Beard Split Ends? Here’s What’s Causing Them and How To Cure Them

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Split ends on your beard stink!

Where do they come from, how the heck can you prevent them, and most importantly how can you treat them?

You see when you get a split end there are a couple of things that are going on – first off, your beard will feel a lot more rough. Therefore it will be uncomfortable for you, and even more so for anyone that you might get a bit ‘intimate’ with as well.

After all, who wants to feel like they are being poked by a beard (hint: no one)?

Secondly, split ends on your beard will make you appear unkempt.  Therefore when you have an epic beard, you want to take care of it properly – when done well, you will instantly notice the difference when running your hand through your beard (others may even notice as well!).

Before we talk about how to cure split ends altogether – where the heck do they come from?

How Do Beard Split Ends Really Occur?

rope fraying

When your beard follicles becomes too coarse and brittle, the tips of the follicles will eventually fray causing a split end.

Now there are several reasons on the lead up to the split end.

Lack of A Proper Amount of Nourishment From Sebum Oil

First off – you have these glands called sebaceous glands at the root of every beard follicle.

These sebaceous glands are finite in size and can only produce a certain amount of sebum oil every day.

There comes a point, and for every guy its different, where your beard gets so long that the sebaceous glands can’t produce enough sebum oil in order to keep the root and the entire shaft of the beard follicle well nourished.

This lack of proper nourishment from the sebum oil will cause your beard follicles, and in particular the tips of them, to dry out since not enough sebum oil is making it to the tip of the hair.

Eventually when your beard gets too long, it will gradually get more brittle and course, ultimately making split ends much more likely to occur.

Now there are products which I will talk about in a bit that help supplement this natural sebum oil.

Be Careful if You Are Trying to Hide a Few Of Those Greys as Coloring Can Be Damaging

Often times guys might try to sneak in a product like Just for Men or some other type of hair dye to color their beard to try and hide a few grays.

With good reason too!

After all who wants to have gray in their beard while they are still relatively young? Personally I already have grays in my beard as well and I am only 31 – genetics weren’t nice to me.

Therefore if you apply a coloring every couple of weeks these harsh chemicals can and will do a lot of damage your beard.

Often times the beard coloring will alter the structure of the follicle leaving a really rough bristle in its place of which is much more susceptible to fraying into split ends.

So if you are growing a larger beard and are coloring at the end time you are going to want to make sure you combat the split ends with the appropriate bearded products that I will touch on later.

Blow Drying Your Beard Will Dry Out The Entire Shaft of The Follicle

Whenever you pat dry your beard with a towel, you might find water still seeping out of your beard long after you have gotten your clothes on and are ready to head out the door to work.

Therefore if you are growing a epic beard, or yeard, blow drying your beard might be a process you do regularly.

But blow drying does come with the nasty sticking point of frying and drying your beard to a crisp.

With such a dry beard will stand very little chance of not being damaged rather quickly. Not only that, but when you dry your beard with a blow dryer, the chance of your beard follicles breaking also increase.

Its not to say you can’t blow dry your beard, you can, and there are plenty of guys who do – just be careful to exercise control – I know the warm air will feel great on the harsh cold winter days.

The Shampoo You Might Be Using For Your Head Probably Shouldn’t Be Used On Your Beard


Shampoos, just like beard coloring are loaded with nasty chemicals that do a terrible amount of damage to your beard.

You see shampoos, especially cheap ones, usually will contain ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS is used as a detergent in most shampoos and has the core purpose of completely stripping out any sort of sebum oils and moisture from your beard (or head).

In fact there have been recent articles that say that you likely aren’t receiving any benefits from a daily scrub on your head.

Of course there are always outliers, say for instance you have extraordinarily fine hair, do aerobic exercises daily (i.e. tons of sweat), or work in an environment that is full of natural pollutants – then you likely have to wash and shampoo daily for sanitary reasons.

When it comes to general beard washes/shampoos – its best to stick to something that is more along the all natural side. This way you aren’t lathering on nasty chemicals that will ultimately destroy your beard follicles that will lead to split ends.

Dietary Restrictions Can Also Be A Cause to Beard Split Ends

high protein foods for a healthy beard

Now if you are a vegetarian or in general might have a poor diet, you likely want to consider either taking a vitamin supplement or make some lifestyle changes.

Within your body, some of the fastest growing cells are going to be in your hair and nails.

In order to improve the health of them, you want to make sure you load up on protein packed foods.

Foods high in protein such as lean beef, chicken, and fish will give you a wide array of benefits for all the hair on your body.

Eggs and greek yogurt are also terrific sources of protein that are also often over looked.

If you are a vegetarian – you will want to gravitate towards legumes such as kidney beans and nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc) as an alternate source of protein.

Generally if your diet is lacking protein, your hair (all across your body) and nails will show it. With beard follicles not receiving the proper nutrients, split ends are likely going to occur.

Will Beard Supplements Give You Any Sort of Help?

vitabeard as a natural beard supplement

Now if you are struggling with checking all the boxes off regarding your diet and that it has ample protein, you might want to check out supplements.

Supplements tend to scare off some people since they think that they are just for old people or kids. However, there are some vitamins within supplements that may actually improve your beard follicle health

In particular the one vitamin you will want to look out for is called biotin. Biotin is a B complex vitamin and has shown in a study that when a subject had biotin removed from their diet they experienced hair loss. This has lead some to believe that biotin does indeed have a direct impact on hair growth.

This is where products like VitaBeard and others exist in the marketplace.

These products contain biotin along with several other vitamins and minerals.

You see biotin is naturally found in very high amounts within eggs. However, some men like myself, steer clear of eggs due to their high cholesterol.

Therefore this is where adding a vitamin into their diet might make sense.

It’s important to understand that these are supplements. They aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet and they sure aren’t any sort of magic pill. So only use a vitamin like VitaBeard if you feel that you have exhausted all your options when it comes to your meals and the time you have to take to prepare one that contains all the essential nutrients for a healthy you and beard.

Where does this lead us with split ends?

As touched on earlier, ensuring you have a healthy beard follicle will help cure split ends on your beard.

First and foremost it starts with a healthy diet. If you aren’t growing a great healthy beard from the start, then all the other alternatives are only going to have a limited effect.

Which Should You Be Doing To Prevent Split Ends on Your Beard? Brushing or Combing?

combing a beard

When it comes to your beard and deciding between a brush or comb its largely a personal preference. Either one of them will be safe to use on your beard.

However, how you use your comb or brush can and will have a direct impact on developing split ends.

Generally as a rule of thumb, if you have a thick beard, you want to make sure you go with a comb that is a bit more of a gap between each one of the teeth.

The point is that you don’t want to have too much tugging on your beard when you glide the comb through.

Its also important to note regarding comb type is that you use one that is sawcut as opposed to stamped out of a giant plastic mold.

You see stamped combs have micro-fissures that will tear and your entire beard follicle shaft with each stroke – these are usually the cheap plastic combs found in drugstores.

Sawcut beard combs are hand polished to ensure the teeth are incredibly smooth.

Brushes on the other hand do have their unique set of advantages.

Generally there are a few different brushes available to choose from, from synthetic to boars hair and different types of bristle hairs in between.

At a high level overview, you want to steer clear of synthetic bristles as they are usually generate a ton of static and do a poor job of distributing sebum oils within your hair.

Boars hair beard brushes on the other hand are the gold standard when it comes to beard maintenance.

Boars hair brushes are all natural (in that they are sourced from boars), and help to evenly distribute your sebum oil and other beard related products evenly throughout your beard.

In addition, the boars hair bristles on brushes are typically cut at uneven lengths, which is a great thing, as it will ensure it will get to the root of the beard follicle when brushing.

What does all this mean for your beard and split ends?

Well not too much other than the frequency and type of combs and brushes you are using.

If you are using a cheap plastic drug store comb, your chances of developing split ends will increase.

However even if you have the top of the line comb or brush, you always want to be wary of over brushing your beard.

Too much brushing, regardless of quality, will naturally cause split ends on your beard.

Therefore you want to only brush or comb your hair only a few times a day.

How Often Should You Trim Your Beard?

beard shears for trimming a beard to prevent split ends

If you want to completely get rid of split ends instantly, then there is no better way than to simply trim your beard.

Even the most epic beards need to get trimmed every now and again to make sure they aren’t too unruly.

Regarding frequency of trimming it really comes down to a mans preference.

Some men like to trim their beard and others might want to wait and trim it weekly or every other week.

Regarding the type of tool you use to trim your beard will vary depending on length and personal preference.

One option available to men is shears.

A high-quality pair of shears will only set you back about $10 to $15 and will deliver an insanely clean cut.

Shears not only give you a great cut, but they also give you a ton of control when cutting and shaping your beard – especially when compared to beard trimmers.

Its not to say that beard trimmers don’t have their place within the bathroom – they definitely do.

However, its important to understand the difference between a beard trimmer and a shears.

Beard trimmers are typically bulky and heavy. Therefore if you want to try and shape your beard manually with a beard trimmer, you are going to have a very limited amount of control.

Beard trimmers are terrific however in setting a desired length of your beard and sticking to it.

Most beard trimmers have TONS of settings where you can adjust anywhere from a fraction of a millimeter to up to 20 millimeters (.75″).

Therefore if you always want a 5 o’clock shadow or something just a bit longer, beard trimmers do a great job at this.

To get the cleanest cut and to prevent split ends from showing up sooner than normal the best option will be a pair of shears.

What Products Are Suggested For Beard Use?

Last but not least is the product that you put into your beard.

Beard product such as beard oil and balms do an incredible job in ensuring that split ends don’t occur.

As we were covering earlier, you have these sebaceous glands at the root of every one of your hair follicles:

where does sebum oil come from?

These glands only produce a finite amount of sebum oil – therefore only nourishing your beard to a certain extent.

When you apply harsh chemicals on your beard like shampoo, this effectively will strip out the sebum oil. In addition, drying your beard with a blow dryer on the hot setting will also dry up the follicle as well.

This is where products like beard oil and beard balm exist in the first place.

They are wonderful supplements to the natural sebum oil that your skin is already producing.

There comes a time for every man that grows a beard where the beard length will out pace the the amount of sebum oil required.

At this point, you will want to introduce a beard balm or oil into your routine.

What is a beard balm or oil?

Well they are both essentially the same thing with the exception of a few additional ingredients contained within beard balm.

Beard oil itself contains the following:

  • Carrier oil
  • Essential oil

Beard balm on the other hand contains:

  • Carrier oil
  • Essential oil
  • Butter
  • Beeswax

The carrier oil that is contained within both the products is going to be providing the majority of the nourishment for your beard.

Carrier oils are oils that are extracted from vegetables. Some of the most common oils found in beard oils and balms will typically be a jojoba or argan oil – although there are a ton of other different types of carrier oils as well.

If its your first time ever using a carrier oil, I would recommend using a beard product that contains jojoba oil as its going to most closely resemble your natural sebum oil. Also jojoba oil in general is a pretty mild oil, so your chances of developing any allergic reaction or rash are very small (as a side note you do always want to apply a bit of oil in a inconspicuous area to see if you have any allergy first).

Simply put, carrier oils will help soften your beard follicle and make it much more pliable reducing your chances of any pesky split ends.

The next oil that you will see within both balms and beard oil is the essential oil. Essential oils are the life of the party.

They don’t really provide any sort of prevention of split ends, however, they do provide some awesome scents to the beard oil.

So if you want to smell like a lumberjack that just chopped up some cedar wood or looking for a more citrus or floral smell – essential oils have you covered.

Specifically within beard balms you will see that there is a butter on the ingredient list. Butters, usually in the shea or cocoa variety, provide a couple of key benefits to the balm:

First off – they help with the spreadability of the balm, as you will learn in just a bit that balms do contain wax which is tough to spread by itself.

Secondly – the butter is a compliment to the carrier oil and will provide an additional layer of moisture and nourishment to your beard follicle – ultimately helping to reduce split ends.

To note – some beard balms don’t contain a butter and may use a substitute ingredient. A popular one that you might see is lanolin. Lanolin is simply the sebum oil of a sheep that is extracted when the wool is rung out. It’s a great substitution to shea and cocoa butter as we discovered when judging some of the best beard balms in the market.

Last but not least is beeswax. Beeswax isn’t really going to provide much regarding nourishment, but acts more as a holding agent for the beard balm. It will help give your beard some sort of order and shape throughout the day.

Therefore if you are training your beard to grow in a particular direction – a beard balm will help keep your beard follicles in order.

That’s What’s Needed to Prevent Split Ends On Your Beard

As you can see, how you treat your beard and general diet can have a huge impact on causing split ends for your beard. So you definitely want to make sure you treat your beard with care.

If you have very bad split ends, I would recommend checking out a beard product such as a beard oil or balm in order to keep your follicles well nourished. Besides balms and oils preventing the occurrence of split ends, they will also cure any sort of beardruff and in general any beard itch.

So I want to know – what other ways have you found are effective to prevent split ends?

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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.