In November 2014, three brothers set out on a mission to raise money for charity with a good ol’ fashioned beard growing contest. Whoever had the longest beard at the end of the month would be declared the winner and all monies raised would go directly to the Movember Foundation.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. By week two of the four-week challenge, one of the brothers — Kunal — found himself in front of a mirror, shaver in hand. At the start of the month shaving was out of the question, yet here he was ready to remove a fortnight’s worth of growth. What drives a man to do this in the middle of competition — in the heat of battle?
It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle the pressure of competition, he absolutely could. The beard was aesthetically good too.
It was that he couldn’t handle the itchy beard.
The intensity of the itch; the obsessive clawing at the face in an attempt to provide even the smallest amount of respite was simply too much to cope with. And off came the beard.
It was that moment, along with the beard woes the other brothers were facing, that led to the creation of Mo Bro’s.
So traumatic was the itchy beard experience, that we created an entire brand and range of products to help you deal with it.
In this post, we’ll show you how to stop your itchy beard so you never have to experience what Kunal did on that fateful day in November.
Why do I have an itchy beard?
Your beard will always be itchy a bit because of the food, dust and dead skin that gets trapped in the hair. You can’t avoid these things but you can do something about them.
The worst itching of all comes in the early days — the make or break days, when an itch can be so bad you begin to seriously consider staying clean shaven for the rest of your days. Nothing wrong with that of course, except that your face looks better with a beard.
The early itchy growth is as a result of your years spent shaving. Shaving sharpens the hair and makes it coarse like sandpaper (which is why stubble is rough to the touch). The coarse hair breaks through and irritates the skin, which results in inflammation and dryness. These things combined cause the untold itchiness which I’m feeling just writing this.
So that’s the problem. Now for the solution.
How to stop your itchy beard
Stopping an itchy beard is a five-step process. Five steps seems a bit much when you consider the itch from a midge bite can be fixed with a dollop of steroid cream, but don’t think of this as a way simply to stop an itchy beard, think of it as a grooming process that’ll keep your beard in tip-top shape.
Washing your beard helps get rid of all that dead skin and bits of debris that cause you to scratch your face like a dog with fleas.
A couple of essential rules to follow with beard washing:
- Wash your beard with shampoo every other day. Washing it daily with shampoo will affect the natural oils that keep beard hair healthy. If you want to clean your beard between wash days, use warm water only.
- Don’t use regular shampoo. There’s a difference between regular shampoo that you use on your hair and beard wash specifically made for beards. Beard hair is androgenic and affected by testosterone levels, which means it can’t be cleaned with traditional hair shampoo or soap. Hair shampoo will strip the beard of its natural oils, clogging pores and damaging the hair. These shampoos can make the itching worse.
Beard wash, on the other hand, is natural and chemical-free. It works to nourish the beard and hydrate the skin.
To wash your beard, apply beard wash generously (three pumps should do it) to a damp beard and work it into the roots of the hair with your fingertips. Work it until a good lather has formed. Rinse the beard thoroughly and dry it with a towel.
Conditioner to beard wash is like fish to chips. Yes, you can enjoy both individually but putting two together creates magic.
Beard conditioner keeps the beard hydrated and softens the hair to prevent damage. It also makes the hair more manageable. Again, use a proper beard conditioner, not the stuff you put in the hair on top of your head.
Applying beard conditioner is a lot like applying shampoo: three pumps of the bottle in the palm of your hand and work it thoroughly into a damp beard. Rinse off with warm water and towel dry.
After a good wash and condition, your beard should be itch-free, but you want it to stay that way. Beard moisturiser gives you that all day hydration. A few drops of beard oil (go for the tried-and-trusted three pumps if you’re using Mo Bro’s beard oil), rubbed into the hands and massaged into the skin and hair will eliminate any irritation. Plus, you’ll look and smell fantastic.
Regular brushing is essential for a healthy beard. It helps to remove knots and trains the hair to grow in the right direction to reduce the possibility of an itchy beard.
For this step, you’ll need the right brush. Brushes aren’t created equal. A typical hairbrush won’t get the job done. Actually, you’d be better off using a dog brush than the one you tame your hair with.
Brush the beard down from the roots and comb the moustache from the centre out to create a part. Do this after you’ve washed, conditioned and moisturised your beard, and whenever your beard needs taming throughout the day.
Regular trimming rids the beard of excess and damaged hair that can cause an itchy beard. If you’re in the early stages of growing your beard, you should leave any trimming until around the 12-week mark. By then it should be long and thick enough and any patchy areas should have filled in.
Make a habit of going to the barber every few weeks for a proper trim. In between visits, use a good pair of beard trimming scissors to snip any unruly hairs and maintain the shape of the beard.
If you’re confident enough, you can use a beard trimmer to get rid of split hairs. Start with the highest clip guard and gradually reduce to achieve the desired look.
If you notice any ingrown hairs (these are easier to spot in the early stages of beard growth), remove them with a pair of tweezers. You’ll recognise an ingrown hair by the little red bump it leaves on the skin.
There’s a bit of work involved in keeping an itchy beard at bay but it’s all worth it. Wash, condition, moisturise, brush and trim — this five-step routine will stop you reaching Kunal levels of itching insanity, while giving you a strong, glowing beard that you’d never dream of shaving.