Scraggly beard fix – 5 simple options for you!

Every man wants a beautiful beard. Part of making your beard look awesome is about making it look as intentional as possible. Even just a little bit of bad maintenance or care can leave your beard looking scraggly, wiry, dry and otherwise just unkempt. The good news is that it is not the end of the world if your beard ends up looking scraggly. There are plenty of really simple ways that you can make your beard look as intentional and professional as possible. In this article, we are going to go over all of the reasons why your beard may look scraggly and, importantly, exactly what you can do about it.

Fixing a scraggly beard is easy: all you have to do is trim up the lines, any stray hairs, and trim the beard to make it look as dense as possible. Follow this up with a good intentional style and some quality beard products and your beard will no longer be scraggly.

A beard can easily become scraggly for a variety of different reasons. It could be that your beard is naturally quite thin. Or it could be that you have never actually attempted to mold or define the lines of your beard which can easily make you look unintentional and not its best. Before we look at the fixes that will 100% work on your beard we need to understand all of the aspects of what makes a beard look scraggly and the components that we need to fight against to keep your beard looking as intentional and awesome as possible.

Why does my beard look scraggly?

Beard look scraggly for a variety of reasons. In this section we are going to have a look at each of the reasons why a beard may be described as scraggly and common causes of those descriptors. The good news is that changing a beard from scraggly to awesome is relatively easy once you know the biggest problem is that your beard faces.

Your beard is unique to you and therefore you may relate to some of these aspects more than others.

Stray hairs

Hairs that do not behave themselves and regularly flay out from the sides can cause your beard to look scraggly very quickly. I think pretty much every beard has some form of stray hairs or problem areas that stick out. For me, it is under my chin and along the jaw line where my beard is the most curly and I struggle to keep the beard within its defined shape. For you, it may be a completely different region.

If you feel like this is a problem for you but you don’t want to cut off any hairs you can train your beard to grow down in some way check out my other article – can I train my beard to grow down? Six awesome options… – Click here.

The bad news is that we cannot train hair follicles to lie in a different direction. The hair follicle direction is primarily dictated by your genetics and so the only way to train hairs to lie in a certain direction is to grow out the hair and then allowed the weight of the hair to fall in the right direction. Quite often cowlicks become a problem for people with wild hair growth directions and you can check out my other article – beard cowlicks, everything you need to know (with videos) – click here – if you feel like cowlicks are really annoying for your beard.

Also, stray hairs can be caused by particularly curly or wild growing hairs. If you are of African descent your beard may be particularly curly and hard to control. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is to keep on trimming the hair as it will not lay in position with any amount of wax or product. The wildness of the hair is due to its relatively flat cross-sectional shape which causes twists and turns in the beard hair.

Uneven hair length

Another reason why your beard may be looking scraggly is because of uneven hair length. Across the entire face it’s very hard to keep beard hairs at the same length. That is because each of the hairs curls differently and, unless the beard hairs are completely straight, you will never get all of the hairs to the same length.

So, if you trim your beard yourself one trick is to pull gently at the beard to reveal the beard hairs that are curled up underneath the beard line and to trim them when they are gently pulled at. I tend to do this with scissors at the end of my trimming session as there is a tendency to over trim with electric trimmers.

It is also very common that beards grow longer on one side of the face than the other. It’s just a quirk of the growth patterns and your metabolism which causes this difference. That is another reason why your beard hair may be looking quite scraggly.

You have a thin beard

Having a thin beard is one of the most obvious ways that a beard can look scraggly. If you want more information about why your beard look so thin check out my other article – why does my beard look so thin? What you can do about it – click here.

Why does my beard look so thin?

There are a couple of reasons why your beard looks thin. You may not have reached your full beard growing potential yet all you have a low hair follicle density which causes light to easily pass through your beard. Quite often I find that my beard looks particularly thin if I have got a light top on or I have not trimmed up the ends of the beard recently.

Having a thin beard is primarily dictated by your genetics and so there isn’t too much you can do about it other than choosing beard style that matches your beard growing pattern. This is an important thing to realise early on as aiming for a style which your beard cannot support will be one way to make your beard look as if it is struggling.

Light beard hair

If you have particularly light beard hair it can create a relatively scraggly looking beard. A really dark beard that has a medium density can look fuller than it is due to the amount of light that it absorbs.

Light beard hair, on the other hand, can make it difficult to achieve a defined edge and line of the beard. There isn’t too much that you can do to make the beard darker other than use a natural hair dye – but that is hard to make look natural if it is significantly different to the colour of your head hair or eyebrows.

Dry hair

Having dry and malnourished hair can easily make it look scraggly. Dry hair has a number of symptoms that you should look for:

  • brittle texture – when you play with your beard hair does it break easily has it got good strength? If your beard breaks easily and the surface of the hair is not smooth to the touch it could be that your hair is too dry.
  • Split ends – split ends can occur from everyday wear and tear but things like styling, friction, excessive heat, and some other styling techniques can cause split ends to appear. The amount split ends that you see is catalysed by dry hair.
  • Dull hair – if your beard hair does not look like it’s got a little bit of a shine to it the hair could be dry or damaged. The shininess of a good hair strand comes from the fact that the cuticles (outside scales) of the beard hair are lying flat. When beards become dry the cuticles lay upwards and cause a dull response to light.
  • Hair that is hard to manage – if your beard is becoming increasingly hard to manage and make lie in a certain position the common cause of this is very dry and brittle hair. You want your beard hair to be relatively easy to comb and retains its shape once it is combed into position.

The good news is that having dry beard hairs can be fixed very easily with the right amount of product and the right daily maintenance routine. We will go over that in more detail in the sections below.

No defined style

Lastly, one of the things that can make your beard look scraggly is the fact that you have no defined style. Choosing a style for your beard is an important part of making sure that you are heading in the right direction and that your beard matches the growth pattern on your face.

If you want to find out more about different beard styles check out my comprehensive list at my other article – click here. In that article I go through everything you need to know about choosing a beard style that matches your face. I go through everything from short beard styles (including the goatee, the short shaggy beard, stubble, et cetera) all the way through to long beard styles (such as the square cut, the lumberjack, hipster beards, and many other styles).

How do I choose my beard style?

Choosing a beard style is a very personal decision. It can be easy to choose a style that you think is fashionable or that you have seen on someone else. The truth is that your beard needs to look good for your beard hair density and face shape. These are the things that you need to take into consideration when you are growing out your beard and choosing a beard style:

  • The hair density on different parts of your face
  • Your face shape
  • How long you have to grow a beard
  • If your partner or job require you to stop at a certain length

All of these factors will come to play when growing a beard – check out my other article on the ultimate beard growing guide – for some guidance on the best beards for a load of situations.

Now, let’s take a look at all of the ways that you can overcome looking scraggly with your beard. The good thing is that you will see that it is incredibly easy to keep your beard looking as good as possible!

How do I keep my beard from looking scraggly?

Keeping your beard from looking scraggly involves making your beard look as intentional as possible. Your beard should be looked after using good quality products and tools whilst also having a well-defined shape and cut.

How to trim a scraggly beard

Trimming a scraggly beard can be quite daunting. The scraggly nature of the lines and edges can make it seem like you will never be able to define the lines or trim up in a way that makes your beard look intentional. Sometimes, when I’m trying out my beard it can be hard to have the vision necessary to see where you should stop cutting and what should be left behind. Here is how I trim up my beard at home:

However, there are some places on your beard where you can focus your attention for maximum impact.

Line up the sides

The sides and cheeks of a beard are relatively easy to maintain. I like to trim my beard hair in a room where there is a light background. The white, or light, background allows me to easily see the edges of my beard and by slowly rotating my head I can see which hairs are escaping the lines that I want.

I regularly brush out my cheeks while trimming so that no stray hairs escape a cut.

It’s relatively easy to follow the lines of the sides with a trimmer. I often use a trimmer to sweep downwards on my cheeks to clean up the sides. After I have removed the bulk of the hair from the sides of my face I use a sharp pair of scissors to do the last little bits of tidying, getting rid of all of the last stray hairs.

Look for fades

If you have a good set of trimmers with a range of different types of trimming guards it is relatively easy to fade your beard in different ways. Fades are a fantastic tool that you can use to blend in problem areas with thicker more dense regions of your beard.

Because I have a close shave on the top of my head (because I’m going bald) I often fade in my sideburns with my cheeks so that there is a nice and even increase in the length of the beard from the top of my head to my cheek.

You can do that with any area of your beard that needs to look as intentional as possible.

Cut back for full density

One of the tips that I only found out recently is that cutting back your beard to where it looks the fullest can be a way to make your beard look as dense and as well maintained as possible.

Sometimes, as a beard grower we can be so focused on length that we forget to consider another very important aspect of a beard looking good – it’s density.

By cutting back your beard to where it is the fullest you will get rid of the see-through parts of your beard around the edges. When I first did this I realise that it was a very effective method of making my beard look weaker and fuller without relying on length to do it.

If you want your beard to look thicker this is one of the best tips you can take away from this article!

Go see a professional barber

It goes without saying that going to see a professional is always a good idea if you are unsure about the next best steps for your beard. Your beard is unique to you and a professional has seen a variety of different types of beards and, importantly, they know the best ways to deal with a load of issues.

I recommend getting in contact with your local trusted barber to ask them questions about your beard and get the best advice for your specific beard growth patterns. Building up a relationship with your barber (even if you don’t see them very often) will be then number one relationship for making your beard remain full and not look scraggly.

Products

I didn’t use products for a very long time during my beard growing journey but I feel like it is my duty to tell you that beard products are one of the most inexpensive but effective ways to make your beard less scraggly. Here is an important caveat, however:

The awesomeness of your beard is primarily dictated by the trimming and style that you are cutting into it. Any product that you add to it increases the effectiveness of that shaping and trimming but you cannot rely on beard products to do the majority of the styling for you. They are kind of like the cherry on top rather than the main reason people’s beards look great.

Oil

Beard oil is a brilliant product that nearly every beard owner should use. It helps with a variety of issues including styling, conditioning, moisturising, smell, and much more of your beard. If you use a beard oil as part of your daily routine your beard will be better in nearly every way – I promise you!

It is easy to look at the claims on the fancy marketing of beard oil and assume that they have over inflated the effects of this product. I can’t blame you because some beard oils say that they are able to grow beards faster but there is no scientific evidence to support any of that. But that doesn’t mean that beard oils don’t have some fantastic other properties.

Beard oil will help your scraggly beard by locking in the moisture that can be easily lost throughout the day. Beard oil also acts like a replacement for the natural oils on your face (such as sebum) which struggle to keep your beard moisturised as your beard gets longer. This should be one of the primary ways that you keep your beard looking as hydrated and nourished as possible.

If you want to find out more about the benefits of beard oil check out my other article – what does beard oil do? [A comprehensive guide to beard oil] – click here.

Balm

Beard balm is another product that I think every beard owner should use at some point in their beard growing journey. There are so many great benefits to using a good quality beard balm and it is cheap and easy to make yourself to!

Check out my DIY Beard balm recipe that includes coconut oil and shear butter:

Using beard oil every day will help you to keep your beard looking as fresh and awesome as possible and help it from looking scraggly throughout the day.

Conditioner

Beard conditioners are something that you don’t often hear people talk about. Beard conditioners are a great way to give your beard and extra boost and hydration punch to keep it from looking scraggly.

What are the benefits of beard conditioners?

It can be confusing with beard oils, butters, balms and waxes. Why would you need a product that specifically conditions the beard. Unlike other products that also provide a styling and hold component – beard conditioners are formulated for maximum nourishment for your beard.

Here are some of the best reasons that you should consider using a dedicated beard conditioner:

  • It nourishes and moisturizes the beard – one of the biggest benefits to your beard – it makes it lovely and soft and will make your wirey hair much easier to manage.
  • It helps softens the stubble on the face – If you are not one for growing a long beard but prefer to keep it close to the skin the it’ll help soften the ends of the hairs and make it way less spikey!
  • Imparts a healthy shine – A well-conditioned beard is one with a nice healthy shine to it. If you want to find out more tips and tricks to making your beard shine – check out my other article.
  • It makes combing and styling easier – having hair that doesn’t grip the comb and sits well after it is brushed into place is an achievable outcome if you use a beard conditioner regularly.
  • It reduces irritation and dry skin – the skin under a beard is not easy to look after. However, the regular use of a conditioner will leave the skin nourished and irritation-free. If you are worried about bacteria and a smelly beard you can also use a beard conditioner with essential oil that has antibacterial properties.
  • They leave a nice fragrance The last and maybe one of the strongest effects noticed by others is that a good beard conditioner will leave your beard smelling lovely! Choose a beard conditioner that has a smell that you like and, if you have a significant other, make sure that they also like the smell! There is nothing quite like a lovely smelling product!

So, there are the main benefits of using beard conditioner on your beard! If you want to find out more about using a beard conditioner I have a massive comprehensive post all about the best beard conditioners and what they can do for your beard – click here.

best beard conditioners

Wax

The last products I would recommend if you are looking to keep your beard as tame as possible is a beard wax. Quite often beard balms contain a small amount of wax (for example beeswax) but sometimes my beard needs a little bit more control than the small amount of beeswax that is in a balm.

Choosing a stronghold moustache wax or a medium hold beard wax will be the thing that will guarantee a long-lasting hold throughout your day. A beard wax is something that can end up looking a little bit greasy so make sure that you creep up on the amount that will hold your beard while not weighing it down.

Using a little bit of wax along the lines and edges of your beard will make sure that your style is held in place and it looks extra sharp that day. I often use a beard wax when I need to hold my beard style a little bit longer all I have a special function where I need my beard looking a little bit better than usual. It is not something that I use every single day but used wisely can add a nice touch of class to your beard.

Brush and comb

Using a good brush and comb is a fundamental way of stopping your beard from looking too scraggly. If you are using cheap combs or brushes the manufacturing process can leave very rough edges and therefore it can damage your beard, calls split ends, and cause unnecessary problems with your beard.

Wooden comb

Getting a good wooden comb will mean that you do not end up with unnecessarily damaged hairs. The thing about a wooden comb is that they are cut from a piece of wood rather than moulded in a injection mould process (like plastic combs are).

Secondly, a wooden comb does not impart static charge to your hair as you are brushing it. When you are brushing with a plastic comb you can easily cause a charge to build up and therefore your hairs will repel each other causing a scraggly and frizzy look.

Getting yourself a good quality wooden comb is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your comb is not causing your beard any damage.

If you are absolutely sure that you want a wooden comb you can buy a plastic comb and one of the best on the market at the moment is the Kent Fine Tooth Beard Comb (click here to check the current price on Amazon).

Natural hair brush

Getting a natural hair, boar bristle brush is a really good way to put the final finishing touches to your beard style. The added stiffness of the bristles means that it is easy to tuck away those pesky flyaway hairs and will also allow you to distribute products such as beard oil and other styling balms easily.

One of the best natural hair beard brushes at the moment is the ZilberHaar Beard Brush (click here to check the current price on Amazon)

Heat treatment

One of the last ways that you can make sure that your beard is not super scraggly is by using a heat treatment such as a hairdryer or straighteners.

These are common tools used by beard growers around the world and that is because they are super effective at providing your beard with a straight and flyaway free look. There is no reason why you shouldn’t strain your beard but overuse of a straightener on high heat can easily leave your beard drier than when you started. This will increase the amount of split ends and make it very frizzy.

If you want a full run down on straightening your beard check out my other article – should you straighten your beard – the ultimate guide – click here.

Straightening your beard should come with a word of warning because it easily becomes the go to method for creating a straight beard. This leads to overheating the hair which can cause bubbles to form from overheating. A study published in 1994 highlighted the effect called bubble hair stop bubble hair is an acquired hair shaft deformity which is characterised by bubble like areas in the hair shaft which can be seen with a microscope.

Every hair type can develop bubbles when they are subjected to sufficient heat and it is a cavitation containing gas from the result of excess heat from hairdryers and other haircare equipment. It is a reproducible effect that can be avoided by not overusing heat treatments or using them to regularly.

The final word

There are all of the ways that you can stop your beard looking scraggly and making it look as awesome as possible. Having a scraggly beard is characterised by a variety of things and symptoms. The good news is that using the techniques in this article you will be able to easily overcome any scraggly beard issues!

I hope that your beard growing adventure doesn’t stop because of a scraggly beard but rather it’s an excuse to learn new techniques and investigate new products to keep your beard looking as awesome and intentional as you want it to be! Happy beard growing!

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 trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!