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Beard Plucking: Why You Need to Try and Kick the Habit

When men grow a beard, particularly a long one, they will often start to play with it much more excessively and perhaps pluck a follicle or two during the process.

In most instances, beard plucking is an entirely harmless and mindless action.  However, you open yourself up to ingrown hairs, infection, and stunted beard growth when done excessively.

Below we’ll expand on some of these ailments, along with some potential remedies.

4 Tips to Help Stop Plucking Your Beard

Should you be playing or plucking your facial hair out of habit due to boredom or thinking, consider the following tips to kick the habit:

  1. Conditioning:  Adding a beard conditioner such as beard oil or balm will provide an oily sheen to your facial hair.  While it will help reduce beard itch by nourishing your skin and making your beard appear healthier, some men find that they won’t want to pluck their beards anymore by adding a conditioner. So, it’s a win-win, especially if you don’t already apply a beard conditioner.
  2. Mindfulness: A common reason many men pluck their beards is due to anxiety or stress.  Meditation is a proven way to reduce stress quickly (source).  Not only will mediation help for your facial hair, but many other areas of your life as well. 
  3. Active Hands: If you have active hands, redirect their attention from your facial hair to another object or activity.  Whether a fidget spinner, something on your desktop, or even a wedding ring, these small objects can keep your hands busy.  
  4. Pomodoro:  The Pomodoro Technique is a scientifically proven method to improve your work effectiveness by setting up 25-minute work intervals separated into short breaks (source).  When it comes to facial hair play, you can adopt the same methodology.  Hold off on plucking your facial hair for one hour, then allow yourself to play with it for five minutes.  Gradually increase the time interval until you stop altogether.

What Happens if You Don’t Stop?

Here are a few things that will happen to your skin and facial hair if you continue plucking your beard:

  • Ingrown Hairs:  The most common side effect of plucking will be ingrown hairs.  Plucking lowers the tip of the hair to be beneath the surface of the skin.  As it regrows, the chance of it growing inwards increases significantly.  This is especially true for men with curly facial hair.  The ingrown hair will develop into a painful bump.
  • Infection: A bacterial infection can occur when a hair is plucked.  This can lead to painful symptoms, including swelling, pain, dryness, bleeding, and oozing puss.  
  • Bald Spot: Not to be mistaken with alopecia barbae, excessive plucking may cause an area of your facial hair to look sparse.  
  • Longer Growth Cycle:  If you want to grow a longer facial hair style, plucking will increase the time the follicle takes to grow back in. Depending on where the follicle was in the beard growth stage, it may take several months before new facial hair appears.

Will Continuous Plucking Stop Growth?

Some men don’t want facial hair and may resort to plucking out individual hairs, especially if growth is sparse.  Unfortunately, plucking is not a permanent solution if you want your face hair-free.  

As an alternative, some may have their facial hair waxed, as it achieves similar results as plucking but can be performed in a fraction of the time.

Signs of Severe Plucking

While uncommon, some men may suffer from beard trichotillomania.  Per the Mayo Clinic, trichotillomania is defined as the following:

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

If you are experiencing this, contact a licensed medical provider.  

Wrap Up

We hope that the information in this article helped you understand a bit more about beard plucking and some of the potential problems that may come as a result. But, of course, growing and maintaining healthy facial hair doesn’t end here, be sure to check out our other expert guides for trusted beard growing advice.

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.