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A beard may be an element of your signature style, you might be trying it on for size, or you may just be ditching your razor for the holiday… Whatever your hirsute status, having any kind of facial hair brings its own set of rewards and challenges, and proper care is vital to keep both your skin and your beard healthy and looking good.
Growing hair on your face is not necessarily straight forward, so read our tips to tackle your biggest issues.
Stop that itch
While beards can look handsome and cover one or two things you want to keep hidden, they have one drawback… they can be maddeningly itchy.
Anyone growing out a new beard will know this pain – it comes from the sharp end of the cut hair pushing against the side of the follicle, and is worst in the stubble phase. If you’re serious about growing it, you need to ride out the discomfort. Put away that razor! You’ll be happy you did in about two weeks.
The second reason for beard itch is poor hygiene. As our skin sheds dead cells, they can get trapped in the beard and cause skin irritation. And your beard is a catch-all for dirt, toast crumbs and all sorts of goodies (ew). So skin and beard hygiene is essential.
Give your beard a thorough brush morning and evening to get rid of dead skin cells and other debris. At night, rinse your beard with warm water and pat dry gently.
Don’t use standard body soap and shampoo to clean your beard, as they can strip natural oils from your facial hair, dry your skin and make it itchy. Use a beard cleanser. And condition the beard with specialised products too, to keep it healthy and glossy.
What lies beneath
So half your face is now covered in hair… the skin beneath still needs care.
Men’s skin is oilier, and acne can become a problem even if it wasn’t before, particularly on the area of the skin where the hair grows. That’s because the skin under the beard tends to sweat more, which causes skin irritability (more itching!), and the beard attracts bacteria, which then sits on the hair.
That’s why you need to wash the skin twice daily to ensure with a gentle cleanser that removes excess oil and clears away the debris.
It goes without saying that the rest of your face also needs moisturising and sun protection.
Come again? You can get what looks like dandruff in your beard. This may actually be a sign that you have a skin condition – seborrheic dermatitis, and it needs to be treated with a medicated skin cream to inhibit the scaly, flaky rash. A consultation with the doctor will help you get the right solution.
While the caveman look is popular among rugby players, it’s probably a good idea to keep your beard in shape and to sculpt away hair that makes it look untidy.
Shaving is the quickest way to do it, but many men experience razor burn and irritation, especially on the neck area.
If you are a razor man, make sure you use a sharp four or five-blade razor, always shave in the direction of hair growth, and use a soothing, alcohol-free post-shave balm.
If you’re looking for longer lasting, irritation-free hair removal solution, especially if you get razor rash, consider permanent hair removal using a laser. Renewal Institute recommend a long-pulsed Nd: YAG laser as it is suitable on any skin type and colour. Two to three treatment sessions spaced a few weeks apart (to catch the hair growth cycle) will make a visible difference. For more permanent hair removal, a longer course of treatments will be needed, based on how your skin responds.
To find out more about maintaining a healthy and clear skin underneath your beard, visit Skin Renewal on www.skinrenewal.co.za or contact 0861 SKIN SA (754 672).
Take the quick Beyond Beauty Survey and you could win a R2 000 Skin Renewal voucher to spend in our online store, with free delivery within South Africa. T&Cs apply.