As a man’s age progresses, knowing how to dye stubble or a short beard may become their most valuable life skill.
Fortunately, you’re about to learn everything you need to know to do it yourself. We’ll go through everything in detail. But first, in a nutshell, how do you minimize staining?
To dye a stubble beard with minimal staining, be sure to apply the dye using a precise applicator such as a small brush. Applying Vaseline to the skin outside the borders of the stubble will help prevent leaking of dye into these areas. Also, having alcohol-based wipes at hand to swiftly remove dye from these areas during the process will also help. Using latex gloves is a simple way to avoid unnecessary staining of the hands.
There are several reasons a man may want to dye their stubble; all of them aesthetic, and each of them admirable in their own right.
But dying stubble does come with its pitfalls including underwhelming results and noticeable skin staining if done incorrectly.
Before we move on it’s important to understand that some mild staining of the skin is inevitable, but often hardly noticeable. Follow our routine and you’ll be just fine my stubbled warrior.
Say goodbye to gray or patchy bristles. Let’s walk through it step-by-step.
By the way, if you’re looking for other products that could also take your stubble to the next level, check out this article too.
3 types of men that may want to dye their stubble
There are multiple reasons a man may have for learning how to dye stubble. But they would usually fall into one of three categories, although there is almost always some overlap between them.
1. Men with gray stubble who want to look younger
This one is the big kahuna of stubble dyeing indications. These men learn how to dye their stubble for the simple reason of wanting to regain their previous, youthful color.
It’s perfectly reasonable and there’s absolutely no shame in it. Why should it carry any more stigma than dyeing scalp hair?
The practice is gradually becoming more and more common in the ever-expanding field of men’s grooming.
In today’s modern beard renaissance, it seems to be a very natural progression.
The results can be phenomenal, making a man look years younger when done correctly. A considerable increase in confidence and self-esteem is often seen.
2. Men with patchy stubble
We’ve gone through fixing patchy stubble in detail before. Dyeing stubble is certainly a very effective way of doing so.
Stubble can look patchy for different reasons. One reason is an uneven distribution of the follicles, with areas such as the cheeks often thinner than the chin and mustache.
Another reason is variation in color, with some hair shafts considerably lighter than neighboring ones.
This variation can cause or exacerbate patchiness and is something fairly easily corrected by using a good dye to get a more uniform color.
Dyeing stubble a darker color can also make the underlying skin less noticeable, making it look even less patchy.
Patchy stubble can also kill a man’s confidence. Thickening it up could transform a man from timid and shy to Spartan warrior if done correctly.
3. Men who want to change it up
There are those men who have naturally dark stubble with good volume and still want to dye it. You may be thinking, why on earth would they want to do that?
Well, one reason could be that they’ve never really liked the color and want to change it up.
Remember, beard hair is notorious for doing whatever it wants.
It’s not uncommon for a man’s beard hair to be a noticeably different color to their scalp hair. Learning how to dye their stubble may be the exact solution to this frustrating problem.
Another reason, although less common, is that they want to change up the color for novelty reasons.
For example, dyeing it blue for a bachelor party or sports event. You’d need to be a pretty confident beardsman to pull this off, but these people do exist and good for them.
The 2 main subtypes of stubble dye
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty as we approach our step-by-step walkthrough. It’s important to understand the basics before we launch right into it.
There are two main subtypes of beard dye – temporary and permanent.
When just starting, I’d always recommend temporary. It’s comforting to know you can make mistakes on your first few tries and not have to live with the outcome for too long if it goes wrong.
Factors such as dye color, as well as technique are things you’d want to hone with temporary dye before committing to a permanent dye.
These are designed to last for several weeks (semi-permanent) or even a few months (permanent) once they’re applied. Although they aren’t permanent in the same way a tattoo would be, they are difficult to remove once applied.
They’re “permanent” because an oxidizer is usually mixed with the coloring agent. In other words, a chemical reaction takes place to infuse the color into the hair.
There are some benefits of using permanent dye other than the fact that you don’t have to go through this process so often.
Permanent dyes also generally have a wider range of colors to choose from. It’s just important to get the right one considering its longevity.
They also aren’t nearly as sensitive to environmental or external pressures such as rain, washing, and drying.
Just For Men is a well-known semi-permanent dye I’d recommend. Click the link to check it out on Amazon.
There isn’t any chemical reaction here. The process simply consists of superficially applying color to the hair shafts, much like painting a wall.
It’s ideal for men just starting to learn how to dye their stubble, as it leaves a lot of scope for natural error. This is because it’s fairly easy to wash off with shampoo and has a lifespan of around 12 – 24 hours.
But it’s also completely fine to stick with temporary dyes even when more experienced. A lot of men don’t want a permanent dye, and only want to touch up their grays before special occasions.
If you do want a “permanently” dyed beard without committing to a permanent dye, you will have to use the temporary dye at least every couple of days.
Having said that, as you’ll come to see with our tutorial, it really doesn’t take that long. It shouldn’t add too much to your usual grooming routine.
Crucial tips on choosing stubble dye color
Unless a man is looking for a more advanced, quirky variation, people generally want their stubble color to match their scalp hair. Unless they’re bald, in which case it’s less important of course.
Other men simply wish to color their gray stubble the same color as their normal stubble.
The number one tip is to be skeptical of the color a dye claims to give. It’s universally accepted that the color stated on the product box is almost always inaccurate.
Generally, the best thing to do is to choose a dye color one or two shades lighter than the color you want.
The reason behind this is that as the dye takes hold of the hair shaft, it usually ends up darker than you expect. This can lead to unnatural and obvious looking results.
When it comes to choosing a dye color, some professional advice from a barber or stylist is always welcome. They’re the experts. But if you aren’t too keen on revealing your dyeing aspirations then trial and error may be necessary.
It isn’t likely that you’ll get the perfect color straight away. But that’s the beauty of using temporary dyes until you get it right.
Another important thing to note is that the longer you leave the dye on your stubble before you wash it off, the darker it will look in the end. That’s why men with a lot of gray stubble are advised to leave it on for a couple of minutes longer than others before washing it off.
So the color stated on the box isn’t the be-all and end-all. There are caveats to it – take it with a pinch of salt and experiment.
How to dye stubble in 8 easy steps
It’s showtime. Let’s first talk through the required tools, then launch into the walkthrough.
What you’ll need
Dye – We’ve talked about this in detail already. Be sure to put some thought into which one you choose, but don’t overthink it. We’ve listed a couple of product recommendations at the bottom. One is temporary, and the other is semi-permanent.
Gloves – Latex gloves will save your fingers and hands from staining during the process. Going to work looking like you’ve dipped your fingertips in tar isn’t the best look.
An Applicator – A lot of dyes do come with a very helpful applicator. Ultimately, a little brush or comb is all you need. If the dye doesn’t come with one, just use a small toothbrush.
Old clothes – If you aren’t trimming topless, be sure to wear an old T-shirt you don’t mind staining. Because trust me, stains happen.
Cleaning wipes or towels – It can be a little messy, particularly when starting out. So be prepared and get some paper towels or wipes ready.
Vaseline – A nice little trick of the trade. Applying vaseline to nearby skin of the face and neck will reduce staining in these areas. More on this later.
Alcohol-based wipes – Being quick to wipe down areas of the skin you’ve inadvertently gotten dye on will reduce the risk of staining. A ninja trick to get good at.
Step 1: Perform a simple patch test
Not all dyes contain the same ingredients. There may be some beard dyes your skin reacts badly to. They can cause redness, irritation, and inflammation.
The problem with test-driving these products on your face is that if you do have an inflammatory reaction, it’s difficult to hide.
The best practice is to apply a small amount, or “a patch”, on an area of skin less exposed. For example, your inner arm or thigh. Leave it on for 12 – 24 hours at least.
If you do notice redness and inflammation around this patch, switch dyes. It’s likely you’re particularly sensitive or even allergic to an ingredient in that dye.
Step 2: Trim your beard the way you want it
Before you pick up that dye, trim and shave your beard the way you want it. It’s preferable to do this before dyeing your stubble because you only want to apply dye to areas of your face and neck that will be bearded.
If you apply dye to areas of your stubble you are just going to shave off minutes later, you’ll risk staining the skin where you didn’t need to.
We’ve got plenty of tutorials on how to trim a stubble beard, so we won’t be elaborating on this step.
But be sure to carry out this step before moving on.
Step 3: Cleanse your face
You’ve hopefully already done this as part of your trimming routine, or better yet exfoliated with a face scrub.
It isn’t only important for the trim itself. Leaving natural oils on the surface of the skin will repel the dye and prevent it from taking effect properly.
This layer of oil needs to be removed with a good cleanser such as Micellar water, and ideally an exfoliating face scrub.
Step 4: Apply Vaseline to the skin
This is an easy way to minimize skin staining.
Protect the areas on the face and neck you don’t want to apply dye to. This can be done by smearing some Vaseline on them.
It’s a simple and effective way to prevent leaking of dye outside your stubble borders and only takes around 20 seconds.
Step 5: Prepare the dye (if you need to)
Now that it’s time to start handling the dye, put those latex gloves on. Also, ensure that you’re wearing a T-shirt you don’t mind getting stained.
Some dyes, particularly the temporary ones, come as pre-prepared solutions. If that’s the case, this step can be ignored.
But the semi-permanent and permanent ones often need to be mixed manually. It isn’t as hard as it sounds, trust me.
Let’s use Just For Men (Amazon Link), one of the most popular beard dyes available, as an example.
These dyes come in the form of two tubes: the base color and the color developer. The base color is the actual coloring agent, and the developer simply thickens it into a paste that can be applied.
Mix a small amount of the two in the tray it comes with using the handle of the applicator brush. You’ll quickly notice it turning into a very easy-to-apply paste.
The amount you mix shouldn’t be very much, considering you’ll only be dyeing a stubble beard. Mix just enough to go over it once. You can always mix more dye later if necessary.
Step 6: Apply the dye on your stubble
There may be a little bit of residual dye on the applicator handle. Wipe this on your stubble so as not to waste any.
Now, dip the applicator brush into your newly mixed dye. Using an up-and-down motion, rub the dye into your stubble.
When first learning how to dye your stubble, it can be tempting to lightly brush the dye over the surface of the hairs to avoid staining the skin.
You’ll often find that this doesn’t work, as the dye simply doesn’t hold onto the hair. You do need to apply some moderate pressure to ensure the roots of the hairs are dyed too.
Be sure to dye your patchier, thinner, or grayer areas first. You’ll want these areas darker.
Like we said before, the longer the dye is in contact, the darker the hair will be.
You can apply it throughout your entire beard. However, some men do prefer to aim for a blend of gray hair and dyed hairs for a more natural look. This is something you can experiment with.
To discuss the elephant in the room, yes, it is likely this will mildly dye your underlying skin. It isn’t as noticeable with medium or heavy stubble as it is with short stubble. Plus, after a day or so the skin looks less stained in any case as the top layer of skin sheds. After two days, it’s hardly noticeable.
Most people don’t notice it as these areas are covered by stubble hairs in any case.
Also, the Vaseline should have done a good job at repelling the dye from any non-stubbled areas.
It’s inevitable that in the dyeing process you’ll accidentally smear a bit of dye outside the borders – for example below your neckline or above your cheek line.
Be vigilant and use alcohol-based wipes (eg. makeup removal wipes) to remove it before it stains.
But expect the stubble beard to look a little darker for the first 24 hours or so for this very reason. The mildly stained underlying skin makes the stubble look darker than it actually is.
It isn’t a huge deal, and a lot of stubbled men are happy with the results.
Step 7: Assess the color
The product box will almost certainly give you a recommended time to leave the dye on. It’s usually around 5 minutes, so be sure to time yourself!
At the 5 minute mark, it’s often a good idea to test out the color. Take a cotton bud, or piece of tissue, and remove a little bit of the dye from your stubble.
Assess the underlying color. If it isn’t dark enough, apply some more dye and give it another 2-3 minutes. Then repeat. Once you’re happy with the color, move on to the next step.
Remember, the hair will get darker the longer you leave it in contact with the hair.
If you feel as though the stubble is too dark, don’t panic just yet. The color will fade a little after washing it.
Also, don’t forget that the mildly stained underlying skin will make the stubble appear falsely darker for the first day or so.
Step 8: Wash with shampoo
The last step is to wash off any excess dye with lukewarm water first. Once the water runs clear, wash your stubble beard with shampoo. Preferably, shampoo that’s appropriate for dyed hair.
You’ll notice the color fade a little after a couple of washes. This is normal and shouldn’t negatively impact the aesthetic. If anything, it’ll look a little more natural.
3 stubble dyes you can try out
Simpler Hair Color (Top Pick)
This is an exciting company that’s pretty intent on shaking up the men’s dyeing industry.
It prides itself on using only natural ingredients, avoiding PPD, ammonia, and other stuff you’d rather not rub into your stubble and skin.
It consistently produces a very sleek finish with a fantastic, even distribution of color. All while being incredibly kind to the facial hair and skin.
Just For Men
We’ve mentioned this one already. It’s arguably the best known and the most readily available.
Check it out on Amazon here.
It’s simple to mix and apply (as we’ve discussed in detail) and comes in a wide range of colors to choose from.
You can also get several applications out of one box.
It’s a “semi-permanent” option because the lifespan of the dyed effect is approximately two to three weeks.
Blackbeard for Men Formula X
A great “starter” dye for men which is easily washed out if necessary. Its lifespan is around 12 hours, so don’t worry about making any mistakes. They won’t be visible for very long.
It also comes pre-mixed and ready to use. Also, it’s gentle and hypoallergenic with no harsh chemicals.
Check it out on Amazon here.
Learning how to dye stubble is one of the most noble ventures a man can embark upon.
When done correctly, the results can be breathtaking. Less patchy, more uniform, and of course, more youthful.
Using everything you’ve been taught from this article, dyeing stubble exactly the way you want and with minimal staining should be very achievable.
Do you have any tips or personal experience regarding dyeing stubble that you can share? If so, please do leave a comment below!