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Beard Split Ends: Causes & Prevention

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By: Adam Williams

Just like the hair on top of the head, facial hair is susceptible to split ends.  Below, we will share common causes of beard split ends, how to get rid of them, and preventative measures you can take going forward.

Causes

Split ends occur when the hair follicle becomes dry and brittle.  When brushed, rubbed against surfaces, or just simply through time, the hair follicle will fray or split at the end.

Several contributing factors can lead to split ends which include the following:

  • Over drying with a blow dryer
  • Excessive use of a flat iron
  • Extremely dry weather
  • Improper beard maintenance
  • Repeated application of harsh chemicals

A few signs that your beard may be susceptible to split ends include dry skin, beard dandruff, and a spiky or crunchy feeling beard.

Cures

Unfortunately, there is no cure or remedy for split ends on facial hair.  You must trim your facial hair to remove the split end.

Prevention

To prevent beard split ends from happening, you should implement adequate conditioning, proper styling, and regular trimming. Consider the following:

Beard Conditioning

Several beard conditioning products are available, including beard oil, beard balm, beard butter, and beard jelly.  

Well-made beard conditioners may rely on one, or in some instances all, of the following ingredients: carrier oils, butter, and beeswax.  

Carrier Oils

Common carrier oils used in beard conditioners include jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, and more. Carrier oils compliment the sebum oil your sebaceous glands produce and help to condition both skin and hair. You will commonly find carrier oil in hair conditioners, face creams, and other men’s grooming products.

Butter

Fat extracted from assorted nuts, such as shea or cocoa butter, makes this ingredient an effective moisturizer.  Commonly found in beard balm or beard butter, butter keeps both the skin and hair well-hydrated.  Consider this ingredient should you live in a dry climate.

Beeswax

The primary ingredient in quality lip balms, beeswax helps to protect both skin and hair.  Beeswax is also a natural humectant, meaning that it helps to retain moisture.  As an added benefit, beeswax provides control enabling you to achieve a better-looking facial hair style.

Product Composition

Here’s a summary of the ingredients often found in each of the popular beard conditioners:

IngredientBeard OilBeard BalmBeard ButterBeard Jelly
Carrier OilYesYesYesYes
ButterNoYesYesYes
BeeswaxNoYesVariesYes

For extremely dry weather, consider using a moisturizing-rich product such as beard balm, beard butter, or beard jelly.

Beard oil is a good conditioner for long beards or moderate climates.

No matter the product, daily application will condition both skin and facial hair and should help to reduce the occurrence of split ends.

Note: Essential oils are another common ingredient; however, they are largely added for fragrance and have been excluded from this guide.

Cleansing

When cleaning your beard, consider a natural beard shampoo or beard wash.  Beard shampoos will often contain conditioners that will help to support healthy beard growth.

Avoid using standard bars of soap with high chemical concentrations.  These soaps may dry out your skin and facial hair with repeated use.

Styling

Poor styling techniques may cause facial hair to develop split ends.  Here are a few styling tips to reduce the chance of split ends:

Blow Drying & Flat Irons

Repeatedly using a blow dryer or flat iron to style your beard is the most common reason for split ends.  These devices add a lot of dry heat, which can permanently damage the tip of the hair follicle.

When using a blow dryer, don’t use the hottest setting.  Instead, use only moderate to no heat.  Applying direct heat for an extended period will cause dryness for both skin and facial hair.

Flat irons can damage facial hair quickly.  When using a flat iron, start from the base of the hair follicle and gradually work your way to the tip.  Don’t let it rest on any part of the hair follicle too long.  

Brushing & Combing

Poorly made brushes or combs may damage hair.  If the teeth on a comb are broken, particularly with plastic combs, sharp edges may splice individual beard follicles.  Consider replacing the beard comb if it’s showing signs of wear.

Excessive brushing or combing may result in split ends as well.  Brush or comb no more than a few times each day.  

Lastly, a natural fiber beard brush will help to distribute a conditioning agent along the entire shaft of the hair follicle.

Trimming

Facial hair should be trimmed regularly.  While a beard trimmer is practical for home use, consider visiting your local barbershop or trim your beard with scissors often.  Barber shears cut the follicle cleanly. 

A poorly made beard trimmer may not provide as clean of a cut, leading to split ends in the future.

The Bottom Line

While split ends are harmless, they are permanent once they occur.  By taking simple preventative measures and having your beard trimmed regularly, you should experience fewer split ends when growing a beard.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more.

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