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8 Causes of Frizzy Facial Hair (and 3 Ways to Get Frizz Under Control)

Let’s get one thing straight: frizzy facial hair isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing.  Some men embrace the extra volume, while others will try to straighten their facial hair for a more orderly appearance.  

Today we’ll explore the leading causes of frizzy facial hair along with some ways you can easily manage an unruly mane.

8 Common Causes of Frizzy Facial Hair

1. Genetics

The most common cause of frizzy facial hair is due to genetic predisposition.  Curly and textured facial hair is a trait that may be passed down from one generation to the next.  As curly and textured hair grows, the cuticles along the hair follicle rub against one another, causing them to splay and grow in non-uniform directions.

2. Humidity

Whether it’s the hair on top of your head or your facial hair, it is well known that high humidity can cause frizz.  But the answer is surprisingly complex.  To best explain it, here is a snippet from the Smithsonian Magazine discussing what happens on a molecular level:

Hydrogen bonds occur when molecules on neighboring keratin strands each form a weak attraction with the same water molecule, thereby indirectly bonding the two keratin proteins together. Because humid air has much higher numbers of water molecules than dry air, a given strand of hair can form much higher numbers of hydrogen bonds on a humid day. When many such bonds are formed between the keratin proteins in a strand of hair, it causes the hair to fold back on itself at the molecular level at a greater rate.

On the macro level, this means that naturally curly hair as a whole becomes curlier or frizzier due to humidity. As an analogy, imagine the metal coil of a spring. If you straighten and dry your hair, it’ll be like the metal spring, completely straightened out into a rod. But if it’s a humid day, and your hair is prone to curling, water molecules will steadily be absorbed and incorporated into hydrogen bonds, inevitably pulling the metal rod back into a coiled shape.

As you will see in a minute, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the chance of frizz from occurring when stepping outside on a hot and humid summer day.

3. Heated Drying

Men with curly facial hair may go to great lengths to try and straighten their beards.  However, when doing so, they may incidentally make their hair more susceptible to frizz.  Here are some common mistakes:  

  • Hot Blow Drying: Skip the high-heat setting.  Excessive heat dries out the hair causing frizz and split ends.  Instead, set the dryer to cool.  
  • Flat Iron & Electric Beard Straighteners: These heated devices have hot ceramic plates that effectively straighten facial hair.  However, they must be used on dry hair and in a low heat setting.  Applying a hot ceramic plate to wet hair will cause the water on the hair to boil and become damaged.

4. Overwashing

When you wash your facial hair excessively, you strip many of the natural oils necessary to keep your beard healthy, soft, and frizz-free.  Aim to clean facial hair no more than once every couple of days.  When you do wash your beard, use a sulfate-free natural beard shampoo.  It will be effective at removing dirt and pollutants while delivering the necessary nutrients and oils that your beard needs.

5. Hot Water While Showering

Facial hair is porous.  When you shower at exceedingly high temperatures, it can cause dehydration, leading to lifted cuticles, creating an environment perfect for frizz to occur.  When washing your beard, keep the temperature lukewarm.  

6. Excessive Towel Drying

Rather than rubbing a towel vigorously when drying, which can lead to damage and excessive dryness, instead, pat dry or let your beard air dry.

7. Excessive Stroking

Every man loves to play with their beard, especially when thinking deeply about a problem.  However, some may take it a bit too far and stroke their beard non-stop throughout the day.  If this sounds familiar, and you are getting frizziness in an isolated area of your beard where you continuously play with it, then try your best to limit this activity.

8. Beard Dye

Dying facial hair is basically a chemical bath for your beard.  These harsh chemicals cause dryness and may lead to permanent damage to your facial hair.  If you dye your beard and frizz is a problem, consider using a gradual beard dye shampoo. It’s a little less potent and may help to reduce frizziness.

3 Ways to Make Your Beard Less Frizzy

As you have learned, damage, dryness, humidity, and genetic predisposition are key factors that can lead to frizzy facial hair.  For those that want to control their beard and have a straighter or more uniform appearance, consider the following tips:

1. Conditioning

Many different beard conditioners will help reduce frizziness, including beard oil, beard balm, beard butter, and beard jelly.

These beard conditioners will lightly coat the hair follicles with their oil-based formula. Once covered, the follicle will be less likely to frizz due to dryness or humidity.

For severe frizziness, consider using a beard balm or beard butter.  These beard conditioners include extra moisturizing agents that work well to fully nourish and hydrate both the skin and beard. For added benefit, beard balm and butter often contain beeswax, which helps keep frizzy or wispy facial hairs in their desired place.

2. Beard Shampoo

As mentioned previously, some shampoos may strip the natural oils your facial hair needs to stay moisturized and nourished. However, well-made beard shampoos and washes are rich in natural oils that help to supplement the sebum oil produced by your sebaceous glands.  

So if you are using a standard bar of soap to wash your beard, consider switching to a beard shampoo.

3. Brush Instead of Combing

When you brush your facial hair, you distribute the natural oils and those added by conditioning agents along the entire follicle shaft.  This will help coat and flatten the cuticles so they are less prone to frizz, whether due to damage or humidity.

Consider using a natural animal fiber beard brush like the ones we reviewed here.

Wrap Up

As you learned, facial hair frizz can be caused by a multitude of factors.  However, by taking good care of your beard and conditioning it properly, you can easily manage a frizzy mane even on the most humid days.

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.