Why does my beard have dry skin

Megan Dominion

Have you ever heard of beard dandruff? Maybe you found this article because you’re experiencing unpleasant symptoms such as itching and redness, or you’ve noticed flakes of dry skin in or on top of your beard. Rest assured, it’s a pretty common problem and it’s 100% treatable with the right products, techniques and routine. You’ll have to treat both your beard and the skin beneath it. Let’s take a look at all the contributing factors and how to solve your problem! 

What causes beard dandruff

Dandruff is characterised by dry, flaky skin that is usually shed from your scalp. The truth is that the same thing can happen to the skin on your face, which may only be noticeable if you have facial hair that’s showing you the symptoms.

Your skin contains a type of fungus that likes to grow in areas with lots of sebaceous glands. These are the glands in your skin that produce oil and are found in both your scalp and your face. It might sound pretty distressing that you have a fungus growing on your face, but it actually has a really important role. The fungus helps to break the oils (sebum) down so that you don’t get too greasy! The process leaves a type of natural acid behind (oleic acid) which can irritate your skin if it’s sensitive. Also, the oilier your skin is, the more acid it’s going to produce.

Having oily skin just basically means that you either have more sebaceous glands than the next person, or your skin cells produce more sebum. It’s nature’s pick, so you can’t do much about your baseline skin or skin type – but you can 100% learn how to manage it!

Your skin also regenerates every 28 days (on average). This is the process where new skin cells are formed and an outer layer of skin is shed. If that turnover speed increases (or if yours is faster than usual) then you’ll experience a natural build-up of dead skin cells. You may not even notice this happening on your skin, but hair tends to trap those little skin flakes and makes them more visible.

You could just be seeing the dead skin cells in your beard and not be experiencing any redness or irritation beneath the beard, but both conditions are treated with a similar routine.

You may notice that your dandruff is worse in winter or in extremely dry OR humid conditions. Seasonal and atmospheric changes will impact your skin’s cellular turnover as it adapts to different climates.

Skin conditions that can cause beard dandruff

You may also have an underlying skin condition that is having an impact on your skin’s appearance, such as dermatitis. Check out this article on dermatitis symptoms and treatments!
Other skin conditions that could be causing itchy, flaky or red skin beneath your beard (and other parts of your body / face) include eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

Stress can cause Eczema, Psoriasis and Rosacea

Stress really can wreak havoc on our skin. As mentioned before, it can cause rosacea flare-ups, acne and so forth. The redness might not be there all the time, or you may notice your skin flaring up during stressful times.

Eczema appears as itchy, dry and inflamed skin. The scratching also often leads to broken skin, which causes more irritation and a stronger desire to scratch. The symptoms may not be present all the time, but stress is proven to be a trigger for a flare-up. This is because stress can increase the amount of hormones in your body, predominantly cortisol. That’s known as our ‘fight or flight’ hormone which may feel like anxiety or adrenaline. When we’re stressed, our body releases more cortisol which sometimes results in our bodies producing more sebum. We’ve learned that more sebum = more acid (in the breakdown process) which means that your skin might become more sensitive.

Psoriasis on the other hand is caused by an immune deficiency or autoimmune disease. The condition causes the body to be more inflamed which normally shows as patchy, itchy, irritated and red areas on your skin. Stress is known to worsen psoriasis for the opposite reason that eczema sufferers. People with autoimmune diseases generally have lower levels of cortisol or are on medication to lower the cortisol levels in their bodies – as it helps to control inflammation. Once they are very stressed or anxious, the inflammation levels in their bodies will increase; thus triggering a psoriasis flare-up.

How do I know if it’s dry skin or a problem causing my beard dandruff?

It’s best to speak to a health professional or dermatologist to diagnose any underlying skin conditions you may have. In the interim, we’ll focus on a healthy “beard care” routine that will assist with dead skin build-up and help to both manage your beard’s dandruff and encourage healthy skin cell turnover!

How to take care of your beard

  1. Firstly, check out our guide to see how often you should exfoliate your skin.
  2. Wash your beard like you would wash your hair. You can also use a medicated shampoo that treats dandruff of the scalp
  3. Moisturise your beard with either a beard oil or a natural oil like argan oil
  4. Keep using the same beard-care routine

If this doesn’t solve your problem, then we recommend speaking to a skincare professional to identify and treat any underlying issues!


Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.