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How To Wash Your Beard: A Complete, No-Nonsense Guide

A clean beard looks thicker, fuller, and healthier – it’s no secret. But a beard that’s “overwashed” can look weak and brittle. It’s a fine balance. Consider this the ultimate guide on how to wash your beard. 

You’ll learn what to use, how to do it, the benefits, and detailed answers to the most frequently asked questions on beard washing you can think of. 

Beard hygiene is one of those topics that tends to get swept under the rug. It isn’t as fun as the styles, the balms, or the pomades. But it’s an essential component of effective beard grooming and is so simple to do. 

A well-cleaned beard can 3x its appearance in the space of just a few minutes. But doing it wrong or doing it excessively could risk stripping the beard of moisture and valuable natural sebum oil. 

So, let’s get started. 

What You Should Use To Wash Your Beard

Some men get by just fine by rinsing their beard regularly with water only. That’s right. No shampoo and no conditioner. I do recommend testing this out for yourself to see if this works for you. 

Certain men couldn’t get away with this. For example, men who work around strong smells or fumes, and men who naturally produce excessive amounts of sweat and oil

Or, men who just prefer the feel of a shampooed beard. 

If you would rather shampoo your beard, get yourself a gentle beard shampoo . The reason I recommend getting a shampoo specifically designed for beards is that they’re sensitive

They’re usually infused with botanical ingredients and don’t have the harsher chemicals found in hair shampoo. Because of this, they don’t strip the skin of too much natural sebum oil

When sebum oil is excessive, of course, it makes the beard look greasy, oily, and patchy. But when present in just the right amount, it can add a nice, healthy layer of shine and moisture than makes the beard look fuller, and healthier. 

As I said, it’s a fine balance, and you’ll only be able to achieve it with a beard shampoo. 

I wouldn’t bother getting multiple shampoos and conditioners. Just stick to one beard shampoo and don’t fall for the money-making trap of labeling similar products with different names. It’s usually the same stuff. 

By the way, “beard shampoo” is the same as “beard wash”. 

How Often Should You Wash Your Beard?

Most men that use beard shampoo wash their beard twice a week, on average. Some men may need to stretch this to three times a week – for example, oily men or men who work around strong odors. 

Here’s the full article on how often you should wash your beard.

But just know that the more you use beard shampoo, the more you risk drying your skin and beard out.

You’re losing that healthy layer of sebum oil that moisturizes the beard and acts as a layer of protection. 

You want to remove just the right amount of oil. 

If you’re simply rinsing your beard with water, you’ll need to do this at least once a day. It’s simple, it’s natural, and it’s hard to go wrong. Having said that, if you don’t do this, you’ll notice that beard greasing up pretty quickly. 

How To Wash Your Beard In 6 Steps

What I’m about to teach you is how to wash your beard with beard shampoo. If you’re rinsing with water only, just do step 1. 

1. Rinse your beard with lukewarm water

Whether it’s in the shower, or over the bathroom sink, run the faucet and test the temperature

You want the water to be warm enough to open the pores, but not so hot that it damages the integrity of the hair fibers. 

Coldwater is fine but can be unpleasant. Lukewarm water is usually a safe bet. 

Start rinsing your beard with the water. Be gentle to minimize tugging and pulling. Wet hair is especially vulnerable to breakage and premature loss. 

Rub the strands in between your fingers, and run your fingers through tufts to untangle them as best as you can. Avoid brushing or combing at this point as your hair will be soaking wet, and again, vulnerable to breakage

Once you’re happy you’ve rinsed your beard thoroughly, move onto the next step. 

2. Lather up your beard shampoo

The amount you need depends on the length of your beard. It also depends on just how greasy your beard is. 

But in general, a quarter-sized amount should be enough for anything up to a medium-sized beard. Start with this if you’re unsure and use more if you think it’s necessary. 

So, apply the beard shampoo onto your palm and rub it in between your hands to build up a lather

3. Massage the beard shampoo into your beard

Again, be gentle to minimize breakage. Work the shampoo into roots first, using the tips of your fingers in circular, massaging motions. 

Then, work the length of the hair shafts by running your fingers along them. Continue to try and untangle them as you do so. Remember not to neglect the deeper hair which can get buried as your beard gets longer. 

Once you’re confident you’ve washed your entire beard, let the shampoo sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute

4. Rinse the beard shampoo out

Once again using lukewarm water, rinse the beard shampoo out. 

You may notice a few strands of beard hair being pulled out. Don’t panic – this is normal. But only to an extent.

At any point in time, there will be hair in your beard in the last phases of its growth cycle. This hair is on the verge of falling out anyway, so don’t worry. 

But if you do notice excessive amounts of what looks like perfectly healthy hair being pulled out, it would be worth seeing an expert. 

5. Towel-dry your beard

Be gentle, as the hair at this point is still soaking wet. Don’t use excessive pressure, and don’t worry about getting it completely dry. 

Letting it air-dry once it’s damp and not soaking wet is usually the best practice. 

6. Don’t forget aftercare

A freshly-cleaned beard will most likely smell great but does need some additional care to reap the full benefits. 

Here are some extra tips on aftercare: 

  • Moisturize. Although beard shampoo is gentle, it still does strip the skin of natural oil which leaves it dry and irritated. Use a good moisturizing cream to calm and nourish the skin. 
  • Use beard oil. I even recommend **using beard oil on stubble**. It’s moisturizing and smells phenomenal. Applying beard oil on a towel-dried beard is a great way to add a healthy shine. Learn when exactly to use beard oil here
  • Brush. Running a boar bristle beard brush through a washed and towel-dried beard will neaten, straighten, flatten, and train the beard. It makes it look fuller and healthier. Plus, using it after beard oil will evenly distribute it. The benefits of beard brushing are widely accepted. Always start doing it early
Beard oil is a great finishing touch on a freshly washed beard

The Benefits Of Washing Your Beard Regularly

Some of this may seem obvious to you. Some of it may not. But having it laid out for you should hopefully drill in the importance and ensure you stick to your habits in the future.

1. It removes dirt, debris, and excess oil

If you could see what accumulates within the depths of your beard over a day, you’d probably be surprised. 

It’s a lot. 

Dirt, dead skin cells, grime, bits of food, and so on. We’ve talked about natural sebum oil already. In small amounts, it can nourish and moisturize the beard hair nicely. 

But in excess, it can cause a very greasy appearance indeed. Also, it can clog up the pores and cause breakouts under that beard. 

Washing your beard regularly helps to clear out some of this gunk, keeping the beard and the underlying skin hygienic. 

2. It removes odors

Men who are exposed to strong gases, fumes, and odors at their workplace are at risk of storing them in their beards. 

A foul-smelling beard is unacceptable. It’s a dated stereotype that we could do without. A well-groomed, well-maintained beard has absolutely no reason to smell anything other than fantastic. 

Washing your beard regularly removes these odors and keeps it smelling fresh and clean. Following it up with some cedarwood beard oil, for instance, takes it to the next level. 

3. It makes it look thicker and fuller

A greasy beard looks thin. There’s no question about it. The reason for this is that greasy hair tangles and clumps together

When it does this, it reveals bare patches in your beard that would otherwise be covered up. 

A washed and dried beard looks fuller because the hairs have been nicely separated, and a result they look more evenly distributed. 

4. It makes it easier to style

A greasy or oily beard is hard to style the way you want it. For one, applying product usually makes it look even more greasy. This is hard to make attractive. 

Also, greasy hair is less likely to stay put once styled. It’s heavier, and so its weight makes it fall and flatten instead of stay the way you want it to. 

If you do use products such as balms, butters, pomades, or oils, you’ll need to use beard shampoo to prevent these from building up.

Although these products are great, they are additional items that need cleaning out regularly for the sake of proper beard hygiene. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wash your beard naturally? 

By naturally, I mean without beard shampoo. Although beard shampoo, is gentle, it does still contain some cleansing chemicals you natural and DIY fans may want to avoid.

I’ve already mentioned one alternative to beard shampoo – using just water. I won’t say any more about this at the risk of boring you. 

Another great alternative is light rye flour. Light, not whole. It’s full of vitamins and minerals and is great for sensitive skin. Mix two tablespoons with water until it becomes a paste. Then, apply this onto your beard like you would a beard shampoo. 

Apple cider vinegar is also a popular choice. Mix 1 tablespoon of it with a cup of water, and use this to rinse out your beard. It does make the beard hair softer and less greasy, but some don’t like the fact that it alters the skin’s natural pH. However, simply using it to rinse out the beard doesn’t usually cause much trouble. 

Baking soda is another great, cleansing alternative. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 cup of water and massage the resulting paste into your beard. Baking soda can be drying and irritating on the skin though, so only do this occasionally and moisturize well afterward

How often should you wash your beard? 

It can be frustrating to get different answers from different people. Some might say wash your beard every other day, while others might say once a week. 

But washing your beard with beard shampoo twice a week is usually a safe bet. Doing it more than this risks stripping the facial skin of natural sebum. 

To learn more about how often you should wash your specific beard, read here

How do you wash out beard oil? 

The beauty of beard oil is that it’s light, and if evenly distributed, doesn’t accumulate easily. Brushing your beard after applying beard oil is best practice for this reason. 

Because it’s so light, it’s usually enough to just rinse it out with water. Unlike with the heavier products like waxes and pomades, shampoo usually isn’t necessary to rinse beard oil out.

How do you wash out beard dye?

I’ve written a whole article on how to remove beard dye from your beard

But to cut a long story short, it isn’t easy. This is especially the case with semi-permanent and permanent options.

Oxidation reactions are usually utilized to infuse the dye into the hair fiber, making it harder to remove than simply applying some coloring wax. 

I guess that’s the point. If the dye washed out after every rinse these beard dye companies would go out of business overnight. 

But there are commercially available hair dye removal agents that do work quite well. 

If you’d prefer natural or DIY options, baking soda, plain white vinegar, and dishwashing soap can be tried as well. 

For the details, check out this article

Can you wash your beard with hair shampoo?

No. Don’t do it. As tempting as it may be, don’t do it. 

Let’s talk about how facial skin differs from the scalp. Facial skin is more sensitive than the scalp, and it produces less sebum oil than the scalp. 

Hair shampoo is usually designed using harsher chemicals to get rid of the excess scalp oil, and the scalp is tough enough to take it. 

But facial skin is not. Applying these harsh chemicals onto facial skin dries it out too much and causes unnecessary irritation.

Beard shampoo takes the sensitivity of facial skin into account and is usually made of mostly natural or botanical ingredients. 

Should you wash your beard in the shower?

There’s no reason why you can’t wash your beard in the shower. It’s probably the most convenient way to do it. When you’re washing your beard at home, the usual options are over the bathroom sink or in the shower

Choose which one is most convenient for you and integrate it into your routine. 


Learning how to wash your beard is multifaceted. Sure, you need to learn the technique. But knowing what to use, when to do it, and how often to do it is also important. 

Hopefully, after reading this article you can’t think of a single aspect of beard washing I didn’t cover. I wanted to make it comprehensive because of its undeniable importance. 

It’s an essential component of beard grooming that can transform a weak, greasy, lifeless beard into a full, luscious, glorious one. 

Look after it, gentlemen.