Beard dandruff is trending
We've reached peak beard. Frankly, we're on the down slope. Beards have had their time in the sun. Thing is, beards on men are as popular as The Rachel was for women back in the 90's (or if you don't have much mileage on you yet, as popular as ombré was last year). So expect to find men happily (maybe desperately) clinging to their face-forests for the easy aesthetic boost it affords (and the warmth - there's a reason woodsy types have long embraced a woolly mug) a while longer. Plus, beards may even be healthy. Clean-shaven men potentially age faster and enjoy less defence against asthma and allergens. Make no mistake, though, this is the swan song (or the song of some other more bearded animal). I prophesy a lot of face skin come spring. But until the final death rattle, the pitfalls of bearded life remain myriad.
Beard dandruff, for one, is a common complication of going full beard. In fact, according to Google Trends, "beard dandruff" has enjoyed a steady search spike over the last 5 years. Now, just as the charm wears off beards, face flakes are finally being talked about. It's a real problem. And an embarrassing one. Unless you dress like Gandalf the White, flakes from your beard are going to show up on your shoulders and chest, like a powdery bib of dry skin. Pretty gross. Health science tells us everything from stress to fungus to age to just being a man can cause flakes. But a little care goes a long way and in defence of my bearded brethren, it's hard to moisturize skin you can't see, or reach.
That said, there are no free rides. The time and money you're saving by not shaving every day needs to be spent managing your face fur. Thankfully, management is relatively foolproof. GQ's grooming editor, Adam Hurly gives us the crib notes: brush, shampoo and moisturize daily. That's it. Do that and you're golden. You'll still have to deal with the other struggles of bearded life, but not flakes.
If you have a beard but no beard brush, you need to examine your priorities. Imagine NEVER brushing a cherished house pet. Exactly. Hurly confirms brushing distributes natural oils, tames straggling hairs and exfoliates dead and dry skin by bringing it to the surface. Any short bristle brush will do but I like the Dollar Beard Club boar hair brush. It's a affordable and purdy. Gents, do take a minute to groom yourselves daily. Pretend your beard is a cat if you need incentive.
Next, you'll want to shampoo your beard with a decent bar of beard soap or shampoo. I've tried many but really like Hudson Made Beard and Shave's Citron Neroli. It's my fave and you can even use it as a lather to shave off your beard once you've reached your saturation point (which should be any day now). Hurly says that products with lactic acid, a common ingredient in dandruff shampoos and something your body produces naturally, will help dissolve dead skin. But I've found regular washing with any good beard soap works wonders. So long as you moisturize right after.
Seriously, moisturize. This is Hurly's third, and frankly, most crucial step. A lot of guys miss the boat on this. But in case you missed the memo: You. Must. Moisturize. Though body lotion can do in a pinch, you're better off with a good beard oil. Detroit Grooming Co.'s Corktown is one of my favourites because it goes easy on the musk. Grooming Lounge's Whisker Sauce is also great and wins big points for having an awesome name. I'm particular about strong perfumes, so anything I'm rubbing into my man mane (which in case your biology is rusty, sits just under your nose) has to be appropriately scented, and lightly so. And you're going to want to really rub in the oil. You're not applying it to your fuzz so much as the skin beneath it. You'll end up looking silky-furred regardless and your skin will stay hydrated longer. I'll also add that you should be drinking tons of water and be doing anything and everything that's good for your hair and skin. The result? You will be less flaky and more shiny, all over.
Full-disclosure: I've had a beard for the better part of decade. I'd like to fancy myself a trendsetter, but the reality is I've always viewed shaving as a chore and think I look better with scruff. Dedication to a morning shave is something I've never cottoned to. I've always marvelled at clean-shaven men who commit to a daily blade session. Tip of the beard to them. But even before I had a full beard, I, like some, was a fan of the scruff. Probably because I have a five- o'clock shadow at half past noon. As the beard trend wanes though, many style-conscious #beardos, myself included, will have to acquiesce and dust off their razors to stay current.
I, for one, welcome a time when I won't have to field ridiculous questions about my facial hair choices. But at least we won't have to contend with face flakes.
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Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.