I've had facial hair since college in the mid 1990s. Yes, it was during the ever so popular goatee stage, but since the turn of the century, it's been in beard form. I've gone about 20 years without slapping any product into it, but for some reason, my scruffy friends are giving me a little peer pressure to try it out.
I am not much of a smelly product man. I don't wear strong deodorant, wear cologne maybe once every two years, and don't do air fresheners in the car. I think that is my main reason for staying away from beard treatment. To have something smelly, even if it is fantastic, underneath my nose for the whole day, may be too much for me.
One of my last visits to the barber shop, the hunky gentleman trimming me up asked if I put anything on my beard. Seeing that he was sporting a beard of his own, I said, "No, but should I?" Thinking that he owned one himself and he was in the hair care business, he should have a bunch of suggestions.
Coconut oil – that was his response. Now, I've seen my roommate cook with the stuff and rub it on his dry skin, but to put that in my beard? Mr. handsome barber opened up a jar and rubbed it into my facial covering.
Was this going to be the treatment from now on? Will I go into the kitchen and pull out from under the sink the jar of coconut oil and lather up my face? I need to think about this. After reading a recent piece from Men's Journal, titled What Products to Put In Your Beard, According to a World Beard Champion, I need to do a little more research than just asking "whaddoyoudo?" to my barber.
Once you've begun growing a beard from scratch, you'll want to know what to put on your follicles to keep them soft and healthy.
But beard care is now a multimillion-dollar industry, and there are an overwhelming number of balms, waxes, and oils to choose from.
Here are a few things to look for when trying to decide on a quality beard product — and what to keep away from your face.
Madison Rowley goes on to shoot my new found or newly suggested coconut oil treatment out of the water. The next day after my trim and before I read the Men's Journal piece, I paraded over to a simple beauty store and purchased a little plastic container of coconut oil – hair conditioner with vitamin "e". After reading the warning on the side about hair being flammable, I slapped some on and smelled like a sun bather for the rest of the night. I did like how it looked but Rowley's first bit of advice is:
Avoid Plastic Containers
You want your oils in a dark glass, air-tight container for maximum freshness. Choose a bottle with a solid, screw-on lid. The dropper-type dispensers may seem more practical, but over time the essential oils will dissipate through the rubber, and the base oils are more likely to spoil.
When I see an add for all natural or if a friend is reading a Snapple bottle out loud (it happens very often), I usually remark, "Cow urine is natural." This sometimes ends up in a spit take, but hey, it's true.
Happy Skin Equals Happy Hair
Pay attention to what you're putting on your skin. Any product can claim to be 100 percent natural, but not all natural things are good for your skin, so read your label carefully — the more organic ingredients the better, and it should end with a clear list of all essential oils.
Some companies will list a "blend of proprietary essential oils," which is great, but there are certain essential oils that are not good to use directly on your skin. Cinnamon, bergamot, grapefruit, and lemon are a few of the common oils that can cause irritation or sun sensitivity.
When it comes to smell, the most important thing to look out for is "fragrance" listed on a label. This usually indicates an artificial fragrance, which can have a variety of harmful chemicals such as phthalates, which can throw your hormone-making endocrine system for a loop.
Let's go look at my ingredients; Petrolatum, Stearyl Alcohol, Coconut Oil, Parafin, Lanolin, Olive Oil, Fragrance, Vegetable Oil, Vitamin E. Crap! There is that fragrance word along with some other oils and waxes. I thought I was getting coconut oil! Another texture paste I received as a sample had these following ingredients: Water, Lanolin Wax, PVP, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-25, PEG-8 Beeswax, Tribehenin, Tridecyl Stearate, Glycereth-26, Polyquaternium-72, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Triethanolamine, AcrylateslClO-3- Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Parfum/Fragrance, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate/Hexacaprate. Do I need all of that in my beard? I was so happy I could cut and paste that list of ingredients from the product's website, but there was fragrance again. I hate when there's a long stray hair. How would I feel with a Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate in there? And what about all of those other oils? Could I just find plain ol' coconut oil and would that do the trick? I have freakin' coconuts in my back yard!
Know Your Ingredients
Coconut oil is great for many things, but if you are prone to blackheads be aware that it may exacerbate the problem. Different oils have different ranges of comedogenic (pimple-causing) ability. Skip anything with cocoa butter, coconut butter, coconut oil, flax seed oil, linseed oil, or palm oil. Soy-based oils are also good to avoid. Prolonged exposure can mess with your hormones, and if you're putting it on your beard and kissing your lady, it can potentially mess with hers.
Instead, look for products that have grape seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, vitamin E, pomegranate seed oil, and neem oil. They’re all rich in antioxidants, anti-aging properties, and proven to help prevent skin cancer, UV damage, and hair loss. Each of these oils has many beneficial qualities for your skin, hair, and overall health and longevity.
So, coconut oil strikes out again? Do I just throw the container away, print these suggestions off and go shopping? Ummm, no. I'm actually putting some of my coconut oil on right now and here's why.
You have to find out what is best for you. Every person's skin is different. Being the youngest of 4, I followed my older siblings' skin care practices and failed. One day after using the treatments, ointments, cleansers, I just said I am not washing my face anymore! The pubescent acne stopped immediately. From then on, I've never deliberately washed the skin on my face as part of a skin treatment or practice and I have zero issues. So after I try the coconut oil for a couple of go's, we'll evaluate and see how the hair and the skin are doing.
Best thing to do? Try the products and try the smells. See what may make your nose, face, and your beard happy. When the right one is found, you'll know it.
What do you put on your facial hair?
What do you recommend staying away from?
h/t: Men's Journal