The sky is blue. The grass is green. Hair gel that holds the hair on your head will have the same effect if you use it on your beard. All of these things are obvious, right? Wrong! While the first two things are indeed correct, the third is a big, loud, definitive, no-no.
It’s true that many of the things formulated for your head can also be used on your beard for the same benefits – argan oil or Minoxidil for example. But hair gel is not one of these things. We understand that those fly-away hairs are annoying but trying to fix them with the same product that keeps the curl in your hair won’t do the trick. We’ll tell you why and what your alternatives are – because where there is a beard problem, we’ve got the beard solution.
HAIR GEL VS BEARD GEL
The idea behind beard gel is to use gel specifically formulated for your hair on your beard instead. The belief is that hair gel will allow you to style your beard and keep those loose hairs tame and close to your face. Let’s start off with: do not do this! In theory, using hair gel on your beard should work, but it’s actually a terrible idea.
Hair gel is made for styling your hair and keeping it in place. The downfall to this in terms of your beard is that when hair gel dries, it hardens. Having hardened gel in your beard is not in any way pleasant nor does it help the appearance or texture of your beard: it will produce flakes and buildup as well as cause your hair to clump and stick together. Not only that but it leaves an awful reside if it’s not properly washed and conditioned out. Hair gel also isn’t crafted to treat the skin beneath your beard, so it won’t provide moisture or any kind of nourishment (it may, in fact, have the opposite effect).
If keeping your hair in place is the reason you’re thinking about applying hair gel in your beard, try using a beard balm or beard butter instead. Not only will these help sculpt your desired shape, they’ll keep your beard healthy by nurturing your skin and hair follicles. Make sure to check out our in-depth article to learn more on the benefits of beard butter.
IF YOU INSIST…
If you insist on using a “beard gel”, don’t use a gel that’s formulated and marketed as a hair gel and don’t use it for styling (because we can’t say this enough). There are some gels out there that are specifically formulated for beards. Besides aloe vera which we’ll talk about later, these are the only kinds of beard gel you should be using on your facial hair. Some beard gels are formulated for styling while others tackle various beard needs like growth. Make sure you get the product that’s right for you and be sure it’s an actual beard gel because there really aren’t that many out there.
One form of gel you can use on your beard is aloe vera. Aloe vera gel in its natural, organic form is packed with beard-beneficial stuff, including: vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Aloe vera should be applied after washing your beard and combing out any tangles to ensure best results. Better yet, mix a little aloe vera into a DIY beard treatment rather than using it on its own. Then you can add some items that will provide hold too (because aloe vera on its own won’t tame your hair).
BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA
Though it won’t help you style, aloe vera gel does have some beard-beneficial advantages worth talking a little more about.
Aloe vera gel is great for treating skin conditions and irritations caused by anything from overly-dry skin to eczema to seborrheic dermatitis. The latter two develop commonly under beards. Aloe vera can restore the pH balance of your skin and combat the irritating effects of these types of skin conditions.
The lingin found in aloe vera helps the gel penetrate your hair and skin. Lingin is similar to keratin (the protein found in hair cells) and it will nourish your beard from the outside-in.
Aloe vera is naturally anti-inflammatory (you’ve probably used it on mosquito bites in the past to soothe the itch and calm the blemish). Aloe vera contains salicylic acid (a pain reliever) and bradykinase (an analesgic enzyme known for reducing inflammation) – together, these elements will target redness, dryness, discomfort and inflammation.
This is a common problem among our bearded friends. Caused by excessive dryness and itching as well as fungus, aloe vera has alkalizing properties that balance the acidic environment in which beardruff-causing fungus and bacteria grows. By balancing the pH of the skin under your facial hair, you indirectly treat and prevent flakes and beardruff.
When you find your hair isn’t growing as it should the cause may be very simple: dead skin cells can block nutrients from getting to your hair follicles, thereby hindering growth. Aloe vera to the rescue! This natural gel has enzymes and amino acids that break down dead skin cells, allowing nourishment to get through to your follicle.
Your best bet for styling your beard is to use a balm or a butter because they not only help sculpt your beard, they also nourish you hair follicles and the skin under your beard. But there are alternatives and we’ve listed the best ones below:
Billy Jealousy Beard Control $15
This is a beard gel that’s actually made for your beard. With ingredients such as jojoba seed oil and aloe leaf extract, this beard gel not only provides a very light hold for sculpting and styling, it also conditions and nourishes your beard and its hair follicles. Get all of the benefits of aloe vera as listed above plus a little something to tame your fly-away hairs.
Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel $9.69
This pure aloe vera gel can be used directly on your beard or as an ingredient in your DIY beard treatment for all of the beard-benefits we’ve already gone through. Lily of the Desert is preservative-free and packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
It’s worth repeating that you shouldn’t use a hair gel on your beard. Beard gel is only good for your beard if it’s specifically formulated and marketed as such, otherwise you risk mucking up your beard’s appearance, texture and cleanliness. The only other kind of gel we’d recommend using is an aloe vera gel – and even then, we’d propose you use a discrete amount in a DIY beard treatment rather than apply it directly to your beard. With literally hundreds of beard-specific products out there, make sure you’re taking care of your beard properly and don’t look for a quick fix or you’ll end up causing more problems than you solve.