Believe it or not, there was a time when men were expected not to use things like face lotion. Moisturizing was for ladies. So, it seemed, was conditioning, dressing well, cooking, and even basic hygiene. Times have changed, and we’ve all evolved. Thank heaven! It has become increasingly clear that moisturizing is integral to healthy skin and hair. But can you use face lotion on your beard?
A high-quality face lotion contains plenty of nutrients that will benefit your facial hair and nothing that will harm it. However, beard oil or balm will prove much more effective when absorbing into and nourishing your facial hair. Also, a product intended specifically for beards will moisturize your face too.
As with any beard grooming question, there’s some nuance to the answer. Let’s dig in deeper.
What Does Your Beard Crave?
The reason a dedicated beardsman applies oil to his facial hair is that it provides a lot of nourishment. See, beard follicles take a lot of nutrients from the bloodstream, including zinc, biotin, calcium, and vitamins B and C.
These nutrients make facial hair durable and encourage its growth. But that’s only part of the battle. Beards need a well-hydrated, clean face to grow from. The best way to do this is to moisturize both your face and beard with a mineral-rich, all-natural oil or balm. The result of such a regimen will be a stronger, healthier, more lush mane on your face.
What Does Your Skin Crave?
Much like with your hair, your skin gains moisture and nutrients from blood vessels. But here’s the thing; all the great hydration, vitamins, proteins, and minerals eventually rise to your skin’s surface and evaporate. When you don’t satisfactorily replenish them or retain them, you get flaky, dry skin.
That’s where a good moisturizing lotion can make the difference.
These products, called Emollients, penetrate the skin when massaged on. They replenish the proteins and fatty acids that hold your skin cells together.
So, really, what your skin craves and what your beard craves are not at odds. Which begs the question: is there a substantive difference between skin products and beard products?
How Does Face Lotion Differ from Beard Products?
On average, a quality face lotion and a quality beard oil or balm will contain many of the same ingredients.
Consider the main ingredient categories of moisturizing products:
- Humectants – these items draw water from within the skin to the surface. Many involve glycerin. These are common in beard and face salves.
- Emollients – these oil-based items lubricate and fill in damage on both skin and hair.
- Occlusives – Generally oil or wax-based, these act as sealants on skin, holding in hydration and nutrients that would otherwise escape.
As you might have gathered, the real difference between face lotion and beard balm or oil is the oil components. Emollient oils are common in both beard and skin ointments. Occlusive oils are more specific to skin products.
Beard products are more concerned with emollients that can penetrate both flesh and follicle. Face lotion might function that way, or it might be more calibrated to coat and protect the skin.
Can Facial Hair Absorb Face Lotion?
Picking up from our exploration of how face lotion and beard products differ, let’s consider absorption.
If you’re massaging something into your beard and face, you want it to sink in. That means the major component of the product – also known as the carrier oil – should be emollient in nature.
Here’s a handy little breakdown of which carriers will absorb and which will not:
|Carriers the Your Beard Will Absorb||Carriers Your Beard Won’t Absorb|
Sunflower Seed Oil
Pretty much all synthesized oils
That’s not a complete list, by any stretch. It’s more of a cheat sheet. If you see an item from the left column as a primary ingredient on your face lotion, you can be confident it will absorb into your skin and beard.
On the other hand, if the lotion is mainly derived from an item on the left, you shouldn’t expect it to adhere completely. These products won’t harm your beard. On the contrary, items like beeswax and mineral oil are common in many beard products and will help with styling. But they also can lead to some problems.
What Face Lotion Pitfalls Are There for Beards?
A good rule of thumb is that beard oil and beard balms will absorb into skin, but face lotion will not necessarily absorb into your beard. So, there are a few pitfalls you may face using skin lotion on your facial hair.
Your beard needs clear pores to grow, and clogged pores can lead to irritation and acne. Beard oil rarely obstructs your skin, but face lotion that doesn’t fully absorb into hair or skin might. To address this, you need to wash your face regularly, at least twice a day.
Because face lotion might not fully adhere to your facial hair, your beard might end up looking oily or unclean.
You can largely avoid this issue by massaging the lotion straight through your beard into the skin below. You’ll receive all the moisturizing benefits of the lotion without the residue.
As an added precaution, you can run a fine-tooth beard comb through your facial hair to sweep away any unblended lotion. If you’re in the market for a good beard comb, we absolutely love the Hunter Jack Beard Comb Kit for Men. This includes a dual-sided fine-tooth comb wrought from beautiful sandalwood and a lovely black leather case. Plus, 10% of your payment goes to reforestation efforts.
Unless your face lotion is way past its shelf life, it’s unlikely to make your beard smelly. However, skin lotion rarely has as many aromatic essential oils as beard products do. If your balm or beard oil has been masking some other beard-born odor, a lotion won’t be up to that task.
For tips on how to alleviate bad smells in your beard, check out our recent article on the topic.
What about Medicated Lotions?
If you have a skin condition that requires you to use a medicated face lotion, that should supersede any concerns about your beard. Our recommendations regarding pitfall avoidance remain the same, however.
Apply any medicated lotion according to the prescribed instructions. When you’re dealing with your bearded region, massage through the hair to coat your face below, then finish off with a beard brush or comb to clear away any unabsorbed particles on your facial hair.
On average, most face lotions contain similar ingredients to the beard oils and balms favored by hirsute gentlemen. In a pinch, you can use a face lotion on your beard.
Before doing so, you should confirm that the skin lotion contains carrier ingredients that will adhere to your facial hair. Also, remember: beard products generally contain oils that will leave your face exceptionally well moisturized. There’s no need to lotion the skin below your mane before you massage in that oil or balm.
If you are at all interested in acquiring your first beard balm, here’s a quick primer for your delectation.