Beard dyeing is becoming increasingly popular. It’s no secret. Gray hairs scattered across a glorious mane of facial hair is a tell-tale sign of a man’s age. Dyeing head hair has been done for even longer. But a common question people ask is can you use hair dye on beards?
With caution, yes you can. In general, hair dye contains very similar ingredients to the most popular beard dyes on the market. A color base and developer, both consisting of a variety of chemicals and natural compounds. However, due to the sensitivity of facial skin, it’s always advisable to review the product information leaflet before applying anything on your beard. It may have specific warnings against doing so. Also, a skin sensitivity patch test is strongly recommended 48 hours before applying anything on or near your face.
Because the answer isn’t straightforward, I’ve broken it down into sections to help you decide whether you should or not.
Is Hair Dye Different To Beard Dye?
I’ll start by saying that there are a huge number of hair dyes out there (for men and women), and only a few “beard dyes”. It would be foolish to say that all dyes were made the same without reviewing every ingredient list.
In general, “beard dyes” contain very similar ingredients to “hair dyes”.
They both usually contain hair colorants such as paraphenylenediamine (PPD) and bleaching, oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide.
They also usually contain anti-inflammatory agents like aloe and chamomile to counteract the irritating effects of these chemicals.
Most mainstream options do state that they’re “ammonia-free”. Ammonia has traditionally been used as part of the developer to help lift the cuticle and penetrate the fiber.
But due to ammonia being a toxic gas, try to ensure that whatever dye you apply onto your beard is ammonia-free.
After all, it’s especially close to your nose.
An important difference between dyes that call themselves “hair dye” and those that call themselves “beard dye” is the packaging. Beard dyes often come with an applicator brush, whereas hair dyes often don’t.
Hair dyes are often lathered in while showering, while beard dyes are usually brushed in.
An applicator brush is essential when it comes to applying beard dye, simply because of how thick and coarse the hair can be.
You could try and use a toothbrush as a substitute, but in general, the brush that comes in the beard dye packaging is most effective.
So, although the ingredients may be very similar, the tools provided with specific beard dyes often make the process a lot simpler and more effective.
- Beard dyes and hair dyes usually contain very similar ingredients.
- Beard dyes come with applicator brushes, however, while many hair dyes don’t. Applicator brushes are essential when applying beard dye.
- Ensure that whatever dye you use on your beard is ammonia-free.
Is Scalp Hair Different To Beard Hair?
Yes, it is. You may have noticed that your scalp hair has been very visible and present since childhood. On the other hand, beard hair started to sprout once you hit puberty.
Basically, that facial hair was present even in childhood, but in the form of extremely thin, practically invisible vellus hairs.
Once you hit puberty and your testosterone levels spike, that vellus hair transforms into the thick, androgenic hair you see in the mirror today.
Androgenic hair, the type you find on your face, body and pubic region, is thicker and coarser than scalp hair.
Because of this, if you do use hair dye on your beard, you may find that you need to leave it on your beard for 1-2 minutes longer than you’d usually leave it on your hair.
The hair dye needs to work a little bit harder. Having said this, don’t overdo it. Leaving the dye on for too long risks irritating the underlying skin, and also making the beard look darker than you’d intended.
Another difference between scalp hair and beard hair is what’s underneath it. The scalp is much tougher than facial skin. Facial skin is sensitive, and easily irritated.
Because of this, the effects of dye can be much harsher on the face than on the scalp. After washing whatever dye you used out of your beard, moisturize well and apply some beard oil. The chemicals within these dyes can often be very drying.
- Beard hair is thicker and coarser than scalp hair. If you do use hair dye on your beard, you may need to leave it on for 1-2 minutes longer for the same effect.
- But be cautious of how sensitive facial skin is in comparison to scalp hair.
2 Precautions When Using Hair Dye On Your Beard
1. Always do a patch test
Due to the sensitivity of facial skin, you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t intolerant or allergic to any of the many chemicals contained within hair dye.
This is, of course, best practice with any new product you apply. So even if you do buy a specific “beard dye”, you’ll definitely still want to do this.
Rub a small amount of the hair dye onto your elbow 48 hours before you’re looking to dye your beard. After this period, review the area.
If there is any evidence of a rash or irritation, don’t apply this onto your beard or even your scalp, for that matter.
There’s a chance that it just doesn’t get along with your skin. Try one of the many different products available. If all of them seem to give you a reaction, it’s most likely one of the popular dye ingredients that’s causing it.
Looking to natural beard dyeing options may be a better solution, in that case.
2. Always read the product information leaflet
As all hair dyes are made differently, I’d be a fool to give you overarching, general advice without asking you to read the leaflet.
For example, the leaflet may say “definitely don’t use this on your face” for whatever reason. In that case, the risk would be yours to take, and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
If You’ve Decided Against Hair Dye, Here’s A Good Beard Dye
There are a few popular ones on the market, but the one that I’d recommend first is Simpler Hair Color. It uses gentle ingredients and avoids PPD as well as ammonia. It produces a sleek finish in a wide variety of colors.
If you’re interested, check out their most popular product – The Color Box – by clicking here. It’s great value for the number of dyes you get out of one purchase.
Another great option that prides itself on being natural and organic is the Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye (
Ultimately, there are options. You may still be intent on using hair dye on your beard, and that’s OK. I’ve explained the precautions and considerations.
But if you were thinking of making a small investment into a beard dye specifically made for your beard, these would be good potential options.
Natural and DIY ways to dye your beard
We’ve talked about a natural beard dye already. But the Grizzly Mountain is a commercially-available, mass-produced product.
What about those ingredients you pluck right out of the ground that have magic dyeing properties – do they really exist?
Well, there are indeed natural substances that can color a beard to varying extents. Some of them lighten, some redden, and some darken the beard.
Coffee is a good example. Dyeing a beard with coffee takes advantage of the coloring properties of tannins within the coffee to darken beard hair.
Black tea can be used in the same way.
A natural ingredient that can be used to lighten a beard is lemon juice. Sure, it’s a very mild lightening effect – nothing compared to good ole’ fashioned hydrogen peroxide.
But some men prefer the gentler effects of lemon juice, for instance, because they aren’t looking for a drastic change. Also, it’s a lot more comfortable to apply.
Baking soda, although not strictly “natural” has great lightening properties as well.
A chamomile rinse can be used to enhance blonde beard hair, making it brighter and more pronounced.
It’s important to know that most natural dyeing options are short-lived. Most of them don’t lift the cuticle or penetrate the hair fiber. But again, a lot of men may prefer this.
They don’t want to commit to a drastic change in their beard color and may want to simply color or enhance features now and again.
Natural options may be ideal, in that case.
So, if you’re not willing to shell out the extra cash for beard dye, or you just prefer to avoid unnecessary chemicals, natural beard dyeing options may be for you. If you’d like to learn more about these options, including how to apply them, click here.
Hair dye has masked man’s age pretty successfully for a long, long time. Overall, it has quite a good reputation.
But knowing whether you can use that hair dye on your beard is an entirely different story altogether.
Although the answer isn’t straightforward, the decision you’ll have to make is. Should you purchase a beard dye specifically tailored for beards and mustaches? Or, just lather in that hair dye as you would on your scalp.
I’ll leave the decision with you. Hopefully, you found this useful. Consider this a comprehensive guide to this controversial topic. Thanks for joining me.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.