In this post, we’re going to teach you a LOT about beard maintenance and facial hair grooming, but we’ll get right to the goods first: If the question is, “How often should I wash my beard?” the answer is…
As a general rule, you should wash your beard 2-3 times per week. That’s enough to keep it clean and moisturized and healthy, without drying it out or making it flaky.
This may change, though, depending on a variety of factors. For instance, if you have especially oily skin and hair, you may want to up this to 4 times a week. Similarly, if you live in a mild climate and rarely get your beard dirty or sweaty, once a week could be enough for you.
All that said, to fully answer the question of how often you should wash your beard, we have to dive into these factors like skin type and environment. Correctly washing your beard can have a lot of benefits, so it’s worth taking the time to learn the ins and outs.
So let’s jump in. The first thing we’ll need to talk about is…
Your Skin Type, and Why It Matters
Skin types come in roughly five types, and they’re important to think about, both when you’re selecting a good beard wash and actually applying it to your face:
"Just a small amount the size of a peanut or almond springs into a sudsy cloud that's easy to work into the beard, and easy to wash out. The scent is invigorating—a little mint-y, maybe menthol-y, or like tea-tree—but it doesn't last too long, so you can use a beard oil or beard balm afterwards."
- RTG Editorial
Type: Oily Skin
Some people’s skin produces a lot of oil. If you have oily skin, you’ll probably notice a greasy feeling when you touch your face and notice a shine develop within just a few hours after washing it. This oil spreads into your beard as well.
Oily skin isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, oily skin is often resistant to wrinkles and other problems like eczema. However, oily skin is also more likely to develop acne because if a pore gets clogged, the oil quickly builds up inside it.
For this reason, men with oily skin might want to wash their beard 4 or even 5 times a week to remove excess oil and prevent acne. If you’re already suffering from acne, you may want to use beard or skin products that help clear pores and kill bacteria and fungus. These can be separate face washes or specialty beard shampoos and conditioners. We’ll get into that in a minute.
Type: Normal Skin
Normal skin is, well, normal. If you’re lucky enough to have this skin type, there’s not a whole lot to worry about. You have a little more leeway when it comes to washing your beard since the skin and hair will be a bit more resistant to over and under washing.
With normal skin, go for 2-3 times per week, or as you feel comfortable. If you find that your beard feels too greasy at first, you can try washing it 3-4 times a week and slowly lengthen the time between washes to twice a week as you get used to less frequent washing.
Type: Dry Skin
Most people don’t like the oil their skin produces because it can cause acne. However, this oil, also known as “sebum,” is very important. It provides a protective layer that traps in moisture and keeps the skin hydrated.
That’s why people with dry skin—in other words, skin that doesn’t produce much sebum—can have a number of skin problems. Dry skin can get irritable and flakey, plus it’s more prone to wrinkles.
When you have dry skin, you want to keep whatever oil you can while still removing dirt and bacteria. Excessive washing can dry out your skin even more and make these problems worse.
Those with dry skin should avoid washing their beard more than once a week. Furthermore, they should try to find shampoos that don’t overdry and use conditioners and moisturizers that help keep the skin and hair hydrated.
Type: Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is often dry skin, but it can be oily or normal as well. The defining feature is that it reacts dramatically to outside environmental factors. These could be things like harsh sunlight, humidity, or chemicals and allergens. For example, a new laundry detergent could cause a reaction or rash after sleeping on a newly washed pillowcase.
The thing to keep in mind here is that the chemicals in beard shampoos and other beard products could cause a reaction if you have sensitive skin. For this reason, avoid washing your beard too much, maybe just once or twice a week.
Additionally, use simple, all-natural products and pay attention to what your skin is telling you. If you start to notice problems like redness, itchiness or damaged beard hair, you might want to try a new product.
Type: Atopic Skin
Atopic skin is a specific kind of sensitive skin that’s prone to eczema. Eczema involves patches of dry, cracked skin that can also become red, itchy and painful. This can come and go depending on environmental factors that aren’t totally understood. Eczema is more common in women and children, but adult men can develop it as well. Underneath the beard is a common place.
Atopic skin needs a lot of love and care. A dermatologist can better help you find an exact treatment plan, but in the meantime, avoid over washing, restraining yourself to just one or two beard washes a week. It makes sense to stay away from harsh chemicals, too—especially when there are so many all-natural shampoos and conditioners out there.
There are a LOT of environmental factors to consider, but here are four that you can control:
Believe it or not, where you live is going to make a big difference as to how often you should wash your beard. First and foremost, it’s because it will affect how much you sweat.
If you live in a hot, humid place like the Gulf Coast, you’re probably going to sweat a lot. Your beard will get grimy quickly, so you’ll want to wash it more often, probably 3-4 times a week.
On the other hand, if you live in a cold, dry place like Montana, you won’t do much sweating. Plus, you’ll need the extra sebum to protect your skin and keep it from losing moisture. As a result, you can hold off on washing, going for just once or twice a week instead.
Just keep in mind that washing based on sweat is mostly for social reasons. In other words, you don’t want your beard to start smelling bad because it’s sweaty and greasy. Regardless of your local climate, you should still calibrate your washing routine based on your skin type and the health of your face and beard.
If you’ve ever come back from the summer’s first pool party with a blistering sunburn, you know how much sunlight affects your skin. What you might not realize is how much it can affect your hair as well. The same UV rays that cause sunburns, tans and skin cancer that damage the hairs of your beard and leave it brittle, stringy and faded.
For those living in sunny places—think Florida and Arizona—you’ll need to give your beard some extra TLC. Specifically, you don’t want to wash it too much, and when you do wash it, use soft shampoos in addition to moisturizers like
This might be a little difficult since sunny places are also hot places where you’re bound to sweat a lot more. You’ll have to find a good balancing act. The important thing is to listen to your beard and keep it clean without damaging the hair or skin underneath.
Factor: Lifestyle and Exercise
Your lifestyle is one of the most important factors that will determine how often you wash your beard. This could mean a number of things.
Of course, the biggest aspect of lifestyle will be your exercise routine. If you’re doing cardio outside every single day, you’re probably going to be sweating a lot. A simple shower will help remove some of this sweat, but you’ll still have to wash your beard with shampoo a little more often, maybe every other day. On the other hand, if you’re a couch potato, this isn’t something to worry about.
Exercise isn’t the only thing, though. For example, if you work in an industrial job, you probably get a lot more dust and grease in your beard than someone who works in an office, not to mention more sweat. In this case, you’ll have to wash it more.
To keep things simple, feel free to wash your beard whenever you notice it’s excessively dirty or greasy. Just make sure it doesn’t get too dry through over washing.
Factor: Diet and Hydration
Diet is important to having healthy, resilient beard hair. You need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to encourage beard growth and help the hair repair itself when damaged. This becomes relevant if you need to wash your beard a lot for social reasons, such as those who do a lot of exercise or work in dirty environments. With a good diet, your beard can handle the more frequent washing.
Perhaps more important is hydration. The problem with washing is that it can dry out the hairs of your beard, causing them to break and get scratchy. If you drink plenty of water, you can wash a little bit more often.
Next up in our “How often should I wash my beard?” discussion…
Why You Should Consider a Beard Wash
We usually suggest to our bearded friends that they consider specialized beard wash or beard shampoo on your beard over regular scalp shampoo. Facial hair and scalp hair are actually very different, even at a follicular and structural level, as you’ve probably noticed, and that means it needs TLC in a different form.
Beard hair is more prone to drying out than the hair on top of your head, and so it’s more likely to become brittle and break, causing the scratchiness known as beard itch. Plus, while your face is still one of the oilier parts of your body, it doesn’t produce quite as much sebum as your scalp.
As a result, beard washes are geared towards beard hair’s special needs. They have chemicals that are less harsh and less likely to dry out your skin and hair. Moreover, they usually include things like essential oils to hydrate your beard and keep it healthy.
There are a few beard washes we like (including one of our favorites, which would be a tie between Bluebeard Beard Wash and Grave Before Shave Beard Wash), but if you’re the DIY type—and we’re jealous of you if you are!—you can always make your own beard wash.
How Beard Wash Can Reduce Facial Dandruff (Beardruff)
Beardruff, or dandruff that occurs underneath your beard, is caused by the same things as dandruff on your scalp. In other words, it’s flakes of dead skin that build up beneath the hair that cause itchiness and flake off in a less-than-stylish fashion. These flakes develop because of oil buildup, allergic reactions, or the growth of microorganisms like fungi or bacteria that like the dark, moist environment under hair.
Specialized beard washes can help solve all these problems. For one, they can remove oil without drying out the skin and causing further flaking. More importantly, they often include essential oils or pharmaceutical ingredients that reduce inflammation and kill bacteria and fungi. If you deal with beardruff, look for a beard wash that targets it.
Do I Need a Beard Conditioner?
As we mentioned, beard hair dries out a lot faster than the hair on your head, and a lot of guys choose to opt for a beard conditioner (or make their own beard conditioner!). Your best option is
Using targeted combinations of carrier oils and butters as well as essential oils, beard oils and balms help protect your beard and trap in moisture, leaving the hairs hydrated and healthy. Plus, they usually have essential oils that you can use to treat specific problems like acne or beardruff.
Helpful Beard-Washing Tips
You thought we were going to let you go without a few helpful tips? Come on!
This first one is important:
Massage Your Shampoo into the Roots
You want to get the beard wash all the way down to the hair follicle and skin, especially if you’re trying to treat a problem like beardruff. This way you’re sure to get out all the grime while supplying the hair and skin with the oils included in the wash.
To do this, massage the shampoo into the roots of your beard with your fingertips. Don’t use your fingernails, a bad habit many people get into. This can damage the skin and hair, leading to inflammation and making your problems worse.
Leave the Shampoo in While You Shower
Most people make the mistake of washing their beard and immediately rinsing out the shampoo. The beard wash needs time to penetrate the hair and skin and deliver the ingredients where they need to go. This is especially true with essential oils.
Consequently, the best strategy is to wash your beard first when you get in the shower. Then, don’t rinse it out immediately but instead let the shampoo sit in your beard while you wash the rest of your body. Finally, rinse it out just before you leave the shower.
Use Soft Water (If Possible)
Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for everyone. If you can, though, try to use soft water on your beard. Hard water contains a lot of minerals that react with your beard wash and make it difficult for the water to rinse out the dirt and grime.
If you live in an area with hard water, consider getting a filter or water softener for your shower. If that’s not an option, consider buying a bottle of distilled water at the store every few months and using it to clean your beard. This will make sure you’re getting out all the dirt.
Beard Oil or Balm After Washing
The best time to apply
Now You Know How, and How Often, to Wash Your Beard
There you go! Now you know the basics—in fact, you probably know a lot more than most guys with beards!—so go forth and enjoy your healthy beard. After a couple of weeks or proper beard grooming, you’ll most likely have your routine down, and you’ll know exactly what your beard needs.
If you have any questions, pop over to our “Contact” page and drop us a line, and in the meantime—have fun, be good, and happy beard!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.