Why does my beard hurt? 6 reasons your beard may be hurting

Beards quite often have a load of issues that pop up as you are growing them. Whether that is a smelly beard, a forked beard, a patchy beard, or any other beard issue they can all be very upsetting. In this article we’re going to talk about all of the reasons why your beard may be sore, or hurting/aching. It is a surprisingly common issue when growing a beard. It can start relatively minor but left unchecked a minor beard ache can become quite painful. Here, I am going to give you the reasons and a solution to the problem.

Let’s get into it!

Your beard is hurting you because of dry and irritated skin, inflammation of the hair follicles, ingrown has, hairs being forced into a new direction, and over grooming. Each of these is easy to solve with simple products and treatments.

Let’s start with a very common issue with a sore beard which is dry and irritated skin underneath the beard.

Dry and irritated skin

why does my beard hurt – dry skin

An itchy beard can be caused by a number of different things. That includes poor hygiene, dry skin, ingrown has, excessive grooming and reactions to beard soaps and other products. Whether or not you have been growing a beard for one, two, or many years it is very common to end up with dry and irritated skin.

Dry skin can be caused by a variety of environmental factors. You may live in a particularly dry or cold weather climate – these conditions are perfect for drying out your skin and making your beard feel itchy. It could also be that your shampoo and so is too harsh and is washing off all of your natural oils, making your skin incredibly dry.

How to treat dry and irritated skin

There are a few ways that you can keep your beard from becoming dry and irritated. Here, we’re going to go over the most important ways and methods you can use to keep your beard from becoming dry and itchy.

Good hygiene

The number one thing you can do for your beard and face is set up a great hygiene routine. You need to clean and wash your beard regularly to prevent the buildup of oil (whether that is natural or man-made in a product), and remove bacteria and that funguses from the beard. Here are the very simple things that you should consider when coming up with a beard cleaning routine.

  • Do a deep clean of your beard at least 2 to 3 times a week
  • use a shampoo and conditioner that has been specially formulated for beards and faces
  • avoid using really hot water on your beard for prolonged periods of time
  • after shampooing, use a beard conditioner such as a beard oil, beard balm, beard butter or other leave in conditioner that you like

In the YouTube video below, you will see my daily morning routine for maintaining and looking after my beard:


If you find that you are still struggling to control your itchy beard you may need to resort to using medication. This is only important if you have an infection or other skin condition that needs medical interventions. If in doubt speak to your trusted medical professional.

According to Healthline common medications include an appointment with lactic acid and urea, antifungal creams, glycolic acid, and corticosteroid cream.

If you are looking for a great leave in conditioner, or a way to properly maintain your beard, check out my other articles:

Reading those other articles will give you everything you need to bow to combat dry and itchy beards.

Now let’s have a look at something that is a little bit more sinister – inflammation.


Why does my bed hurt – inflammation

Inflammation can be quite a serious issue and cause your beard to hurt. When inflammation happens on the face it can feel like your beard hairs are hurting. The reason for this is very simple: there is a fair amount of inflammation in the blood vessels at the root of the hairs. The inflammation of the blood vessels causes the nerves at the base of the hair to send out signals that the hair is hurting. The fact that the hair follicle is hurting is indistinguishable from the hair hurting.

This inflammation can be caused by a range of beard grooming and product choices. But luckily, there are some easy ways to reduce inflammation and stop the beard has from hurting.

Take a break from products

Using a really harsh shampoo can dry out your skin and cause inflammation in the blood vessels. There are so many other products that can also implement the skin. If you are like most beard growers, you will be using a combination of waxes, oils, balms, butters, and much much more. Each of these products contains a variety of ingredients. However, some of these ingredients may not quite be as kind to your skin as you had hoped. If you are experiencing significant inflammation, consider taking a break from all of the products that you commonly use. If you notice a significant improvement after not using these products it could be that one of them is causing you your issues.

If you are dying your beard, you may have to have valet and intolerance to the dye. A dye quickly changes the pH of the skin and can exacerbate inflammation.

Choose a beard dye that has a pH level to better suit the skin. And try a different brand if you must.

Ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs are particularly prevalent in the early stages of growing a beard. When hair has been shaved or cut it can grow inwards back towards the follicle. This is what we commonly call an ingrown hair. This irritation can inflame the follicle and cause excessive itchiness. Ingrown has typically appeared as red bumps and they can be really painful.

Ingrown hairs can cause itchiness ranging from very mild to very severe. Quite often beard growers find that they resolve on their own but some will require medical intervention. Whether mild or severe it is very inconvenient for a beard grower. The good news is as there are some things you can do before you have to see your doctor.

Here are the most common ways to treat ingrown hairs:

  • keep your face clean: keeping the face clean means that your skin doesn’t become too oily and that the act of washing your face, and rubbing the shampoo in, acts like a very mild exfoliation that may help ingrown has escape the skin.
  • Allow the hair to grow: as you are growing and it’s your beard avoiding trimming and shaving areas of the beard such as the beard and neck line some hairs will naturally make their way out of the hair follicle.
  • Conditioning the beard: softer hairs do not have the ability to penetrate the skin as well. Using a beard or hair conditioner on the hair will make it softer and less likely to become ingrown. If you need some examples of great beard conditioners check out my other article – 10 best beard conditioners [beyond oil and balm] – click here.

Try to avoid picking at ingrown hairs to aggressively. It could lead to infection and further irritation of the skin. Although, I know that we’ve all been there and is very very satisfying when you finally get out that trapped hair.

Now, let’s take a look at one of the most interesting reasons which is your hair sitting in a new direction.

Hairs sitting in a new direction

Some bearded growers experience a sore beard after forcing their beard hairs to sit in a new direction. Commonly, that is something that happens after you have slept on your beard for a number of hours or you are attempting to style your bed with a stronghold wax. The twisting and torsion at the base of the hair follicles can cause inflammation and the nerves to become active.

This issue is particularly common in shorter beards when the hairs haven’t got long enough to lay naturally. As the beard hairs get longer they will twist less at the hair root. The only way to combat shorter hairs sitting in “the wrong direction” – Or at least a painful direction – is to start using beard oil every day, as part of your normal beard maintenance routine.

There are a couple of ways that you can alleviate the pain including avoiding brushing your hair as soon as you wake up. Also, you can use a leave-in conditioner just before you go to bed at night. The leave-in conditioner will make sure that your hairs are more flexible and moisturized. This causes them to bend instead of creating torsion at the root while sleeping.

If you find that your hairs are achy not in the morning but are achy throughout the day, you should spend some time looking at how to properly condition your beard hairs. Well conditioned beard has a much easier to tame and are more malleable and easier to style. This is the number-one way of stopping your beard hurting if you are finding that the beard hurts in the morning or after heavy styling.

Now, let’s look at the next reason your beard may be hurting.


why does my beard hurt – over grooming

Another reason your beard hair may be hurting is that you may be over grooming or aggressively grooming regularly.

It can be frustrating if your beard is not laying or behaving as you would want it to behave. This can cause the beard grower to aggressively groom and heat treat their beard. I know I have become frustrated on a “bad hair day” and my immediate go to solution is to turn up the heat on the hairdryer and use more beard products. However, the regular overaggressive grooming could be the thing that is causing your beard to hurt.

These are the things that we commonly put our bears through that could be damaging the skin or causing irritation:

  • excessive scrubbing when using a shampoo
  • aggressive combing and brushing
  • using too high a temperature on your hairdryer
  • overuse of a beard straightener
  • access pulling and pinching of the hair during product application

without realizing it, we could be our beard’s worst enemy. There are a few ways that you can fix this.

You can buy a beard comb or brush that has less stiff bristles and you should steer clear of rigid plastic combs. You can also never use the highest temperature setting on any of your heat treatment appliances – that could include a hairdryer, straightener, hot water, or hot oil applications.


The final reason that your beard may be hurting is that it could be a symptom of your stress. When we are under pressure and stressed at work, home, or anywhere else we tend to be unaware of our actions. This means that the stress could be causing you to pull at your beard hair.

I know that when I’m under stress I touch my face a lot more than when I am sat calmly at home. The touching of my beard turns from stroking and light touches to pulling at individual hairs and scratching at the roots much more. So your stress may be manifesting itself in a similar way.

Natural ways to decrease stress

stress and anxiety are common experiences and part of the human condition. 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxious on a daily basis. Here are my top tips of how to reduce stress and anxiety in your everyday life – which should help you from tugging on your beard and causing it to hurt.

  • Exercise – exercises one of the most important ways that you can naturally reduce your stress levels. Doing about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is equivalent to taking one antidepressant. It reduces your body stress hormones and helps release endorphins that improve your mood. It also vastly improves the quality of your sleep.
  • Meditation – using an app like headspace, or insight timer, can help you create quiet in your mind and reduce stress. When you are stressed the last thing you want to do is take 10 minutes for yourself but it could be the most important thing you do all day. If you need some guided meditation had over to YouTube and type in mindfulness meditation there are lots of options for you.
  • Spend time with friends and family – having social support from friends and family can really help remove stress from your life. Spending time with friends and family releases oxytocin which is a natural stress reliever.
  • Get out into nature – having a break and heading into nature is probably one of the best ways that you can look after your stress levels. There is something restorative about being in nature and a simple afternoon walking around between trees can help reduce your stress levels.

There are a ton of ways here that you can decrease your stress levels but importantly remember to keep a check on your stress levels at all time. If you need professional health don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. That is something that men are particularly bad at doing.


So there are all the reasons that your beard may be hurting. Remember, that this isn’t something that you need to put up with but rather can be something that you can work on and improve. Ultimately, it is all about conditioning your beard and looking after yourself with good quality products and holding back on the high-temperature treatments and aggressive grooming routines that you may be used to.

Go through each one of the issues in this article and I am sure that your beard will not be hurting any more.

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