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September 25, 2021

To blow dry or not to blow dry. That is the burning question....

There are some very mixed opinions out there about this. If we were to share stories of bros using a blow dryer on their whiskers, there would be a confusing split between tales of success and disaster.

With such a divided body of opinion, it makes sense to err on the side of caution and provide you with quality info so you can decide for yourself.

The short and dirty answer is… when in doubt, don’t. Heat applied incorrectly can severely damage your beard - right down to the follicle.

But! Every face is different and every beard is different in length, thickness and style. Not to mention, everyone’s beard grooming routine differs.

Heat and beards don’t mix well

Heat can be terrible for hair, whether it be from a blow dryer or a straightening iron.

Sure, it’s tempting to quickly blow dry your beard. It’s quick, simple, less aggressive than rubbing with a towel, perhaps even helpful for taming a wild beard, etc. Like what damage could one blow drying session do, right?

Well, know your risks. Science says that the longer a beard stays wet to its roots, the more hair follicles absorb water and enlarge a tiny bit, causing pressure on the hairs. But hot air blasted at your beard overheats the water in the follicles, as well as in and around the hairs, causing all kinds of damage, like:

  • Weak and brittle hairs that break easily.
  • Dried out skin.
  • Dehydrated hair follicles.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Beard acne.
  • Flakey, itchy, irritating beardruff.
  • Discolored hairs.
  • In extreme cases, even partially melted hairs that go haywire.

Watch out for misreported science

A 2011 study out of Korea went into great detail examining “the ultra-structure, morphology, moisture content, and color of hair after repeated shampooing and drying with a hair dryer at a range of temperatures.” It concluded that it was less damaging to use a blow dryer on a cooler setting and at a distance. On the strength of that info, many bearding blogs and websites announced loudly that science said blow drying was better than air drying and everything was fine if you followed what the study did. 

BUT… 

…this study examined head hair and scalp skin, not beard hair and facial skin. There are big differences. Facial hair is more wiry and prone to becoming brittle, while scalp skin is more oily than dryer facial skin. That’s why you never use soaps or regular shampoos on your face and beard. Head hair is also a little robust because it’s growing phases last for years, while facial hair growing phases last weeks or months. 

What’s the takeaway? If you absolutely must blow dry your beard, use the coolest setting and keep the dryer at least 6-8 inches away. But take this knowledge with a grain of salt. We’ll tell you more about it below.

Can’t I blow dry my beard if I’m in a hurry?

This is the most dangerous time to blow dry a beard. Rushing can result in big damage that can’t be reversed.

So, what’s the best way to dry my beard?

The Rugged Bros approach is as follows:

  1. Look after your beard’s health everyday. 
  2. Wash your beard in a warm shower (not too hot) and only with professional-grade beard conditioner shampoo.
  3. Pat your beard dry with a towel. Don’t rub. Rubbing tugs on hairs and follicles, while tangling whiskers.
  4. As drying continues, stay in a room with comfortable air flow.
  5. Apply beard oil that includes organic oils in its ingredients.
  6. Use a wild boar bristle beard brush. No plastic or metal – they snag, tug and pull while doing nothing to stimulate or massage your skin and follicles.
  7. Brush a few times each day to keep dust, dirt and pollutants out of your beard.

What about an unruly beard?

Some bros tell us that their beards are especially thick, dense and curly and simply won’t behave themselves even after regular oiling and brushing and balming. They’re at their wits’ end.

Really, there are three choices here. Two are either trim the beard to be less thick (or shorter) or blow dry. In such a situation, using the blow dryer can help “tame” hairs and the directions they want to grow. But just don’t use it everyday.

The third option is… embrace your natural wildness. It’s you and it’s rugged. Just be sure to keep it healthy.

Mustache curling

If you have a handlebar mustache and want it to curl, sometimes you need a little extra help. For basic curling, balm and mustache wax will do the trick fine. But for bigger, cleaner, tighter curls, trying to hold them manually in place with wax takes a lot of time and patience. In such a situation, yeah, a little heat may be part of the equation. Just please be careful and go slow! Less is more!

If you still absolutely must blow dry your beard…

Bro, it’s your beard. If you still absolutely insist on blow drying it, we beg you to:

    • Follow the numbered steps above. That includes pat drying with a towel and applying some beard oil.
    • Get a quality dryer.
    • Make sure the dryer has a nozzle attachment that can focus the stream of air into a very localized area. You really don’t want to expose your entire face to a hurricane.
    • Use the coolest setting.
    • Hold the dryer 6-9 inches from your face.
    • Point the nozzle downwards.
    • Brush downwards smoothly and gently with the air flow.
    • Apply beard balm afterwards to style and to replenish essential oils lost in the drying.
    • Don't blow dry everyday!

Okay, so there’s the scoop on blow drying your beard. Most dudes really don’t do it. 

Like we said, if you’re in even the tiniest shred of doubt, don’t. The risks outweigh the rewards by a large margin. If you still have questions, send them to us and we’ll be glad to chat. 

What’s most important is to groom regularly and lovingly. That’s what will truly bring out the best in your beard and make you a true rugged bro.