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It's phenomenal to see so many streamable shows set in the times of yore with manly men sporting luscious beards. Before the 'well, actually' and 'in reality' police try to show up, the well-kempt sheen of those beards isn't so fictional. The precise sculpting and no hair out of place bits, those are more prudent targets of ire.
Men of the past grew beards for culture reasons and many of those reasons stemmed from a lack of close-cutting tools. Beard oil, on the other hand, was a necessity born of a need not to feel scratchy and unkempt all day. And if you are wandering around the woods by torchlight, you want facial hair that doesn't go up with a spark.
Today's beard oils are more finely crafted but play an equally important role in nourishing a beard and keeping it supple and stylish.
Before you grasp the simple, sultry pleasures of a well-hydrated and fully flexible beard filled with hairs nourished by oils, you need to understand something about hair.
More specifically the differences between facial hair, body hair, and that stuff that hopefully is still growing on all of your head or none of your head.
Hair follicles, in particular, control a lot of how hair grows. this includes how much, what thickness, and how quickly. Hair follicles are influenced by a variety of nutrients and vitamins including A, K, and E.
The hairs themselves form from threads of keratin bound together and extruded millimetre by millimetre over the course of a lifetime. The follicle lifetime, that is, for a follicle, even a healthy one only lasts about ten years before it dies and shifts through its own life cycle.
The lifecycle of a follicle starts with the anagen phase. This is where the hair grows. Once it gets tired (metaphorically) it shifts to the catagen phase where it rests for a few weeks to a month. After that, it hits the telogen phase and remains there for up to half a year.
When interruptions occur in this cycle, the hair follicles can permanently die, leaving no ability to continue to sprout luscious locks for your future needs.
Facial to Head Differences
Facial hair, known as androgenic hair, goes through this cycle somewhat faster than the hair on the terminal hair on the scalp.
Where a head hair grows for up to a decade, getting beyond a single year is tough for an androgenic hair. This means that you can expect a beard to grow for about a year and max out in length. During the catagen phase, the hair will retain its properties but stop growing. It is in the telogen phase that it will fall out.
Consider a hair you've plucked or seen lying about. The end sometimes has a large, whiteish nub and sometimes a dry almost yellowed nub. In both cases, the nub is the follicle but at different stages.
Aside from a shorter lifecycle, androgenic hairs have another key difference from terminal hairs: hormone tolerance.
All hair responds to hormones and requires them to stimulate growth. However, each type of hair fares better with one type of hormone over another. Too much of a hormone, coupled with a low tolerance, can lead to lifecycle interruptions.
Androgenic hair loves dihydrotestosterone (DHT) while terminal hairs love their testosterone and can get overwhelmed by DHT. This relationship explains part of why men with fuller beads trend towards having less scalp hair.
Beard Oil Basics
In the same way that shampoo is formulated to provide the building blocks and nutrients needed to keep scalp hair growing, beard oils react with facial hair.
People who get an all-in-one shampoo and then use it everywhere may do well for a while, but eventually, the gap between what's needed and what's being provided start to have consequences.
Both your scalp hair and your facial hair draw moisture from the follicle, which draws moisture from the surrounding skin. If your skin is dry and flaky, your hair follows suit. Anywhere that hair grows, moisturization needs to happen to keep the hair from stealing everything it can et and then causing the skin to die.
Dead skin clogs up pores and that strangles follicles. It's a vicious process of tiny cannibalistic processes not unlike the wars of those well-bearded Vikings and industrious trappers mentioned in the intro.
Enter Beard Oil
Beard oil stops this process through two means: it moisturizes the skin and it moisturizes the hair.
On top of this, it also provides a pleasant aroma and conditioning that helps keep the hair manageable.
Ask anyone with long hair how often they shampoo their hair and you'll be shocked by the answers. It's well known (to the people that deal with it) that the longer the hair, the less often it gets washed. This is because long hair that is washed often loses vital natural oils that protect and strengthen the hair.
If you wash too often, those oils can't make it the length and the ends get brittle and split. Before too much time passes, the hair becomes a tangled mess fo broken strands and needs to be cut to restore the balance.
Beard oil restores some of this natural oil that you need for the hair to survive, let alone thrive. And unlike the hair on the top of your head, you probably spend a lot more time touching your beard.
If you want to keep a healthy beard, you can either eat a balanced diet and never touch your face or you can splurge a bit and get beard oil to protect you from you.
Application and Use
Beard oil is not a substitute for washing your dang face. Always start with that step. uses whatever shampoos or soaps you normally do.
With everything dry and ready to go you can begin your application. Application is best done daily or whenever you have occasion to wash your beard.
Start with a few sprits or pumps of oil directly on to the hand. You want to rub your hands together and get an even coating. An even coating on the hands means an even distribution on the beard.
Massage the oil into your beard, the skin beneath, and especially the root so it reaches the follicle. Like any massage, you want to go deep enough to feel relaxing but don't tweak a bone. Avoid vigorous rubbing that pulls or yanks at the hair.
Once a beard goes beyond a few inches, you'll want to use a comb or brush to work the oil through the ends of the hair. Again, even distribution and a smooth finish is the goal.
You may have heard that beard oil grows your beard fuller and faster. This is true in the end but not in the cause. A primped and proper beard rich in oils doesn't so much grow faster or fuller as it prevents growth from stalling out.
When a hair lacks for hydration and nourishment, it cracks and splits. These split bits are quick to shear off, get tangled in other hairs, or get caught on anything they come in contact with. Split ends mean more hair being ripped away and length being lost unintentionally.
If you find yourself scratching your beard out of irritation, and not contemplation, you are likely scratching at damaged skin and tickling split ends within. Fingernails further exasperate damaged skin and inject bacteria and gunk into the skin. That leads to ingrown hairs and dead follicles.
Protect the growth you have by learning how to apply beard oil daily and avoiding tendencies that destroy your facial investment.
Beard Loss and Patchiness?
For those struggling to grow a full, healthy beard, beard oil helps train you to avoid damaging behaviours. Like any other grooming ritual, it as much helps by applying useful ingredients to the area as it trains you what to look out for.
A lot of people tend to run their fingers through their beard or even tug on a few whiskers through the day. These habits are mostly benign but sometimes hit the disorder stage. Trichotillomania is one of the leading causes of bald patches in otherwise healthy beards.
Daily application of beard oil trains you to value your beard, working as a form of cognitive behaviour therapy. At the same time, the stronger hairs and energized follicles make casual tugging less likely to pull a hair.
New studies in electromagnetic mapping can determine if the issue is a lack of follicles or blockage in pores. Beard oil won't help restore absent or dead follicles (nothing can) but the gentle massage of application helps strip away blockages and gets tired follicles back in the game, resulting in a more full beard.
Taking care of a fantastic beard starts with a willingness to do so. Education is one key but beard oil does the heavy lifting in the beard health world. You also want to know how to sculpt and comb your beard to keep it how you want and remove larger debris that can get hidden in the bustle of a day.
Our line of accessories addresses these issues and puts you in control of your beard and your life.