#AskSloan: The Abominable Snow Beard

January 21, 2014

Organic Beard Balm


Doctor Sloan,
How do I deal with beard dandruff? My beard is so thick that the Brooklyn Grooming Co Beard Oils don't seem to help much to moisturize the skin that now hides underneath, and [my beard is] starting to develop it's own ecosystem! Shall I use some other products? I need your help before I turn into a giant snow globe that's going to be declared a world biodiversity reserve???? Help!
Naked Without My Beard 

Dear NWB,

Though my advice might bring relief and aid to those in despair (and my bedside manner is the stuff of legend), I, Sir, am no doctor. On the plus side, however, I won't require a co-pay.

Neither am I a stranger to thick beards and the troublesome beardruff  that can accompany them when proper care and maintenance are either unknown or left unchecked. So, my friend, you've come to the right party.

Actual head-and-shoulders dandruff can be caused by a number of things, including the scalp's reaction to a fungus that feeds on our natural sebum. ***Beardruff is NOT that.*** So there's no need to use chemical and paraben-laced dandruff shampoos on your beard!

Usually, Beardruff, or BRDP as I like to call it, is caused by the overuse of facial cleansers and under-use of the right moisturizers. BRDP can also be a simple, temporary reaction signalling the skin's adjustment to carrying a new beard. 

I'm pleased that you've been using our beard oils. Thank you for being one of our treasured customers. It's wonderful that you mention a giant snow globe. That metaphor is so relevant at this moment as I sit typing. Currently, according to The Weather Channel, it "feels like" -1°F in New York, and the snow has been whipping the way it does in a snow globe for at least twelve hours. For readers who have never experienced snow like this, the word snowfall does not apply. Because it doesn't just fall: it whips and darts and shoots and whirls and it blows every which way in all directions.

And I've seen beardruff do the same thing. The idea that of any of our readers, clients or followers could be going through the turmoil of beard-related dermal precipitation (BRDP) makes me shutter. Especially as I gaze out the window and see snow falling all around me.

The skin of the jaw, cheeks and chin can be totally obstructed by the hair of long-term beards, which continue to grow denser and woollier over time. In many cases the skin adapts easily to its furry coat, maintaining a supple, baby-smooth texture while legions of men who shave everyday scrape their faces to a hardened, calloused stone. When I shaved my beard two weeks ago after nearly a decade of beardedness, I was surprised to find soft, virgin skin underneath that had been spared the years of weathering and aging that the rest of my haggard (moisturized, sunscreened) face wears today with weary pride.

But not all faces adapt so easily to being shrouded in fur for so long. There was a time when I, too, had a minor case of BRDP. I'm fully convinced that my skin was spared the fate of yours, NWB, because I've been using Brooklyn Grooming's Beard Balm in combination with the Beard Oils for so long.

I'm disappointed to hear that your beard blizzard continues to be a problem. Since your beard is so thick, I wonder if in your daily regimen you've been getting the product all the way down to the roots, or if the oil is sitting on top of the hair unable to penetrate. Also, make sure you're using enough product. Don't skimp. And you must use it everyday. Especially in colder winter months. 

Kick the Flakes

Before we get into your daily routine, we must first attack the beardruff decisively. You have to get rid of all those flakes of dead skin and expose the living skin that is suffocating beneath it. Here's a few options.

1. Manually exfoliate the flakes. Go in with a bristly brush (e.g. boar's hair) and flake away ALL that dead skin hiding under your beard. Brush until no more flakes fall. And speaking of brushing, because of its fullness and length, you should be brushing your beard regularly  to evenly distribute the skin's natural sebum as well as Brooklyn Grooming's little organic helpers.

2. Give your beard a yogurt bath. Wash the face and beard thoroughly with a gentle cleanser in hot water. After toweling the beard dry, slather in a bunch of yogurt and comb it thoroughly down to the skin. Give it 15-20 minutes, then rinse again. Try that a few times over the course of a week.

3. Massage with essential oil of cypress. Cypress oil's gentle astringent qualities make it the perfect candidate to shake loose the relentless flakiness of a stubborn case of beardruff. After a cleansing, massage your beard skin slowly and deliberately until the cypress oil has been able to penetrate, or until you stroke yourself to sleep. Whichever comes first. After a few massages you should be free of your current problem.

4. Use a gentle, NATURAL dandruff shampoo with salicylic acid, if you must. "Acid" can sound scary, but don't worry: it's made from white willow or evergreen leaves. Still, this shampoo is a last resort, as dandruff shampoos are designed for scalps, not faces. Try the other three options first. I'm just giving you ideas since every case of beardruff is different.

Moisture is the Key

Now you can begin a brand new regimen of care and maintenance to prevent this from happening again. 

The best time to apply the beard oil is right after a hot shower. That way, both hair and skin are relaxed and receptive to our organic, gentle treatments. It also helps if you allow the beard to hold onto a little moisture from the shower. The extra water in the beard, for me, seemed to help the oil to penetrate better.

It helps to comb the oil through as well. There are places deep with in your fur-mask that your fingers simply cannot reach, that the teeth of combs can glide through with ease. Moreover, the comb won't absorb the oil like your fingers will, so more product reaches the desperately thirsty skin of your face. And the comb can help to remove the skin flakes that remain trapped in there.

I think if you more thoroughly and more liberally (and more regularly) apply the beard oil to your beard, you will begin to see a difference. 

You may also want to try our Beard Balms which are especially formulated for thicker, coarser, denser beards. They feature the same formula as our beard oils augmented with unrefined beeswax and organic shea butter to provide a more substantial consistency and more durable bond. That way the moisture remains within your beard all day.

We also have a money-saving combo with both an oil and a balm so that you can play with the amounts and proportions that you find your beard best responds to. Balm in the morning/oil at night? Balm and oil mixed together twice a day? Balm in the morning/oil at lunch/balm at night?

Discover what works for your beard! And keep us posted on your progress.



PS I know how it feels to be naked without your beard. Don't shave it!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do YOU have something to #AskSloan? Email him at SLOAN@BROOKLYNGROOMING.COM or tweet him at @GawkyHeartthrob.

And don't forget to tweet us at @BKGrooming !


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