Is it bad to rub your beard? How to stop it!

When you are growning a beard it is natural to touch and pull at it as it is growing. In fact, pulling at your beard is a more common thing to do when you have a really long beard. But ultimate question is; is it bad to rub your beard? Is it bad to pull your beard? And is it just over all not recommended to touch your beard much? In this article we’re going to go over all of the aspects about rubbing your beard, touching your beard, and other habits that could damage your beard.

It is not overly bad to rub your beard as long as you do not do it when it is wet. Wet hair is more brittle and easier to break than dry hair. Rubbing your beard also does not necessarily stimulate beard growth so try your best to leave your hair alone if you don’t need to touch it.

We all have nervous tics and things that we do subconsciously throughout the day. It is natural that rubbing your beard hair becomes part of your subconscious activities. There is a stereotype of the philosopher rubbing their beard while thinking and that’s because it can actually help focus your thoughts. At least I think I think better when I rubbing my beard. Although occasional beard rubbing and pulling does not damage the beard very much if it becomes too obsessive it can do a number of things.

Is pulling your beard hair bad?

There is no doubt that just leaving your beard alone is better for it in the long run. Rubbing your beard can do a number of things to it:

  • cause hair breakage – rubbing your hair in circular motions can cause unnecessary strain on the shaft and cuticle of the hair. This will mean that there is a large torsional strain placed on the hair which will make it more susceptible to breakage. Hair breakage will cause a load of beard-related issues such as thinning and patches. Check out my other article why does my beard look so thin? What you can do about it – click here.
  • Beard bacteria – by constantly touching your beard hair you are running the risk of transferring whatever is on your hands onto your face. This could be bacteria from the environment. We have to make sure that our hygiene is particularly good because any bacteria trapped in the beard can grow as it is a nice warm area with lots of potential bacteria food – such as sebum from the skin on your face. If you want to know more about bacteria go check out my other article beard bacteria – what nasties are lurking in your beard? – Click here.
  • You can remove the product – products are a normal part of growing a beard but if you are constantly touching your beard you could easily remove the product that you placed in your beard hair in the morning.

Rubbing and pulling at your hair is fine as long as you are relatively gentle. Running your fingers through the entire length of your beard is absolutely fine. If you find that you are pulling on individual hairs and are focusing on a small spot of your beard you can actually cause holes. There are ways to stop you from rubbing and pulling at your beard and we will cover that in the next section.

How to stop touching your beard.

Perhaps you are struggling to stop pulling at your beard hair. If it goes on for long enough it can become a compulsion that you need to control. There is no cure for the extreme compulsion to pull your hair called Trichotillomania, but it can be managed successfully. If you feel like you need help from a professional you should seek therapy by a qualified repetitive behaviour practitioner so that you can overcome this compulsion.

If you aren’t particularly bad with this action but you still want a little bit help here are the things you can do to break the cycle of hair pulling and rubbing:

  • identify the pulling trends – becoming aware of when you first start pulling your hair can be an effective treatment. You need to identify the pulling behaviours and track the patterns of when they happen. It’s easy to do this in the early stages by keeping a journal of the things that trigger the pulling and rubbing of your hair. Keep track for about a week and then review to look for patterns.
  • Identify triggers – a trigger is an internal or external cues that occurs right before the rubbing or pulling of your beard hair. Internal cues can include emotional states and thought patterns and external cues are things like people, places, and situations. Some triggers will be easily identifiable but others may be a little bit more subvert.
  • Create competing responses – there is a technique called habit reversal training where people learn to engage in behaviour that makes pulling or rubbing their hair difficult or impossible to do. Those who use their hands can create ways to keep their hands doing something else. For example they can clench the first and hold on tight or sitting on their hands when they feel triggered to rub and pull it there hair. There is a technology developed by habit aware that is a wearable technology which will alert you to when you are likely to be pulling your hair or doing other habits. It can be used for face touching, nail biting, skin picking, and hair pulling.
  • Separate yourself from the behaviour – even though your hair rubbing and pulling may be a compulsive behaviour you are defined by other things as well. Focus on the other aspects of your life that you enjoy so that you are not caught in the trap of thinking that any beard pulling or rubbing defines you.

These approaches will only help so far and you may find that you need more help. There is a website which is dedicated towards hair pulling which you may find useful called trichstop – click here to be taken to the website.

Besides the bad effects of rubbing and pulling at your beard hair you could wonder if it has any benefits. There are some blocks that say facial massaging and rubbing your beard will help it grow. Is there any truth in this and doesn’t really help with beard growth.

Will stroking your beard help it grow?

Massaging and stroking your beard may seem like a wholesome way to stimulate growth. You do not have to ingest any other products and you don’t have to buy expensive medicated products like minoxidil. It may even make you feel good and feel like you are doing something productive towards your beard growth. But what actually happens when stroking and rubbing your beard?

Stroking and rubbing your beard will not help it grow. It might help free up some tract hairs and make the hairs sit longer on your face but it does not help your beard grow in any significant way. A massage on your face may help increase blood flow a tiny bit and you may have a very small change in the blood flow to the area of that body stop however there are better things that you can spend your time doing which will have a much bigger impact on your beard growth. Massaging and stroking your beard will not be the thing that turns your beard into a full thick bush.

Also, as mentioned above, stroking and rubbing your beard may damage the hairs (especially if they are wet). So each time you touch your beard you have to ask whether or not the benefit outweighs the negatives of stroking. For me, I try not to touch my beard much but it has become a natural reflex for me while going about my daily life. I do not experience significant hair fall throughout my day despite touching my beard regularly.

Here are some other bad habits that you should avoid where you risk damaging the hair.

Other Bad beard habits

We can all get a little bit compulsive when it comes to our beards. There are a load of things that you can do which seemingly help protect your beard and help it grow up you are doing more damage than good. The take-home message from this section is everything in moderation. Too much of anything will result in damage to your beard.

Over washing

Using hair shampoo all the time on your beard can make it really dry. You need to focus on a beard shampoo that has been specially formulated for beards and not just use your regular hair shampoo and conditioner. If you are washing your hair every day you can easily strip out the natural oils from your beard and leave it to drive to manage and leave it susceptible to more breakages.

is brushing your beard too much bad?

Too much brushing is a bad thing. What is classified as too much? Well, I think if you are brushing your beard more than three times a day you are probably over combing and over brushing your beard.

Many men brush their beard after shampooing and while the hair is wet. This is way have to be extra careful about not damaging the beard hair as wet hair is hair that can easily be broken. Go easily and invest in a natural fibre brush – check out my recommended tools page for the best beard brushes currently available.

Using too much heat

Using too much heat on your hair can also be another way that you can increase hair fall and damage and dry out the hair. Check out my other article called should you straighten your beard? Everything you need to know… – Click here.

Straightening your beard hair with a hairdryer or beard straightening iron is such an awesome tool to have in your repertoire. Just like everything it can be overdone as it will result in too much stress being applied directly to the hair. Straightening a beard is becoming increasingly popular based on the beard styles that we see in the media or just down to personal preference. There is no reason you shouldn’t use heat on your beard – just go easy and your beer to do it for a long period of time. If you find that you are straightening your beard every single day reconsider how often you really need to do it.

Avoid using plastic combs.

If you are finding that you are seeing a significant amount of hair fall after grooming and brushing it could be that you need to invest in a better cone. There are plenty of options and some people love the circular soft bristle brushes. But if you stick with a straight comb but get a wooden one your beard hair will be less likely to be broken during brushing.

Plastic combs also have tiny imperfections that can be razor-sharp due to the moulding process. Whereas wooden combs typically have teeth that have been cut out and not have sharp edges.

Plastic combs also create a lot of static which can be hard to remove from your beard causing it to fuzz out. I know that when I use my plastic comb I see a significant amount of flyaway’s whereas when I use my bull bristle flat brush I am able to tuck the hairs in to my beard much easier.

Making sure you invest in good quality tools is one of the most important steps to looking after your beard.

Do guys like having their beard touched?

If you are with someone who has a beard it may be a little bit confusing about what exactly to do with it when you are being intimate. To be honest you don’t have to do much to it. Yes, some guys like having their beard touched whereas others are indifferent to it.

If your partner has a beard you should ask them what they like and how they like it. For example, beards are attached to quite a sensitive part of the face and so light strokes can be preferable. However if your partner likes things a little rougher you can likely target on the beard hair without causing any damage. Always go easy and gentle on a beard and seek consent before doing anything out of the ordinary.

One thing that I have found is that some strangers do like to pull actual beard and touch it. The only thing that strikes me as strange about this is the fact that they typically do not ask for my consent. I am forgiving when children want to touch my beard but when adults want to touch my beard all I ask is that they ask me if it’s okay to do so.

Communication with all of these things is the ultimate key.


So there we have it, there is everything you need to know about rubbing your beard and if it is bad for it. Ultimately as long as your beard touching and rubbing does not become too obsessive you are unlikely to cause significant damage unless you are doing it while your beard is wet.

In my opinion, there are plenty of downsides to touching your beard so I would minimise it at all costs. If you find that you are struggling to not touch your beard and it is becoming a bit of a compulsion there are options for you to seek help from a professionally trained therapist. For most people however being aware of their habits and minimising the triggers for touching their beard will be something that allows them to stay in full control of that base touching habit.

There is nothing in my research that suggests that occasionally stroking your beard while thinking all touching your beard throughout the day will cause your beard any significant breakages or issues.

Good luck with your growing and I hope that this article has been very helpful for you.

The Author

Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialling different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!