The locks on top of your head aren’t the only ones that can take on a silver hue as you age. Your facial hair can also go gray.
Graying hair is perfectly natural, and some people embrace the change. Still, if you prefer to conceal it with dye, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
You might also consider dyeing your beard if you’ve just changed your hair color and want the two to match.
Whatever your reason, the process of dyeing facial hair is similar to the process of dyeing the hair on your head. That said, you’ll typically want to opt for a beard-specific product. While you could use hair dye on your facial hair, using the right product can help you get a more even result.
Here’s what else you need to know about dyeing your beard.
You have two options for dyeing your beard hair:
- Do it at home using a boxed dye kit.
- Get the dye job done professionally.
“Professionals will be able to blend a permanent dye that’s natural-looking, instead of the shoeshine variety you’ll find in stores,” says Ghanima Abdullah, a cosmetologist and hair expert based in the Dominican Republic.
You’re more likely to get a well blended result at a salon than if you did the dyeing on your own at home. But both options will grow out at the same rate.
Of course, the convenience and low cost of an at-home dye job offer some attractive advantages. It’s important to have realistic expectations, though.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each option:
|DIY job||inexpensive, quick, convenient||higher risk of blotchy application, uneven results, unnatural color|
|Salon job||more likely to yield even results, less risk of blotchy application||pricier, requires an appointment, may take more time|
When selecting a dye for at-home use, Abdullah recommends picking out a product specifically for beards.
“Beard hairs are coarser than the hairs on your head,” she explains.
Dyes specially designed for beards work to penetrate these coarser hairs without irritating the skin on your face, which tends to be more sensitive than the skin on your scalp.
Using beard-specific dye becomes particularly important when you want to cover up grays.
Gray beard hairs are particularly coarse, so they might not take the hair dye in the same way as beard dye, Abdullah notes. This can also mean your color may fade a bit faster, too.
Another good reason to go with a beard-specific product?
Beard dye tends to be more translucent, Abdullah says, and opaque shades tend to look unnatural on the face.
In other words, a dye that looks good on your hair might not look quite right when applied to your facial hair.
Don’t forget to patch test
When using any new or potentially irritating skin care product, it’s always wise to perform a patch test on a small portion of your skin to check for irritation.
Patch testing is essential before applying dye to your beard. Your facial skin is pretty sensitive, so you’ll want to make sure you can tolerate the dye before getting started.
You’ll find directions for doing a patch test in the instructions on the dye package, but you can also follow these basic steps:
- Mix a small amount of the dye as directed in the instructions.
- Apply to a small spot of skin somewhere near the application site.
- Wait at least 24 hours to check for unwanted reactions, like itching, discoloration, or swelling.
- If you notice any irritation or discomfort, you’ll typically want to skip the dye.
Note: Product guidance often recommends patch testing near your elbow or wrist. But since the skin on your face is more sensitive than these areas, it may be worth testing a bit closer to your face — the side of your neck or behind your ear, for example.
If you have a skin condition, like rosacea or acne, you’ll generally want to check with a dermatologist before using dye on your face.
Permanent dye will last until your beard hair grows out or you shave it off.
If you or a barber use semi-permanent dye, expect this product to last 3 to 6 weeks, Abdullah says.
If you dye your beard and don’t like the results, your best bet is to make an appointment with a professional.
In some cases, though, home remedies can help strip semi-permanent dye.
Try this paste of baking soda and water:
- Start with 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Add enough water to form a spreadable paste — this may take a few teaspoons of water. Stir after each to make sure the paste doesn’t get too watery.
- Apply the paste to your beard and massage in gently.
- Avoid massaging too deeply or smearing the paste on your skin, since it can cause some irritation.
- Leave the paste on for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Rinse off completely.
Removing dye from your skin
If excess beard dye gets on your skin, you can wipe it off before it dries. But Abdullah recommends applying Vaseline to the skin around your beard prior to starting a dye job to help prevent staining and irritation.
Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Try a thick moisturizer or body cream as a barrier instead.
To remove dye stains from the skin, Abdullah suggests washing them with soap and water. If the stains persist, try applying coconut oil. Leave the oil on overnight and rinse it off in the morning.
“If the stain is still there, it’s time for a drastic measure: rubbing alcohol,” she says.
To tackle a very stubborn dye stain:
- Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
- Dab at the stained skin until the stain is gone.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply coconut oil to moisturize your skin and reduce irritation.
Abdullah recommends henna-based dyes for facial hair, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Although dyes with a henna base take longer to apply than other formulas, they tend to produce a more natural-looking result.
Learn more about henna’s benefits, potential disadvantages, and cultural uses.
She recommends the following products:
- Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye
- Henna Color Lab Beard Dye
- The Henna Guys Beard Dye
- True Sons Hair and Beard Dye
- Godefroy Professional Hair Color Tint Kit, for spot dyeing
- Madison Reed Mr. Hair Color
This can give your facial hair a fuller appearance. However, because it only coats your hair, it’s not a permanent solution, Abdullah says.
Want a change, but don’t feel quite ready to break out the dye? Consider giving Just for Men Control GX Beard Wash a try. This daily beard shampoo gradually changes the color of your beard.
You might choose to dye your beard to change things up, match your hair color, or hide grays. Whatever the reason, it’s important to use the right product. Hair dye will technically work on facial hair, but it’s not formulated to penetrate these coarser hairs. You also run the risk of irritating the more sensitive skin on your face.
If you have a skin condition, it’s always wise to check with a dermatologist before using dye on your facial hair.
And remember, when using any dye product, you’ll always want to follow the package instructions and patch test first.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.