Hair Drying, Heat Damage, and Your Beard
Modern Men and Grooming
Grooming is no longer a topic of conversation reserved for women and the beauty industry. People of all genders are now involved in the conversation - especially with beards and men's grooming growing in popularity over the last decade or so. Depending on your look and your personal preferences, your grooming routine is gonna vary wildly from other people you meet. Beardbrand is here to make sure that you're comfortable and confident in your grooming no matter what your routine is.
It's 2018 and the idea "manliness" is still evolving. While men aren't running in droves to get a facial or pedicure, they're definitely beginning to understand that a bit of TLC for your hair and skin goes a long way for exuding confidence. With that being said, taking proper care of your skin, hair, and beards should become a regular part of your routine if it isn't already.
If you have a curly or unusually dense beard, chances are you're going to have trouble taming that mane at some point. No single product is going to do the trick - no balm, comb, or oil is the single answer to getting that wild growth under control. Hell, even mustache wax only goes so far when it comes to acing the iconic mustache curl.
It's time to talk about cranking up the heat.
Our bodies are constantly exposed to the elements. No one, let alone guys, can avoid skin and hair damage forever. Luckily we live in a time that affords us the proper tools and easy-access knowledge to take care of ourselves.
Beardbrand exists to help educate and mentor on the topic of male grooming. The concept of taking care of our skin and hair is something that hasn't been around for very long - especially for men - so it's totally cool if you get uncomfortable when trying these new things. Strides in personal growth happen when we embrace discomfort, and grooming your beard is no different.
Trying out new things like a blow dryer, styling product, or fragrances can feel a little weird. So get weird! We're not saying you need to overhaul your morning routine, but adding some heat can make a world of difference for men who are at a loss on how to style or shape a beard.
Why You Should Use a Blow Dryer
Let's cut to the chase - using a blow dryer can take your hair and beard to an entirely new level, and it can actually speed up your grooming time (depending on what your routine is). Blow dryers are one of, if not the best tool to train your hair and beard to do exactly what you want it to do.
Using simple heat application while you brush or comb literally "trains" the hair to grow in a certain way. Once you train your beard with a brush and heat for a while, it will be easier to style and work with, and the curls and hairs that frustrate you the most won't be nearly as prominent. Greg, Carlos, Eric, and plenty of other fine gentlemen have been able to keep their huge beards consistently impressive as a result of training and getting comfortable with a blow dryer.
We should also talk about those legendary mustache curls. Modest mustache curls can be trained into place with patience, time, wax, and more time. Tighter, bigger, and crisper curls are often a result of meticulous training with ongoing heat application techniques. Additionally, the methods for training a mustache to cooperate without heat are extremely time-consuming.
Just for reference: I tried training my mustache curls without a blow dryer for over a year. It took literally holding my mustache for fifteen or twenty minutes each morning (almost every day). That's fifteen or twenty minutes of sitting on the couch or staring in the mirror, with both of my hands occupied, every single morning. A lot of the time it didn't work out, anyway, and I was left running late or frustrated.
Once I added some heat to it, the whole process was pared down to just a couple minutes a day - that's 90% less time. Heat is awesome. Embrace the heat.
The Science of Blow Drying
Here's the thing - blow dryers used to have a female association, but it's time to drop that baggage. Applying heat to your hair is functionally what allows you to change it - there is no way around it.
Your hair cells are connected and shaped by hydrogen bonds. When you apply heat, it "weakens" the hydrogen bonds of the hair, allowing you to change its overall texture and shape. Straight hair can get curled, and curly hair can get straightened out.
As you continue to apply heat while training your beard, your hair cells will eventually have a bit of "muscle memory", meaning they'll be able to regain that alternative shape more easily.
Heat can also cause hair damage and discomfort if used in excess, so you don't want to use it for long amounts of time or every single day. Just a couple minutes of heat a handful of times a week will go a long way, so don't worry about having to wake up earlier every day to get this done.
If you're curious about the detailed science of heat and hair, this article has you covered.
Whenever you look up hair dryers and heat styling techniques, the phrase "Heat Damage" is going to come up in your search results. This is when the heat you use on your hair causes the proteins and oils to break down too much, leaving your hair damaged and coarse. Beardbrand did some research, and we've uncovered some pretty interesting data.
When your hair and beard are exposed to extreme temperatures, the strands do indeed become rough and brittle. Constant heat exposure can also lead to discoloration of the hair.
A study that was conducted by the Korean Society for Investigative Dermatology actually discovered "although using a hair dryer causes more surface damage than natural drying, using a hair dryer at a distance of 15 cm with continuous motion causes less damage than drying hair naturally." Therefore, damage does occur from applying heat to your beard, but only when heat is used incorrectly, and in excess.
So what does this mean? At lower temperatures and a further distance between the blow dryer and your scalp, it can actually be more beneficial for your hair and beard to be blown dry rather than air dried.
Quicker evaporation of the water trapped in your hair and beard actually takes the tension off of your follicles. Having wet hair actually weighs down the hair strands, and adds pressure to the follicles! So if you aren't blow drying your beard, take an extra moment or two to towel dry it before carrying on with your day.
How To Blow Dry Your Beard
Now we get into the good stuff! First things first - you need a blow dryer. They aren't that expensive - they can be picked up at most drug stores and beauty/body/pharmacy retailers like Target or CVS, or on Amazon. You'll also wanna see if you can get a nozzle or attachment, like the one here:
That little bad boy will make a world of difference in protecting you from heat damage - it focuses the heat being propelled by the dryer, thus protecting the rest of your beard from unnecessary heat exposure.
First Step - Wash, rinse, and towel dry the excess water until your beard is damp. Apply your favorite beard oil thoroughly.
Second Step - Brush your beard in the direction you want to style it. This distributes the oil more evenly through the beard and gets it "ready" for styling.
Third Step - Brush or comb your beard in the direction you want it while using the blow dryer 6-9 inches from your beard. Follow the brush or comb through the beard as you dry, focusing the heat only on the hair that's being styled. Following the comb or beard as you use the blow dryer is another critical element in avoiding heat damage. Here is a video that really demonstrates the technique (as well as a great nozzle):
Fourth Step: Blast that beard with the blow dryer using the COLD setting. The cool air re-forms those hydrogen bonds I mentioned earlier, allowing the new style to hold better.
Fifth Step: Apply any other products you want to use, like a little extra beard oil or utility balm. If you using styling products like our Styling Balm, whether you use it before or after the heat is different for each person and each style. I have a pretty dense and long beard, so I tend to use Styling Balm *after* I apply heat for a stronger hold.
Embrace discomfort, get a little weird, and try out new things with this new set of skills. I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but it's true: Even a couple minutes of heat can make a massive difference in your beard game.
KEEP IT SIMPLE:
- Use a nozzle on your hair dryer to focus heat
- Try multiple techniques and see how they work
- Use beard oil to keep your beard healthy while you groom
- Keep your hair dryer 6-9 inches away from your beard
- Give up on your first attempt (practice makes perfect!)
- Hold your hair dryer still while grooming - keep it moving!
- Hold the hair dryer less than 6 inches from your face
- Use a hair dryer without a conditioning beard product like oil or balm
*This article was originally written by Parker Mallouf in May 2017. It has been expanded, rewritten, and published by Wil Mouradian.*