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Should I Use Beard Wash Or Shampoo?

Posted by Drew Plotkin | Chief Dude Officer on

For most men, personal hygiene is simple. Lather, rinse, towel. And if you have a beard, it may not be much different. But it should be. It needs to be. Unless you’re OK with a patchy, scratchy, wispy excuse-for-a-man mane.

As guys, we tend to go for the easy route, a 3-in-1, one-stop-shop that requires minimal effort and time. The opposite sex refers to this approach as ‘lazy’. But we know in reality, we are simply ‘efficient’ and ‘practical’. When it comes to products for our beards, we tend to use whatever is in the shower, even if it belongs to our significant other. (Ok. Well, that’s not efficient. It’s just plain stupid.)

As men, we like to smell good, but that’s pretty much it. Not much thought goes into it. And normally, we can get by in life without stinking (other than when playing sports, video game marathons or after waking up from a two-day Toga party binger reeking of stale IPA vomit). But I digress. Our beards demand a lot more personal care and help to look badass, full, and well, manly. After all, it takes time to grow a beard. We should invest a little time and effort to care for it the right way.

If you have a beard, you might wonder why it’s such a big deal to use a beard wash instead of a regular hair shampoo. It’s hair. Same thing, right? WRONG!

If you’re like the thousands of men who use regular hair shampoo to clean your beard, you’re actually ruining your beard.

Shampoo is not Beard Wash

WHY BEARD HAIR IS DIFFERENT

Unlike the hair on the head which begins its growth in infancy, facial hair (beard hair) is considered “androgenic hair”, which doesn’t begin to grow until adolescence. It is quite different than the hair found on the head and anywhere else on the body.

Beard Hair vs Scalp Hair

Beard hair is technically pubic hair since it grows during the pubescent stage and for the same reasons. Both hair follicles are activated by the hormone DHT or dihydrotestosterone, which is produced from testosterone. Facial hair belongs to a type of hair called androgenic hair, which sprouts during and after puberty due to changes in the levels of a certain type of hormone called androgens. This hair growth is dependent on the hormone testosterone. The school of thought is, the more testosterone a man has, the more facial hair

he will grow. On the flip side, this is the exact hormone responsible for hair loss in later years. Yep, a double-edged sword, indeed.

Beard hairs have a similar follicle composition to hair found in the underarm and groin area. Facial hair tends to be thicker and coarser than the hair found on the head. While scalp hair could be straight, beard hair grows thicker and curlier. The beard follicles have texture that’s more wiry, and it all stems from the shape of the actual follicle. The follicles on the face are more sensitive to androgens like testosterone, which make them twist and become kinked. Dealing with the difference in texture also requires different tools to maintain the hairs. You may just need a comb or regular brush for the hair on your head, yet your beard hair being thicker, coarser and more wiry may require a stiffer brush.

Genes also play a big role in how thick or thin your facial hair will be, as well as how wiry or dry the hair can feel. But hormones are the main factor.

One similarity shared is that hair on the scalp grows in three stages – the same as facial hair. However, the only difference is that facial hair grows much quicker and tends to have a shorter growing stage. This cycle for head hair can last years – but for facial hair, the cycle lasts for only months.

The 3 Stages of Hair Growth

STAGE 1:
ACTIVE GROWTH (ANAGEN)

when hair growth
begins & continues

STAGE 2:
TRANSITIONAL (CATAGEN)

when hair growth stops

STAGE 3:
FALLING OUT (TELOGEN)

when hair follicles
begin to fall out
Full Grey Beard

Beard hairs grow in a very different texture, and even color, than hair found on the head. You see it all the time – a guy can have blond or red in his beard even though he doesn’t have any red or blond hair on his head or body. Same goes for grey hair. A guy can grow a full beard than can entirely grey or salt and pepper, yet the hair on his head remains dark.

Well Groomed Beard

Beard hairs are coarser than scalp hairs because the follicles are individually thicker than the head follicles. This means facial hairs can trap more germs, dirt, fungi, and particles, making them more prone to becoming dirtier than head hairs.

The skin under beard hair is also different than the skin on your head and body. Your scalp or skin under your head hair tends to be more oily than facial skin. Using shampoos intended for scalp skin and head hair can often remove excess oil but strip too much on the face and beard, resulting in harsh, dry beard and skin underneath.

CONCLUSION:

In short, beard hair is androgenic and controlled by hormones – which means these follicles desperately need natural sebum oils. Scalp-hair is non-androgenic and doesn’t need hormones to grow, which means those follicles are not dependent on natural sebum oils.

Beard hair is drastically different and distinct than the hair on the head, requiring very different kinds of care and grooming.

 

SHAMPOO VS. BEARD WASH

Since beard hair is distinctly different than head hair, a different approach must be taken to care for your beard.

Regular hair shampoos are specifically formulated to cleanse the hairs on the scalp, as well as the skin on the scalp. Because of their specific texture and makeup, the scalp and hair follicles tend to be oilier. Therefore, shampoos require a more concentrated solution in their formulations to properly cleanse hair strands – to capture and lift away dirt, remove or strip excess oils and help eliminate product buildup from the scalp and hair, all to make hair not look greasy or oily. These formulations tend to be harsh and excessively drying, which can be problematic if used on beards and face.

Using a regular shampoo can also cause additional irritation to the skin on the face, making it become dry, inflamed and scaly, leading to beard itch and dandruff.

Same goes for dandruff-fighting shampoos. Many guys already suffering with beard dandruff think it makes sense to use a dandruff formula shampoo on their beards to help rid the flakes. But the formulations for a dandruff-shampoo can be even more harsh and drying than regular shampoos and can make the problem worse. These shampoos are only designed with the scalp and oily hair in mind. Using them on the more sensitive skin on the face and drier beard hairs can run the risk of drying out skin, further irritation, more flakes and itching.

On the flip side of the equation, beard washes tend to be gentler in their composition and are the more appropriate choice to cleanse the beard and face. Typically, beard washes are formulated with more naturally based, hydrating ingredients, and less drying agents. Beard washes won’t strip away the natural sebum oils which are vital for maintaining proper hydration balance in both your beard and skin.

One of the key benefits to using a beard wash is it can help keep beard dandruff away, too! Beard washes not only contain super hydrating properties, but their natural ingredients help eliminate beard itch, and gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin underneath your beard removing any excess dead skin cells left behind. This helps reduce skin irritation and prevent other skin problems from arising. Beard washes can also help aid in the anti-inflammatory process and soften hair so it’s less coarse and wiry to the touch.

IN SUMMARY - WHEN IT COMES TO GROWING
YOUR BEARD THE SMART WAY:

Beard Washes = GOOD. Good beard wash brands are made with the beard hair and face skin as top priority. They have high quantities of natural oils, hydrating ingredients and only a very small amount of chemical cleaning agents. (Yes, a small amount of some chemicals in your beard wash is actually a good thing when it comes to a clean beard). A good beard wash will leave natural oils intact, reduce beard dandruff, soften beard hairs and help cleanse and gently exfoliate the skin underneath your beard.

Hair Shampoos = BAD. Most contain man-made chemicals, harsh detergents, parabens, sulfates and strong cleaning agents with few natural oils. They can strip almost all of the natural sebum oils, suppress testosterone and DHT, which is key for beard hairs, cause split ends from drying out hairs and can dry skin under facial hair resulting in more beard dandruff.

BEARD WASH

• Made for Beards
• Gentle on Hair & Skin
• Non-Drying, Non-Stripping
• Cleanses & Exfoliates
• Natural Ingredients
• Hydrating Properties
• Minimal Chemical Cleaning Agents
• Reduces Beard Dandruff
• Softens Beard Hair

HAIR SHAMPOO

• Made for Scalp/Oilier Hair
• Strips Hair & Skin
• Harsh Detergents
• Sulfates & Parabens
• Mostly Man-Made Chemicals
• Suppresses DHT & Testosterone
• Minimal Natural Ingredients
• Can Cause Beard Dandruff
• Can Induce Irritation

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