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A Beard Dye Guide – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know

Some men like to manage the amount of gray hair in their beards as they age. One way to easily control this visible aging sign is by simply coloring their beard.

However, when coloring a beard, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind to achieve desirable and natural-looking results.  This includes color selection, application method, type of dye, and more.

Before Dyeing, Keep the Following in Mind

While coloring your beard is a quick and easy way to appear younger, things can also go bad in a hurry.  The reason is that the natural coloring of your facial hair isn’t just one tone, but each hair follicle color varies subtly from one strand to the next.

When you color your facial hair, it removes this natural variance in color, resulting in flat or dull-looking results.

So when you color your beard, know that it will never look as good (color-wise) before you had any gray hairs.  That being said, careful selection of the color covered in the next section can still produce great results.

Note: Men with jet black hair are an exception to this and can apply dye to cover up gray hairs without worrying.

Choosing The Right Dye For Your Beard

Selecting the appropriate color is the most important part of dyeing your beard.  The goal is to get results that don’t provide a jarring or unnatural appearance with the final results.  Therefore, take a moment to consider the following:

Gray Hair Density

Depending on how many gray hairs you have in your beard will determine if you should go with a touch-up or a complete dye application.  

  • Less than 50% Gray Hair:  Consider a traditional beard dye that provides full coverage. 
  • Greater than 50% Gray Hairs:  Consider a gradual or touch-up beard dye only.  This will give a salt-and-pepper finish that looks natural.

Low Contrast

You want to select a beard dye closest to your natural hair color.  You can use the hair on the top of your head as a guide, especially if gray hairs are minimal.  Applying a dye that is too dark will look bad.  Close friends and family members will likely notice that something is off –  subtle coloring is key here.  

When uncertain, always select a lighter shade, as you can darken your beard with another application if necessary.

Do You Want Immediate or Gradual Results?

Should you dye your beard all at once, or gradually?  Consider the following:

Immediate Results

Most beard dyes rely on direct and full application of the coloring agent, which provides immediate results.  This is ideal for men who know exactly the color they want their beard and aren’t interested in fine-tuning their appearance.  Plus, this method is quick and you can be finished in only five minutes.

Gradual Results

Beard dye shampoos or comb-in beard dyes are great for gradually coloring your facial hair.  When used repeatedly, these gradual dyes will darken your facial hair a shade with each use.  This allows you to get more fine-tuned results that will often look more natural.

How To Prepare When Dyeing Your Beard

Before dyeing your beard, think about the following:

  • Time of Day: There are no restrictions here; you can dye your beard morning, noon, or night.
  • Allergy Test: The ingredients used in beard dyes are potent.  Even if you are using a natural beard dye, you should always conduct a patch test before full application.  
  • Don’t Pre Clean: You will want to apply your beard dye to unwashed facial hair.  This will allow the dye to penetrate deeper into the hair follicle for longer-lasting results.
  • Old Hand Towel: The coloring in beard dye may stain fabrics and porcelain.  Therefore, use an old hand towel to cover your countertop.
  • Paper Towels: Always a good idea to have a few paper towels available if you need to wipe off your hands quickly.
  • Wear an Old Shirt: This will prevent the dye from being transferred to other parts of your body.  While not a big deal, it may save time on cleanup. 
  • Latex Gloves: Often included in the dye kit, latex gloves prevent your fingers from being stained.

Do not color your beard before a significant life event such as a wedding, job interview, etc., unless it’s at least one week away.  If the results are not good, you give yourself time to make changes.

How To Maintain Your Beard Afterwards

Consider the following for longer-lasting and better-looking results:

  • Color Treatment Shampoo: Most beard dyes are intended only to last a couple of weeks before you must color your beard again.  A color treatment beard shampoo can help extend the time between dyeing applications.
  • Beard Conditioner: Regular application of beard balm or beard oil will help to nourish and moisturize your facial hair.  This will make your beard look and feel healthier.  
  • Styling: You can style your beard with a brush or comb as you usually would.  

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

Can I just use hair color on my beard?

While similar, beard dyes have special applicators to ensure that gray hairs are fully colored for consistent-looking results.

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

If you still want your beard to be just a shade or two lighter, one of the best things you can do is jump in the shower and scrub it with a bar of soap and a washcloth several times.  If not satisfied with the results, you should consider using a color stripping shampoo.

Is it safe to go swimming after coloring my beard?

The chemicals found in swimming pools may strip some of the dye from your beard.  Therefore you will want to just simply wash your facial hair, as you would with the rest of your body, once you are done swimming for the day.

How often should I dye my beard?

Beard dye is intended only to last approximately two to three weeks before a reapplication is necessary.

Sean Miller

As co-founder of Tools of Men, Sean Miller has nearly a decade of experience in male beard and grooming care. He started the site in 2014 after discovering the lack of quality men’s grooming information online. He is a nationally recognized expert in hair, beard and skin care for men, and has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Vice, and more. He is also a frequent contributor to various online and print publications.

Sean Miller has dedicated his career to helping men understand the basics and fine details of proper grooming. He's traveled the world, testing products and learning from industry insiders to gain the knowledge he shares on Tools of Men. With a special focus on the trends, technology and products specifically designed for men he provides an educated, honest and informed perspective.