to treat your beard dandruff effectively.
How to get rid of your beard dandruff
Steer clear of beard oils for a while
Dandruff is caused by an excess of oils on the skin, so putting more oil into your beard really isn’t going to be the best approach when you’re trying to get rid of your dandruff. Instead, opt for the below suggestions.
If you really feel as though a beard oil will help, go for something that’s got only organic ingredients to prevent any irritation from chemicals. Things like jojoba oil, coconut oil and tea tree oil will be excellent ingredients to look out for.
Should I be using beard shampoo or normal shampoo?
The short answer is both! It really just depends on what you’d like to do. Normal dandruff shampoos will work perfectly fine on your beard, however it can irritate the sensitive skin underneath your beard so aim to only wash with it a couple of times a week at max.
If you’re looking for a little extra oomph you can also use a normal dandruff conditioner. You’re going to use the shampoo and conditioner the same way you would for the hair on your head, so follow the instructions on the bottle and you’re good to go.
You might be thinking you’d like to use products a little more specifically targeted for your beard, well, this is where beard shampoos come in.
We’ve listed the top three beard shampoos for dealing with your beard dandruff below. It’s best to only use them 2-3 times per week, like with any ordinary shampoo. This is because you don’t want to be stripping your beard of it’s natural oils as this will lead to dry, irritated skin underneath.
Seven Potions Beard Shampoo for Men
- Keeps your beard soft but doesn’t wash away it’s natural oils
- Made with 95% natural ingredients, free of parabens, artificial colouring and fragrances
- Combats beard itch, dandruff and dry skin by encouraging the production of natural sebum on the skin
- Ingredients like; Aloe Vera Leaf Powder, Organic Blackcurrant Seed Extract, Organic Lime Extract, Cedar Wood, Sandalwood, Mix of Premium Essential Oils.
Bluebeards Original Beard Wash with Extra Conditioning
- Sulphate free formula, meaning it will be gentle on the skin
- Fights itching and dandruff simultaneously
- Promotes a shiny beard that’s free from frizz
- Ingredients like; Honey, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Lecithin, Citrus Auranitfolia (Key lime)
Mr. Natty Natty’s Face Forest Soap Beard Shampoo
- Shampoo and conditioner in one
- Highly moisturizing to prevent beard itch which will, in turn, minimize dandruff
- Promotes beard growth
- Ingredients like; Rosemary, Shea butter, Natural Peppermint, Olive oil
Prescription treatments from the doctor
If your beard dandruff is quite severe and is accompanied by frequent itching, you will need to get it checked by a doctor who may prescribe an antifungal cream to put on the skin underneath your beard and through the roots of it to deter the fungus.
Once under control you will be able to explore the above options as ways to eliminate the rest of your beardruff. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor for help, beard dandruff is a very common and manageable problem so getting your irritation under control will be an easy task.
If you’d like to start experimenting on your dandruff with something more natural, keep reading to find out what works best!
We’ve listed the top three natural ingredients for fighting off dandruff and you might be surprised to find that they’re in your pantry or fridge at home! Easy and cheap, you can’t beat that.
Before trying out any new treatment, be sure to do a spot test first. Put the mixture on the inside of your elbow and leave it for about half an hour to check if you have a negative reaction to anything. If not, you’re all good to start with the experimenting with the treatment.
Baking soda offers excellent exfoliation to get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells. It will also soak up any extra oils on the skin so that your skin is fresh and new – ready to get on the mend.
To use it to treat your dandruff, mix baking soda and warm water until it becomes a paste, then gently massage into the skin underneath your beard for a few minutes. Rinse off and apply a moisturiser so the skin doesn’t get dry.
This acidic fruit will be able to balance the pH of your skin effectively, creating an environment that will not be fit for your fungus. This will discourage growth of Malassezia and give your skin the fighting chance it needs to recover.
Simply squeeze one large lemon into half a cup of warm water. Then massage the mixture through the roots of your beard and onto the skin underneath. Leave for a couple minutes so it can really soak into your pores and then rinse off. You can use this one daily if you’d like as it’s quite gentle on the skin but super effective!
Aloe vera is absolutely loaded with vitamins to help soothe and heal the skin. It’s most commonly used for relief from severe sunburn but with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it’s a great dandruff deterrent as well.
If you can, purchase an aloe vera plant. They’re easy to grow and won’t set you back much. You’ll want to break the leaves of the plant to get the gel out, a couple teaspoons should be enough. Massage the fresh gel into the beard and skin before rinsing with warm water after 5 minutes. Repeat this every couple of days.
How to prevent future beard dandruff
Invest in a beard brush
We know that nothing sounds more unnecessary than a brush specifically for your beard. But if you’ve got a beard, you need a beard brush. Not only do these brushes do the normal job and get rid of unruly knots, but they also dislodge dead hair and skin and spread all your natural oils around.
Not convinced? Well, if you’re serious about keeping away your dandruff you’ll need to exfoliate regularly, a beard brush can help with that! The bristles are designed to exfoliate gently at the skin under your beard to keep it fresh and free of flakes. It’s better to get rid of the flakes at home than have them making an appearance when you’re out on the town!
Keep up with your beard hygiene
This sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it’s just one of those things, like washing behind your ears – it’s easy to forget. When you’re in the shower, make sure to pay attention to your beard. Wash it thoroughly and regularly but keep soap away from your face and beard as this will dry it out. Opt for a mild dandruff shampoo or a specific beard shampoo if you’d like to get a bit fancy about it. Just make sure you stay on top of your beard hygiene to prevent a return of your flakes.
Incorporate beard oils into your routine
And lastly, we know we mentioned above not to use beard oils, but once your dandruff is gone you’re more than welcome to incorporate some oils into your routine.
This will give your beard and skin the little encouragement it needs to be producing oils and skin cells at a normal rate, balancing out the environment in your beard to keep it healthy and regular.
If you are going to try a beard oil, try to get a natural brand with ingredients like:
- Jojoba oil
- Argan oil
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil
- Green tea
- Almond oil