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beard hair versus head hair

You may have noticed there are a lot of products especially for beards such as beard oil, beard shampoo and beard balm. This may have raised a question in your mind as to why should beard hair be treated with different products to head hair. To help answer the question we've asked our science team to uncover some of these differences so you can make better choices next time you go shopping. Here we go..

Unlike the hair we all have on our heads, facial hair is a secondary sex characteristic in men, and guys begin to grow hair on their faces during adolescence. (Women can also have a tendency towards growing hair on the face, but this is usually to a much lesser extent than in men, and usually more so after menopause hits – but that’s another story).

Different parts of the body sprout different types of hair:

  • Lanugo hair – is the thick covering of fine hair which covers most newborn babies. It falls out soon before or just after birth.
  • Vellus hair – is short, fine, and lightly coloured. It develops all over the body during childhood, with the exception of the lips, palms, soles, back of the ears, in the navel, on genital mucosa, and in scar tissue. These hairs sprout from follicles which are not connected to an oil gland.
  • Terminal hair – this is what grows on the head. It is long, thick, and darker than hair elsewhere on the body. When a person enters puberty, terminal hair replaces vellus hair on the pubic area and in the armpits. Men, in particular, may also develop terminal hair in place of vellus hair on the chest, limbs, feet, back, and face. When it develops in puberty/adolescence, it is called androgenic hair.

The hair on the scalp, like that on the face, grows in three steps – but the hair on the face has a much shorter growing phase. These steps include the active growth phase (anagen), the transitional phase (catagen- when growth stops) and the falling out phase (telogen). On the scalp, this cycle lasts for years; on the face it is a matter of months. 

Androgenic hair growth is dependent on the hormone testosterone – the more testosterone a guy has, the more facial hair he will grow. Ironically, testosterone is also responsible for some terminal hair follicles reverting over time to vellus follicles – hence middle-aged scalp baldness (even in the presence of a full and manly beard!).

The hair that guys grow naturally on their faces is a very different beast than what grows on the scalp, or elsewhere on the body, for that matter. Facial hair tends to be thicker, and of a much more wiry texture than that on the head. The skin under the hair is also different. Scalp skin tends to be more oily than facial skin so using some cleansers might be great for removing excess oil from your head but too harsh & drying for the face.

There may also be differences in the ability for the hair to tangle and look unruly. Scalp hair may be straight, yet beard hairs grow thicker and curly – and the reason for this all comes down to the shape of the follicles. Follicles on the face are much more sensitive to androgens like testosterone; these hormones make follicles twist and their resultant hairs become kinked. This means that even the brush you use might need to be different, a stiff one for the beard and a softer one for the head.

Beard hairs may grow in a completely different texture than scalp hair – and even in a different colour. It’s not uncommon to grow red hairs in the beard when there is not a red hair to be seen elsewhere on the body! A man may retain a full head of dark hair into middle age, yet his beard may grow completely grey.  

What does it all mean? In a nutshell, your beard needs to be cared for differently than the scalp hair. Beards tend to need a milder cleanser and more conditioning products to soften it (such as a beard oil or balm).  They may also need specific grooming tools, like a good stiff brush. No matter what you need in this regard, Milkman Grooming Co has got you covered!

Other articles that might interest you:

1. How to Straighten your Beard

2. The Importance of Trimming your Beard

3. Facial Hair Styles - How to Achieve and Maintain them

4. How to Deal with Beard Itch

5. Picking a Beard Style to Suit You

6. What is Beard Oil & Why Use it?

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Author: Ben De Campo

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