Black men often email us to ask for tips on how to properly grow and maintain a beard, so we wanted to compile some of our most frequently asked questions here. Black hair is tightly coiled by nature, which is due to the flat, ribbon-like structure of the hair follicle. For this reason, many black men deal with ingrown hairs when caring for their beards. We also hear a lot from men who are dealing with stiff, dry beards. We’ll cover both issues here, share pro tips from readers who have perfected their beard care routine with products from The Mod Cabin, and share a list of beard care essentials like beard oil and balm, and how to use them.
We asked beard model Carl Battee about the advantages and challenges black men encounter when they decide to grow a beard. "Well being of of two different ethnic backgrounds (black/Hispanic) makes my facial hair much more difficult to manage, so I would say the biggest challenges of growing facial hair as a black man would be not knowing how your hair will look or react to products in the beginning stages of growth."
Embracing a Beard and Letting It Grow
It’s a good rule of thumb for black men to let their facial hair grow out for 4 to 6 weeks before cultivating their personal beard style. This will allow you to see how your facial hair grows and notice any areas that are patchy or extra thick, which could affect the beard style you choose. Regardless of style, you want to get your beard, and the skin underneath, off to a great start by keeping it properly washed, conditioned, and groomed.
Using The Right Soap
Because black hair needs extra moisture to prevent it from becoming dry and brittle, and because curlier hair is more susceptible to getting trapped under the skin (AKA ingrown hairs) it is important to use beard grooming products that hydrate facial hair and skin.
Unfortunately, most store-bought soaps and shampoos actually dry out your skin and strip your facial hair of necessary oils. We recommend avoiding conventional soaps and synthetic shampoos all together. Instead, we recommend using all-natural hot processed soaps or cleansing oil for beard washing and all-natural beard oils and beard balms for moisturizing and conditioning.
Our favorite beard soap, birch tar, does wonders for not only dry skin and hair -- our customers rave about its healing effects related to acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Exfoliate the skin beneath your beard by using your fingertips or a washcloth for maximum cleansing and to remove any dry flaky skin that may be hiding beneath your beard.
After Washing, Use a Quality Beard Oil
Look for beard oils crafted with unrefined jojoba and pure argan oil -- these oils act the most like your own natural oils, making them easy for your face and skin to absorb. Make sure any added scents in the beard oil are made with all-natural essential oil blends rather than unidentified “fragrance,” which can be full of harsh chemicals that can irritate skin and dry out hair. Essential oils, however, can actually have a beneficial effect on skin and facial hair. We recommend using a beard oil after washing your beard, when it’s nearly dry.
For a Thicker Beard and Maximum Moisture, Use a Beard Balm
After applying your beard oil, follow up with a quality, all-natural beard balm. The best beard balms will have the same moisturizers that are found in beard oils, but will also include wax-like substances like shea butter and beeswax to help hold in the moisture and keep your hair and skin hydrated. You’ll also get the added benefit of a thicker-looking beard.
PRO TIP: For a smoother and shinier beard, after washing, give it a final rinse with cold water to help seal and smooth the hair cuticle.
A lot of guys don’t know what tools to use when starting their beard journey, according to Carl Battee, Mod Cabin Man and beard model. "When I first started to grow my beard I didn’t know the dos and don’ts, what was needed, and the time it would take to manage a good sizable beard. My advice to anyone who’s thinking or just starting to grow a bit of facial hair is always keep a good boars hair beard brush and beard comb handy to keep the mane looking good throughout the day."
Your Beard Care Checklist
When you decide to grow a beard, make sure you have the following items to help get you started on the right track:
- Beard Soap – Use all-natural, hot-processed soaps, which won’t strip your skin and hair of natural oils.
- Beard Oil – Use beard oils that contain jojoba and pure argan oil. Stick with essential oils and avoid products that use synthetic fragrances.
- Beard Balm – your beard balm should contain both sealants, such as unbleached shea butter and beeswax, as well as moisturizers, like unrefined jojoba and pure argan oil.
- Beard Brush – Boar’s hair brushes are best for distributing oils and balms evenly through facial hair, due to the natural scales along the boar’s hair bristles.
- Beard Comb – The best beard combs have teeth with smooth edges. Cheap combs will have teeth with sharp edges, which will cause facial hair to snap or break when combing.
- Mustache Comb – It may sound unnecessary, but a well made mustache comb can make a huge difference in how your facial hair appears. A mustache comb will have finer teeth for more precise styling.
What do you think?
These tips will get you started on the right path to healthy beard growth! Do you have any tips for other black men out there curious about putting down the razor and embracing the beard? Let us know in the comments.