For the past two years, many of us had to work from home and we saw a cultural shift with an increase of individuals growing out their facial hair. Growing a healthy, thick, and full beard requires a certain level of maintenance, especially if skin issues are one of your concerns. Acne is a common skin issue for many people and growing a beard can exacerbate it. As well as having to wear face masks due to Covid-19, the chances of developing beard acne is much higher. BUT don’t worry, acne is manageable, and almost always curable. And don't believe the myth about beards being a breeding ground for bacteria. A 2014 study showing bearded faces often had fewer bacteria than a clean-shaven face. Now, let’s have a look at ways to avoid acne, whilst growing out that beautiful beard.
“Don’t believe the myth about beards being a breeding ground for bacteria”
What is Acne?
Acne is a condition in which the pores of the skin become infected and inflamed. Most of us get pimples from time to time, but for a person to have acne, these pimples must recur and must be numerous. For acne sufferers, once the pimples begin to heal, more develop. This constant skin inflammation means the skin is never clear.
Acne can vary in severity, and there are, in fact, different kinds of acne (see image below). Cystic acne causes very large pimples to develop that eventually develop a whitehead. Fungal acne can appear in the form of smaller red bumps that never achieve a head.
Types of Acne
- Comedonal Acne (Non-Inflammatory Acne)
Comedonal acne is more commonly known as “whiteheads” and “blackheads”. The hair follicles become clogged with dirt, sebum, and debris which can cause the pores to become infected. Whiteheads are pores that are completely closed off from the surface by a thin sheet of cells, resulting in their white-ish appearance. Blackheads are pores don’t have a thin sheet of cells and are exposed to oxygen (oxidisation), creating their signature black colour.
- Inflammatory Acne (Papules, Pustules)
The most common forms of inflammatory acne are papules and pustules. Once a pilosebaceous unit (hair follicle, hair shaft and sebaceous gland) has been blocked by a black or whitehead, the sebum cannot drain. Even with this block, sebum is still being produced causing an increase in pressure within the unit. This pressure eventually becomes painful and causes inflammation. Papules can be identified as red in colour, sensitive to the touch and have no visible center. Pustules, on the other hand, are filled with white or yellow pus, and resemble a whitehead with a red ring around the bump.
- Cysts and Nodules
Nodules and cysts are the most severe forms of acne which can cause permanent skin scarring if not treated correctly. Nodules are located deep within the skin and are typically hard, painful bumps. Cysts are also deep within the skin but look more like boils and are filled with pus. They are extremely painful and can be quite large, measuring up to an inch(2.54cm) or more in diameter. Acne nodules and cysts can linger under the surface of your skin for weeks, months and sometimes years. The best way to treat this form of acne is through consulting with a health care professional, such as a dermatologist.
Could your breakout be folliculitis?
Folliculitis is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become damaged. Once damaged, it is easier for germs to get inside the follicles and cause an infection. Most common source of infection is from the bacteria Staph aureus (Golden Staph). Sometimes, the inflamed spot causes itchy skin.
You might wonder, how do you even damage follicles? Very easily. Damage can come from bacteria naturally on your skin (Golden Staph), ingrown hairs, touching your skin too much, friction from clothes or other skin, tight clothing, wearing a tight-fitting mask for long periods of time, or even shaving. You can even pick up bacteria from a hot tub and develop folliculitis.
Treating folliculitis requires you to first stop/change whatever was causing it. Put a warm compress on the area a few times a day and keep up the regular washing and moisturizing of your face and the brushing of your whiskers. Avoid products with parabens, sulphites, and alcohol.
What to do about beard acne?
Wash your face and beard every day. Washing removing the dirt, oils, germs, pollution, and dead skin cells that build up throughout the day. Using the uniquely crafted Levee + Lowe™ solid shampoo won’t dry out your skin, it’ll help alleviate itching and flakiness. Our Green French Clay + lemongrass solid shampoo contains antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties.
- DON’T SHAVE YOUR BEARD OFF!
Can’t stress this enough, don’t shave your beard off if you have spots. It’s the germs getting into the follicles that’s causing majority of the issues.
- Apply Beard Oil
Beard oil will help ease skin irritation, dryness, and itching, whilst providing your skin the essential vitamins and nutrients it needs. The blue scent beard oil contains Tea Tree essential oil, which has been shown to help reduce the amount and overall severity of acne. Our unique Levee + Lowe™ beard oil is formulated with oils that have a low comedogenic rating, meaning they won’t clog your skin.
- Apply Beard Balm
Use a beard balm that contains mango butter and Vitamin E to help moisturise your hair follicles and skin.
- Wash or switch
Change/wash your pillowcases and towels every third day to help reduce additional irritation on active breakouts on your face. If you use a bread trimmer, ensure to clean it after every use and store in a clean area.
- Brush your beard
Brushing will help distribute oils evenly, exfoliate the skin, help remove dead skin cells, lift ingrown hairs, and detangle hair strands.
- Give your skin some air
If you are wearing a mask for long periods of time, remember to remove your mask for 15minutes every few hours (if possible) to air out your skin, especially during an active breakout.
When to see a dermatologist?
Depending on the length of one’s facial hair, it can be difficult to tell what’s happening to the skin beneath. What looks like acne could be ingrown hairs or folliculitis. If you continue to experience skin issues after a few weeks, see a dermatologist. This doctor can help discover what is causing your skin problem and prescribe treatment if necessary. If you cannot see a dermatologist, then see you General Practitioner.
Remember to avoid touching your beard during active acne breakouts. This will help you avoid spreads germs from your hand to you face!
Applying some beard oil before trimming your beard may help prevent skin irritation.