Oily skin can have a serious impact on beard growth. Excessive sebum (oil) in the skin can clog pores, preventing hair follicles from producing healthy strands that provide the necessary nutrients to help a beard grow. The right environment is important if you want your facial hair to thrive. Product buildup, hormones, genetics, and environmental factors can all contribute to the most often neglected factor: skin oil. As dandruff and other skin-conditioning issues can contribute to poor hair health, those of us with oily skin can make the most of our situation.
To better understand how oily skin can affect facial hair, we spoke to Dr. Howard Langdon, a clinical facialist and trichologist. Besides offering consultations—Dr. Langdon works in cosmetic facial surgery and specializes in hair and scalp health—he is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Idaho. Here is what he had to say:
“Generally speaking, oily skin is beneficial for beard growth—as long as it’s balanced. Oily skin can help keep your beard nourished and healthy, but if it’s too oily, it can cause clogged pores which can stifle hair growth. Follicles require oxygen and nutrients in order to produce healthy hair. If the skin is overproducing oil, it can hinder the amount of air, nutrients, and water getting to the hair follicles. This can result in slower beard growth and/or thinning.”
Medically speaking, this makes perfect sense. When the pores on your skin are blocked, it hinders their functionality. The result is that the nutrients and oxygen required for beard growth can’t reach the follicle, resulting in a smaller and weaker follicle—rendering your efforts to grow a beard futile.
So the question is how to balance oily skin and promote healthy beard growth? Gently exfoliating your oil-prone skin is a great first step. A gentle scrub removes any dead skin cells that may be obscuring your natural glow—and no, you don’t need to do it every day. Exfoliating just one or two times a week will do the trick.
It’s also important to choose an appropriate cleanser. Look for a cleanser specifically made for oily skin and use it only twice a day. Avoid soaps and cleansers containing artificial fragrances and colors. The right cleanser will be able to lock in the natural oil that your skin produces, so that it can work to keep your beard nourished and healthy.
That being said, although proper cleansing and exfoliation is important—oily skin should not be stripped of all oil. Our skin needs a bit of oil in order to protect itself from external damage. Stripping away too much oil can lead to dehydrated skin, making it more prone to damage and irritation. Find a cleanser that can balance your skin’s sebum production, so your beard can benefit from the oil’s nutrients.
Dr. Langdon suggests that beard-growing hopefuls with oily skin should “use a moisturizer regardless, because without it, the dry skin can lead to dandruff and other skin-conditioning issues that can damage your beard and prevent it from really thriving.”
Gentle Care for Oily Skin
When caring for oily skin, remember to be gentle. An overly astringent treatment will damage the skin and can worsen oil production. Use light oils, such as jojoba or almond oil, to keep the skin hydrated and refreshed. These natural oils are easily absorbed by the skin and can help balance out the overproduction of sebum. In addition, use a facial oil or beard cream to moisturize after washing your face, to keep the skin from becoming dehydrated.
Don’t forget to reapply sun protection when necessary. Oily skin has higher levels of moisture, making it more prone to skin damage from the sun’s rays. Make sure to use an oil-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, so that your skin can be protected without overly affecting its sebum production.
It’s also important to take into account your genetics. If your skin is naturally oily, there’s nothing you can do to change that. You can, however, work with what you’ve been given to ensure you’re providing your skin and beard with proper care. Taking the necessary steps to balance the oil production on your skin will maximize its ability to provide the proper nutrients for your beard to thrive.
Regular Facial Cleansing
As with all skin, facial skin requires frequent deep cleaning of dirt, particles and natural lipids. Regular cleansing of your beard and face is essential to keep skin pores clear and free of debris. This helps to limit the blockage which can occur from too much skin oil, preventing the beard from receiving nourishment. For those with especially oily skin, you may have to wash more frequently than those with normal skin types.
When selecting a face cleanser or beard wash, make sure to choose products specifically made to address oily skin. These cleansers typically contain special ingredients that help balance out oil, while also providing moisture—to ensure that your skin is not overly dried out following use.
Getting the Nutrition You Need
One might think that an oily skin is an indicator of good health, but the oily layer of skin the sufferer deals with is not present due to any particular deficiency in their diet. Making sure you are getting the proper nutrition is still important, as the nutrients that your skin needs to stay healthy also directly relate to the health of your beard. Vitamin E is a good source of such nutrients, and can be taken orally from food and supplements, or incorporated into a topical oil blend for additional skin benefit.
Having an oily skin type is not, in and of itself, a signifier of unhealthy skin or poor diet. It is, however, a cause for concern when it comes to the health of the hairs that live on the skin—specifically one’s beard. Oily skin can create a barrier to the follicles, preventing them from growing thick and healthy.
Simplifying Your Skincare & Grooming Routines
Simplifying your skincare routine is also important, as overdoing it can strip the natural oils of your skin. Make sure to use products specifically designed for oily skin and switch to oil-free options whenever applicable—like ditching your basic lotion in favor of a light facial moisturizer.
Maintaining your grooming routine is also essential for healthy beard growth. Trim and shape your beard on a regular basis, making sure to not cut too short. Doing so will keep the hair looking thick and full. Pay attention to how often you’re shampooing. Shampoo too infrequently and dirt and bacteria can build up—which means more oil. Shampoo too often, and you’ll strip away those healthy oils, damaging the hair.
Understanding Sebum Production
Too much sebum production can cause many problems. It can lead to clogged pores, acne and an impaired protective layer of our skin. As well as having an impact on the quality of the facial hair we grow, it can also bring with it a variety of skin-conditioning issues.
The amount of sebum your skin produces is largely determined by genetics and hormones. Those of us with naturally oily skin should be especially vigilant when it comes to maintaining a healthy skin and facial care regimen. Over-oily skin produces too much sebum, which can clog the pores and inhibit healthy beard growth.
What it All Boils Down to
Oily skin can impede healthy beard growth, but the situation is not impossible to manage. It’s important to take the necessary steps to balance the oil production on your skin, so your beard can benefit from the oil’s nutrients—instead of it preventing necessary oxygen and nutrients from reaching the follicles.
Fortunately, there’s no reason to stop growing a beard due to skin oil. Treat your skin right and watch your beard follicles blossom. Get into a regular cleansing routine, exfoliate and moisturize gently, maintain a healthy diet, and shape and trim often. With the help of a good skincare regimen, you’ll soon be giving your oil-free friends some envy-worthy facial hair to admire.