It’s November, and more and more men are sporting facial hair. Men grow moustaches, and beards too, as part of the Movember movement, which was created to raise awareness and funding for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer.
The advantages of growing facial hair, which, some say, gives the male face a more rugged look, extend beyond the cold season. “Depending on your geographic latitude, the beard may be a look for all seasons; not just winter,” said Dr. Amanda Suggs, a board certified dermatologist at the Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center.
The health benefits of having a beard are contingent on practicing good hygiene. You have to take care of the beard — even shampoo and moisturize it on a regular basis.
To find out the health benefits of having a beard, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed several studies about the effects facial hair can have on the skin, and also consulted dermatologists.
A beard can help shield the skin from the harsh winter elements, but facial hair can also pull moisture away from the skin’s surface, leaving it parched, Suggs said. “Thus, if you are going to rock a beard, you’ll need a certain amount of beard maintenance to prevent irritation and dryness of the skin below.”
Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as “beard dandruff” or “beardruff,” is a common problem for people with beards. The skin under the beard can become itchy, inflamed and flaky. “Use of an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head & Shoulders or Selsum Blue may solve the problem,” Suggs suggested. Finding the right beard oil or conditioner may take some trial and error because no two beards are alike. “And, don’t forget to brush,” she added. “[It] helps improve hair texture, redistributes oils and exfoliates dead skin cells.”
A healthy diet is crucial for healthy skin. “What you put in your body is as important as what you put on your beard,” Suggs said. “Eat a balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. And don’t forget to wash your beard after exercising to remove sweat and grime which may have accumulated in the hair during your workout.”
Not everyone should grow a beard, though. While it can certainly protect sensitive skin, growing facial hair is not always the best idea. Sufferers from seborrheic dermatitis (a disorder that causes itchy patches and red skin on the scalp) and acne patients may have worse problems with a beard, Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City said. “People with very oily skin may have trouble keeping the beard clean,” he added. “It can trap oil and make it more difficult for you to exfoliate the skin when the beard is blocking the top of the skin, making acne more likely.”