As you blissfully read through your favorite beard blogs you may notice the terms “beard wash” and “beard shampoo” now and again. They’re actually the same thing.
A lot of men (including myself) start from a point of skepticism. They wonder whether beard shampoo is really necessary. So, should you use beard shampoo, or not?
It depends on your circumstances. Beard shampoo (a.k.a beard wash) is designed specifically for beards. Because of this, it’s the only cleaning product you should use on your beard if you had to choose one. But there are men who get away with just rinsing with water and never touching the stuff. Both methods have their benefits and disadvantages. Chances are that one method suits you more than the other.
I wanted to dig deeper and help you decide whether beard wash is necessary for your specific beard.
What Is Beard Shampoo?
Similar to the far more commonly used head shampoo, beard shampoo is a viscous liquid designed for cleaning one thing – beards.
Applying and massaging it onto damp or wet beard hair is an efficient way of cleansing hair that is frequently exposed to pollutants.
It’s often composed of natural and botanical ingredients and is considered “gentler” than head shampoo. I’ll go on to why this is a little bit later on.
Is Beard Shampoo Necessary For You?
There are certain factors you need to consider when making this decision. Some men will need to use beard shampoo more than others. It’s to do with their beard, their climate, and their environment.
If you do choose to use beard shampoo, it’s important not to use it excessively. We’ll go on to this in more detail later on, but using it every day is a bad idea.
Twice a week seems to be the average, with some men using it once more or once less according to their specific circumstances.
So, ask yourself these questions before making the final decision.
1. Do you produce a lot of oil or sweat?
One of the main benefits of using beard wash is that it’s able to gently remove excess dirt, oil, and sweat from the beard.
If left to accumulate, this acts to clog up or mattify the beard hair, making it look greasy, patchy, and unkempt.
This doesn’t just make the beard look worse. It also makes it harder to trim properly.
The blades of a trimmer are faced with more friction when there’s an accumulation of sweat or grime. This, in turn, leads to irritation and an uneven trim.
Some men produce more oil than others. Their sebaceous glands are just more active and there isn’t much that can be done about it. They’ll notice that their beard becomes greasier, quicker than other men.
If you happen to be one of these men, it’s quite like that you’ll need to use beard shampoo. Rinsing with water alone is unlikely to keep your beard looking fresh and healthy.
2. Do you struggle to keep food out of your beard?
Some men are just sloppy eaters. It’s nothing to be that ashamed of. I’m guilty of it myself.
But if little bits of food do tend to collect in your beard, chances are, you’ll need beard shampoo. When these bits of food get stale or old they can become pretty unpleasant.
They’ll make your beard difficult to groom properly, and they’ll also start to release odors.
Using a beard shampoo will help you to rinse this out better than water alone would. Quickly running a beard brush through beforehand will help to loosen them up and rinse out easier as well.
3. Are you exposed to strong fumes or odors?
If your beard is frequently exposed to strong fumes, gases, or odors, there’s a strong chance that some of them will stick.
Those smells are unlikely to be washed out and tamed by water alone. Chances are you’ll need a beard shampoo now and again to do the trick.
It’ll be able to wash out the dirt, grime, and the associated odors. Plus, most of them are infused with pleasing scents and fragrances to help counterbalance the unpleasant ones you may be infusing yourself.
Some men have skin that’s especially sensitive to fragrances and parabens, however, so test them out carefully and make sure you get one that’s fragrance-free.
A lot of the scents are pretty manly – we’re talking sandalwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, etc. See what suits you best.
If you’d rather have a fragrance-free beard wash, consider using a scented beard oil instead. As this is intended to remain on the beard and not be washed out, chances are the scent will be more prominent and obvious.
4. Do you use “heavy” beard products?
There is a very, very, wide range of beard grooming products out there. As the beard trend grows day-by-day, so does the ever-expanding availability of products.
Certain products do tend to be “heavier” than others. This is for good reason. For example, beard wax is designed to have a medium to strong hold.
Its main purpose is to help men style their beards however they want and to keep it that way.
Particularly complex styles may need this, as it would be a crying shame if it were to come undone with every gust of wind.
The problem is that these heavier products are harder to wash out, as you would probably expect. If you use “lighter” products such as beard oil and beard balm, you’d probably get away with just rinsing with water.
But with heavier products, there’s a good chance you’ll have to use beard shampoo to properly wash it out.
This isn’t to say that you’ll have to use it every day. If you only use beard wax on special occasions, perhaps reserve your beard shampoo for these occasions too.
Alternatively, use beard wax when you feel like it, and use beard wash once or twice a week to wash out any residue.
This way, you’ll rinse it out with water as best as you can daily, and remove any accumulate excesses with beard shampoo intermittently.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Beard Shampoo Too Much
This is a common mistake that many men make, particularly in the early stages. The misconception that “you can never clean too much” harms more beards than you could ever imagine.
Beard shampoo is indeed “gentler” than head shampoo. It’s usually composed of mainly botanical and natural ingredients and contains fewer harsh chemicals (if any).
This is because facial skin is more sensitive than the scalp. It isn’t able to tolerate those chemicals without becoming dry and irritated.
Plus, those chemicals just aren’t necessary. The scalp contains more sebaceous glands, and so produces more oil. Head shampoo needs to be “stronger” to adequately rid the scalp of excess oils.
Facial skin and beards are easier to clean with gentler products.
Having said this, if you use beard shampoo too often, the effect will be the same.
It will dry out the beard and the underlying skin. It will start to irritate the skin and cause flaking, or “beard dandruff”.
The beard hair will also start to look more brittle. When robbing the skin of natural sebum oil daily, the resulting dryness will start to become more and more noticeable.
Natural sebum oil, in appropriate quantities, can be great for beards. It can make it look healthy, well-nourished, and moisturized. The objective is to remove excess oil, and not to remove all of the oil.
Strike a balance between a healthy, well-moisturized beard and greasy beard. That middle ground is the promised land you need to aim for.
Can You Really Just Wash Your Beard With Water Only?
Yes. Many men do. I’ve written a whole article on this topic if you want to go into it in more detail.
Skipping the beard shampoo you use once or twice a week is an easy experiment to undertake. Try it out, and see whether it’s for you.
It’s quite likely that you may not notice a difference. You may start to think that your beard looks and feels better than it ever has.
Rinsing with lukewarm water daily is often all that is necessary for men. However, hopefully, this article has helped you determine whether beard shampoo is really necessary for your specific beard or not.
If you were ever undecided, this should have made up your mind either way. Beard shampoo, beard wash, whatever you want to call it – it has its place.
As with most beard grooming habits, using it in moderation is unlikely to do any significant harm.
However, this may not be the case for you.
You may, for instance, have an underlying skin condition that may get flared up by using products unnecessarily. Or, you may not be able to afford “unnecessary” grooming products at this point in time.
Every man’s circumstances are different. It’s a decision you’ll have to come to alone. This article is simply meant to be a guide. Hopefully, a useful one!