Almost everyday, a fellow bearded bro asks us the questions above. And we’re always happy to reply that, while this problem sucks, it’s very common and very easily solved. Here, we’ll explain why beard stink happens and how simple it is to keep your mane smelling fresh and clean.
But first, whatever you do, don’t shave it off. Never give up on your bearding adventures just because the stinky beard issue raises its ugly head. Help is at hand!
There are a few causes of a smelly beard. It could be due to your cleaning habits, sweat, bacteria, the environment around you, your grooming products, or other products you use on your face.
Plus some dudes notice that the smell becomes more of an issue when their beards are wet - kinda like Wet Dog Syndrome.
Let’s get into the reasons why your beard smells. Then, we’ll show you how to fix them.
If you don’t wash your beard enough, don’t be surprised when it stinks.
Then if you use regular shampoo, soap or cheap, mass-produced beard products, your beloved mane will end up in poor condition and smell more.
Cheap products contain nasty ingredients - preservatives, parabens, mineral oils, synthetic oils, silicon, sulfates, phosphates, etc. Even if they have added fragrances, when they get warmed in your beard, they smell weird. Add in your skin’s natural sebum oil and a little sweat and PEE-YEW!
Bacteria are the most common cause of a smelly beard. But don’t rush out and buy antibacterial soap.
There’s no chance of getting rid of them all. Besides, not all of them are nasty. Some bacteria you couldn’t exist without.
Even when you’re fresh out of the shower, bacteria are going to be in your beard. It’s a fact of life. Just don’t believe the myth about beards having more bacteria than clean shaven faces.
If you touch something containing bacteria and then touch your face, you’ll transfer some. When they’re left to grow and thrive, they’ll combine with sweat and oil and other general grime to make an unpleasant smell. So try not to touch your face too much.
If sweat flows down your head and face, some will go in your beard, thanks to gravity. And that sweat feeds the bacteria that naturally live there and can cause a cheesy odor. The very same thing happens in your armpits, although BO may smell a little different. It’s a natural process.
Now if you’re bald, the smelly beard issue may arise more frequently each time you sweat. That’s because you don’t have hair up top for sweat to cling to, so it all cascades down to your face and neck like a waterfall. So, keep a towel handy when you work out or partake in activities that make you sweaty.
Many environmental factors can get into your facial hair: smoking, other types of smoke, vaping, pollution, cooking smells, BBQ smells, dust, chemicals, etc.
While there may not be much you can do about your environment, under the harshest conditions you could at the very least use a bandanna or scarf to protect your beard from smelling.
It’s a fact of life that some food and drink will get into a beard. And some of it can make that beard stink – especially if you chow down on a squirty pastry or a drippy kebab or a greasy burger.
It’s simple… you want to get as little food in your beard as possible. It’s a good idea to use cutlery instead of your hands and to keep some napkins or wipes handy.
Plus your diet itself makes a difference. Junk food can definitely make a smelly beard worse. Think of the smells that come out of your pores when you eat strong junk food. Those will go in your facial hair, too.
Where there are hair follicles, sebum oil is produced. Got a naturally oily complexion? That’s from excess sebum production.
That sebum oil also conditions beard hairs. But if it’s not cleaned away properly and allowed to build up and combine with bacteria and food, then a smelly beard is inevitable.
Have you ever tried a fragrance and found it smells different on your skin than how it smells in the bottle? Now put that in your beard with everything else that’s going on there. Ugh. Some fragrances are simply too harsh or don’t work with your skin type.
OK, now that we’ve established what causes a beard to smell, here’s how to put your stinky beard days in the past and smell amazing…
Look for products made with 100% natural essential oils. They provide nourishment to your face, beard and mustache.
Avoid cheap, harsh ingredients like mineral oils, synthetic oils, sulfates, phosphates, parabens and silicone – unless you want your beard to smell like disinfectant.
A regular hair shampoo will rob your beard of its essential natural oils that it needs to be fresh, soft and shiny. Plus it can make your beard smell odd.
You need a beard wash gentle enough to use everyday, but smart enough to remove dirt, unclog pores and banish funky odors like a surgical missile strike that doesn’t touch essential things. If the wash is made with the ideal combo of natural aloe vera and premium grade essential oils, it will keep your beard spotless and hydrated all day long.
Bonus if your chosen beard wash has a fresh, invigorating scent that’s free of fragrance oils.
There’s usually no need to wash your beard everyday. That can be too much for your natural oil balance. Every second or third day is fine. On non-wash days, rinse with warm water.
But if you’re exposed to sloppy, greasy foods or a dusty atmosphere or heavy smoke, then get washing immediately.
Don’t leave your beard wet, unless you want to tempt fate with that wet dog smell. But pat it dry only. No vigorous towel rubbing and no blow drying.
This may at first seem counterintuitive, but proper moisture is vital to your beard’s health and smell. Choose a light beard moisturizer rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, Omega-6 essential fatty acids and linoleic acid to ensure the skin that houses your follicles (ie your beard’s “foundation”) is supple, healthy, pH-balanced, and free of itching and flaking. Any cracked and flaky patches are natural entry points for bacteria that cause beard stink.
Essential for beard health, skin health, and for tackling smell. You can even go with an unscented Beard Oil, if you’d like. Just avoid the nasty ingredients we mentioned above and stick to all natural carrier oils. A beard with a silky coating of moisturizing protection looks awesome, brushes easier, and keeps bacterial and environmental nasties from setting up camp on your whiskers and in your pores.
Just don’t overdo it. Less beard oil is more. Too much will turn your face and beard into a greasy trap. Here's a great blog that will give you some tips on how to apply beard oil.
Notice we didn't say comb? That’s because combs get snagged and don’t do anything for conditioning or the smell problem. A brush made from natural fibers removes dust and particles, invigorates skin and follicles, and spreads essential oils evenly to help maintain a fresh scent.
Brush at least once a day and then again if you eat anything that gets in your whiskers.
Wash your hands regularly, especially if you’re a habitual beard toucher. And keep a towel handy when working out.
Foods can be a huge factor in Smelly Beard Syndrome. No, you don’t have to become a health nut. Just make the adjustment to ensure Buddy the Elf won’t come close to you and say, “You smell like beef and cheese!”
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and be super careful around foods that are messy, greasy, drippy, flaky or crumbly.
There you have it, bro – everything you need to know about tackling a smelly beard. Work at it, be vigilant, and you’ll have an amazing fresh scent in your nostrils all day, everyday.
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