Maybe your beard is a curly mess after waking up or maybe you just want to quickly dry it after a shower?
In that case, you may want to try blow-drying your beard.
It’s not as quick or as effective for straightening the beard as a dedicated beard straightener (like heated beard brushes) would be, but the tradeoff is that it’s safer and less damaging for your facial hair fibers.
“As for drying the whiskers after a shower, there’s no better tool than a quality blow dryer.”
The thing is though that even something as innocent-looking as blow-drying the facial hair, still causes beard heat damage. And if done wrong and excessively, you will most certainly run into problems like beard split-ends, beardruff, and the dreaded beard itch.
But why does blow-drying the mane cause damage, how to mitigate and prevent that (and dry your beard properly) and what is the best blow dryer for beard use?
Let’s find out. ↓
Blow-Drying Can Straighten and Tame a Beard
The unquestionable pro of using a blow dryer on your facial hair is that you can use it to tame a messy, curly, unruly beard.
In fact, before heated beard brushes came around, the blow dry beard straightening method was the go-to thing to do for taming beard curls.
How it works is simple…
You take a shower, then apply some beard oil to a towel-damp beard. Next, take out the blow dryer and a beard comb. Then just go through your whiskers with the comb, and at the same time point some heat towards it from the dryer.
Your beard will get decently straight, and dry for sure, but many beardsmen do the above too aggressively, with too high heat, and with bad-quality tools.
This, inevitably leads to a whole host of issues, as beard heat damage does exist and it’s proven to damage the hair fibers. More about that below.
Blow-Drying the Beard Causes Heat Damage
Just like any heated beard tool, the thermal heat from the blow dryer will dry the outermost cuticle and make it brittle.
Excessive heat can make the small amount of water trapped within the facial hair fibers boil and expand inside the cortex of the hairs.
According to one scientific study, when your beard hair is completely wet, the heat damage inflicted by the blow-dry method is the most intense.
[su_quote cite=” Dr. Christian”]In dry hair, thermal treatments cause chemical damage and some structural damage. However, in wet hair, thermal treatments cause the same chemical damage, but considerably more structural damage, which causes significant changes in the physical properties of the hair. It is likely that the rapid evaporation of water from the hair is the main causal factor.[/su_quote]
Is there any safe way to blow dry the beard and prevent the heat damage?
Yes, there is. And if done properly, blow-drying can be better for your beard’s health than letting it air dry.
Below, we will take a quick look at how exactly can you make sure that you are not causing any beard damage with the use of a blow dryer, whether you use it to straighten the beard or just dry it after the shower.
Ways to Mitigate the Blow-Dry Damage
Some years ago, a Korean study was published which examined blow-dryer related hair damage and compared it to other methods of drying the mane.
The researchers found out that when you take a shower, your hair fibers will absorb a lot of water which swells them up.
“This swelling causes pressure within the hair cortex and the longer it continues, the more it damages the keratin-bonds that hold the hair fiber together.”
Therefore, a surprising finding of this study was that just letting your beard air dry (no toweling, no blow-drying) is the worst choice, as it means that the swelling within the hair fibers will go on for a long time, resulting in the most amount of beard protein-loss damage.
The second worst option is to use a blow-dryer on high heat to completely dry off a wet beard from a close distance. This dries out the cuticles and boils the water inside the cortex, resulting in a similar type of expansion as air drying does.
The best option for drying your beard is to first gently towel-dampen your beard to get rid of the majority of water, then let it air dry for 5-10 minutes, and finally, take out the blow dryer and finish the drying process with cold air or the lowest heat setting possible.
You can also mitigate some of the heat damage by using a heat shield spray like this or just by applying some coconut oil to your beard (which is very stable against high-heat due to its high amount of saturated fatty acids).
Also, make sure to keep the dryer far away from your face. There’s no reason ever to have it next to your beard.
Best Types of Blow Dryers for Beard Use
The Conair 1875 Watt blow dryer is great for beard use and relatively cheap as well. It has two heat selections (high and low) along with a button for cool airflow as well.
The heat emitted from ceramic dryers is often called “non-damaging heat”, and while you can certainly still cause heat damage with a dryer like this, it’s still a better option than direct heat from a heated coil dryer.
The extra nozzles that come with it are helpful for taming and straightening the beard, as you can use them to direct the airflow to a specific location, such as right next to the beard comb you’re using alongside the dryer.
You can grab this Conair dryer here from Amazon (note for the UK and European visitors that this same brand is called Babyliss everywhere other than the US.
The Jinri Professional Tourmaline Hair Dryer is also great for beard use, and highly similar to the Conair one above.
This cheap mass-produced Chinese blow dryer gets the job done, and it comes with high heat, low heat, and a cool flow button.
There is the same type of extra nozzles included, and the ionic heat emitted from the tourmaline core is also labeled as “non-damaging heat”.
You can read more about it and check out the reviews on Amazon. It’s intended for professional use but I’m sure you can use it at home just as well.
The third beard blow dryer is similar to the two above, made in China, and very cheap.
It’s the “MHU PRO Salon-Grade Ceramic Dryer”.
(don’t be scared about the “made in China” label, most electronics are made there these days anyway).
It comes with the same 1875 watts as the above dryers, and the exact same two extra nozzles, and the low-heat button, the high-heat button, and of course also the cool airflow button.
All-in-all, it makes for a great blow dryer for beard use, and you can read more about this tool from their Amazon listing.
How to Blow Dry the Beard Safely in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Preparations
Take a shower (use beard wash and beard conditioner if needed). The conditioner especially can help protect your beard from heat damage since most of them have ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil.
Step #2 – Gently Pat the Beard with a Towel
You can remove most of the excess water by gently towel dampening the beard. Please note that you should never rub and scrub your face dry with the towel as this will certainly cause structural damage to the wet and vulnerable beard hairs
Step #3 – Beard Oil/Heat Shield
Next add the heat shield spray, your favorite beard oil, or just pure coconut oil. I prefer the coconut oil because many heat shield products and beard oils have a high amount of polyunsaturated vegetable oils in their formula, and heat can actually make these go rancid on the face. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are stable and won’t do this.
Step #4 – Start Blow-Drying the Beard
Now it’s time to whip out your trusted blow-dryer and get to work. Use either low heat or the cold air option and dry your face from a distance of around 10 inches and keep moving around constantly from spot to another. You might also use a fine-toothed beard comb to help straighten your beard at this point if you want to. Do NOT use a beard brush though, it will cause damage on a wet beard.
Step #5 – Protecting the Beard
Once your beard is dried and styled to your liking, you can go ahead and apply some beard balm or beard wax into it as a finishing touch. The reason for doing this is that both of those beard products contain natural beeswax (balm has less, wax has more). The beeswax helps create an ultra-thin protective layer on top of your beard which helps to protect the skin underneath your beard (especially during the harsh conditions of winter).
Blow drying a beard does cause damage to the facial hair, as the excessive heat will dry out the outermost cuticle and even boil some of the water-soaked inside the beard hairs (causing pressure and eventually protein-loss and breakages).
However, completely air drying your facial hair isn’t a good option either, as this causes prolonged pressure within the water-soaked beard hairs and can hurt the delicate keratin bonds that hold up the facial hair fibers.
The best method is to blow-dry the beard with cold air or low heat from a good distance (about 10-inches or so away from the face), and this has been proven by a Korean scientific study as well.