Beard acne is the absolute worst. Whether it’s your first beard or your 50th, one thing never changes: The beard requires routine upkeep in order to maintain its shape, as well as to prevent scruff-related inconveniences like beard dandruff. And top of mind for most fuzz-faced guys is the increased likelihood of zits and blemishes down there.
In order to get rid of beard pimples (and to prevent new ones from sprouting), you’ve got to first understand why beard acne happens. First of all, you’ve got a lot more sebum collecting at the follicle and base of the hair shaft. And, especially with longer beards, the sebaceous glands that house your follicles might work overtime to try and nourish the entirety of each strand. With this excess of sebum production at the base, however, you also risk clogging the pores and producing pimples. Other reasons for an increase in beard pimples include poor hygiene (like, using your beard as an excuse to not wash, exfoliate, and hydrate the skin under there) as well as ingrown hairs around the shaved perimeter of your beard, due to the curly hair furling up inside the skin.
But fret not, bearded brethren. Here are the different habits and beard products you can deploy to help prevent and treat beard pimples.
How to Stop Beard Acne
1. Scrub more—with a physical + chemical exfoliant
Exfoliation has always been one of the best ways to prevent acne, since it buffs away the dead skin cells that can otherwise get trapped in our pores. Some chemical exfoliants can do this and take it one step further yet: if they include salicylic acid, the exfoliant can also seep into the pore to break down and trapped skin and sebum, while simultaneously balancing oil production in the skin. So, while it feels incredible to get a nice, gritty face scrub underneath that beard (even if it means just using a beard brush), it’s important to also have some type of salicylic acid cleanser and/or spot treatment at the ready, either to target budding blemishes, or to apply uniformly.
Don’t overdo things though, lest you irritate the skin there. Twice a week is sufficient enough for physical exfoliation or heavy-duty chemical exfoliation. If it’s a gentle cleansing scrub or a gentle chemical exfoliant cleanser, you can likely deploy it daily (or even twice daily) without too much concern (assuming you don’t have sensitive skin).
2. Keep the skin hydrated
It can feel counterintuitive to add anything to an acne-prone situation, but moisturized skin is happy skin. As a beard oil, or a conditioning beard balm in order to prevent dryness and dead cell buildup down there. (Shorter beards can probably get away with using their everyday moisturizer.) Don’t forget to double down in winter, either, especially with an overnight moisturizer while you sleep.
3. Wash pillowcases weekly
Bacteria is a top cause for acne, and your pillowcases are a cesspool of bacteria after a few nights’ use. So, keep them as fresh as possible (and of course, wash your beard before bed to prevent prompt proliferation).
4. Don’t scratch your skin—and prevent beard itch with a beard oil
For the same reason you want to keep pillowcases fresh, you should also avoid reaching through your beard to scratch the skin beneath it. Germs, people! And if beard itch is getting you down, then simply work on hydrating and softening the beard more, like with that beard oil or balm we mentioned before.
5. Use a trimmer or electric shaver to clean the edges
You’ve got to keep the perimeter of your beard tidy as it grows, otherwise you look like you have no intentions for this facial hair and are instead just supremely lazy. So, while trimming your beard neckline and cheek lines, we recommend using an electric device—either a beard trimmer without any guards, and/or an electric shaver, to prevent ingrown hairs. Ingrowns are usually caused by regular blades—if you use an electric device, you avoid breaking the skin’s surface, and in turn prevent the painful blemishes caused by ingrown hairs.
6. Cleanse the beard twice daily (when you also wash the rest of your face)
We saved perhaps the most obvious for last, but it’s also perhaps the easiest and most important. Wash your face, guy! This is one time we permit you to touch that skin, so touch all of that skin as you lather on the cleanser around your face. And to call back the first tip: Why not choose one with salicylic acid to get double the benefits?
Wash up twice daily—first thing in the morning and again in the evening before you begin your bedtime skincare regimen. After, depending on the steps you’re following at any given moment, you can follow with the scrub, then a rinse, then a hydrating serum or treatment serum, then a moisturizer, then a beard oil.