A man could be forgiven for thinking that growing a beard is a grooming shortcut - freeing him from the burden of exfoliation and moisturisation, and creating a trendy hipster look.
But you’d be wrong, for there is a dark secret hiding in the facial fuzz of many a male: beard dandruff. Much as the name would suggest, this is dandruff, but in your beard rather than on your head.
There are various causes of beard dandruff too, including cold weather, stress, water temperature, shampoo residue and fungus (nice).
As the male grooming industry has grown and every other man decided to grow a beard, a whole host of facial haircare products have sprung up on the market - from beard oils to brushes.
So whilst your beard is, I’m sure, thick, shiny and nourished, the skin below is duly neglected, left to become rough, dry and flaky - and no one wants flakes in their beard. According to Google Trends, there's been a steady increase in searches for 'beard dandruff' worldwide over the past five years.
But fear not, there are just a few simple steps you need to add to your regimen to ensure a flake-free, lustrous beard. So no, if you look after it properly, having a beard isn't quite as low-maintenance as you may have thought. Sorry.
How to get rid of beard dandruff:
First you should use a beard brush to exfoliate the skin underneath before cleansing or showering. The brush will essentially bring the dandruff to the surface which obviously isn’t an ideal look but from there it’s easier to get rid of the flakes in the shower.
Next, you should cleanse with a lactic acid cleanser - that may not sound particularly appealing but if you find a cleanser that contains the ingredient, it’ll naturally dissolve dead skin.
So for any extra rough, callous bits of skin that aren’t removed by the brush, a lactic acid cleanser will exfoliate them away whilst also soothing the skin, leaving it fresh.
The final step is to moisturise - applying a normal moisturiser over your beard is messy (or so I’ve been told) because it’s hard to get to the skin underneath and it doesn’t absorb easily, so what do you do? Beard oil is the answer.
According to grooming expert Lee Kynaston, having a beard makes the skin underneath more prone to drying out because the hairs "wick" the moisture from the surface of the skin and on to the hairs, from where it quickly evaporates.
An oil - whether one specifically designed for beards or just a face one - will nourish and condition the hair whilst hydrating the skin underneath and preventing future flaking.
If you have a long beard, you may need to comb the oil through to make sure it’s evenly distributed, but those with shorter beards should be fine using their hands (Hurly recommends warming the oil in your hands first then applying from the bottom of the beard upwards).
Unhelpfully, everyone's skin and beards are different, and what removes beard dandruff for one man may not work on another - try an anti-dandruff shampoo if the above method doesn't work, but some of these contain harsh detergents so you have to be careful and remember it can take weeks to see results.
So now you know how to deal with the problem you may not have even noticed you had.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies