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Which product softens uncomfortable stubble?

Uncomfortable stubble in the early stages of beard growth is an issue for a huge number of beard growers. The early stages are certainly some of the hardest to get through but any help you can get to soften uncomfortable stubble if you decide to stick with a stubble length beard will make your beard growing journey much nicer. In this article, we are going to go over all of the different products that soften uncomfortable stubble and enable you to forget about your beard.

Your stubble is uncomfortable because of irritated skin or sharp curly hairs scratching at the skin. Good products for irritated skin include Klaire calming crème as well as homemade remedies such as aloe vera. You can also use a stubble softening pad to round the sharp ends of shaved beard hair.

There are a number of reasons why your stubble may feel uncomfortable. Ultimately, it comes down to 2 broad reasons. Either your skin is irritated which is causing you to have uncomfortable stubble towards the roots of the hair or you have sharp stubble hairs scratching at the skin as it grows out from the face.

Let’s take a look, in more detail, at why some people experience particularly uncomfortable stubble.

Why it is uncomfortable?

Hairs do not have any capacity to feel in the way that your skin is able to perceive sensations. Hair is simply a mix of keratin and collagen which does not feel any pain. This is very fortunate as trimming up your beard would be an excruciating process.

If your stubble feels uncomfortable it may be that it needs softening because of the way it is emerging face or it could be that the skin under the stubble needs a little bit of care and attention due to its new stubble growth.

Sharp stubble

If your stubble is relatively fresh it can certainly cause irritation on the skin as it emerges from the hair root. Sometimes, a hair can become trapped in the hair follicle – causing an ingrown hair – which can result in a very uncomfortable and painful skin condition.

The likelihood that you will have an ingrown hair during the growth of your stubble is dependent on a variety of factors with one of them being the direction of the hair growth as it comes out of the skin.

Some people have very acute angle growth – this means that it is growing parallel to the surface of the skin – which causes a significant amount of ingrown hairs. It can also impact the shape of the head causing it to curl inwards as it is growing which can cause irritation on the surface of the skin.

The approaches to dealing with sharp stubble include using a mechanical stubble softening pad or using various products to hydrate and nourish the stubble so that it isn’t as stiff or spiky as it touches the skin surface.

If you want to know more about what makes stubble scratchy you can check out my other article where I go through all of the reasons including the scientific evidence of why your stubble is particularly scratchy and uncomfortable. Click here to be taken to article.

What makes stubble scratchy?

Irritated skin

There are a number of ways that skin can become irritated. This includes:

  • the overuse of styling products on the face.
  • An excessive use of heat
  • sun exposure and cold winds
  • chlorinated water into ankles
  • using harsh shampoos or beard products on the face.
  • Not looking after one’s overall health such as drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet.

If the skin under your stubble feels uncomfortable it could indicate that there is a more serious matter that you have to deal with such as an inflammatory condition called pseudofolliculitis Barbae.

Inflammatory conditions

Pseudofolliculitis barbae is an inflammatory condition of the beard area. It seems to be more prevalent in men of an African descent and it can expect both men and women. There is a study published in 2016 which looks at the condition and also the role of facial grooming in making it worse.

Prior to this study there was not any robust clinical evidence to support recommendations about shaving or not shaving with single blade or multi-blade razers. The study highlights that daily shaving which includes a good pre-shave and post shave hydration may be beneficial to stop the development of ingrown hairs.

Daily shaving with a multi-blade razor will reduce the pressure that you put on your skin and also reduce the irritation from having to pass over the same part of the face over and over again.

If you feel like your uncomfortable stubble is due to an inflammatory condition you must seek help from your trusted medical professional in order to receive the appropriate inflammatory medication and topical treatments.

Products for irritated skin

If the skin underneath your stubble is particularly irritated there are a number of soothing products that you can use to calm down the redness and itchiness. Here are some of my favourite skin soothing products that will be sure to help with your uncomfortable stubble.

Banyan Botanicals Soothing Skin Balm$22/4 ozLink to product
CW Beggs and Sons Sensitive Skin Moisturizer for Men$24/2.5 ozLink to product
Liz Claiborne Curve for Men Skin Soother  $25/4.2 ozLink to product

Banyan Botanicals Soothing Skin Balm

This product is a certified organic soothing balm which can help the natural healing process of red and irritated skin. It’s high hydration component means that it will solve any scaly and dryer rashes as it soothes and hydrates the skin.

CW Beggs and Sons Sensitive Skin Moisturizer for Men

This product is the perfect daily moisturiser for men who have significant irritation and sensitive skin. It ingredients instantly soothe irritation and resolve burning issues and redness. The great thing about this product is that it actively protects skin against external factors whilst also hydrating and reducing the skin sensitivity.

It is alcohol free and fragrance free which means that you can avoid any overpowering scents that are common in other types of skin moisturisers.

Liz Claiborne Curve for Men Skin Soother

this product is something that went out of stalls many years ago but is available on YouTube. It is a favourite of many customers and it has a very mild scent. For those of you that are interested in this manner it is described as:

The fragrance starts with notes of hydroponic bamboo and green apple, blended with citrus. The heart unveils lavender, geranium, and masculine floral notes. The dry down is a sensual combination of earthy and woody notes.

There are also some other options beyond lotions which allow you to soften uncomfortable stubble. This is the only product like this on the market and it could be the perfect way to avoid using creams and balms whilst effectively softening uncomfortable stubble…

Stubble softening pads

Stubble can also be tamed by using a product to rub off the sharp ends of your hairs.

There is a product called The Soft Goat which is a hypoallergenic pad which, when rubbed on stubble, dulls sharp edges from trimming and shaving. It is the first stubble softener that doesn’t rely on absorption of a product into the stubble.

The concept is very simple – it is quickly and easily removing the sharp ends of your hair through mechanical action. It is a small and lightly textured pad that you gently rub in a circular motion over your daily growth for about a minute or two depending on your results.

Each pad lasts about two months and comes in a box of three – so that is six months of super soft stubble!

Products for softening stubble

Softening stubble comes down to imparting hydration and nourishment deep into the beard so that it is not as stiff to the touch. My preference is to use individual ingredients rather than a mix of ingredients although, I have had plenty of good experiences with beard softening products such as beard oil, balms, and waxes.

There are plenty of products for softening stubble but my favourite has to be Shea butter

Shea butter

Shea butter is a fantastic product that is amazing for each and every part of your beard growing journey. I have been using Shea butter for as long as I have been grown beard – even when I had stubble – and I always keep a fresh batch on hand for when I want to give my skin and beard that extra boost.

Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree and in its raw form it has an off-white colour that is a solid at room temperature. All you have to do is heat up the solid in your hands until it is pliable enough to rub over the length of your beard.

Shea butter has an amazing array of properties that are completely backed up by science:

  • It can help you beat beardruff – In 2018 a study found that when used in combination with other products it helps reduce flakes.
  • It may help hair get stronger – Similar plant-based butter has been shown to make hair much more resistant to breakages
  • It is antibacterial and antifungal – if your beard is smelling or you have some issues with a dirty beard. Shea butter will help fight off the bacteria that are in your beard. Want more about beard bacteria? Check out this article all about beard bacteria.
  • Can add slight sun protection to your beard hair – If you live in a sunny and hot environment shea butter ats an extra layer of sun protection that has been estimated to provide a 3 – 4 SPF protection.

If I had to choose just one product to try and soften up my stubble it would be Shea butter. Get yourself some right now – you won’t regret it!

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is another fantastic product for hair because it has been well documented to seep into the hairs cuticle. You can use a little bit of heat to make the absorption of the coconut oil into the hair more efficient.

A study published in 2012 called Quantitative measurement of the penetration of coconut oil into human hair using radiolabeled coconut oil looked at the science behind the penetration of coconut oil into hair.

Applying coconut oil to hair has been used for centuries particularly in Asian and African countries and it is the fact that the oil stops water penetrating into the hair to cause swelling and breakages which results in the main protection mechanism.

The scientists looked at the absorption of the coconut oil into the human hair by using a small radioactive component (tritium) in the coconut oil. 10 cm long strands of Indian hair was soaked in 1.5 mL of the coconut oil which had been radiolabelled.

The method was able to distinguish between surface deposited oil and oil that had been absorbed directly into the hair fibre. It was found that the oil was deposited mainly on the surface of the hair but also was able to penetrate the hair fibre.

To use coconut oil effectively you have to make sure that you give enough time to penetrate into the core of the hair and you do that by heating it up so that it becomes easy to apply to the hair and leave it for at least 20 minutes after application.

Washing with a mild shampoo afterwards is a fantastic way of softening your stubble.

Gelatin and beard oil

Gelatin is a great source of protein for the hair. It also coats the hair evenly and moisturises deep into the core making the stubble much smoother and softer to the touch. The gelatin helps the beard oil set against the surface of the hair for much longer than if you were to use beard oil on its own. This combination is fantastic for any length of beard and you can soften stubble easily.

To prepare this home remedy you need to:

  • mix 1 tablespoon of gelatin into one cup of warm water.
  • Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes to partially set the gelatin.
  • You can then add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of beard oil to help coat the hair.
  • Apply the mixture to your stubble and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse off the gelatin and beard oil mixture with warm water.

The good news is that there are also a number of simple products which can soften your stubble you may have in your pantry or cupboards right now. One of my favourites for softening stubble is using an avocado paste.

Avocado paste

Avocados are delicious and a wicked source of healthy fats. They contain a huge amount of vitamin E which, like vitamin A, helps combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body. One study resulted in people with hair loss seeing 34.5% more hair growth after taking Vitamin E for eight months.

But not only is it good for eating – is perfect as a topical treatment as well. A 2015 study found that minerals in avocado oil – which was the potassium and magnesium – may help cuticle cells lay flat against the shaft of the hair.

This will help your beard hair remained smooth and shiny.

Use as follows:

  • use a fork to mash one full avocado into a smooth paste.
  • At this point add any other ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, lemon juice, eggs, aloe vera, bananas, and more.
  • Place the paste into your hair and make sure that it goes from root to tip.
  • Leave it in your hair for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse out the paste in the shower and shampoo and condition your hair as usual.

Because of the fatty nature of the avocados you should apply this to dry hair so that it does not have to penetrate past any water to sit at the surface of your hair and close to the cuticles. Because the facts and water repel each other this will ensure a deep treatment.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an incredible product that can leave your hair feeling much smoother and softer. You may be familiar with Apple cider vinegar from your grandmother or old school family member.

It has amazing antibacterial and antifungal properties but it can smell a little bit strange. That is because we are also used to products which have been designed to smell nice. You can overcome some of this by using essential oils or shampoo and conditioner is that you like after using Apple cider vinegar.

Don’t use apple cider vinegar straight from the bottle it needs dilating first. This is how you use it:

  • Dilute the Apple cider vinegar with about one part in five in water.
  • Wet your beard hair in the shower.
  • After your hair is completely wet turn off the shower and pour the Apple cider vinegar completely through your beard.
  • Let it sit in their full about five minutes.
  • After five minutes, rinse it out with water and follow-up with your typical shampoo and conditioner.

After about one week of daily use you will start seeing a noticeable difference in the softness and shininess of your beard.

The only thing you need to be worried about is that the Apple cider vinegar doesn’t irritate your skin. It majorly changes the pH of your skin so don’t overuse it.

Summary

In this article, we have gone over exactly which products soften uncomfortable stubble and how you can help the irritation underneath the stubble to sue the roots of the hair and reduce the redness and irritability of the skin.

These are some of my favourite products for softening uncomfortable stubble and if you want to know more about how to make your beard soft check out my other article about home remedies – click here to be taken to article.

How to make beard soft home remedies
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!