What do an unwashed beard and a toilet seat have in common? A lot more than anyone with a beard would like to admit.
A study conducted by ABC affiliate station KOAT had a microbiologist swab the beards of several men in the American southwest. The results found an alarming amount of bacteria–including some of the same critters found in feces–alive and well and living in the men’s beards. On a slightly less gross note, beards also attract allergens and pollen, which, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, will have you sniffling and sneezing right into your beard.
Now that we’ve established that washing your beard–and hands afterward–is probably a good idea, let’s explore the what’s, when’s, and where’s of beard hygiene.
All Hair Isn’t the Same
Beard novices often think the run-off lather from shampoo in the shower is enough to clean their facial hair. They’re wrong. The hair on your head and your face, while similar in location, have very different PH balances. Using regular shampoo on your beard strips away too many of the oils you need to keep it healthy, leaving it looking dry, brittle, and dull. Moreover, it’s not great for the skin under your beard, which will likely get itchy and produce beardruff!
Worse yet, by using a shampoo meant for your head on your beard, you’re running the risk of weakening the follicle roots on your face, which could lead to patchiness.
A beard wash is specially formulated for facial hair. Milder and gentler than standard shampoo, beard washes, and soaps work to clean your beard and the skin underneath it without stripping away the natural oils that make your beard look full and keep your skin from getting dry.
How Often Should You Wash Your Beard?
Should you wash your beard every day? Probably not. Washing your beard too often, even with a proper beard shampoo, can be almost as damaging as not washing it at all.
The frequency that you should wash your beard depends on a few factors. If you have oily skin, you’ll want to wash it every other day to keep excess oil from building up. If you have drier skin, you’ll want to go three days between beard washings to keep your skin and beard supple.
Beard fullness also comes into play when determining how often to wash it. A fuller beard with coarse hair only needs to be washed every three to four days. A thin beard benefits from being washed every two to three days to make it look fuller.
Where you live and work plays a big factor in beard hygiene. A dry climate will draw moisture out of your skin and beard. A humid climate will attract more dirt and debris. If you live in a city, your beard will likely attract more pollutants. If you live in a rural area, you’ll have more pollen in your beard. If you go to the gym often or have a job that requires physical exertion, you’ll have more oil and sweat in and under your beard, which could result in ingrown hairs. Ouch!
With a beard-washing regimen that’s right for you, you’ll keep your beard full, healthy, shiny, kissably soft–and most importantly–free of some really gross bacteria!