Beards are amazing.
But for many known and unknown reasons, the skin underneath your beard can get really painful.
I’m not talking about a little beard itch, rash, or redness. Instead I’m talking about actual pain, so bad that it hurts to touch your facial hair.
Does pain like that even exist?
Yes, and since you’re reading this article, I have a funny feeling your beard might be hurting right now.
But what actually causes beard ache and how can you treat it to make your facial hair pain-free once again?
Well, extreme beard dryness is a factor of course, as is seasonal dryness, bad beard care habits, extensive beard washing, overuse of heated beard straighteners, and sometimes just plain old ingrown beard hairs can be the root cause that’s making your facial hair hurt.
Below, we will look at the seven most common reasons for painful beard and beard skin in detail. ↓
The Main Reasons Why Your Beard Hurts So Bad
1. You May Have In-Grown Beard Hair or Two
Possibly the worst type of beard ache is the kind caused by ingrown beard hairs that get inflamed.
You can easily spot this when it happens as the facial hairs tend to curl back into the skin and form a reddish pimple looking painful bump on your face.
(not to be mistaken for beard pimples).
And if you accidentally touch it, your beard will hurt, a lot.
The easiest way to avoid these ingrown hairs is to not shave too often, maintain proper beard hygiene (less risk of inflammation), and use some good quality beard oil.
You could also occasionally use a boar bristle beard brush to untangle some of those thick and curly beard hairs. Brushing the beard also gently exfoliates the skin underneath your beard, preventing the build-up of dead skin cells that could aggravate in-grown beard hairs.
2. Beard Straighteners are Great, but Don’t Overuse them
Beard straighteners are some of the hottest beard tools of 2020 and for a good reason.
They can be incredibly helpful for quickly straightening a beard, helping you to skip the hurdles of using a blow-dryer, taking a shower, and furiously combing the mane downwards (also known as the old way of straightening a curly beard).
However, excessive heat is known to cause dryness and damage to the beard hairs, and as with that, excessive use of beard straighteners can also make your facial hair brittle and painful in the long run.
Does this mean you should never use a beard straightener then?
No it doesn’t. It’s perfectly fine to use a beard straightener, but please do remember to use the lowest heat setting that you can achieve good results with, and make sure to get some beard heat-shield spray to protect the whiskers during the actual straightening process.
And under no circumstance; never straighten a wet beard with heated beard tools, that’s one of the worst and most damaging things you could do to your beard!
3. Seasonal Dryness = Beard Pain
If you’re a seasoned beardsman, you already know that a change in seasons can easily result in brittle, dry, painful beard growth.
The two main offenders when it comes to beard pain, have to be very warm and humid conditions as well as very dry and cold conditions.
For some extra damage, many guys are hopping between cold and dry air-conditioned room and hot humid outside air causing constant changes to the beard athmosphere…
Or hopping straight into a overheated room from the cold freezing winter air.
Luckily you don’t need to move or trash your AC because of your beard. Proper beard care routine that includes beard oil and some protective beard balm/wax can help replenish the moisture to the beard hairs when it’s most needed, and you should barely notice any seasonal changes at all.
4. You May Suffer From Seborrheic Dermatitis
Beard dandruff (beardruff) is a common issue that haunts many beard growers.
But if your beardruff is getting out of control, the skin is reddish and the dandruff on your beard starts to feel hard and painful to get out, then you might be suffering from a skin condition called Seborrheic Dermatitis.
According to Mayo Clinic, Seborrheic Dermatitis is likely caused by yeast bacteria that feed on the natural sebum oils of your beard, and the best way to get rid of the dandruff and bacteria causing it is to actually use a high-quality anti-dandruff shampoo (often special kind prescribed by a dertmatologist).
If you suspect that your beard might be hurting due to excessive dandruff and possibly Seborrheic Dermatitis
5. You’re Probably Shaving too Close to the Skin
Shaving is notorious for causing razor burns, razor bumps, and ingrown beard hairs.
All of the above can contribute to a hurting beard.
So if you shaved your beards neckline and cheekline before, and encountered issues with a painful beard quickly after, next time try to trim it the edges down with a beard trimmer that has no guard on.
Sure, it’s not going to be as close of a shave, but the difference is minimal and it’s much better for your under beard skin in the long run.
6. Your Beard May Hurt Because You Wash it Too Much
Perhaps the biggest reason why many men have issues with beard ache and overall dryness of the skin underneath has to do with something that they think is helpful…
You see, shampoos – even the fancy beard shampoos – are loaded with alkali metal detergents.
These kind of detergents work exceptionally well to remove dirt and grime from the hairs, but they also effectively strip away the natural sebum oils which would normally moisturize the beard.
If you wash your beard with generic shampoo, using too hot water, and doing it too often (think daily), you are inviting painful facial hair issues.
So how should you wash the beard then? That’s easy, just 1-2 times per week is plenty enough, and use gentle beard shampoo if you can, it’s not as harsh. Bonus points if you use cold water, as it furthermore helps preserve the moisture in your beard without drying it up.
7. Blow-Drying the Beard with High-Heat is a Recipe for Disaster
Not too long ago I wrote a big guide on blow-drying the beard properly.
In it, I mentioned a study where it was shown that when wet hair fibers were blow-dried with high-heat setting, it effectively boiled some of the water inside the hair cortex.
And since the water had nowhere to go after boiling that fast, it just expanded within the hair fibers causing a lot of damage.
Now think about what happens when you hop into a shower and then immediately blow-dry your beard on high-heat?
Exactly that. Beard damage, and eventually pain.
How to remedy this? Very easy. Just don’t blow-dry your beard immediately after the shower (wait 10-20 minutes) and when you do, use the cold-air setting.
How to Relieve Beard Pain
- Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.
- Avoid shaving too close to the skin and frequently brush your beard.
- Use good moisturizing beard oil and rub it deep into the skin underneath.
- When using heated beard tools, never use them when the beard is wet, and always use the coldest possible heat setting.
- Don’t overwash your beard, this may be the most important step of them all. 1-2 times per week is plenty enough.
Now you know why your beard might be hurting, and exactly how to remedy it.
The most important factor by far is just not washing your facial hair too often. Way too many guys think they need to do that daily, and it could not be further from the truth!
Now go make that beard painless.