Should You Use Shampoo as a Beard Wash?

Chances are that you have a shampoo or bar of soap sitting on your shower caddy right now, and you are probably wondering:

Should I be using that bottle (or bar) for both my hair and beard?

In short, probably not, here’s why:

A beard needs plenty of moisture to look and feel its best.  Most shampoos and bars of soap simply don’t cut it well when used to wash a beard.

Let’s explore why this is so important:

Beard Wash vs. Shampoo vs. Face Wash – Are They Different?

Quick Answer:  Beard wash is better because it uses natural and nourishing ingredients. Shampoos and face wash either clean too much or too little, leaving your beard itchy, dry, and susceptible to split ends.

Long(er) Answer:

Shampoos and face washes are great and all, but sometimes it’s best to let the products designed for the specific parts of your body work on well…the specific parts of your body.

Check this out:

Most shampoos contain chemicals designed to strip away excess oil from the scalp.  While shampoo is adequate for your hair, dry skin will likely develop when applied repeatedly to your face.

This can lead to both an itchy beard and beard dandruff.

But what about a facial cleanser for men?

If you don’t have significant beard growth yet (i.e., less than a month), then you can use a face wash or cleanser.

Face washes work to remove dirt and gunk to prevent acne and provide you with an even skin complexion.  But they lose their usefulness when your beard gets longer.

Enter beard wash:

Any quality beard wash will be formulated from the ground up to gently cleanse your face and your beard follicles.

Typically constructed of natural ingredients, a beard wash will do a terrific job at flushing your pores while also moisturizing your skin.

Is A Beard Shampoo Necessary?

The quick answer: Yes!

The long(er) answer:

As we were just talking about shampoos and face washes above, a beard wash will be much more complimentary.

When you use a beard wash, the properties will do a few things for your beard:

  1. Make it incredibly soft – some men liken the texture to silk.
  2. Remove any beard itch that may have been present.
  3. Provide a pleasant, subtle masculine scent.

While all the above may sound great, when you try to substitute a standard shampoo for a beard wash, you lose out on all these great benefits.

How Often To Wash Your Beard?

The Quick Answer: Once every couple of days.

The Long(er) Answer:

You don’t want to overdo it and wash it every day.

It’s important to understand that your skin has a moisture barrier that helps it to be healthy.

Regularly scrubbing your hair and skin may simply dry out or irritate the skin, especially if you scrub too hard and too often.

This same rule applies whether you have only a month-long beard or even a yeard (beard for a year).

Washing your beard once every couple of days will help to ensure that you thoroughly flush out the excess oils and that it smells its very best.

Just be sure to use only your hands as sometimes men can get a little carried away when using a washcloth when cleaning.

Types of Beard Washes

The Quick Answer: Solid and liquid forms.  The form is a personal preference; just make sure you don’t compromise for inferior ingredients.

The Long(er) Answer:

When browsing for a beard wash, you will quickly find that they come in two primary forms:

Solid or liquid .

Some men who work out regularly may prefer the liquid beard wash as it’s a bit more sanitary and easier to take with you.

However, if you are going on a business trip, make sure you pick up a wash that is under the 3.4fl oz liquid travel restrictions enforced by the TSA.

Given that small mom-and-pop companies make most beard washes, you will likely have to search a bit before finding one that adheres to this size restriction (Billy Jealousy is the only brand that comes to mind under 3.4oz).

Scented Beard Washes Ok?

The Quick Answer: Yes, this is fine, but there are a few caveats.

The Long(er) Answer:

When you pick up any grooming product and turn over the label, you will likely ‘Fragrance’ or ‘Parfum’ listed in the ingredients.

Fragrance is an umbrella term that companies can use to encompass over 2,000 different types of ingredients.  Given its obscure makeup, even the folks over at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) give Fragrance/Parfum a highly hazardous score of 8 out of 10.

In short, if you can avoid it, do so, especially if you have sensitive skin.

However, essential oils don’t get a free pass just because they are natural.  As disclosed by the FDA, some essential oils may irritate your skin. 

Regardless, if a beard shampoo causes mild irritation, it’s best to stop using it immediately and get a refund.

Where To Buy Beard Wash?

The Quick Answer: Distribution is limited.  Online will be your best option.

The Long(er) Answer:

Given the relatively small but quickly expanding market of beardsmen, there are very few places that carry quality beard washes on store shelves.

If you head to the drug store or grocery store, you might find some generic mass-produced versions, but they have always been far inferior to some of the brands that are just a few clicks away.

How To Clean Your Beard Step By Step

Cleaning your beard is pretty straightforward.  Whether you have solid or liquid soap, you will want to follow these steps:

  1. Hop into the shower and get your beard nice and wet, just like you were washing the hair on the top of your head.
  2. For Liquid: Once wet, drop in about a quarter-sized amount of wash into the palm of your hand and rub into beard thoroughly.
    For Solid Bar: Rub against beard just as you would with a standard bar of soap for about 15 seconds. Make sure that you lather up a rich foamy base.
  3. After cleaning thoroughly with your hands, let rest for a couple of minutes while cleaning the rest of your body.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Pat dry.

How To Condition Your Beard After After You Wash?

Quick Answer: With a beard oil or balm.  This will help to soften your beard further and eliminate beard itch.

The Long(er) Answer:

Even after you washed your beard thoroughly with beard wash, you still must condition it regularly.

Consider using either beard oil or beard balm.

These two products are very similar and feature identical ingredients (carrier + essential oils).

Beard balms do often contain added conditioning agents for better results in cooler or dry climates.

For application, it’s simple:

Make sure that your beard has been patted dry (ok if slight dampness), and take either a dime-sized amount if using beard oil or about a thumbnail-sized amount if using beard balm, and rub against both hands.

Once evenly coated, rub thoroughly into your beard.

Be sure to start at the base of the beard follicle and work towards the tip of the hair for complete coverage.

Regular application of either beard oil or balm will help stop beard flakes and beard itch.

In addition, the conditioning agents found in these essential products will help ensure that your beard doesn’t develop split ends and will look it’s very best.

If You Want A Great Looking & Feeling Beard, Don’t Skip Beard Wash

Seriously, a small addition of beard wash to your grooming routine will give you a significant layer of comfort for your beard that you likely weren’t experiencing previously.

The natural ingredients found in this product will make your beard look terrific.

But whatever you do, just don’t forget to conditioner your beard regularly.

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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