The question of whether to wash a beard before dyeing it is an important one. It’s relevant to both the aesthetics and hygiene of a beard. So, should you wash your beard before dyeing it?
In short, no. Although this may be a difficult pill to swallow, an unclean beard is actually beneficial in this one, limited context. An adequate buildup of natural oils (including sebum) actually helps to retain the dye. This should increase the length of the time between dyeing sessions and save you money over the long term.
But it isn’t as simple as this. There are grooming habits you should perform before dyeing your beard instead of washing it. Also, it’s important to maintain hygiene at the same time.
A full, young-looking beard is nowhere near as impressive if it looks greasy and unclean.
So, I’m going to go into a little more detail about the main question here. Then, I’m going to tell you what you should do instead to ensure an optimal beard dyeing experience.
We want great results that last. Nothing less.
Why You Shouldn’t Wash Your Beard Before Dyeing It
Just to clarify, when I say “washing” your beard, I do mean washing with shampoo.
Simply rinsing with water only is unlikely to make a significant difference to dye absorption, so I encourage that you do so up until it’s time to dye.
But using shampoo strips the skin of its natural oil. This is one of the things it’s designed to do.
Sebum, in excess, can make the beard look greasy, oily, and patchy. The shampoo can remove this excess oil and as a result, make it look cleaner and fuller.
However, stripping this natural sebum can be harmful. It can leave the skin very dry and vulnerable. Using hair shampoo instead of beard shampoo makes this even worse, as the chemicals it contains are usually harsher.
When it comes to dyeing a beard, however, there’s another disadvantage of removing too much oil.
I’ve already mentioned how a healthy layer of natural oil under your beard can help to retain dye. Because of this, you’ll most likely need to use less dye to achieve the same effect.
The improved retention of beard dye should also mean that you won’t have to dye it as often.
But this layer of sebum oil is beneficial for another reason. It’s also designed to act as a layer of protection against physical stressors, infections, and toxins.
Although beard dye is generally mild, it does contain chemicals that could potentially irritate the skin. Having a moderate level of sebum would act as a barrier between the dye and the skin and protect it from harm.
So, washing your beard with shampoo immediately before dyeing it is inefficient, ineffective, and potentially harmful.
When it comes to dyeing, sebum is your friend.
Do This Instead For The Best Beard Dyeing Results
When it comes to dyeing your beard, there are certain habits you should take up to maintain hygiene and also enhance the effects and longevity of the dye.
1. Wash your beard two days before you dye it
It will give you a chance to keep the beard clean, while still leaving a good 48 hours for a nice layer of sebum to build up.
This does require a bit of forward-planning. People usually dye their beard before a special occasion or a big event.
I usually advise dyeing it at least three days before the big day to account for and hopefully fix any unexpected results.
So, this produces the following timeline. Wash the beard with shampoo around five days before the big event, dye it three days before, and wash it again one day before.
Wash it well, with beard shampoo if you need to. As always, I strongly recommend not using hair shampoo on your beard.
But feel free to casually rinse your beard out with water up until it’s time for the dyeing session. It’s unlikely to remove a significant amount of sebum but does remove a good amount of grime that may have been building up.
2. Wipe your face clean and leave the beard alone
You may want to use face wash during these 48 hours as you notice your T-zone becoming particularly oily.
An effective way of cleansing the face without also affecting the beard is to use wipes or cotton balls soaked in the face wash.
This way, you can rub away the oil from the upper parts of your face while leaving the beard alone.
Alternatively, just use water to clean your face during this period. This way you can do so without fear of removing sebum from your beard. Feel free to give the beard a rinse with water at the same time.
3. Brush and comb the beard daily before dyeing it
This is helpful for two reasons.
One reason is that brushing the beard with a boar bristle beard brush will help to remove any bits of debris and dirt that may have collected.
This will make it easier for water to rinse it out at a time when you’re avoiding the use of beard shampoo.
Brushing the beard also helps to redistribute the natural sebum from the bases of the hair shafts to the tips. Coating the beard hair in sebum like this is great.
Yes, it gives the beard a nice, moisturized shine. But it also increases the absorption of beard dye more uniformly across the entire hair shaft.
So it leads to a more even distribution of beard dye across the beard and makes it last longer too.
I also recommend combing the beard daily before you dye it. This is, of course, if your beard is long enough to do so.
Dyeing stubble is becoming increasingly popular, but you won’t be able to comb it beforehand any time soon.
What combing a beard does (for one) is untangle it. Untangling beard hair before dyeing it increases the number of beard hairs exposed to the beard dye.
Think about it – if it’s all tangled together, chances are there are some hairs buried deep within that bundle that beard dye cant get to.
So, brushing and combing it daily before you dye it will keep it clean, tidy, and also improve the results from your beard dyeing efforts.
4. Use a sulfate-free beard shampoo afterward
You’ve dyed your beard and you’re ecstatic with the results. Now what?
One way of reducing the risk of that beard dye fading away prematurely is by only washing your beard with a gentle beard shampoo.
A beard wash that is sulfate-free and made mainly from botanical ingredients is less likely to start breaking that beard dye down.
The longer you can get that beard dye to last, the better. That is unless you aren’t happy with the results. In which case you’ll want to try to remove it as soon as possible.
Using hair shampoo on your newly-dyed beard is a no-no. The harshness of hair shampoo is more than likely to start stripping away the beard dye. That’s in addition to the direct harm it will do to the beard hair as well as the underlying skin.
But hair shampoo vs beard shampoo is the topic of a whole different article.
When Should You Wash Your Beard After Dyeing It
You’ll have rinsed it with water approximately 5 minutes after applying it. That isn’t what we’re talking about.
When would you feel comfortable shampooing the beard after dyeing it?
I’d give it around 48 hours. That seems to be the magic number. Although you could probably get away with less, it will allow enough time for the beard dye to set without fear of it being stripped away.
During this period, again, feel free to just rinse with water. Using water alone shouldn’t strip away the beard dye. Many men never use beard shampoo at all and get by just fine.
You may eventually find that you’re the same. It’s a good opportunity to test this out for yourself.
But if you don’t feel as though you’re ready for this and you do want to use a shampoo, be sure to use a gentle one. More specifically, use a sulfate-free, predominantly botanical beard shampoo.
Wait 48 hours, and you should be fine.
To conclude, avoid washing your beard with shampoo in the 48 hours before dyeing it. This is for the sake of improving the absorption of the dye, as well as to protect the skin from the mild yet potentially harmful effects of the dye.
Although dyeing a beard often reaps phenomenal, attractive results, it can be a messy process. Try to minimize staining your skin, try to get an even spread, and do whatever you can to retain the color for as long as you can.
Hopefully, you have a more complete understanding of what you need to do to get the best beard dyeing outcome. Try these tips out and have fun with them.