Help! Beard Burn is Ruining My Hook-Ups
There's a downside to your S.O.'s quarantine beard.
Beards are sexy, but when you're dating a beautiful bearded person, all that kissing can lead to dry skin, redness, and breakouts on your chin and around your mouth. The solution is not to stop kissing your partner, so what can you do to prevent beard burn and what you can do to soothe it if you weren't able to ward it off? To get the answers, we spoke to three skincare specialists and had them break down all there is to know about beard burn.
What is beard burn?
When you kiss a bearded person, your skin repeatedly gets exfoliated by your partner's facial hair. "The friction rubs your skin raw—mainly on the upper lip, but it can happen all around the mouth—and can be extremely painful and lead to dry, raw skin for days after the makeout sesh," says Danielle Gronich, a clinical esthetician, acne specialist. and founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare.
What does beard burn look like?
The type of beard you're dealing with also comes into play. "The stubbly stages of the beard, when the hair is at its strongest and sharpest, are when it causes the most damage to the other person's skin," says Khatra Paterson, a medical esthetics nurse and owner of KP Aesthetics.
Although longer beards may cause less friction than stubble, they come with their own set of potential problems. "Longer beards have natural hair oils in them, and from kissing, these oils can transfer on to your skin and could even be causing your latest breakout," says Melody Carl, a licensed esthetician and skin care consultant at Renude.
Additionally, beard burn can look different depending on your skin type and/or conditions. For example, if you have acne-prone skin, beard burn could compromise the skin barrier and make bacteria go nuts, which can lead to an increase in pimples, explains Gronich.
What's the best way to prevent beard burn?
You may not be able to fully prevent beard burn from happening, but with a combination of the right products and healthy communication with your partner, you can minimize its effects.
"The best thing to do to prevent beard rash from happening to you is to use a barrier-boosting cream before and after the encounter," Carl says. "This will help protect your facial skin before and soothe the skin after." She recommends using a light product like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, which is formulated with colloidal oatmeal, Shea butter, and ceramide 3 to keep your skin protected and hydrated.
However, using a good moisturizer may not be enough to keep the inflammation at bay, and you might need to try other strategies to protect your skin. "Kissing at an angle increases the frictional contact between two partners," Carl says. "If you kiss with your foreheads and noses touching it will create more space between you and the beard, reducing the friction and lessening the possibility of beard burn."
If the bearded person is your long-term partner, you can also experiment with kissing at different stages of their beard growth—with some trial and error, you will soon know when you can kiss with abandon and when you should be more careful. "For example, day two after they shave may not look like much hair, but it may be super stick straight and stubbly, whereas day four to five, it will have gotten longer, softer, and less 'stabby,'" Gronich says.
Another way that your partner can help you out is by taking proper care of their beard. Gronich recommends they use an acne-safe beard oil (containing hemp, sunflower, Argan, rose, castor, or jojoba oil), while Carl swears by the Premium Beard Grooming Kit from Tame the Wild Beard.
How do you treat beard burn?
- Use soothing skincare products
To help your skin recover, you'll need a good product or two in your arsenal. "If the encounter is spontaneous and you can't prep the skin before kissing, put on a barrier cream as soon as you have the chance," Carl says. "Eucerin Dry Skin Relief Cream with 5% Urea is a perfect choice post-makeout to soothe and heal beard burn."
Paterson recommends using ZO Skin Health Renewal Crème as it's a great product for minimizing visible redness and incredibly soothing. "It contains ectoin, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate which all help to hydrate and reduce dryness," she says. "Plus, Avena Sativa (oats) moisturizes and reduces inflammation while Canadian willowherb is a wound healer."
Additionally, using a soothing serum—like CLEARSTEM'S CELLRENEW Collagen Infusion Serum—could also be the way to go, according to Gronich. "You'll want to layer up with your [moisturizing serum] as much as possible throughout the day, and sleep with Aquaphor Healing Ointment at night for swifter healing," she suggests. Gronich warns against using Neosporin, however, as it can clog your pores and cause further breakouts.
2. Be extra gentle with your skin
Though you'll want to keep your skin clean to prevent further breakouts, you should avoid doing anything that will further irritate it. "Calming inflammation is critical here—you do not want to put acne products that would further dry the area out, even if there are whiteheads present," Gronich says. Additionally, she suggests staying clear of benzoyl peroxide, exfoliants, Retin-A, and anti-bacterial agents to prevent further peeling.
"A cold compress will help calm the inflammation and soothe the skin," Carl adds. "Apply a cool, damp washcloth to the affected area or go extra and make ice cubes from chamomile tea. Once frozen, hold the ice cubes over the affected area. The faster you care for the beard burn, the less impact it will have on your appearance and pain receptors."