Every bearded man knows that when the facial hair gets long enough, it becomes curlier, coarser, and gets dry easily.
At some point – if you don’t address the issues of a dry beard skin – you will have to deal with beard split-ends.
As the name implies, beard split ends occur when the tips of the facial hair follicles get dry and brittle enough to fray into two or three separate directions. It’s the exact same process that happens to your scalp-hair as well if it gets long and dry enough.
What Causes Beard Split-Ends
A split-ended beard strand is nothing more than a sign of poor beard care.
You see, every beard hair is attached to the sebaceous gland, which provides the roots the minerals, vitamins, energy, and the natural sebum oil it needs to grow and stay healthy.
However, there’s only a finite amount of oil that each of the sebaceous glands can produce, and once your beard gets long enough, the natural supply of sebum oil isn’t enough to meet the demands of the long facial hair.
This causes dryness, makes the beard hairs brittle and coarse, and in general makes your facial hair look unkempt as the eventually occurring split ends will make it look like all the individual hairs point to different directions.
Think of Hagrid’s beard from the Harry Potter series. Sure it’s big and bushy, but also full of split-ends which makes it look unkempt and dirty.
5 Ways to Prevent and Get Rid of Beard Split-Ends
1. Stop Power-Washing your Face and Beard
Every time you wash your facial hair, you are stripping away the natural oils that moisturize and protect the whiskers.
If you wash your beard with chemical-laden supermarket shampoos and soaps that are designed for scalp-hair, you are only aggravating the split-end issue, as these are far too powerful for the sensitive skin underneath your beard.
Keep power-washing the mane with wrong kinds of shampoo – way too often – and your beard hairs will get dry, coarse, and brittle.
And then what happens when that brittle beard of yours is exposed to the cold air outside, or it rubs against your pillow at night, or when you play with it all day long?
Well, beard split-ends happen. There’s only so much mechanical stress and exposure to environmental factors like cold air and so forth that a dry beard can take before it frays and breaks from the tips, splitting into two or more directions.
What can you do to remedy this over-washing issue?
Well, that’s easy. First off, stop washing your beard daily, and instead only lightly wash it 2-3 times per week at max.
Secondly, stop using the scalp-hair shampoos on your beard. Seriously, just stop. The androgenic facial hair is extremely reliant on the natural sebum oils. This is why I recommend you to switch into using mild beard shampoo instead (and even then, using it sparingly in small amounts when necessary).
Alternatively, you could also make your own shampoo at home (which is surprisingly easy and cheap), we even have a recipe for that in our article here.
2. Don’t Blow-Dry your Facial Hair
Blow drying a wet beard can be used occasionally as a beard styling tool or if you’re in rush and simply need to get that beard dried up quickly. A blow dryer is also a great tool for straightening curly beard hairs at home.
However, when done too much, blow drying will dry up the skin under your facial hair. If you use the heat setting on your dryer, there’s also a high probability that some of the natural oils will oxidize in the beard and damage the beard hairs in the process.
This is why blow drying the beard will eventually lead to split-end beard hairs, and if you combine it with washing the mane too often and with wrong products, you are almost guaranteed to have yourself a beard nightmare really fast.
This is not to say that you could never use a blow dryer to oomph up your beard game, just remember to use it sporadically and avoid using the highest heat settings when drying the beard with it. If you want some advice, here’s our article on 10 tips and tricks to straightening a beard.
3. Moisturize the Mane Like a Professional
This is because your beard hairs all attach to their own sebaceous glands, and there’s only a finite amount of natural oil that the glands can secrete. For the guys with long beards, this means that there’s not enough oil to moisturize and protect the full length of the whiskers.
That’s bad news for the tips of your beard – you know – the parts most vulnerable to split ends.
Here’s a handy graph from Tools of Men that showcases the issue perfectly:
Luckily, moisturizing and protecting your beard from getting split-ends is easy. All you need to do is to follow our three rules to split-end prevention…
- Apply beard oil right after the shower to trap and seal in moisture.
- Add some beard balm a few hours later to further protect the whiskers.
- Occasionally rub a water-based moisturizer deep into the skin under the beard.
Those three steps guarantee that your beard hairs stay moisturized and protected, and the skin underneath your beard stays soft and well hydrated at the same time.
4. Trim the Split-Ends with Beard Scissors
Let’s face it; no matter what you do, individual beard hairs will eventually fray and split up at the ends, and the longer the beard, the more often this happens.
And there’s only one real way to get rid of a beard split-end once it has already happened, and that is to trim it down a bit with some sharp beard scissors.
The reason I’m recommending scissors over a beard trimmer is that scissors tend to leave a neater edge to the tips, which is less likely to fray in the future.
A beard trimmer, especially if it has weak motor and dull blades, will damage the delicate beard hairs and in some cases even worsens the split-end issue.
Here’s a picture that really hammers home the point:
On the left is a microscopic image of the results you get with a razor or sharp scissors. On the right is the tip of your beard hairs after using a dull electric shaver or trimmer.
5. Use a Beard Brush to Evenly Distribute Sebum Oil
One of the most useful beard care secrets you can get is a boar-bristle beard brush.
It can be used to clean the beard, to style the beard, stimulate the sebaceous glands, and most importantly; to redistribute the natural sebum oil & beard oil evenly into your facial hairs.
This last part is crucial for preventing beard split-ends, especially for guys with long beards. You see, as the beard gets longer, it gets harder and harder for the natural oils to reach the long distance to the tips.
With a beard brush, you can simply go through your mane and the natural hog-hairs will make sure that the oils are evenly moisturizing the full length of your beard hairs, and thus your precious whiskers are protected from fraying.
It’s not rocket science to get rid of frayed up beard hairs, and preventing most of them from happening is a piece of cake.
All you have to do is to stop using scalp-hair shampoos on your face daily, stop excessively blow-drying the beard, and moisturize properly with balms, oil, and occasionally a water-based face moisturizer.
To enhance the moisturizing effect, use a boar bristle beard brush daily and to get rid of the split ends that already happened, simply trim them off with some beard shears.