A Beard Dye Guide – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know

This Article May Contain Affiliate Links

Getting old downright sucks.

We try our best to stop father time in its tracks.

From my own experience I started losing my hair before I could actually drink a beer (talk about damn bad genes).

Personally I had tried minoxidil (a.k.a. Rogaine) but it unfortunately didn’t work for me either (it works in about 40% of men and is definitely worth giving it a shot – especially if you are looking to grow a thicker or fuller beard).

So off went my hair, now on to my next focus – the beard.

Like most men in their thirties, my beard is starting to gray.

It seems like its happening over night – first it was just near my neck, but now its starting to quickly creep towards my cheeks now as well!

I found myself wondering the other day – should I dye my beard?

When checking out stores online or even going to the local drug store or supermarket, you see a ton of hair and beard dyes all on the shelves.

However they are typically made by just one company – Just For Men.

There are alternatives out there (which I will get to in a bit), but if you decide on going with the market leader, there are a few things that you must know…

This leads me into the first topic:

Choosing The Right Dye (Coloring) For Your Beard

deciding beard color - tools of men

Getting the right coloring can be tricky for a few reasons.

If you have a mostly gray beard (hovering around 50% or more of gray hair), you might want to get a product like this that just gives you a touchup look.

Generally dyeing your beard from gray or white, to a full brown, or even a light brown will be a jarring change.

You will likely not like it and all of your acquaintances will notice the change right away.

The goal here is to not have others notice it – but rather make yourself look a bit younger without others figuring out the reason why you do!

Subtlety is key!

If you are like me and have a full beard that is about 75% its natural color with remaining 25% having scattered about grays – then a full beard dye like this would be your best bet.

But here’s the deal:

There is a fine line in choosing the right beard coloring!

If you go too light you might be running to the store or clicking the buy now button on Amazon again and again trying to get it just right.

If your budget can afford it, go with a shade that closest matches your natural hair or one that is a bit lighter and then look at the results.

A slightly lighter beard will be a lot less noticeable and jarring opposed to one that is jet black.

On the flip side if you want to save yourself a few bucks, go with a beard coloring that is closest to your natural hair color or just a shade darker.

But why?

You see if you go with a dye that is just a shade darker, you can apply half of the dye for half of the recommended time (typically about 2.5 minutes) and then rinse it out.

Be sure to store the remaining dye and give it a day to see what you think about it.

This way you are saving yourself a few extra bucks, and hopefully got rid of a few gray hairs along the way.


Just keep this in mind, once you dye your beard too dark, its likely going to look a bit unnatural (think Billy Mays – remember how dark that guys beard was?!).

billy mays dark beard - tools of men

There are ways you can try to wash the dye out in case you make a mistake with the color – I’ll touch on that in just a bit.

Coloring your beard is a gradual and subtle process.

The key is for others NOT to notice the change.  So don’t go heavy handed with the process and make sure you practice restraint when dyeing your beard.

How To Prepare Properly For Your First Beard Dye Application

beard coloring prep work - tools of men

Now that you have you beard dye set properly its time to do the necessary prep work.

First off, you can apply the beard dye anytime you like – there is no reason to do it at night or in the morning.

But here’s the deal:

You do NOT want to shower before hand.

The reason for this is that your beard will be chocked full of its natural oils making it the prime candidate to absorb the dye while also largely helping to prevent skin irritation.

This same thought processes extends if you were to dye your own hair as well.

Ideally you would want to wait about a day or two from your last shower before applying any sort of coloring to your beard.

Also an important note, if this is your first time dyeing a beard, do NOT do it before a big event.  If you want to dye your beard for a wedding, photograph, job interview, etc do it a few days prior.

Once your bearded is primed for the dye, you are also going to want to take a couple of precautions as dye can easily stain everything it comes in contact with.

First off – be sure you put on old battered shirt (don’t go shirtless as if the dye comes in contact with your skin it will take a bit of effort to scrub it off).

You will also want to make sure that you have a junk hand towel at your disposal.  This will be used primarily to cover your counter and sink (especially if porcelain) from having any brown specs added to it if the dye flicks off your beard as you are applying it.

Paper towels are also great to have on hand as well.

Whatever you do, just make sure you rip off about 5 of them before hand so you can easily grab them instead of getting the dye all over the roll.  If you splash any dye on your skin, they can be very helpful in wiping it up right away.

Latex gloves are also a must to have on hand when applying the dye.  The gloves will protect your fingers from becoming stained (even when using the applicator brush).

Just as a note: some companies ship with latex gloves and others do not.  Be sure to check out the package to see what is contained.

The last thing you will need when preparing to color your beard will be shampoo.

But not just any sort of shampoo – color treatment shampoo.

Here’s the deal:

The color of your beard is expected to last about two weeks before it will need another treatment.

However if you use a shampoo that is specifically for hair coloring – you can extend the life of your beard color a bit longer (about another week or so).

In the long run picking up some coloring shampoo will save you a bit of money on extending the amount of time needed before you place your next purchase of coloring.

Applying Beard Dye Properly The First Time

Just to recap the prep work necessary:

  • Don’t shower before dyeing to ensure color penetration
  • Latex gloves to protect your fingers from staining
  • Counter covered in old hand towels to prevent staining
  • Paper towels on hand should you get dye anywhere else on your skin besides your beard
  • Coloring shampoo to treat your beard and extend the life of the coloring

Its now time to dye your beard.

As mentioned above, you want to go with a coloring that closest matches your beard or if uncertain one that is just a shade lighter.

If you are using a beard coloring application like Just For Men, it will typically contain two tubes:

  • The base color (the dye)
  • The color developer (thicken solution that acts as a filler)

You will want to mix the two ingredients together (typically products come with a tray) – just don’t use the bristles – using the bristle end will cause them to be bent and therefore making the application much more difficult.

Once you have enough of the dye mixed together, place the caps back on the tubes and set them aside for future use (you typically can get a couple applications per purchase of beard dye).

Don’t worry if the color looks a lot lighter than what you expected from the outside of the box.

Once the chemicals from the solutions work together and is applied to your face, you will see the color get exponentially darker in only a couple of minutes.

When applying the solution to your beard, you will want to apply it rather quickly (to ensure that when you start the timer you get an even dye throughout your beard – last thing you want is one side of your beard to appear darker).

In addition to the quick application for equal coloring – also make sure that you go for the gray areas first and then work your way to the hairs that still have natural color.

Sidenote: Don’t color just the grays and leave the hair that does still have your color as is – when using a beard dye you have to go all in or else it will look spotty.

While it might be tempting to use your hands to rub in the dye, don’t!

This stuff will dye your skin when it comes in contact, and will take a few deep scrubs for the dye to be completely removed from your skin.

Once you are done applying the dye, start the timer (typically about 5 minutes).

Again if you feel that you got a dye that might be darker than your natural color, cut that time in half.  You can always reapply if necessary with the left over dye that you have on hand.

Its way easier to reapply and to add more dye than it is to reverse a beard that looks unnaturally dark.

After a few short minutes of waiting, you will notice that the coloring suddenly becomes a whole lot darker.

So be prepared to hop in the shower as soon as the required time (usually about 5 minutes) has come up.

You don’t want to over dye your beard as it may cause skin irritation or beard damage (largely dependent on the product you use – some are ammonia free causing no damage to your hair).

Love It or Hate It – How You Need To Maintain Your Beard Afterwards

How to Grow a Beard Faster

When using a beard dye, guys fall into two camps – they either hate it or love it.

For some it will simply melt years off of their age giving them a huge confidence boost.  For others though just the opposite – they feel that it doesn’t look natural (majority of the reason though is incorrect color selection or simply using the wrong product), or had an allergic reaction to the dye used.

It Looks Great! Now What?

If you love it, you will want to make sure that you continue to apply beard coloring every couple of weeks to make sure that you maintain your youthful look.

Beards grow in quick (in fact they grow at a rate of about half a millimeter per day) – therefore you need to make sure that you stay on top of coloring it.

One of the best ways to make sure that your beard keeps it color even longer is to make sure you maintain it properly by using the right type of shampoo.

When in the shower, do NOT use a bar of soap to wash your beard.  Instead, pick up a shampoo that helps hair that has been dyed to retain its color.

Something along the lines of this would work out great – generally it has really positive reviews (4.4 out of 5 at the time of writing this article).

If you don’t already, make sure you also use beard oil.

But why?

You see beard oil gives both the follicles of your beard plus the skin that it grows on the nourishment it needs.

Whether you color your beard or not, you definitely should be using this stuff.

I put together a guide recently where I selected the best beard oils.  Be sure to check it out!

Can I Have My Beard Back Please?

Don’t worry about it!  It’s only temporary.

Within the next couple of weeks if you do nothing to try to get out the color, it will gradually be washed away and also replaced by the new growth of your beard.

If you absolutely hate it, you can always completely shave off your beard as well.

However, if you are like most guys, this is not an option.

You love your beard and don’t want to depart with it at all.

Not to worry!

The best way to remove coloring from your beard is to get a product like this that can get rid of the color in just a single application.

In addition to products out there dedicated to color removal, there are also a slew of home remedies as well that are available at your disposal.

Common Questions That Men Have When It Comes To Dyeing Their Beard

Can I just use hair color on my beard?


The coloring that is used for beards is different than the coloring used for the hair on the top of your head.

Your facial hair is much more coarse than the hair on your head requiring a different set of chemicals and dyes in order to bring the same desired effect.

Help! My beard is too dark, what can I do to lighten it?

If you still want your beard to be colored, but just a shade or two lighter one of the best things you can do is to simply jump in the shower and scrub it with a bar of soap and a washcloth several times.

This will help lighten it up just a bit.

However, if you are looking to completely remove the coloring altogether, I covered that in detail above in maintaining your beard after coloring it.

Is it necessary to perform a allergy test before doing any sort of coloring?

Yes!  In fact you typically want to do a allergy test of the dye about 48 hours ahead of your actually application.


This ensures that your skin doesn’t have any sort of adverse effects from the dye itself.  Some of the effects may include: itching, burning, redness, or swelling.

Typically the best places to perform a patch test are either behind your ear or on your elbow.

I am not a doctor, therefore you should adhere to the package instructions of the dye that you purchase to make sure there are no adverse effects.  If you have a question, please contact your family physician.

When is the best time to apply my beard dye?

As noted in the preparation section above, the time of day has no bearing on when to dye your beard.

However, you do not want to shower prior to your beard coloring.

In fact its generally recommended that you don’t shower for about a day prior to doing your first beard coloring treatment.

This ensures that the dye is effective in its application.

To also note, you don’t want to color before any big events – especially if its your first time coloring.


If you match up the color incorrectly, your beard will look very unnatural.   In addition, beard dye is composed of harsh chemicals that may cause irritation.

Lastly, if your skin comes into contact (which it will) with the dye, your skin does a good job of keeping that dye in its pores – therefore making it extremely tough for you to remove immediately.

Always dye your beard a few days ahead of any big event (wedding, interview, professional photograph, etc.).

Is it safe to hit the pool after coloring my beard?

Yes and no.

Sure you can go swimming anytime after dyeing your beard (assuming you already showered after application).

However, the chemicals that are found within swimming pools will break down the coloring in your beard making it very likely you will have to do your next coloring treatment earlier than you expect.

How long does beard dye last for?

Generally when you color your beard it will last for about two to three weeks.  However, the beard coloring formula is relatively affordable.

Where can I pick up beard dye?

You can pick up beard dye at most major retailers (super markets, drug stores, etc), often times you will find the only product is Just For Men.

Just as a note, sometimes retailers do place this product behind counters due to theft or are under lock and key.

If it is something that you feel hesitant about picking up, you can also purchase it on Amazon as well at likely a much more affordable price than at the store.

How do I remove the color stain from my skin?

Don’t fret!

Unless you are Michangelo, chances are you didn’t dye your beard proprerly and now you have some of the coloring on your skin.

The chemicals used in the coloring can be harsh and unfortunately don’t easily come of with warm soapy water.

However, to combat that one of the best things you can do is to try using nail polish remover or even isopropyl alcohol.

Just be careful on not hitting your beard too much.  You don’t want the coloring to look patchy.

Finding The Best Beard Dye For You

While many men color their beard, there are surprisingly a very limited amount of competitors in the marketplace.

One of the most well recognized brands is Just For Men.

They are found in most major supermarkets and drug stores and have a variety of coloring options available for men.

From their hair coloring options to their two beard options (touch of gray and full coloring option).

just for men products - tools of men

The Touch of Gray product is great for men who have a full gray beard but just want to darken it slightly.

Whereas the full beard coloring option simply named Mustache & Beard is used to completely get rid of all gray hairs altogether.

A close second to Just For Men is RefectoCil.

However, if you are looking to still have a touch of gray in your beard, then this option isn’t for you as it is a full dye that will completely color your entire beard.

A Review of Just For Men

just for men review - tools of men Generally using Just For Men is a great way to knock out all the gray hairs in just one application and in about 5 minutes to boot!

One of the most popular brands on the market and for good reason.

Overall men in general find it to be pretty effective at getting rid of grays.  Just at a quick glance it brings in about a 4.4 out of 5 star on Amazon (north of 700 reviews at the time of this article).

But there’s a kicker:

Just For Men uses some pretty harsh chemicals in its product.

If you have severe sensitive skin, you will definitely wan to make sure that you do a patch test prior to using this.

Reports of swelling, redness, and itching do happen for some men, so definitely don’t skip over this part – if you are uncertain if you should give this a try, ask your doctor.

It’s not to say that there are definitely upsides though to some of the ingredients listed in the bottle.  Key ingredients include protein, vitamin E, aloe and chamomile – all of which help make your beard appear thicker and fuller while giving it the nourishment that it needs.

If you use Just For Men (or any beard coloring product) just make sure that you use a color treatment shampoo in order for it to retain its color longer.

A Review For RefectoCil

RefectoCil - Tools of Men

Another highly rated beard coloring option is RefectoCil.

RefectoCil is great for several uses other than the hair on your head including your beard (other areas include eyebrows, public hair, etc).

If you experience any irritation with the Just For Men beard coloring options, this can be a great alternative to it.

Again though you will definitely want to make sure that you patch test prior to using it fully on your skin.

Overall though reviews for RefectoCil is generally positive as most folks give it a 4.2 out of 5 at major online retailers.

To use RefectoCil there are a few things that you do need to keep in mind:

First, instead of Just For Men that takes about 5 minutes for the dye to rest on your face before you jump in the shower, RefectoCil recommends that you wait double the amount of time for a total of 10 minutes.

But that small time compromise is worth it as RefectoCil can last several weeks longer – 6 weeks, before your next treatment!

If you plan on checking out RefectoCil, keep in mind that you will need to purchase both the dye and developer separately as they don’t come packaged together.

There are some prepackaged options available that you can save a couple of bucks with as well.

What We Learned on Coloring Your Beard Properly

As you discovered there are several important things to know when it comes to coloring your beard.

From making sure to do the necessary prep work, selecting the right color, or even doing the application properly.

I hope that this article serves a great guide for men looking to color their beard for the very first time.

If you do have any questions I would love to hear them.

Please feel free to leave a comment below!

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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