Can You Use Face Wash on a Beard?

Facial care and beard care often have different needs. Therefore, you might wonder if your everyday face wash is suitable for your beard. While you can use a face wash on your beard up to a certain point, it’s important to understand that it might not provide optimal care for your facial hair.

The primary function of a face wash is to cleanse your skin of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, and while these are also beneficial for your beard, they might not provide all the necessary nutrients and care that your beard needs.

We’ll explain why, and suggest the right products for your complexion and beard here.

Face Wash vs Beard Wash: What’s The Difference?

While it’s true that the facial skin underneath your beard hasn’t necessarily changed just because you opted to grow facial hair, the presence of a beard does introduce new elements into your skincare routine.

man smiling standing in shower with bathrobe

Face wash is designed to clean the skin on your face efficiently. It works to cleanse pores, control oil, and remove dirt and pollutants. This helps to combat issues like acne, dryness, and other common skin conditions. Face washes often contain ingredients like salicylic acid, glycerin, or benzoyl peroxide, which are geared toward treating specific skin issues.

On the other hand, beard washes and shampoos are formulated to clean both your beard hair and the skin beneath it.

man in suit looking up

This means they are designed not only to remove dirt and oil but also to manage common beard issues such as beard dandruff, itchiness, and dryness. Beard-specific shampoos and washes usually contain ingredients such as argan oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter, which are particularly beneficial for keeping your beard healthy and moisturized to reduce the problems associated with having a dry beard.

Moreover, beard hair is characteristically different from the hair on your scalp or the rest of your body. It’s more akin to pubic hair; it’s coarser, curlier, and can be more challenging to manage. So, a product formulated specifically for beard hair will take these factors into account.

Face WashBeard Wash
Main PurposeCleanse skin, control oil, remove dirt and makeupCleanse beard hair and skin underneath, moisturize, prevent itch
Best ForBare face to moderate stubbleShort beard or longer
pHUsually around 5.5Usually around 5.5
Main IngredientsWater, detergents, emulsifiers, and skincare ingredientsWater, detergents for hair care, emollients, and skincare ingredients

Can Face Wash Damage Your Beard?

man standing in a blue lit bathroom

Regularly using a face wash on your beard may not necessarily cause visible damage, but it may dry out your beard hair despite your skin underneath feeling clean and refreshed. This is due to the absence of conditioning and moisturizing agents in most face washes, which are necessary for maintaining the health and softness of your beard hair.

One research article from the Indian Journal of Dermatology has a terrific run-down on how shampoos, which beard wash is a type of, work differently than face washes or other soaps. According to the research, shampoos contain conditioning agents that absorb onto the hair surface and help keep the cuticle, the hair’s protective outer layer, intact.

This is important because it prevents the hair from becoming dry and brittle and reduces friction between the hairs, helping to prevent tangling and breakage. Also, these agents give the hair a smoother, shinier appearance – something that face wash isn’t designed to do.

In contrast, face washes, especially those designed for oily skin, have a tendency to strip away natural oils from your skin. While this is beneficial for reducing acne and oil buildup on your skin, it might not be the best for your beard. When used on your beard, a face wash might strip away the natural oils that keep your beard moisturized, causing it to feel dry and brittle. Over time, this could potentially lead to damage and breakage of the beard hair.

Should Bearded Men Wash Their Face Everyday?

man with hands up to side of head

Whether you should cleanse your face every day or not will depend on your skin type. However, we recommend to most men that 2-3 times a week is sufficient for washing their beard. Washing too often can strip the oils from the skin and beard, leading to dryness and potential irritation.

For most skin types, cleansing your face twice daily (morning and night) can help to remove the buildup of dirt and oil, prevent clogged pores, and keep your skin looking healthy. However, if you have extremely dry skin, you might want to cleanse only once a day at night to avoid stripping your skin of necessary oils.

The American Academy of Dermatology has a terrific step-by-step guide on how to wash your facial hair properly to ensure optimal results and minimal irritation for different skin types.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

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