Here at Prim & Prep, we love beards – though that should be obvious.
We love growing them, we love talking about them and we love helping all you guys to grow and care for your own face thatch.
What we don’t like is beard itch.
We have seen too many guys who could be bearded brethren give up on their dream because of the curse of beard itch.
That is why we have decided to declare war on this scourge of the male grooming world.
In this article, we’ll look at the tools and weapons you need to fight the itch.
We’ll investigate the techniques you need to tackle it – and to make sure it never comes back.
But first we have to give an answer to the question that has bugged so many bearded gents since time immemorial – why does my beard itch so much?
Use the table of contents below to jump to the sections most important to you.
Table of Contents
As any great military strategist will tell you, a war isn’t just fought on the battleground.
Any successful campaign has to begin with a period of intelligence gathering, because to defeat the enemy, you first need to know the enemy.
That explains the title of this section then, which takes in a question we get asked all the time from guys all over the world.
Fortunately, as an enemy beard itch is very much at the Wet Bandits level of evil incompetence.
We are talking an opponent that is pretty easy to tackle, once you know what is causing it – which, we’re happy to say, we do know.
There are three reasons that explain 99% of cases of beard itch.
You could have a combination of two or even all three, but most cases link back to at least one of these motivating factors.
1. Dry Skin
Number one on our list should come as no surprise at all.
Dry skin is a pain in the butt (sometimes literally) no matter where it originates.
Whilst there are a whole host of reasons why dry skin can occur, there are a number of causes that are particularly relevant to hirsute gentlemen.
The conditions your face is exposed to for example can be a big factor.
Whether this is dry, biting wind that whips into your face when you step out the front door, to the drying blast of arid, moisture free air-conditioned atmosphere that greets you as you step into the office.
Harsh soaps and shampoos can also be an underlying cause of itchy, dry skin.
Spending too much time in a shower or bath that is steaming hot can strip the protective oils right out of your skin too.
2. Dirty Beard
Dirty Beard is not the name of a new and achingly cool hipster cocktail – though we wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
Dirty beard is, well… it’s a dirty beard.
In the section above when we were rapping about dry skin, we mentioned that hot water plus some soaps and shampoos can cause dry skin.
Some men know this already, and use it as an excuse to not keep their beard clean.
First off, this is gross (seriously, don’t walk around with scrambled egg in your beard like a guy we know, what the heck is wrong with you Adam?)
Secondly, as far as avoiding beard itch, it is completely pointless.
A dirty beard will irritate your skin just as much as a harsh, unsuitable shampoo.
The trick is to use the right shampoo or soap… but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Yes, it was Earth all along and Darth Vader really is your father!
Plot twist, the biggest cause of beard itch is probably you.
Hey, don’t get too down about it, in some ways it’s not your fault.
For example, when you shave, the hair on your face is cut at an angle.
We’re talking down at the follicle level, so you can’t even see it.
But you will certainly feel it, as that angled hair starts to grow back.
Because of that angle cut, the tip of the hair is pointed and surprisingly sharp – and that can cause irritation and itching, especially during the early growth phases of a beard.
Don’t worry though, there are a whole host of other reasons why it’s your fault!
Sorry, we don’t know why we made that sentence so happy and upbeat, it’s actually a bad thing.
Or is it?
Truth is that yes you are the cause for a lot of your beard itching problems.
Maybe you’re using head hair shampoo instead of dedicated beard shampoo, for example.
But it is also very easy to turn it around and become the hero that your beard deserves.
In the next section, we’ll take a peek into the armory to check out the weapons you need to win Gotham back.
And by Gotham, we of course mean your beard.
Sticking with our war on beard itch analogy (because it’s a good one), we’ve just covered the intelligence stage of your battle against an itchy beard.
We’ve now got a good understanding of the major causes behind beard itching, so in the next couple of sections we’ll take a look at some practical ways to tackle the problem.
First of all, you need the tools and equipment to get the job done.
After all, you can’t sink a battleship by throwing a coconut at it, and you can’t help soothe your itching beard without the right weapons in your armory.
This is quite possibly the most important purchase you can make when it comes to maintaining a happy, healthy and most importantly itch free beard.
Humble beard shampoo is so important because it essentially has to perform a job that counterintuitive.
On the one hand, it needs to be strong enough to strip away dirt, dandruff, debris, and excess oils.
On the other hand, it has to be mild enough to not irritate the skin, and it needs to leave healthy oils, known as Sebum, behind.
Without Sebum your skin will be dry and irritated, making your beard itchy.
It’s quite a balancing act, which is why you must get the best beard shampoo you can.
There is a huge range of beard shampoo products on the market today.
Each one boasts a different formulation of ingredients and each one makes mighty claims about their effectiveness.
The truth is that whilst most brands will be broadly effective for most people, if you can figure out the best shampoo to suit you, your skin and your beard, it can play a huge part in eliminating beard itch.
To do that, all you need is a little investment in cash and time – plus a little help from us, who have done most of the research for you.
2. Combs and Brushes
Whilst they sadly won’t make much of an impact during the early stages of beard growth, they can be a great medium to long-term investment.
For one thing, they will help you control the direction your beard hair sits on your face.
As we pointed out above, the tips of your hair itself can be a big cause of irritation in their own right.
By brushing or combing your beard hair, you can minimize contact between hair tips and skin surface.
You can also help to keep your beard clean by brushing away dirt and food debris build-up.
Again, this stuff can irritate your skin helping to cause itchy beard.
A clean, well-combed beard will therefore be less likely to be an itchy one.
3. Oils and Balms
As we explained above, a high-quality shampoo that has been designed for use on your beard is a great way to combat any itchiness.
Oils and balms are great sidekicks to a great shampoo, you can think of them like Robin to beard shampoos Batman.
What they do is to help to keep the beard, and the skin beneath, hydrated and soft all day long.
They are not going to be enough to replace stripped oil and moisture on their own though.
(That’s why they are only Robin, and not the real deal. Sorry Robin, dude).
But whilst they probably won’t prevent itching by themselves they are still a great investment.
They will bring out the best attributes in even the highest quality shampoo, and also help to prolong those benefits over a longer time period.
4. Beard Care Kit
There’s nothing special about a beard care kit.
All it will really contain is all the stuff we talked about above.
But we’re realists here at Prim and Prep.
We don’t like writing articles that we know people won’t follow, so we hate filling it up with lists of products that you need to stock up on.
Sometimes, like today, that can be hard to do, as it is just impossible to really care for a beard – and therefore treat and prevent beard itch – without some gear and tools.
A quality beard care kit could be a heaven-sent care package for the beard of any man who has been reading the past section and wondering if there is a cheaper hobby out there than beard growing.
A full care kit can bring everything you need to tackle beard itch in one package.
We’re not saying it’s better to stock your armory in one hit.
We’re just pointing out that it could certainly be a little more convenient if you are worried about the time and money investment of proper beard maintenance.
You’ve got the intel, you’ve got the tools – now you need the skills.
When it comes to tackling beard itch there is one skill that is more important than any other, and that is the skill of properly and efficiently washing your beard.
Nothing you will do will have more of an impact on your beard itch than washing, because for one thing, your beard is a dirt magnet.
We are talking Christina Aguilera Dirrrty levels of… dirt.
So you need to know how to clean it properly.
But where can you learn such an important skill?
How about right here?
1. How to Save a Life (And Clean a Beard)
For the purposes of this step-by-step guide, we assume you’re in the shower.
You can do it in the bath, yeah…
But think about it – what is a bath?
It’s a pool of warm water that you lie in and clean yourself in.
Yeah, that’s right, you’re wallowing around in a soup made of you.
It’s “you” soup.
For a truly deep and effective beard clean, hop in the shower if you can – or at least top up the tub with some fresh water before you splash it on your face, huh?
Remember the beard shampoo we were talking about in the section above?
Well you’re going to want to grab a good amount in the palm of your hand and apply it to your beard.
Don’t be too gentle here, work that shampoo deep into your face and beard using the tips of your fingers.
That will help to raise a good lather, which in turn helps lift and carry away dirt and oils.
It also gets the hydrating elements in the shampoo recipe right down onto the skin where it’s needed.
Once you’ve covered everything in suds, it’s time to rinse it away.
Use plenty of fresh water and remember what we said about bath water – it’s basically ball and butt crack infused nasty soup once you’ve sat in it for too long.
Bring a measuring jug and turn on the faucet for a supply of clean water.
Once you’re done, dry off by dabbing at your face with a clean towel – don’t rub it!
Apply Oil/Balm for Immediate & Long Term Relief
Oil vs Balm, whichever you prefer, just get some on your face.
It helps to hydrate the beard and your skin, both of which will go a long way to combating itchy beard.
You should also only really be washing your beard every 48 hours at the most.
Oils and balms, on the other hand, can be applied daily.
During the earlier stages of beard growth when itchiness can really be a big issue, oil and/or balm can be a real lifesaver.
Go for beard oils or balms with soothing ingredients like Tea Tree Oil or Aloe Vera.
Especially in the early days of beard growth an oil or balm packed with ingredients like this can sooth your skin.
That, in turn, helps cure and prevent the symptoms of an itchy beard.
So there we go, that is the intel, the weapons and the battle strategy to win the war on beard itch.
The trouble is, it’s a war against an enemy that is never truly defeated – there is always the chance of a Guerrilla uprising against your victorious forces.
First things first though, and here is some good news.
Beard itch is only really likely to be a big issue during the first three weeks or so of growth.
So you only need to tough it out for a little while.
The other piece of good news is that with a little long term beard maintenance you can pretty much eliminate the chances of it coming back.
1. Regular Trims Prevent Itching
If your beard is untidy you are inviting itchiness to set in.
A beard with growth all over the place will invite coarse hair ends to start rubbing your skin and that in turn will cause irritation and a very uncomfortable, itchy beard.
Even if you are growing out the beard, regular trims will allow it to grow in a controlled way, which should also help eliminate beard itch.
2. A Clean Beard is an Itch Free Beard
We’ve given you everything you need to know to keep your beard clean, from the tools to the techniques.
That means you have no excuses not to do it!
Seriously, if your beard is itchy right now, try giving it a clean as soon as you can with a quality shampoo.
Then apply a soothing oil or balm.
Do that and we are extremely confident the itch in your beard will disappear.
3. Maintained Beards Don’t Itch!
Whilst shampooing and cleaning is important, it’s not the last word in stopping itches.
A well-maintained beard will take all the benefits of a clean and shampooed beard and add a cherry on top.
Remember, combing and brushing will encourage growth away from your tender skin.
Oil and balms can hydrate and soothe skin and hair too.
That’s important at the start of beard growth, but it is also important to maintain this during the whole life of the beard.
Conclusion on Beard Itch
That’s all folks, everything you need to fight off beard itch and to stop it coming back.
Remember, an itch is often only a temporary issue anyway, especially during the first three weeks or so of growing a beard from scratch.
The techniques and tools we discussed above can really help to negate the itch during this time.
Because of that, it could be a good idea to stock up with some gear – especially shampoo and oil/balms – before you start to grow out your beard in the first place.
Once it’s in place, remember the lessons from Section 4 and you will have a healthy, happy and, most importantly, itch-free beard for life.
Remember your training cadet, and you will make it out of here alive.
Happy beard growing, gang!
Prim & Prep Editors are a team of male grooming experts in their respective fields, including Karl Schmidt (Beards / Facial Hair), Ben Rose (Shaving / Body Grooming / Skincare), and Ethan Stone (Men’s Style). Their work has been featured on many prominent men’s publications including AskMen, Men’s Health, and GQ. Be sure to check out the review process for details on Prim & Prep’s product review methodology or contact them below.