It's that time of year again. Falling temperatures and changing leaves can only mean one thing – it’s Mother F*ucking Decorative Gourd Season! Well, that and beard itch season.
If you’ve ever grown a beard, you know beard itch. But why is it that even seasoned beardsmen see an uptick in beard itch and irritation around this time of year? We’ll explain the reasons why and how to address them. But before we dive into this specific beard itch case, let’s recap why beards itch in general.
If you are a first time beard grower, welcome! If you haven’t noticed already, your beard will itch. Beard itch is very common in the early stages of beard growth. While there are a number of beard itch causes, the three most common relate to your newly elongated whiskers and lack of hydration.
Weaponized Whiskers – Beard Itch Cause #1
When you shave, the razor cuts your coarse whiskers at an angle that leaves them with a sharp edge. As your whiskers grow, that sharp edge can scratch and irritate your skin, resulting in itch. In some cases, the razor will actually elevate and cut your whiskers. When the razor passes, the whiskers retreat below the skin. As they begin to grow again, that sharp edge digs into your skin as it grows toward the surface. Itchy.
Dry Skin – Beard Itch Cause #2
The second instigator of beard itch is dry skin, which we have all likely experienced. As your beard grows, the skin below your beard can become dry and itchy. This happens because our faces naturally produce oils that moisturize the skin. These same oils also hydrate your whiskers and as they grow, there isn’t enough oil to keep the skin beneath your beard moisturized. Combine this with sharp, coarse edges rubbing against said dry skin and you'll get an itch that would make a flea proud. Itchy beard is one of the main reasons we created HYDRATE, our daily facial + beard moisturizer. But more on that later.
Harsh Cleansers – Beard Itch Cause #3
As we just mentioned, dryness is a major player in beard itch. Using the wrong cleanser or washing your beard too much will strip your skin and beard of its natural oils and induce beard itch. That is why it is important to never wash your face and beard with an old bar of soap (too harsh) and only use facial cleansers designed for both your face and beard. Our face + beard wash CLEANSE is the perfect blend of hydrating cleansers and nourishing moisturizers that wash away the bad and leave the good.
Now onto the main event!
Why does my beard itch more in the winter?
Low Humidity – Winter Beard Itch Cause #1
With cooler temperatures comes lower humidity. While most people equate cold temps with dry skin, the lower humidity is the actual culprit. Dry air sucks more moisture out of your skin (transepidermal water loss) and beard then more humid air. And it's not just the air outside that becomes drier in the colder months. Heaters and furnaces are notorious dehumidifiers. The result is a drier environment that pulls more moisture out of your skin + beard leading to beard itch and irritation over time.
Hot Water – Winter Beard Itch Cause #2
Whenever you wash your beard, you should use lukewarm water. During the winter months, we’re inclined to take hotter, longer showers. Hot showers wash away more of our body’s natural moisturizing oils and lead to skin dryness.
How to treat beard itch
How do you stop winter beard itch? There are four primary ways to stop beard itch.
1. Use a Daily Facial Moisturizer
Moisturizers pull additional moisture into your skin + beard and help hold it there. Well-formulated facial moisturizers also support your skin’s barrier function which helps to reduce transepidermal water loss, keeping more moisture in your skin. We formulated HYDRATE: Daily Probiotic Facial + Beard Moisturizer with a robust blend of moisturizers, hydrators and probiotics to support healthy barrier function while providing the soothing hydration your skin and beard desperately need without clogging your pores. If you’re wrestling with an itchy beard or dry skin, we guarantee HYDRATE will help (or your money back).
Regardless of which moisturizer you use, you need to use it properly. It’s important to apply your moisturizer within a few minutes after showering. When we shower, our skin absorbs some of that water. By applying a moisturizer after towel drying, we are able to capture and retain that extra moisture in the skin that would otherwise evaporate.
Not showering today? Wet your face and beard in the sink with lukewarm water just like you would if you were washing your face. You want your skin and beard to absorb some water before applying your facial moisturizer. If you apply your moisturizer to bone dry skin, it just won’t be as effective and won’t absorb as well.
2. Use a Proper Face + Beard Wash Properly
Using the wrong wash will cause more harm than good. It’s important to use a pH-focused cleanser that is able to cleanse your face and facial hair without overdoing it. We designed CLEANSE to have just enough cleansing power to remove the bad stuff without overstripping the good.
Unless you have super oily skin, you only need to wash your face once a day and your beard 1 - 2 times per week. Washing too much strips away your body’s natural oils and can damage your skin barrier. And when you wash, don’t use hot water. This will further strip your skin and cause dryness, itch and irritation.
3. Adjust Your Skincare Regimen As Needed
First off, you need a well formulated wash and moisturizer. If you trust what you’ve got and are using the products properly, the solution might be as simple as using a little bit more moisturizer. Just like you need more water when you’re thirsty, thirsty skin requires more hydration. We use 1 - 2 pumps of HYDRATE in the warmer months and bump it up to 3 pumps when the temperature drops and the heaters come on.
Add a Face + Beard Oil or Beard Balm
Upped your moisturizer dose and still experiencing itch? It might be time to bring in reinforcements. Moisturizer ingredients fall into three categories: humectants, emollients and occlusives.
Humectants are key in maintaining hydration. Humectants attract and chemically bind water in the skin. Because of this, they have the ability to temporarily plump up the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is an excellent humectant that can bind 1,000x its own weight in water, which is why it is one of our favorite skincare ingredients that we use throughout our skincare and beard care line.
Emollients act by replacing skin lipids and filling in gaps between skin cells. They can help enhance skin barrier function which helps reduce transepidermal water loss.
Occlusives create a barrier over the skin and help prevent water loss at the surface. Think of them as a temporary sealant. Oils, shea butter and beeswax are all examples of occlusive ingredients. Since occlusives often have a greasy feel and shiny finish, they are not used in high concentrations in most facial moisturizers.
Yet in super dry environments or in the depths of a harsh winter, adding an occlusive rich product to your routine might just do the trick. We recommend adding either a Face + Beard Oil like SOFTEN to your routine or a hydrating beard balm like GROOM. Applied after moisturizing, both of these occlusive products will add an additional layer of moisture protection to your skin and beard.
4. Just Add WaterAdd Humidity
Drink More Water
If you spend a lot of time indoors with the heater blasting, using a humidifier will add moisture to the air and subsequently reduce the amount of moisturizer that is pulled from your skin and beard.
Now I’m sure you’ve never heard anyone say we need to drink more water butttt don’t we all need a reminder? Staying well hydrated helps reduce dry skin and subsequently helps reduce beard itch. Are we saying downing an extra glass of water will immediately fix your beard itch? Nope, but dehydration is an aggravating factor and drinking more water is an easy thing to do that provides a whole host of benefits beyond your skin and beard.
We hope this helps! The information provided in this blog post is intended to be fun and educational. It is not intended to replace medical advice. While less common, there are numerous other causes of beard itch to include allergic reactions, infections, certain medications and applying irritants to your face (fragrances are irritants which is why we don’t use them in our products) to name a few. If your beard itch continues, contact your medical provider.
stubble + ‘stache is a Certified B-Corp™ and service disabled veteran owned small business. All of our packaging is made from recycled plastic and with each order, we remove five plastic bottles from the ocean. While our products are formulated with facial hair in mind, our products can be used by all, regardless of gender or beard status. Proudly made in the USA with ingredients responsibly sourced from some of the most exotic places on earth.