Acne is an incredibly common skin condition. It affects up to 85% of the world’s adolescents and young adults. But it isn’t limited to teenagers with adult acne possibly occurring at any time. For men with acne, hormones are usually the main trigger: men produce more testosterone than women, which results in thick and oily skin.
The production of sebum is also higher in males because their sebaceous glands are more active (directly related to testosterone), which can lead to clogged pores that cause breakouts. Lastly, while beards may look cool, facial hair can trap oil and act as a breeding ground for the bacteria that exacerbate pimples and result in beard acne.
In this article, we will dive beneath mane to find out what causes beard acne, how to treat it with prescription acne creams, and how to manage and minimise any future breakouts.
What Is Beard Acne?
Beard acne is the pimples that develop under or around your facial hair or beard. It is also known as folliculitis, which could be a result of either bacteria or ingrown hairs. This type of acne presents in inflamed, red pimples around your hair follicles.
In cases where there is a bacterial infection, the acne lesions may also contain pus (we discourage pimple-popping – no one wants acne scars). Beard acne may also be caused by ingrown hairs, which is when a hair gets trapped underneath your skin because it is curling back on itself, leading to inflammation. Either way, beard acne can be incredibly itchy.
So, just what is ance? Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease and can range from clogged pores called comedones, which can be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads), papules (small red bumps on the skin), and pustules (like papules but filled with pus) to large, painful, inflamed, and swollen nodules and cysts (blind pimples). Redness, hyperpigmentation, scarring, and pain are also common.
There is no such thing as ‘mild acne’ – all acne should be treated with the aid of creams and serums to avoid it progressing and spreading.
From over-the-counter (OTC) remedies in the drugstore to custom formulated prescription acne creams, there are a whole host of ways to treat beard (and facial) acne and prevent it from returning. The prescription-strength active ingredients provided by telehealth doctors can be customised into the best acne cream for your skin – one that targets the acne-causing pathways to manage it and prevent breakouts (and any resulting PIH at the same time).
Keep It Clean
Keeping your beard, moustache, or goatee clean is a must. Neglecting to wash your beard (and your face) is basically a free pass for acne-causing bacteria to make themselves at home around your hair follicles. To clean your beard without drying it out, wash it once a week with shampoo and three times a week with conditioner.
Don’t go crazy and wash your face raw, washing your face too often can strip away your skin’s natural oils that help maintain a healthy skin barrier. But you should wash your face every night. Don’t let dirt and pollution soak into your pores while you get your nightly rest (moisturise after).
We recommend a mild foaming cleanser. If you don’t have sensitive skin, you can alternate between an exfoliating cleanser and a mild wash. Don’t forget to comb your beard!
Buff It Out
Exfoliating your beard and face twice a week is key to keeping your beard acne at bay. Dead skin cells and oils can build up, causing clogged pores and hair follicles, which can lead to acne breakouts.
By gently (please be gentle with your skin) scrubbing your beard and face for 30 seconds with a facial scrub (look for all-natural exfoliants), you slough away the skin cells and oil. Similarly, exfoliating your face and beard region will help prevent painful, ingrown hairs from forming. Exfoliating also makes the next step of the routine more effective.
Sometimes the last thing you think of doing when you have acne is to slather on the cream. When your skin is dry, it will try to overcompensate for its lack of moisture by producing too much oil, which leads to, you guessed it, acne breakouts. You should always moisturise your skin, and your beard is no different. Moisturising your beard, goatee, or moustache hydrates and protects both the hair and your skin.
If you are using an acne cream, this would be applied prior to the moisturiser. Use a beard comb to work your moisturising cream into your skin and you’ll help prevent itching and burning from dry, irritated hair follicles.
Shave A Different Way
Did you know that how you shave has a role in beard acne, especially if you are of African descent? To help prevent or reduce beard acne, try shaving after you shower instead of before. The heat and steam from the shower will soften your hair follicles, making it easier to get a clean shave.
Clean your blades with rubbing alcohol to keep them sharp and free of rust. The alcohol also sanitizes the blades, removing any bacteria that could cause breakouts. If possible, consider switching either to an electric razor or a four- or five-blade razor, which often helps with irritation. You can also add pre-shave oil to your routine to make shaving easier.
Don’t. Shave. The. Mane.
We know this may sound counterintuitive but bear with us. Shaving will actually increase your chances of developing beard acne. Why? Firstly, shaving irritates our sensitive facial skin. Secondly, if you don't shave properly your chances of getting razor burns and ingrown hairs increase drastically. While this isn't technically acne the ingrown hairs can lead to folliculitis.
Say Goodbye To Beard Acne
While not all of us have the luxury of being able to grow a full, stunning beard, getting any sort of acne around your face and neck is bothersome. If none of the above prevention techniques work for you, it may be time to visit a dermatologist or have a prescription acne cream tailored to your skin’s specific needs. No acne should be left untreated!