If you don’t have a beard, you would probably think that all beards are rough, dry and wiry – something like a steel wool scrubber. This would actually be the case if you didn’t groom and maintain your beard, especially as you grow older. Beard hair is rough for a variety of reasons, but there are a variety of ways you can make them soft and luscious.
Beard hair is already naturally coarser and typically darker than head hair. Beard follicles are also tend to be flatte and curlier than head hair hair.
A young beard may be softer because the hairs are relatively new and have not been exposed to the elements for a very long time. As the beard ages though, the hairs will start to become brittle and hard due to their exposure to the wind and sun. The damage the weather does to your beard is due the constant breaking and reforming of the bonds in your hair. Just like the bones in your body, constant breaking and mending will mean that these bonds will never be as strong as they were before. Over time, this will lead to fragile and brittle hair. This can also often lead to split ends. Now don’t get all macho on me and think split ends aren’t a problem – because they are. Split ends occur when the protective cuticle layer at the end of the hair is destroyed and the layers underneath begin to fall apart. These split ends will give the appearance of an old, ragged beard that is never maintained.
Another reason why your beard isn’t soft is because there is no moisture in it. But when we talk moisture, we mean oils, not water. Yes water softens hair, but it may also make it more prone to damage. Water with neutral to high pH comes can raise the shafts on the hair making them susceptible to breakage. However, oil is great for hair. Oils contain fatty acids that penetrate and bind to hair proteins, strengthening the bonds in your beard, creating a nourished and resilient beard. Some of these oils exist naturally in your skin and beard, but they get stripped away when you wash your beard and face using strong soaps. If you don’t replenish these oils, your beard will lose its nourishment and become brittle.
What can you do to make your beard softer?
Shampoo will clean your beard and wash away all the dirt and grime that builds up and contributes to a ragged beard. But you cannot use any old shampoo. Shampoo made for head hair can be relatively aggressive this hair produces and traps a lot more oil, dead skin & debris than your beard. These head shampoos contain strong soaps to combat and penetrate these dense oils. However, if you use these in your beard they will irritate the sensitive skin underneath, leaving you with a dry itchy beard. Try to use mild shampoos like Milkman’s 2 in 1 which won’t strip away the natural oils from the skin, leaving it feeling nice and healthy.
A conditioner will then coat the hairs and protect them from damage, while at the same time keeping the hair hydrated. A conditioner will also make the hair cuticles bind tightly together, making the hair smooth and soft in texture.
Beard oil is acts like an all in one product for the beard. It conditions, nourishes, moisturises and leaves it smelling great. It is best used after washing your beard, but you can apply it every day. Beard oils contain a concoction of different plant and carrier oils that all perform in different ways. For example, Milkman’s beard oil contains coconut oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, argan oil and hemp seed oil. This mix of oil penetrates the hair, coats the hair and moisturises the skin.
Brushing your beard has multiple ways of making your beard soft. Firstly, it is a mechanical way of exfoliating and removing dirt and grime that’s builds up in the beard. It will also get the hairs to all face the same direction which will help soften the texture of your hair. A boar hair bristle brush is the best for this. Boar bristles have a unique structure where they smooth down the cuticle of the hair, making in straighter and less frizzy.
Beard balm contains the same or very similar oils to that of beard oil. This gives it the same softening, moisturising and conditioning properties. But beard balm goes the extra the step of adding shape and hold to the beard because of the natural waxes it contains. This makes it great to be applied after you have brushed your beard. With the all the hairs facing the same way, applying the balm will keep your beard in the same structure for most of the day.
This is to remove split ends. As mentioned before, split ends cause the hair to go brittle and snap off. So remove split ends before they make your beard look old and rough. Trimming your beard is like trimming a flowering bush. It will remove damaged parts of the hair, allowing room for new and healthy growth.
A course beard is usually a sign of an unkempt beard. A soft beard is one that is well looked after. So be sure to take of your beard and it will flourish.
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Author: John Porreca