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July 20, 2021

Straight up honest answer? Yes, for some guys facial hair can cause acne breakouts on their skin beneath their whiskers. BUT… it doesn’t happen to every dude and there’s no guarantee it will happen to you. 

Every bro is different.

Here’s an even bigger BUT… there’s plenty you can do to banish beard acne and even prevent those angry, unsightly and sometimes painful zits from blossoming in your prized hedge.

To help your beard and face be blemish-free:

  1. Learn about beard acne and conditions that look similar.
  2. Take your facial hygiene and grooming routine seriously.
  3. Adjust your shaving.

What causes beard acne?

First, you have to realize that acne is extremely common in all age groups, not just pimply teenagers. But when facial hair causes acne, it’s definitely not due to adolescent hormones. The pimples that sprout near facial hair follicles mainly show up due to infection in the follicles or due to ingrown hairs causing inflammation.

If you don’t care for your face and beard properly and regularly, the natural sebum oil produced by your skin can mix with dead skin cells and bacteria that accumulate instead of being washed and brushed away. When that happens, they combine to clog up follicles and pores, creating infection and causing pimples to break out.

It's NOT because beards are dirtier than clean shaven

Don’t believe the old wives’ tales about beards being cesspools of bacteria! A study of hospital workers showed that a bearded face often has fewer nasty bacteria than a clean-shaven one. 

That said, you still need to keep your face mane clean and groomed. Throughout the day, it collects dust, food and bacteria that can clog follicles and pores. Washing and grooming helps keep those little buggers at bay and reduce the chances of your facial hair causing acne.

Could your breakout be folliculitis?

Folliculitis looks a lot like acne and, by definition, it develops in hair follicles. But look closely – if you see a red or inflamed ring around the bumps, instead of solid red bumps, it’s folliculitis and not plain old acne. But both conditions suck and feel similar. Sometimes it’s itchy, sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes you feel no symptoms.

Folliculitis arises from damaged follicles and can develop anywhere on your skin. How do you damage follicles? Easy. Damage can come from bacteria naturally on your skin, or ingrown hairs, or touching your skin too much, or friction from clothes or other skin, or tight clothing, or… shaving. You can even pick up bacteria from a hot tub and develop folliculitis.

So, sometimes it’s not your facial hair that’s causing acne.

To deal with folliculitis, first you need to stop/change whatever was causing it. (If shaving is the problem, it could mean that a beard is the answer!) Put a warm compress on the area a few times a day and keep up the regular washing and moisturizing of your face and the brushing of your whiskers.

If you use the wrong products, it’s not beard acne…

Sometimes breakouts are caused by the cleansers, oils, balms, creams, lotions or gels you use on your face and beard. Some chemicals make your skin sensitive and irritated. 

Use products with as many organic ingredients as possible. Avoid products with parabens, sulphites and alcohol. And go fragrance-free where you can.

What to Do About Beard Acne

OK, if after all that you still think your facial hair is causing acne, or to prevent this pesky problem in the first place, here’s what to do.

  1. DON’T SHAVE IT OFF! The hair isn’t the problem. It’s the stuff getting into follicles.
  2. Wash your face and beard daily. If you don’t, you’re laying out the welcome mat for beard acne. Use only a beard conditioner shampoo. No soaps or regular shampoos! They’ll dry out your skin, causing flaking and itchy beardruff to increase. Ensure the beard shampoo uses only the best mild ingredients, nothing harsh. With the right product, you can wash your beard, face and hair all at once and get them all healthily balanced. The wrong product will act like a paint stripper.
  3. Apply beard oil. Beard oil eases irritation and itching, while providing nourishment to your skin and facial hair. Look for organic ingredients to be the mainstay. The essential carrier oils will not clog your skin. 
  4. Apply beard moisturizer – if dryness persists. It’s for your skin as much as your beard.
  5. Brush your beard. No combs! And not just any old brush. A wild boar bristle beard brush is the ideal weapon of choice to distribute oil evenly, massage skin, exfoliate skin flakes, lift ingrown hairs, and detangle curly or frizzy strands that could potentially do an about-face and dive back for your face looking to burrow.
  6. Brush multiple times a day.
  7. Wash or switch out pillow cases.
  8. Keep at it everyday.

Examine how you shave

Many bearded bros shave parts of their faces. But the wrong shaving technique can lead to breakouts of razor bumps and beard acne. So…

  • Shave after a warm shower to soften your face
  • Change out your blades regularly
  • Use fewer strokes
  • Don’t shave against the grain, if you can help it
  • Try pre-shave oil

Two big NO-NOs in your fight against beard acne…

  1. Hands off! Don’t touch, stroke or play with your facial hair during the day. There’s no need to add the bacteria and nasties on your hands to your beard. 
  2. Don’t use your lips or tongue to play with hairs around your mouth. It’s so easy to find yourself feeling the texture of facial hairs all day long. Keep your mouth bacteria inside your mouth, not on your mustache and soul patch.

Do all this stuff for your lady as well!

If you and your main squeeze kiss a lot, good beard hygiene and grooming will also protect her from friction, irritation and acne breakouts. Be a rugged gent and keep your whiskers clean and soft.

After reading and applying all this advice, if you’re still struggling with your facial hair causing acne, contact your Rugged Bros directly so we can discuss your case and help you beard on with comfort and confidence.

Stay awesome, dude! Your beard and your face can cohabitate and cooperate!