The Top 8 Winter Beard Trends and Questions, From an East Coast Dermatologist
Taking good care of your face is a bigger guy thing than ever. Try a few of this dermatologist's ideas, and shop our vetted list of products for your healthiest, best-looking beard yet.
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“No one’s in the locker room talking about how they should maintain their beard.”
That’s an on-point recognition from Dr. Anthony Rossi, MD, FAAD, FACMS, a New York City board-certified dermatologist. Rossi observes that even though beards have been “very in for awhile,” there are a few worthwhile guidelines that can help you take optimal care of your face.
In his practice, Rossi finds that a lot of male patients “actually ask a lot about their beards”—plus, this derm says, thanks in large part to current global events, “More and more guys are really getting into grooming.” He adds: “During the pandemic, skincare took off. It was booming because everyone was doing something to take care of themselves.” Investing in your skin, especially without having to leave the house, suddenly seemed liked a luxury, Rossi says.
So while we get that maybe you’re not trading skincare techniques with your fantasy league, Rossi—who at press time was sporting his own beard as what he called a savvy “winter weather hack”—is a uniquely positioned resource for under-the-radar wisdom about cold-weather beard care.
Here’s what this dermatologist says are the most prevalent questions and valuable tips for winter beard care.
The biggest winter beard issues right now
There’s no need to feel self-conscious for having questions about your face—in fact, here are some common issues Rossi says he hears from patients regularly:
Patchy facial hair
“Some guys say, I just don’t grow a full beard, is something wrong with me? Do I have alopecia?” Rossi shares. (Alopecia is the clinical term for hair loss… here are nine ways to fight it.)
In response to this concern, he advises that many guys simply have patchy growth. Particularly if they’re round patches, “That’s normal,” Rossi assures male patients. “It’s just their pattern.”
And, he adds, a dermatologist can help you grow fuller facial hair.
Less is more
Over the past few years, a lot of beard-wearers opted for the burly outdoorsman’s beard, which seemed to convey an interesting paradoxical sensibility—even though this made many appear tough and rugged on the outside, for some this seemed like a way of signaling an inner sensitivity to the way societal consciousness has been evolving for women (a la developments like the #MeToo movement).
Over the past couple years, possibly due to pandemic-era masking, many beards have trimmed down. “It’s sort of not like your long dad’s beard anymore; it’s more stylized,” Rossi explains.
Yes, you need to wash your face
“Some guys struggle with this,” Rossi reflects. “Not every guy is washing his face.”
This is important because, as he says, “Your beard hair can get pretty dirty, which is not a surprise—you’re eating, speaking, kissing. That’s coming into contact with a lot.”
And, directly beneath that is your facial skin. Rossi says if your beard is sort of dirty or not getting manicured and groomed, you could find yourself dealing with seborrheic dermatitis—yep, dandruff of the beard and face—or ingrown hair. In more severe cases, he shares, a patient can experience “a fungal overgrowth or bacterial overgrowth.”
(We’ve got you—there’s a cleanser he likes below.)
A hot shave is not old-school
“A lot of guys actually go to professional barbers to get their beard trimmed,” Rossi says. “What they’re doing is steaming the face, using a hot towel, which helps soften the bristles of the hair so you’re not catching or pulling. That can lead to inflammation.”
Along with the hot water and steam a barber employs during a hot shave, what also makes an impact is this: “The type of lather they use—whether it’s a foam or a hot cream—helps guide the razor, but helps keep all the hair and bristle soft.”
If pandemic precautions or just practical work-life multi-tasking prohibit you from making a routine of hitting the barber shop, Rossi says integrating the practices barbers employ can be easily integrated into your routine. “I recommend people shave in the shower just because your skin is hot,” he says. The heat opens the pores and makes your hair softer, so you’re not tugging at it.
Two keys for shaving in the shower? You need good lighting, and a good shower mirror. We’ve got five-star recs for both below.
Rossi says that some men with naturally tight curls experience beard folliculitis, or ingrown hairs. This can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation. “That’s a big problem for a lot of guys,” Rossi says. “They hate the way it looks, especially on their neck.”
A trending solution? “Some guys get laser just on their neck. We can use a specific type of laser depending on their skin type and how much melanin is in their skin, and we can safely remove their hair [permanently].”
For guys who aren’t so into laser, “We tell them not to shave really close,” he advises, “and instead to actually clip the hair so it doesn’t curl back into the skin.”
Using a beard comb doesn’t make you high-maintenance, Rossi says; and it’s smart: combing your beard “is going to soften the hair and the bristles so they won’t be as pinchy.”
More importantly, Rossi says, using a comb can be one way to keep a good eye on the skin beneath your beard. “I always comb through someone’s beard because there can be a basal cell or melanoma.” (Rossi specializes in Mohs surgery, an invasive procedure that can treat some serious cases of skin cancer.)
Here’s one thing this doc says you want to look for as you comb your beard: “Pimples that don’t go away for more than a month should really be evaluated.” The same goes for any other peculiar issue that lingers for more than what seems normal to you. “Especially because beards have become so popular, [monitoring the skin under them] has become an important part of skin health,” Rossi says.
Heads Up: Guys with beards need sunscreen year-round
That beard might be a solid layer against the cold, but it won’t deliver all the protection you need from the sun. “Even though you have beard hair, the SPF of hair is not high,” Rossi says. “You still need to use sunscreen—and really get it on the skin.”
Score your best beard with these highly rated products that have been vetted through our recommendation process, or straight from Dr. Rossi:
Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shave Cream
Avoid redness and irritation with this five-star-rated Pacific Shaving Company Shave Cream. As one Amazon shopper noted, this cream “lathers really well so a little goes a long way.”
Another, W. Hoare, said: “This natural shaving cream provides a clean, close shave without the need for any added overpowering scents.” This reviewer also mentioned the sustainable packaging, which we call a win-win.
King C. Gillette Double Edge Safety Razor
A good razor should be more than just sharp. This one from King C. Gillette is a favorite with Amazon shoppers and has more than 1,000 glowing reviews about both the quality of the material and the great value. One Amazon reviewer, M, says, this “sleek” razor “changed my view of shaving.”
Wahl Professional Cordless White Peanut Hair and Beard Clipper Trimmer
With more than 1,400 five-star reviews at press time, the Wahl Cordless Trimmer is a fan favorite. According to reviewer Eric, this is “the best cordless trimmer I have ever had or seen and I tried and was disappointed by many of the other cordless offerings.” (Dr. Rossi adds this is a favorite product of his own, as the child of two hair dressers with discerning tastes in trimmers.)
Beard Brush for Men & Beard Comb Set
Who doesn’t love a quality combination deal? This Grow Alpha Beard comb and scissors set with a pocket-size brush and comb combo so you can always keep your beard neat. Amazon reviewer Kurt says, this beats the “fancy shave store brush,” adding: “You can’t beat the price for this quality.”
Battery Operated Shower Light
Good lighting is essential to keep up with beard maintenance, and the highly rated BIGMONAT shower light is one Amazon reviewers like Skyhook love. They say they’ve tried many different options, but that this is their “favorite one out of all the ones I’ve purchased recently.”
One possible reason? This shower light comes with a remote control. That’s cool.
MGLIMZ Fogless Shower Mirror
The MGLIMZ shower mirror streamlines your routine with a very convenient hook for your razor. But the best feature that reviewers like Hodgepodgerama like is that it’s “truly fog-less,” adding, “If you want to shave in the shower, this one is absolutely the one to buy.”
MARLOWE. Beard Oil Conditioner
This unscented bead oil from MARLOWE. is a favorite on Amazon for a few reasons. Amazon reviewer Robert Clark highlights that the dryness of their skin beneath the beard and the softness of the beard itself improved within one week of using this oil.
Meanwhile, another reviewer who claims to have tried many beard oils says this “non-greasy” formula is the best.
The Art of Shaving After-Shave Balm
If you really want to soothe and hydrate your skin after shaving, look no further than this balm from the Art of Shaving. Don’t take our word for it, but rather the hundreds of five-star reviews. One reason some shoppers recommend this product, as user RF4 points out, is the light and non-greasy formula.
In fact, another reviewer Michael Allen even likes using this as a daily facial lotion.
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