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When many men first grow a beard, they may think that it’s going to be as easy as not shaving for several weeks. However, unless you want your beard to feel as prickly as a stinging nettle plant and as tangled as your earbuds, it’s likely going to require some upkeep.

Prickliness, beard dandruff, and itchiness are often signs that your beard is dry and needs hydration. Many products are available to help you keep your beard moist, but often the basics are the best options.

Read ahead to find out how you can use both store-bought and DIY products to soften prickly facial hair.

Facial hair is naturally coarser than the hair on your scalp. However, if your beard has been feeling pricklier or scratchier than usual, it may be a sign that your beard is dry. The following products may help you keep your beard hydrated.

Beard oil

Beard oil is a moisturizer for your beard and the skin underneath. It may help you:

  • prevent beard dandruff
  • reduce itch
  • soften dry hair
  • help tame stray hairs

Formulas vary between brands, but most beard oils contain a mixture of essential oils, carrier oils, and fragrances. Many people find the best time to apply beard oil is after showering, when their beard is clean. Beard oil can be used on beards and stubble of any length.

Beard balm

Beard balm has a thicker texture than beard oil but has the same moisturizing benefits. The semi-solid texture helps hold your beard and mustache in place.

Beard balm is best suited for medium or long beards. Some people use beard balm together with beard oil.

Beard wax

Beard waxes firmly hold your beard into place, often with beeswax. Like with beard oils and balms, they often contain blends of oils designed to keep your hair moisturized.

Beard wax is best suited for men with long beards and can be combined with beard oils or balms.

Beard soap and shampoo

Beards can harbor bacteria, fungus, and parasites, so it’s important to clean your beard regularly.

Many men use soap and water to wash their facial hair. However, some types of soap are harsh on the skin and may break down the natural oil on your beard and skin underneath.

Beard soaps and shampoos usually contain oils and other hydrating ingredients to prevent dryness. Regular shampoos designed to hydrate your hair can have the same effect.

Beard conditioner

Similar to conditioners for the hair on your head, beard conditioners hydrate the outer layer of your hair, called the cuticle. They may also help you minimize frizz and tangles.

Beard oils and other moisturizing products are usually made up of blends of essential oils and carrier oils. You can easily make your own beard oil at home using simple ingredients.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons of one or more carrier oils of your choice
  • 3 to 10 drops of your choice of essential oils
  • small glass dropper

Essential oils

Many types of essential oils like eucalyptus oil have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help your reduce your incidence of ingrown hairs and beard dandruff. Many people claim that applying essential oils to their beard helps them soften it.

The following are some essential oils that could potentially help hydrate your beard:

Carrier oils

Applying essential oils directly to your skin can cause irritation. They need to be diluted with a carrier oil first.

Carrier oils help deliver the benefits of the essential oils they’re mixed with and provide their own hydrating effects. Some oils like coconut and olive oil also contain vitamin E, which may help support hair health.

Most of the evidence comparing the effectiveness of different carrier oil is anecdotal. However, the following are some of the most commonly found in beard oils:

Petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is a mixture of mineral oils and waxes. Many people claim that applying petroleum jelly to their scalp or beard helps keep them hydrated. You can try massaging a small amount through your beard whenever it feels dry.

Keeping your beard hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and grooming your beard regularly may all help minimize prickliness.


Eating an overall healthy diet may help you keep your beard soft by preventing nutrient deficiencies.

Eating inadequate protein can disrupt your body’s hair production and lead to brittle hair. Saturated fatty acids are needed to produce sebum, your body’s natural protective oil that coats your skin and hair.

Deficiencies in a variety of other nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, or omega 3 fatty acids can also negatively impact your hair health.

Grooming your beard regularly

Trimming your beard regularly can help you prevent split ends that give your beard a scraggly appearance. Trimming may also help dull sharp edges caused by your razor.

Combing your beard regularly can help distribute your hair’s natural oils that keep them hydrated.

Keeping your beard hydrated

Keeping your hair hydrated by applying beard oil or other moisturizing products can help prevent prickliness caused by dryness. If you’re consistently exposed to ultraviolet light, humid weather, wind, or chemicals, your beard is particularly likely to dry out.

Often, stubble feels the prickliest when the hairs are just starting to break through your skin. When the hairs are short, they stick out straight instead of lying flat.

There’s little you can do to soften stubble when it’s first emerging. If the prickliness is bothering you or your partner, you can either let it grow out for a few more days or try the clean-shaven look.

A prickly beard is often a sign of a dry beard. Applying hydrating products like beard oil, balm, or shampoo may help your reduce prickliness and scratchiness.

You can find many products in stores next to razors and shaving creams to help you soften your beard. You can also make your own beard oil using household ingredients like coconut or olive oil.