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Any self-respecting beardsman knows that you have to take care of your beard or your beard won’t take care of you. That’s why if you aspire to live the bearded life, you need to add a beard wash to your bathroom counter or shower.
A great beard wash features all kinds of oils and hair-rejuvenating ingredients to help cleanse and bring some life back to your beat-up beard. But it’s not all about appearance. If you’ve ever grown a beard beyond the short stubble length then you’re familiar with beard itch. Beard itch tells you that your hair and skin are dry, which is one problem a great beard wash can help solve.
Not to mention, your beard accumulates all the sweat and dead skin you make as you go about your day and a beard wash will help make that dirt and grime a thing of the past. Not only will it leave your hair feeling softer and less itchy, but it’ll also just be straight-up cleaner, healthier and nicer-looking. While a great beard oil will help with the former, and leave you feeling a bit oily, only a good beard wash can help get your beard cleaner. With the right beard brush, you have everything you need to keep your beard soft, smelling great, itch-free and untangled.
To help get you started on taking better care of your beard, we reached out to Stephen Wu, a barber at Fellow Barber in Brooklyn in New York City, to answer a few questions about beard wash. Though we’re regular users of beard wash ourselves, expert input always helps.
Why Should I Use Beard Wash?
You should use a beard wash simply because you can! Seriously though, beyond the obvious cleansing benefits, beard washes and beard cleansers are “specially formulated” to “gently cleanse without drying out the skin underneath,” Wu told SPY. You don’t want to be trying to clean your beloved beard — and it does need cleaning — with something that could make it worse.
Are There Any Downsides To Beard Wash?
The short answer is yes, but it’s all about how you use it. Wu said, “If you wash your beard too often, you will continue to strip its natural oils and that of the skin beneath it. Especially for longer beards, the drier it gets, the easier it is for the strands to break off, leaving it wiry and less dense.” He also suggested avoiding scalding hot water as it may damage the hairs.
How Do I Use Beard Wash? Do I Need Beard Oil and Balm, Too?
Thankfully, washing your beard isn’t rocket science. For most guys, Wu recommends using beard wash twice a week. Depending on your lifestyle, e.g. you work a job that regularly leaves your beard feeling trashed or if you’re a regular smoker, you may wish to wash more often and follow it up with a beard balm or beard oil to replenish and retain moisture.
In terms of actually washing, Wu advised, “Use cold to warm water. Apply beard wash at [the] fingertips and gently scrub the beard and skin. Rinse off beard wash using cold water to seal skin pores and hair cuticles.” Once you’re washed, Wu said, “Towel dry your beard and brush it with a boar bristle brush or comb to spread the natural oils through the beard.”
In between washes, warm water and fingers will be good enough to “rid most of the debris lodged in the beard,” Wu said.
And that’s all there is to it. Whether you’ve got a thick or thin beard, long or short beard or dry or oily skin (or some combo of all of the above), you’ll find a great beard wash below to upgrade your beard care.
1. King C. Gillette Beard & Face Wash
SPY’s best beard wash for 2021, the King C. Gillette Beard & Face Wash will be one of your easiest purchases for your beard. Though we typically recommend steering clear of most two-in-one products, the coconut, argan and avocado oils in this wash work to gently clean your beard and face without leaving them stripped down. Plus you can’t do much better in terms of price for a beard wash.
2. Mountaineer Brand Beard Wash
The qualities of a great beard wash are simple: It cuts down on flakes and itchiness, softens hair and skin, doesn’t cost too much and smells great. That’s exactly what you’ll get from Mountaineer Brand Beard Wash. It relies on basic but solid carrier oils like sunflower, coconut and palm oils to hydrate your hair and skin and includes essential oils of cedar and fir to provide the woodsy Timber fragrance.
Per ounce of beard wash, it’s also one of the best values, offering an upsized 8 ounces of wash for less than similar brands offering 6 ounces. Like most beard washes, you probably won’t want to use Mountaineer’s wash every day lest you risk over-cleansing your hair. But use it a couple of times a week and you’ll start to notice the results quickly.
3. Live Bearded Straight Up Unscented Natural Beard Wash
Live Bearded makes all kinds of beard products — except shaving products. This brand is for guys who are seriously committed to their beards, and we recently named them one of our favorite indie grooming brands. The Live Bearded Straight Up Unscented Natural Beard Wash is one of the brand’s most solid offerings. Per SPY’s managing editor Tim Werth, this is the best beard wash he’s tried.
It’s gentle enough for everyday use while still thoroughly cleansing your beard without drying it out. It lathers up well for easy coverage and rinses cleanly too, leaving you with a much softer, fresher beard than you had before. The unscented wash is a great pick for those who prefer to add fragrance through another product, but Live Bearded also offers five different masculine fragrances too such as the American, which smells of cedar, pine, vetiver and bergamot.
4. Jack Black Beard Wash
If you don’t have something in your bathroom from Jack Black, now might be a time to consider the Jack Black Beard Wash. If you use this beard wash you can count on two things: Itchiness and flakes will be a thing of the past and your beard will look healthier and feel softer in no time.
While there’s something to be said for simplicity, Jack Black opted for a more complicated formula that you can safely use any day on any kind of beard. Things like aloe and panthenol work to soothe irritated skin while things like glycerin, shea butter and a boatload of plant oils and extracts work to add moisture while cleansing and softening tough hairs. Plus, if you’re big on oils and waxes, this will gently wash those out no problem.
5. Every Man Jack Beard + Face Wash
It’s not necessarily the best value, but for a great pick on the cheaper side, we love the Every Man Jack Beard + Face Wash.
You get a bigger-than-average 6.7 ounces of great-smelling, easy-lathering, beard-cleansing beard wash that’s also a face wash. It won’t dry out your skin, you don’t need to use too much for a good clean and it’s ethically produced. For a few dollars less than competing beard washes, what’s not to like about all that? For our beards, we like the sandalwood scent.
6. Grave Before Shave Beard Wash Shampoo
Not only does Grave Before Shave Beard Wash Shampoo have 83% five-star reviews on over 2,600 reviews, but it has some of the fewest one- and two-star ratings, 1% and 1% (respectively), we’ve ever seen. It’s never all about reviews, of course, but we can understand why users love this beard wash.
Users praised the beard wash as a strong beard cleanser that cleaned the dirt while leaving their beards feeling softer and cleaner with a great masculine scent. The wash also is not too expensive, though you get an average 6 ounces.
The only negative we found was some users reported dried-out beards after using the wash for a few months. Not all beard washes should be used daily and this beard wash is definitely on the stronger side. To help minimize that issue, we’d recommend only using one to two times a week.
7. Proraso Beard Wash
Brands like Italy’s Proraso have been around for years and years because they continue to make great products. The Proraso Beard Wash can be used daily and it promises to soften, smooth and condition your beard while gently cleansing it.
Perhaps in keeping with Proraso’s more traditional barbershop roots, this beard wash doesn’t lather up too much and offers a classic fragrance, in this case, a cypress and vetiver fragrance with notes of cedar, bergamot and amber. It’s slightly overpriced compared to other beard washes, but you can trust that it’s made with top-quality ingredients and will deliver as promised.
8. Cremo Citrus & Mint Leaf Beard Wash & Softener
BEST FOR A REFRESHING LATHER
We like the Cremo Citrus & Mint Leaf Beard Wash & Softener for three reasons: It lathers up wonderfully well, offers a refreshing mint and menthol tingle and leaves our beards feeling as soft as they are clean.
It also doesn’t hurt that users love it too: It’s very well rated on Amazon, with the vast majority of users giving it five stars.
9. Duke Cannon Big Bourbon Beard Wash
BEST BOURBON FRAGRANCE
When it comes to bourbon fragrances, it’s hard to beat Duke Cannon’s signature Buffalo Trace oak barrel scent. If you want to smell as manly as you look, go for the Duke Cannon Big Bourbon Beard Wash. Alas, it’s pretty pricey, but it’s highly effective and smells great.
10. Old Spice Beard Wash
BEST IF YOU LOVE OLD SPICE
Old Spice isn’t for everyone but if you’re a fan, the Old Spice Beard Wash has your name written all over it. Whatever you’ve been up to recently, this wash will clean your beard up and give you the Old Spice scent you’re looking for.
11. Just For Men Control GX Gray Reducing Beard Wash
BEST FOR REDUCING GRAY
There’s a great beard wash for every man, including those starting to show a little more salt than pepper. If that’s you, then you might appreciate Just For Men Control GX Grey Reducing Beard Wash.
With daily use, you can incrementally dye away white and gray hairs. Just stop using it when you’re satisfied with the amount of gray and start using it if the gray starts to overwhelm again. What also makes this beard wash great is its compatibility with all facial hair colors. Whether you’re dealing with the darkest brown or the lightest blond, you’ll see less gray.
12. SheaMoisture Beard Wash and Detangler
BEST WASH AND CONDITIONER SET
SheaMoisture specializes in, yup, shea butter-based products and the SheaMoisture Beard Wash and Detangler will work together to leave your beard in absolutely tip-top shape.
Naturally, the wash does all the cleansing to rid your beard of the day’s grime while managing to not dry your hair and skin out. The detangler, basically a conditioner, takes the moisture to the next level on even thick, coarse beards and makes smoothing knots a breeze. At the same time it’s lightweight so it won’t feel heavy or interfere with any other product you might apply afterward.
Use both of these products and you’ll have the cleanest, softest beard on the block.
13. Fellow Everyday Tonic
BEST BEARD TONIC
It’s not a proper beard wash but the Fellow Everyday Tonic is the perfect refresher in between washes to keep your skin and beard hair feeling fresh. With witch hazel, aloe vera, eucalyptus and vitamins A, C and E, this little spritz will help lift dirt, remove grease, get rid of any product surface residue and hydrate skin and beard hair. Wu recommends using it daily and said he and his fellow barbers use it “religiously” with all their clients.