"Winterproof" your Beard and Skin.

The equinox has arrived, and along with the changing colors and pumpkin spice everything, comes dropping temperatures and drier air. And while most of us love this time of year, our skin and beards can get punished unless you take active steps to protect them.

Fortunately, keeping the ravages of Fall and Winter from battering your lovingly tended mane, as well as the skin under it, requires just a few simple steps. And the payoff is a healthy, happy, and attractive beard and face.

Here are some tips to keep you looking dashing and healthy this Winter.

1) Wash your beard properly and gently. Be sure and use a wash that is specifically designed for your beard. Normal shampoos are too harsh, and will strip your beard and skin of the essential oils that nature put there to protect. Be sure that any cleanser is free from harsh chemicals, especially any sulfates and added fragrances. Wash your beard at least twice a week to remove food particles and dead skin cells. Look for a beard wash that is made only from pure oils, not detergents, and is designed to also cleanse your skin. Be sure that any beard wash you use is free from Lauryl Methicone Copolyol, Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane, or Dimethicone Copolyol. These harsh ingredients can easily cause skin irritation.

2) Drying y.our beard. After stepping out of the shower, be sure to gently but thoroughly dry your beard with a clean towel. Do not briskly rub your beard. Pat it dry. This will avoid breaking and splitting the hair which causes "wild" beard.

3) Apply a high quality beard oil every single day. A well balanced beard oil, containing several conditioning oils such as sweet almond, hemp, and kukui nut, will nurture your beard and the sensitive skin beneath it. It creates a protective barrier between your beard and skin and the cold, dry air which will help eliminate the dreaded "beard itch" which is common during the winter months.

4) Brush and/or comb your beard gently. Everyday. This is essential after washing or applying any beard products. Not only will it help distribute the product evenly throughout your beard, it helps remove dead skin cells and encourages blood flow to the hair follicles, which helps stimulate growth. Just be sure to use a natural bristle brush or a wooden or wide toothed metal comb. Brush or comb slowly. If you hit a snag, stop. Combing through a snag is not only uncomfortable, it causes the hair to curl. Simply pull the comb out and start again from the top. 

5) Adding an all natural, deep conditioning beard balm to your regimen is a must. A high quality balm will contain several all natural conditioning butters, as well as vitamin E and some sort of natural wax to seal the hair shaft. This seal effectively prevents the harsh cold and dampness from attacking your beard. Beard balm is best applied after washing your beard as it will help replenish natural oils lost in the washing process.

6) Avoid products that contain any form of silicone. These include Trimethylsilylamodimetheicone, Amodimethicon, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearoxy Dimethicone and Phenyl Trimethicone. These common silicone based ingredients can cause long term damage because they lack nutrients that feed your hair and help it grow. This lack of nutrients can cause breakage and unruly hair.

There are many other ways to protect your manly mane during the harsh winter months. Wear a scarf around your beard when outside, especially on snowy or rainy days. Exposing your beard to wet conditions will actually dry it out.

If your gym has a steam room, use it at least twice a week, if not more. The warmth and steam will help your skin eliminate dead cells and will help you stay moisturized. Apply a beard oil or balm after leaving the sauna. If you do not have access to a sauna, you can use a humidifier in your home, or simply put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a simmer. This will release moisture into the air. If you use the stove top method, consider adding some herbs, pine needles, or even cinnamon sticks to the water and fill your lair with a relaxing aroma. 

Taking good care of the beard you have worked so hard to cultivate is essential this time of the year. These simple tips will keep you looking fresh, healthy, and well groomed.

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