Here’s how to keep your beard in check when things get blustery
And just like that, winter is almost on its way! Big seasonal shifts––especially those that see temperatures drop and the air turn dry and crispy––always feel like a welcome change after warm summers. But for all the winter adventure the colder seasons bring with them, chilly temps can be particularly harsh and drying. Of course, at Northern Fir, we’re all big fans of beards, but having a beard is an actual bonus when it comes to keeping your face shielded and warm from cold winds. The kicker is, winter months are the hardest ones for a beard, skin and hair so keeping it in top shape and giving it the care it needs is essential. Here’s our guide to conditioning, moisturizing and maintaining a winter-ready beard.
But First, the Facts
As you probably know, our beard oil was engineered by a chemist, so we enjoy the science of it all. So why does your skin and hair (and subsequently your beard) dry out during chillier months? It’s not because of the decrease in temperature, but rather because of the lack of moisture in the air and what it does to your skin. The outermost layer of your skin, also known as the stratum corneum, is made up of dead skin cells which collectively form a protective layer over the living and healthier skin cells that are situated just beneath the stratum corneum. When cold, dry air comes into contact with this outer layer, it takes away moisture from the skin, causing the stratum corneum to contract. You know the feeling when your face feels dry, tight, and chapped? That’s the stratum corneum contracting from losing significant amounts of moisture.
Your beard goes through a near-identical process during the winter. Because the hair and whiskers that make up a beard are actually dead skin cells, the dry air also absorbs any of your beard’s natural oils, causing your beard to lose moisture and feel itchy and brittle.
Maintaining your beard’s natural oils are key for keeping it moisturized and avoiding a rough, dry beard throughout the winter. One of the easiest things you can do to retain moisture is cutting back on the amount you wash your beard. Obviously, you need to keep your beard clean, but try washing it once or twice a week and be sure you’re using a sulfate-free shampoo. Shampoos that contain sulfates are already dehydrating to begin with, so using one when your skin and beard are already vulnerable isn’t a move we recommend. We enjoy and recommend Fellow Barber’s Winter Wash. It’s all-natural scent, sulfate, and paraben free and makes your beard feel healthy.
Keep it Cool
We know this isn’t news you’ll want to hear if it’s already getting chilly where you live, but try to avoid washing your beard in hot water. Hot water can also strip your beard of its natural oils, leaving it dehydrated and prone to a brittle texture and itchy skin. Instead, try using lukewarm water (or even cool water if you feel up for the challenge) as this will seal the cuticle and lock in moisture within your beard and below your skin’s surface. And while we’re on the subject of heat, try to avoid sitting close to or sleeping near a space heater as that’s another quick way to decrease humidity and dry out your beard and skin.
Use a Beard Oil
Now that you know what your beard should avoid during wintry months, there are also a few beard-care practices that are must-dos during chilly weather, and they all go back to one thing: keeping your beard conditioned and moisturized. Without a doubt, a major necessity to keep in close reach on your bathroom shelf during the winter is a beard oil. Once absorbed, beard oils deeply replenish dry hair and fortify both your skin and beard against harsh winter elements. Oils are also lipophilic, meaning they are “fat-loving” and mix well with other oils (fats) like sebum, the oil your skin naturally produces. An oil’s lipophilic nature allows it to penetrate deeply below the skin’s surface to retain moisture and keep your beard handsome and hydrated.
Another reason to regularly use a beard oil during the winter is because of its ability to protect your skin’s moisture barrier. When your skin’s moisture barrier is damaged from environmental stressors like cold weather, harsh winds, AC, heat, pollution, and even over-exfoliation, it creates the tiniest cracks in your skin which can then leave your beard vulnerable to dehydration and irritation. Unlike lotions, which tend to sit on the surface of your skin and can leave your beard tangled or clumped with product, oils deliver hydrating moisture straight to the cuticles on the beard follicles themselves.
Apply your beard oil just after the shower, and then follow up with our beard balm, which will add another layer of nourishment and protection against outside stressors, and will also help seal in all of the oil’s moisturizing properties. It’s also made with all-natural beeswax so it has a natural SPF built-in to protect your skin.
Comb it Out
After you’ve applied your oil and balm, be sure to comb through your beard to help further distribute the products and to keep it untangled. The wider the teeth of the comb the better, as it won’t cause as much pull and will help keep your beard smooth and tidy. The more regularly you comb your beard out, the easier it is for the hair to absorb oils and balms. Regular combing or brushing also keeps your beard in top form, and it helps to stimulate the follicles for easier, healthier hair growth.
Keep it Dry
Not into scarves? It might be time to try one–– especially if you live in a climate where you get snow, ice, and really chilly temperatures. If your beard is exposed to any of these elements for long enough, it can leave beard hair extremely prone to brittleness and breakage (which you definitely don’t want). If you know you’ll be outside in freezing temps for a while, grab a scarf or a high-collared coat or jacket, and be sure to bundle your beard up! If it does get wet or icy, try to dry it off as soon as you can. Pat your beard dry instead of wiping as that can pull or strain the hair follicles.
Though winter always feels exciting and cheery at the beginning, the days that are freezing, wet, and icy can get tough on our health, our skin, and our hair–– beards included. At Northern Fir, we believe integrating these simple self-care steps into your grooming and beard care routine during the winter is an easy and surefire way to keep your beard looking, smelling, and feeling its absolute best for the chilly season ahead.
Shop our winter-ready products here.