When most guys grow out their first beard, they will obviously start thinking about all the different beard products out there.
But do you actually need any of these? Hair is hair, right? What if you just saved some money and used regular hair products on your beard instead.
You know, wash the beard with some cheap Head&Shoulders, rub some of your girlfriends conditioner on it (probably expensive, but not for you), and tame that mane with some basic hair gel or wax.
Could this work?
Well, yes, and no.
Let’s take a closer look at what hair products you can and can’t use on the beard, and why some are great, while others are a disaster.
Scalp Hair and Beard Hair are Not the Same
One of the most common beard mistakes men make is thinking that the hair at the top of their head would be the same stuff as the hair growing on your face.
Facial hair – similarly to body hair – grows in response to male hormones testosterone and DHT. By definition that makes your beard androgenic hair.
Because of this, your beard tends to be thicker, curlier, and coarser than the hair on top of your head.
Not only is this type of hair dependent on the hormones, it also requires more sebum oil to maintain itself healthy and nourished, and when stripped of said oil, facial hair gets dry and itchy very fast.
So make sure you understand the difference. Yes, hair is hair, but not all hair is the same.
Using Hair Products on Beard Explained
Why Using Hair Gel in Beard isn’t the Greatest Idea
Hair gel is water-based gel that contains film-forming polymers that “glue” and stick your hair together so that you can easily style and shape it.
Due to its watery consistency it also makes your hair look wet and sort of spiky. This can be great look at the top of your head, but is an absolute disaster if you try to use hair gel on your beard.
Yes, you heard me right. Using hair gel on your beard is not a good idea. All it does is make your beard look shiny, wet, and sticky – and it will feel like that as well.
Verdict: Under no circumstances should you ever use hair gel on the beard. It can be great for the scalp hair, but makes your facial hair look downright gross and unkempt.
Hair Wax on Beard Works Really Well Though
Now if hair gel is a no-go, what about using hair wax on your beard?
That’s actually not a bad idea at all. Hair wax is typically made of things like beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, castor wax, lanolin, or other wax types.
Coincidentally these same types of waxes can also be found in your typical beard wax formulations, but beard waxes are way more expensive than the regular hair wax you can find in any grocery store or supermarket.
The only downfall of using hair wax on your beard is the scent. While beard waxes are typically unscented or minimally scented with essential oils, hair waxes on the other hand can have really intense scent profiles on them.
That would be fine at the top of your head, but when you rub some into your facial hair, a lot of the product will end up right under your nose, which can make the aroma way too strong for most men.
Verdict: If you happen to use some unscented or lightly scented hair wax, there’s no issue with also applying some of that wax to your beard as well. I personally tend to apply the left over hair wax that’s on my hands after styling my hair, into my beard, it’s better than wasting it and it gives surprisingly good hold.
Can You Use Hair Shampoo on the Beard then?
We have touched upon the topic of generic shampoo vs. beard shampoo multiple times before in this website.
But just as a refresher…
It’s not recommended that you use generic scalp hair shampoo on your facial hair.
Why so then?
Simply because generic shampoo is very good at cleaning the hair and stripping away all the natural oils. While this can be a good thing on your scalp hair, it will be not so great for the beard, as your beard relies on the natural sebum oils and it will get very dry if you keep washing it with regular shampoo.
Heck, we don’t even recommend that you wash your beard daily with anything, just so it could retain some of that natural moisture and the nourishing oils. Instead you should be washing your beard 2-3 times per week at tops with mild beard shampoo.
Verdict: Using regular hair shampoo on your beard is a bad idea. It strips away the natural oils too effectively and will leave your beard dry and itchy. Consider washing your beard less often and only with mild beard wash.
Using Hair Conditioner on Beard is Fine
I was bit harsh on generic shampoo above, so would that mean generic hair conditioner is also a no-go for beard use?
Nope. Basic hair conditioner is actually good for beard use.
That’s right. Conditioners typically have ingredients such as hydrolyzed proteins, fatty alcohols, plant oils, and esters. All of these are fine for beard use and will help condition the dry skin underneath your beard just as well as they would condition a dry scalp.
Now I would still recommend a dedicated beard conditioner over basic hair conditioner, but if you want to save up some money, using any kind of regular hair conditioner should be fine on the beard.
Verdict: Normal hair conditioner can be used on the beard. Dedicated beard conditioner would be ideal, but that’s also way more expensive as well.
When Necessary, You Can Use Hairspray on Beard
If you struggle with a beard that refuses to lay flat, then it’s understandable that you might be on the lookout for some product that could finally hold it properly in place.
One cheap option for this is basic hairspray. Costs few bucks and most certainly will hold the beard hairs in place.
Should you use it though?
Well, no. In my opinion there are better options available, such as beard wax and heated beard straighteners.
In the rare case that you must get your beard to stay in place and there’s no beard wax or straightener around, then sure, using hairspray once in a while won’t hurt the facial hair in any way.
Verdict: You can use hairspray on the beard. But I would use it sparingly, since there are better options available, such as beard straighteners and beard wax.
While it may seem like a good idea to use basic hair products on your beard, it’s not always that bright of an idea.
For products like generic shampoo and hair gel, I would definitely avoid them on the facial hair.
On the other hand, things like hair wax, hairspray, and hair conditioner are OK and should pose no harm to the beard whatsoever. If you can’t afford – or don’t want to get – dedicated beard products, then I see no harm in going for these.
Just don’t use any hair glue on your beard, please.