Let’s not split hairs about this...
...The Real Bearded Men’s Guide on how are they caused, and how to get rid, of SPLIT ENDS in beards
What: Split ends are exactly how they sound: ends of hairs that have divided like a frayed rope, and, like a frayed rope, are basically caused by neglect; usually accidental, rarely by design. Unmoisturized hair is always the precursor to split ends, and dry hair can be caused by many factors, any of which breakdown the hair shafts and follicles. How do you know if you have them? Beard split ends are easy to identify. Your beard will feel rough and dry, it will look unloved however much you are trying to care for it, and in the worst case, may appear messy and mussed up. On closer inspection, you will see the individual hairs - and there will always be lots rather than just one - have separated from the main shaft into two or more unruly mini-strands. Not only can your beard become itchy, but will feel uncomfortable for both you and your significant other.
Why: Either you’re subjecting your beard to products that are unsuitable for it, drying it too harshly, not trimming regularly or correctly, or not replacing the essential sebum oil needed for condition. Or maybe your diet is terribly off-kilter! Split ends are much more likely to occur in longer beards, but if you’re really clever at being neglectful even the shortest of facial hair can suffer.
So let’s look at these issues in more detail, and how to get rid of split ends on beards...
Unsuitable products: You may have noticed that your beard hair is quite different to the hair that grows on the top of your head. It’s generally courser and more wiry, so why would you use your normal, everyday shampoo to wash your beard, when quite clearly the two types of hair are miles apart in their structure and texture? Head shampoo should not be your automatic go-to for your beard. Yes, for some it’s no big deal, but we couldn’t advise more strongly that you shouldn’t neglect those facial hairs by using the wrong product. Beard washes address this balance because they are designed specifically for these special hairs with their course make up and bristly feel. Likewise, any other product that you wouldn’t think twice about subjecting your head hair to, should give you pause for thought. Conditioners and dyes, even brushes and combs – these all need to be considered carefully to maintain the beard of your dreams.
Harsh drying: Guilty of stealing your partner’s hairdryer whenever you want to get ready to go out in a hurry? Don’t! The worst thing you can do is use the hot air of a hairdryer on a fast blow setting. Not only will it dehydrate the entire hair shaft, but it can also erode the very follicle itself, resulting in the worst dry hair ever! The very best way to get your beard dry is to hold the hair between the flat sheets of an absorbent towel, or for shorter hair, hold the towel against the face. Don’t rub it up the wrong way and get it mad! If you must use any type of movement other than a little pressure to sponge dry, make sure you go with the grain of the hair, i.e. the direction it grows. Hairdryers are notorious for creating dehydrated, rough hair - your girlfriend gets away with it because it’s in her genes to know how to handle it!
And don’t forget, your beard hair is very different from her head hair, as if you hadn’t noticed! If you really must use a dryer, which, if you have a very long, thick beard is understandable, apply a little beard oil first, put the dryer onto the coolest, least blowy setting and use it gently. Take your time rather than rush what could actually be a very pleasant experience!
Neglectful trimming: The tip of each and every hair is the oldest part of it; the part that has been out in the living world for the greatest amount of time. It’s seen the most pollutants from the air we breathe, put up with your twiddling and fussing even when it’s not completely necessary, and had the most washes any of your hairs have been subjected to. If you think of it in those terms, why shouldn’t it protest a little? However, every chap is different. Some can grow really long beard hair before it shouts out; others have less resilient hair that gives up at the first sight of any real length. The key here is to get to know what you are capable of, keep it nourished with the right products, and then trim regularly, if only incrementally, to remove the ends that are likely to suffer real soon. Ultimately a regular trim will keeping everything in good shape and minimize those older hairs from doing the splits in a demonstration of defiance. The bonus is that your nicely shaped beard, whatever its length, is more comfortable and attractive, so really you can’t lose out here.
Lack of an oil change: If you have excellent hair heritage and have always been able to maintain a dense growth of facial mane without dehydration or dandruff, then indeed you are exceptionally lucky. With your outstanding service history you probably won’t need an oil change! However, this won’t apply to the majority of bearded guys, for whom the normal trials and tribulations of facial growth includes dryness, prickly bristles and an uncomfortable, rough texture. Every hair follicle emanates from a sebaceous gland, which in turn allows sebum oil to grace the hair as it grows, keeping it smooth and well nourished. But this miracle oil isn’t a bottomless pit and can only cope with hair up to a certain length, so at some stage you will need to add oil to your beard to stop it becoming dry and brittle – the main cause of split ends. It will also help to protect it from environmental factors such as pollutants and external toxins, and also the effects of severely cold (or hot) weather.
If you have a good grasp of how split ends occur, you also possess the knowledge on how to avoid them. Once those hairs have decided to split on you there’s very little you can do to repair them. Damaged beard hair can’t be undone with a snap of the fingers, but with careful management it can become a thing of the past. Letting the growing cycle continue with better ongoing care, and using products that will limit recurrence, will benefit your beard forever more.
How to prevent split ends in a beard: prevention is better than cure
The best way to stop split ends before they start is to have a habitually healthy, daily routine, looking after yourself and your beard. Not only will this stave off all kinds of problems – split ends, dandruff, brittleness, entanglement and hair loss - but will ensure your pride and joy can be admired by all, not just by you in the mirror. Fingers (yours or perhaps a loved one’s?) should be able to comb through your mane easily, enjoy its soft, smooth qualities, and appreciate its silky feel.
Wash your beard: Good quality beard washes are the only way to go when keeping your facial hair clean and healthy. When using, be sure to reach right under the hairs and into the skin, cleaning the pores and ridding the face of dead skin and grime. Sounds skanky? Well yes, it will be if you neglect these basic but oh-so-important aspects of your daily cleansing routine. Don’t be tempted to use ordinary hair shampoos; remember, beard hair possesses a different chemical make up to head hair. Our all natural Real Bearded Men beard washes are especially formulated for facial manes. Gentle but sanitizing, their restorative qualities will leave your beard feeling uniquely refreshed. Your beard may require a wash 2 – 3 times a week; however, the thicker the hair, the less frequently it will need cleansing, while thin, fine hair may need a wash every 2 days. The aim is to maintain a clean, healthy beard which stays nicely hydrated.
Apply Oils and Balms: Beard oils and balms are the essence of your beard care routine. Not only are they essential after washing to restore any moisture that may have been lost, but used daily they also supplement your naturally produced sebum oil with nutrients to keep the hair succulent, giving it a fighting chance against the onset of split ends. So which one should you use? Checkout our guide plus our range of beard balms here.
Tools: Let’s start with combs and immediately say ‘consign that piece of plastic to the trash’! Plastic combs are so damaging they can actually cause split ends with their imperceptibly sharp edges that create a tearing action on each and every hair. They may be cheap, but they’re definitely not cheerful where beards are concerned! Instead, choose quality combs made of sandalwood or ox horn; both natural materials that will give your hair optimum health benefits, preventing static, and gently untangling twisted locks. Beware not to over comb; 3 – 4 times a day is plenty, enabling oils to be distributed evenly throughout. Any more will risk damaging hair cuticles and after finally getting your beard in great shape you don’t want to be undoing all the good work! Note that long thick beards will need combs with widely spaced teeth to ensure that tugging the hairs is kept to a minimum.
Now to brushes... easy really and fun, actually! Give your mane the chance to experience a superb massage with a natural boar bristle brush, which will encourage the production of sebum oil, then use it to straighten the hairs to the shape you desire. Again, the all natural bristles can only enhance the health of your hair rather than damage it further.
For trimming, electric trimmers are an easy and affordable option, but if you’re having a real problem with split ends you should seriously consider hand shears or sharp scissors so that you can give each hair individual attention. These will slice the hair cleanly while trimmers tend to tear the hair, often resulting in tugging and yet more split ends. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep them clean, sharp and well maintained to limit the chance of further damage. You should only trim once a week at most, probably best once every two weeks, snipping off any deteriorated hairs below the split, leaving a neat shaft with no damage.
Dyes and colorants: We’re not going to tell you not to use color because none of us like the physical effects of getting older, particularly when grey hairs appear prematurely. But you should know that dyes are full of chemicals such as peroxide and ammonia which will always have the effect of seriously drying your hair, leading to damage and split ends. Neutralizing these effects is difficult but not impossible if you start from the first time you use color. The use of beard oil is imperative, replacing lost natural oils, followed by beard balm to nourish the hairs and seal in the moisture.
However, for the more senior distinguished gent, please consider that a beard of silver grey can be quite an attractive attachment. Do you really need to add damaging chemicals to cover it up?
Diet: You are what you eat, so they say, and we all know that eating healthily is essential to being, and feeling, healthy. This applies to your beard too. Proteins are a fundamental intake as your hair, wherever it’s growing, is composed of the protein keratin. Without the nutrients that take care of keratin, your hair (and your nails) may become dry and weak, leading to the easy onset of split ends. To combat these effects be sure to eat plenty of seafood, milk, yogurt, eggs, and white poultry meat. For the vegetarian option, try lentils, quinoa, and edamame pods. A regular intake of biotin-rich foods is also beneficial, including liver, yeast, nuts and seeds, avocados and dairy products, all playing a part of keeping you and your luxurious locks healthy.
To sum up, keeping your facial hair clean, well nourished and moisturized will lessen the chances of ever experiencing embarrassing split ends. Repair is difficult and time consuming, so it’s worth the effort to look after your beard before trouble starts by carefully planning your daily routine and religiously sticking to it. We know you can do it; you’ve already proven your commitment by growing the beard, so now it’s a case of ‘done that, got the t-shirt’... and if you haven’t got the t-shirt yet, you can find our superb Real Bearded Men selection here!