As a man, it’s way too easy to kill your own sex appeal. Getting any one thing wrong is enough to ruin an otherwise pristine presentation. No matter how cute you are, it doesn’t matter if you have a few white flakes in your beard. We’re not talking about gray hair, either. Beard dandruff is a real thing, and it has ruined many otherwise amazing specimens of male sexiness. You don’t want to fall into that trap, so we’re going to teach you all about beard dandruff. We’re going to get science-y, and we’re going to show you how to beat this evil before it even appears. We won’t let another brother fall victim to this insidious problem.
Why Beard Dandruff! Why!
So we get a little dramatic about beard dandruff and beard grooming. Stop judging. This is a serious problem, and all men have to come together to solve it. Otherwise, there is no future.
You know the drill. You have to know your enemy if you hope to defeat it. Before we discuss battling beard dandruff, we’re going to learn about it. We’ll analyze it, and understand it inside out. We must know beard dandruff better than it knows itself.
What Is It, Technically?
Beard dandruff is the same as any other dandruff. Most of the time, the problem is located on the scalp, but if you can sport a beard, that part of your body can get dandruff too. In the most basic sense, dandruff is just flakes of skin. Sometimes, those flakes can be discolored (red if you irritation going on). Most of the time, the flakes will be a light color (lighter than your typical skin tone).
The flakes tend to be pretty small. It’s easy to mistake them for anything other than skin when you first notice them in your beard. But, if you pay attention (and especially if you notice that they keep appearing), then you can recognize dandruff for what it is.
What Causes This Evil Dandruff?
Again, beard dandruff is the same as any other dandruff, except in its location. In general, flaky skin cells occur when they die at a faster-than-normal rate. A bad sunburn is a classic example. You let the sun bake you, and your skin peels.
Dandruff is basically the same thing, but it’s not usually caused by sunlight. There are a lot of things that can cause dandruff, and we’ll go through the greatest hits list. But, the first thing you need to learn is that anything that can mess with normal skin growth can lead to dandruff. This is true whether we’re talking about your beard, your head or even your butt. YOu have to take care of your skin. That’s today’s thematic lesson.
Oh, the Microbes
First on our list of common causes is the presence of microbes. There are microscopic organisms all over your skin, even when you’re fresh out of the shower. Most of the time, they’re harmless. That’s even true of Malassezia globosa (our primary suspect). This little microbe is a fungus, and it’s very normal to find it in your skin.
Malassezia globosa (let’s call it MG) feeds on sebum — also known as the combination of skin oils you naturally produce. Normally, MG breaks down excess skin oil, and it helps you maintain a healthy equilibrium. Sometimes, MG gets too much to eat. The byproduct of the fungus processing oils is oleic acid. When MG is overfed, it produces more oleic acid, and that can irritate your skin. In fact, it’s one of the common root causes of dandruff.
The lesson here is that oily skin is one of our top enemies. Keep in mind that a lot of things can contribute to producing extra oil. Dry skin is a common cause of oil buildup. In other cases, you might have oily hair. Growing your beard just adds more oil to the overall equation, and you end up with fungal dandruff (which sounds way grosser than it really is).
Non-infectious skin conditions can also increase oil production. This can include excessively or persistently cold skin or just irritated skin.
And then there’s adding oil to your beard. Beard oils are a real thing, and they can definitely exacerbate the problem. You get the idea. We’ll talk about how to manage beard oil in a bit, but now you understand why it’s important.
Naturally Occurring Dandruff
Sometimes there isn’t an underlying culprit causing dandruff. Some people build and replace skin cells faster than the rest of us. If you’re one of them, you might see dandruff even though your skin oils and symbiotic fungi are all in the right proportions. Treating this type of dandruff is a completely different battle, and that helps us emphasize why you need to understand the problem before you can treat it.
Irritated skin can produce extra oils that feed the fungi and do that whole dance. Irritation can also skip steps and cause dandruff without changing your sebum. There are a lot of sources of this kind of irritation too. Sometimes, it’s from your skin or beard products. You might be allergic to them.
For some guys, the beard itself is irritating. We don’t mean this emotionally, bristly, curly beards can curve back into your skin and irritate it. That simple problem can cause dandruff (and extra itchy dandruff at that). It has nothing to do with oil. Some guys have a face that hates them. That’s all there is to it.
Internal Medical Conditions
We’re not going to get into the scary stuff. This doesn’t need to be an episode of “WebMD Thinks I’m Dying.” The lesson here is that there are a lot of medical conditions that can affect your skin without being located in your epidermis. Hypothyroidism comes to mind. It’s a fairly common condition that affects your hormones. That can change skin oils and do the fungal dandruff thing, and it’s only one of countless examples. When you can’t find another cause, it’s ok to see a doctor about dandruff. It might be the initial clue that helps you catch an important medical condition. But, it does not mean that dandruff is your signal for impending doom.
Fighting the Good Fight
You should know enough about what causes beard dandruff at this point. Now, we’re going to focus on countering it. For the most part, this is going to look like lifestyle advice. That’s because most cases of dandruff are cured by actions more than medications. It’s kind of like dealing with a sore knee through physical therapy, but way easier.
A Few Universal Tips
The first dandruff treatments we’re going to cover are universal. They should help with dandruff no matter the cause. They’re also somewhat progressive. You can start at the top and work your way down. If you still have dandruff at the end of this list, then you’ll have to take more serious measures. We’ll cross that bridge a little later. Also, if you're trying to figure out how to grow a beard fast, these tips will be helpful for you, too.
Take a Shower
This sounds obvious, but simple hygiene can make a big difference. Dandruff isn’t always chronic, so a single shower might clear up the problem and get you back to normal. Keep in mind that we’re not even talking about showering with special products (that comes later). Going through your hygienic routine a single time is your first step to combating dandruff. It’s only when that doesn’t work that you can be sure you have a persistent issue that merits more attention.
You should do this regularly when you shower, but if you see dandruff, deliberate, concentrated exfoliation is the next logical step. You are not trying to sand your face into submission. Instead, you’re going to use a gentle agitator to make sure that you shake free all of the loose skin. If you do this in the shower, the flakes will wash away with the running water. It’s super easy, and probably half of all dandruff cases can be solved with a few exfoliating sessions.
Groom the Beard
We’re not talking about cutting your facial hair (yet). Simply brushing your beard can do a lot of good. It prevents oils from settling in one spot, which makes this particularly useful if you suspect your dandruff is caused by fungus. If you’re grooming in addition to exfoliation, then you should hope to see good results within a week. While exfoliating doesn't need to happen every day, grooming should.
This is where you want to start looking at products. Having a beautiful, thick beard makes the application of most facial lotions a logistical challenge. Also, go back and note that we said “facial lotions.” If you haven’t learned this yet, your face should use different lotion from the rest of your body. Consider that some bonus knowledge.
Dry skin is pretty much the most common cause of dandruff. A lot of things listed above help with dry skin, but this is the direct approach. You can use beard products that moisturize, and if that’s the problem, you’ll see fast results.
Similarly, you can use beard shampoos and/or conditioners to treat the hair and the skin all at once. Pretty much everything on the market is designed to moisturize, so it’s hard to miss on this one.
If nothing above fixes the problem, then it’s time to shave. Removing the hair won’t actually remedy the problem, and in some cases, shaving might even exacerbate it. But, it’s still the right course of action. Once the beard is gone, you can more clearly see what’s happening with your face. You can make informed decisions about what you need to do to cure your dandruff. And, with the beard out of the way, your treatments will be more direct and more effective.
It might make you sad, but you can grow your beard again once you’re cured. Getting your skin healthy is more important.
If the generic approach doesn’t work, or if you’re pretty sure you have a more serious issue, these treatments cut right to the root of a few specific causes of dandruff. While they are still somewhat generically useful pieces of advice, these steps are not a sequential checklist like you just read. They should be aimed at known sources of dandruff. That’s mostly because they’re a little more extreme than just practicing good hygiene (especially tips two and three).
Change Your Products
When talking about irritation and skin reactions, you have to consider that your products might be the real issue. When the regular stuff doesn’t make a dent in your dandruff, the next step is to stop using all of your products. You want to see if that makes a difference, and if it does, you’ve found the problem. You have an allergy or intolerance to an active ingredient in something you’ve been rubbing all over your face.
This rarely means that you need to stop using products forever. Instead, you need to pay attention to the active ingredients and shop around for different stuff. In the toughest cases, you’ll need to experiment with your products one at a time to make sure you know exactly what is causing the reaction.
There’s one more important tip. Switching to all-natural products won’t necessarily solve the problem. Allergies are natural too, yet they still happen. It’s entirely possible to be irritated by something that wasn’t cooked up in a lab. A lot of people accidentally torture themselves because they forget this bit.
If a fungus is the root of a lot of dandruff, then you can always go nuclear. You may need a prescription, but you can get powerful antifungal medications that will obliterate the MG. This should never be the first option since MG is normally a good thing to have on your skin. But if that dirty fungus gets out of line, then you can scrub it from the face of your . . . face.
Talk to a Dermatologist
When you’re really stumped, bring in the big guns. They’re experts for a reason. You can let them do their thing and your chances of curing dandruff go way up. If antifungals are the nuclear option, then this is whatever hits harder than a nuke. It’s the meteoric option? We’ll figure out catchy phrases another time. Never be afraid to let a doctor help you with medical stuff. It’s why they’re there.
Keeping Dandruff at Bay
Once you’ve treated your dandruff, you want to make sure it stays away. For the most part, that means cultivating good habits. Some of the treatments you used to fight dandruff should be folded into your regular routine for hygiene. We’ll emphasize a few right now, and you’ll see that this isn’t rocket science. Beating dandruff is substantially easier than getting a six-pack, so you have no excuses.
Exfoliate and Moisturize
When you don’t have a persistent dandruff problem, you want to aim to exfoliate about once a week. You still need to use an agitator, and you can get soaps that help with the process. Things like sea salt and exfoliating beads really do work, so consider upgrading your facial soap.
Moisturizing, on the other hand, should happen daily. You don’t need to go so crazy that you feel like you have oily skin (that will send us on another dandruff loop). But, there’s really no reason to have dry skin in the modern age. You’ll be happier with a moisturized face. It’s science.
Brushing daily is good for your beard anyway. Why not do it? On top of that, most of us could stand to be a little more meticulous in managing our beard length. It’s easy to get lazy, but staying ahead of beard growth can go a long way to preventing dandruff. Keeping it a little shorter reduces the propensity for trapped oils and irritation. Plus, it’ll make you look sexier on a regular basis. These are win-win scenarios.
That should be enough to help you manage beard dandruff for the rest of your life. It’s not the most complicated problem. It’s usually harmless, and most of the solutions are things you should do anyway. Still, if you or someone you know has a particularly stubborn case of beard dandruff, you’re properly armed to fight it to the death. So, until next time, stay clean, groom your beard, and have a little fun. We’ll be back with more vital information for living as a man soon enough.