I often get asked the question – are you not hot with that beard?
Most people believe that when summer arrives or you’re in a hot country, the beard comes off. Contrary to this popular belief, beards can actually be quite beneficial and even keep you cool in warm weather. Of course, I acknowledge the drawbacks of having extra facial hair in the sun – beard sweats, getting stuff stuck- mainly food (not always a bad thing)- and of course the possibility of the awkward tan line if you do decide to shave.
But I can fully vouch for the ‘beard abroad’. Beards look good, and the sun/heat doesn’t have to signal the end of the amazing bond between man and beard. To maintain a healthy beard in the sun, you just have to adjust your beard care to combat the climate.
I’ve compiled some tips that I’ve tried and tested…
1. Wash your beard regularly
The weather in Thailand, or any temperature deemed worthy of being summer weather (obviously a lot of British people may not understand unless you’re actually out of the country), will automatically make you sweat more, which means more stickiness and wetness across your facial region.
- Just like your hair, wash and shampoo your beard regularly. A mild shampoo is easier on your skin.
- After shampooing, you may use a conditioner. Be sure to rinse thoroughly though as failure to do so may result in leaving the bathroom with an embarrassing white beard, and obviously when staying in shared dorms when backpacking, this will save any embarrassment and it also helps to reduce any flaking.
- Because beard hair is so coarse, conditioners will have less effect on the beard than on the hair on your head, but a conditioner will still help make your beard feel softer.
- Now, it’s at this point I apply my beard balm. I find it’s always better to apply this before drying as it acts as an extra conditioner making the beard feel softer. My beard balm of choice is Walk in the Woods by The Bearded Man Co. You can find all the best beard products at http://www.thebeardedmancompany.com/
- Gently pat dry your beard with a towel. Blow drying is not really necessary and can be harsh on your skin, plus it dries in an instant in the heat anyway! At this precise moment, pour a small amount of Walk in the Woods beard oil into your hands; with a lighter consistency than beard balm to soften beard hair, reduce itch, and tame frizz, and gently rub this in making sure you get to the roots. Comb your beard and moustache with a wide-toothed comb to remove tangles.
There are many different beard oil brands out there, but the Bearded Man Company are my weapon of choice. Make sure to stock up on any products because it’s nearly impossible to source more while on the road.
2. Use sunscreen
Hair – both on top of your head and on your face – tends to get over looked even in sunscreen-heavy parts of the world. However, by doing so, you risk intensifying brittle hair since the sun’s rays break down hair cuticles, drying out strands of your hair. What’s worse is that this damage is enhanced in the summer, from sun, sea, days by the pool, all day drinking sessions, surfing, full moon parties after parties, wakeboarding, fly boarding, kayaking, hiking, fishing- basically all the fun things we do in Thailand/travelling!
Since hiding indoors for the entirety of the trip is more than likely out of the question, I recommend taking the more practical approach by just remembering to use sunscreen on your beard. But don’t start squeezing on a thick layer of the sunscreen we buy at our local supermarket – instead, opt for sunscreen formulated specifically for hair, follow this link for the best options www.stylecaster.com/beauty-high/sunscreen-for-hair/.
The sunscreen will keep your hair soft, smooth and touchable, no matter what the elements throw at it.
3. Keep yourself hydrated
Skin cells are 90% water, so getting enough water every day will keep you and your skin healthy; common knowledge for anyone travelling. Similarly, keeping yourself hydrated prevents beard hair breakage from the inside out. Aim for around two litres a day and don’t drink tap water! Bottled water is dirt cheap and you and your beard need it, so don’t let your beard down! Stay committed.
4. Give your beard a trim
Beards can actually combat the summer heat. They act as natural sun protection, offering as much as 21 UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) and there’s no greater feeling than getting that thing wet and walking around – as water evaporates, you get a nice cooling effect.
But you’re only human. If beard itch has got you concerned, you can tame the beast. Now if you’re going to trim your beard yourself, you’ll need the right tools. You will have to decide whether to trim using scissors or beard trimmer, I personally recommend both.
If you decide to trim primarily with scissors, get yourself a pair of professional barber’s scissors. They are a bit expensive but worth it. When considering beard trimmers, a rechargeable cordless model is the best choice as you can quite easily go a week without proper electricity.
Now my number one tip for keeping the itch bearable is using your beard trimmer to keep your neck clear. Do NOT let your beard grow on your neck. It’s unbearably itchy and it could quiet easily lead you to making the worst decision of your life: shaving the whole thing off.
But if you’re finding the heat too much to handle, trim your beard but leave 1-2 inches behind so you’re still left with some stud-ly stubble.
Don’t forget to keep both your skin and newly cropped beard moisturised by continuing to use beard oil and always use protection… And I’m not talking about sunscreen.