Beard Dandruff: How to Stop the Flakes


Get rid of beard dandruff

Ah, the dreaded beard dandruff (AKA beardruff)! Yes, dandruff can develop not only on your scalp, but your beard as well. Without proper beard care, men can get those pesky white flakes in their beards caused by dry, shedding skin underneath.

While growing a beard, there are various causes of dandruff, but the two main causes are dry skin and skin fungus. Your face and beard cleaning products may be drying out your skin by removing necessary oils. Also, your climate can dry your skin as well.

The good news – there are many easy ways to get rid of beard dandruff. No matter your stage of beard growth, let’s get rid of your flakes for good – keep reading.

What is Beard Dandruff?

The same way you get dandruff on your head doesn’t differ from what happens with your beard dandruff. It’s basically your body’s response to dry skin and irritation. They’re also caused by the same microbe, known as Malassezia Globosa.

This microbe uses our skin’s natural oils called sebum. As it feeds at the microscopic level on sebum, it breaks down into oleic acid as they feed, causing flaky skin, redness, and itching. This is because most people are sensitive to oleic acid around the world.

Beard hair follicle with dandruff
Beard hair follicle with dandruff diagram.

As your dry beard feels irritated, you itch, causing flakes to rise up and slough off your skin. Sounds pretty gross, right? We’ll look at the causes and how to treat facial hair dandruff.

What Causes Beard Dandruff?

There are a few things to know about beard dandruff:

  • Beard dandruff is a form of seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Naturally oily skin tends to have more issues with beard dandruff.
  • If you have faster cell turnover, you probably have had more dandruff in your life. Typical cell turnover is 30 days.
  • Beard dandruff also comes from dry skin and a buildup of oil.
  • Beard dandruff tends to get worse in cold, dry weather and hot, humid regions.
  • It’s not contagious.

If you have issues with oily skin and dandruff on your scalp, you may notice it gets worse when you don’t shower, even for a day. While washing your beard in the shower daily can be an excellent remedy, if you have flakes by day’s end, you may need a better method.

How to Get Rid of Beard Dandruff for Good

When you have dry skin under beard problems, the first step to getting rid of dandruff is to determine the cause. If you have oily skin, then getting extra oil under control and combining it with an exfoliation routine may help.

You also want to prevent new flakes from forming. This should be included with your regular beard care routine. Whether you try exfoliate or a new product, we have the complete guide to stop beard dandruff.

Face wash and exfoliate beard routine
Face washing and exfoliating is a quick fix for beard dandruff.

1. Determine Your Skin Type

Do you have oily skin or dry skin? Depending on your skin type, the treatment will be different.

Seek oily skin treatments if you have:

  • Oily and irritated scaly skin
  • Large white or yellow flakes

Seek dry skin treatments if you have:

  • Smaller, dry flakes
  • Itchy, red skin under your beard
  • Dry skin on other parts of your body

2. Wash and Exfoliate the Skin Under Your Beard

It’s good to start with super clean, exfoliated skin under your beard, whether you have oily or dry skin. However, if you have exfoliated recently, you may want to skip this step.

Exfoliate to prevent beard dandruff
Exfoliate daily and stop the dry skin.

Skip the Dial bar and other harsh soaps. Natural face cleansers and soaps with moisturizing agents are best for cleaning skin under your beard because it’s more sensitive.

How to dry a beard properly to avoid dandruff
Dry your beard properly.

It’s best to do this step just with your fingers or using an exfoliating glove. As you clean, remove dead skin cells by rubbing the cleanser into your skin, then rinse with cold water. Lastly, gently pat your beard with a towel, being careful not to pull on your hair follicles.

3. Use a Zinc Shampoo if You Have Oily Skin and Dandruff

(Skip to 4 if You Have Dry Skin)

It’s likely your oily skin is in overdrive, but a zinc shampoo or a gentle dandruff shampoo can help if you use only once or twice a week. This should clear up larger flake problems within 14 days.

Nizoral is the best option if your beard dandruff is out of control. This is an over-the-counter dandruff cleansing shampoo that uses ketoconazole as the active ingredient. Other good shampoos include Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue.

4. Use Balms, Oils, and Beard Moisturizers

You can hydrate the skin with exfoliation and a good moisturizing agent, such as a beard oil, balm or conditioner.

Even tea tree oil does a great job of fighting off dandruff-causing fungi. Other beard dandruff sufferers swear by coconut and jojoba oil.

However, there are a few oils that will cause more issues for your beard and skin. These problematic oils include avocado, almond, peanut, and olive oil.

Make sure your skin is dry before applying any beard oils, balms, or moisturizers.

Use Caution If Beard Dandruff Doesn’t Go Away

Have you tried all the steps above but nothing helped? A dermatologist can offer fast-acting prescriptions to get rid of stubborn dandruff, as it may be caused by something else. You should always talk to a doctor if the problem persists.

Questions About Beard Dandruff

Can you use Head and Shoulders on your beard?

Yes, Head & Shoulders and other dandruff shampoos work well to treat fungus and flaking problems. However, only use these shampoos 1 to 2 times per week to avoid drying out your skin.

There are several beard washes specifically designed for treating sensitive skin.

  • Medicine Man’s Anti-Itch Beard Wash
  • Kave Beard Wash
  • Gentle Vikings Beard Wash

Does exfoliating remove beardruff?

It’s recommended you exfoliate at least once a week, and if the problem is severe, also consider a moisturizing face mask.

Use a face mask to exfoliate your beard and skin.
Exfoliate your beard and skin with a face mask.

Hydrating face masks typically include a range beard healthy of vitamins and treatments like hyaluronic acid. We like the following for faster skin recovery:

  • LuLuLun Blue Rich Moisture Face Mask
  • Mario Badescu Healing & Soothing Mask
  • OZ Naturals Vitamin C and Sea Hydration Mask
  • La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Face Mask
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment

Does psoriasis cause beard dandruff?

For those with skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or seborrhea, work with your dermatologist to find a medication that treats your skin and gets your flakes under control. Home remedies may not be as effective as a prescription treatment.

However, some remedies include aloe vera, jojoba oil, zinc pyrithione, and capsaicin have proven to soothe psoriasis rashes and relieve itching.

Quick Answers from Reddit:

I have a beard with oily skin. How can I get rid of beard itch and dry skin? 

Another user reported pure jojoba oil (found at Trader Joe’s) solved the issue when applied twice a day.

In addition, drying your skin thoroughly with a towel or even a blow dryer after washing can help with beard dandruff.

Photo of author


I'm the founder of Bald & Beards, an amateur barber and I've been obsessed with men's grooming, styles, and trends for over 20 years.