Dirty beard? Let’s clean it up.

Your beard is dirty. Whether you know it or not, bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells and germs are lurking in that manly mane of yours. We’re going to examine your morning grooming routine; a beard hygiene tutorial (beardtorial). Let’s get to work, fella.

Step One: Pre-Shower Routine

1. Shave Before Showering: Shave you say? What I mean is a quick maintenance shave on your cheek line and your neck. I take a careful swipe above and below my beard a few times a week. It’s important to do this before you shower so that you can get all of the shave soap rinsed off in the shower. If you rinse in the sink you are leaving soap residue behind.

2. Brush Your Teeth Before Showering: Same logic applies. If you have a face forest you know the perils of brushing your teeth. Suds everywhere. Just wiping off isn’t enough and leaves sticky toothpaste to linger all day. You also don’t want to mix soap and toothpaste with the beard products you’ll be applying later. Hit the mouthwash while you’re at it.

Step Two: In The Shower

1. Wash It Daily: There are some that will disagree with me on this, but I wash my beard daily with a face and beard wash brick. The organic oils in the brick both clean and condition. We are modern bearded gentlemen, not cavemen. Many will argue that washing it everyday over-processes the hair, but using products like beard oil and beard balm will replenish and hydrate it. After all, we are talking about facial hair and face skin, which is different than the hair on your head and the skin on your scalp.

It is important to get your fingers inside and under your hair to clean skin and remove dead skin cells. Beardruff (beard dandruff) or Beardcne (beard acne) are unsightly and a turnoff to your mate (or potential mate if you are single, which is unlikely if you have a sweet beard).

2. Rinse Thoroughly: Don’t rush this step or take it lightly. At this point in your morning routine you potentially have shave soap, toothpaste and shampoo in your beard. The bigger your beard the more time you need to take to get everything rinsed completely so that you are starting with a clean palate after the shower.

Easy on the scalding hot water too, pal. We all know a hot shower feels great in the winter, but cooler water will help seal the follicle, add shine, and protect it from getting too frizzy.

Step Three: Post-Shower Routine

1. Towel Dry: Use a towel to gently dry your beard. Be careful not to pull or tug on the hair so that your follicles don’t get stressed. Using a clean towel is important, you don’t want spores, molds or fungus penetrating your face fuzz.

2. Apply Beard Balm or Beard Oil: I use beard balm or beard oil every day. Oils and balms contain ingredients that promote strong, healthy growth. Common ingredients include: Beezwax, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Jojoba Oil, Almond Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Hampseed Oil, Argan Oil, Vitamin E, and essential oils.

Beard oils and balms help to nourish and hydrate your beard as well as your skin They add shine to the hair and smell great. Don’t forget your ‘stache when you apply, you manly son of a gun.

Apply from the root to the tip. Working it into the skin and do so while your beard is still a bit damp. Depending on the season and temperature you may need a little more or a little less. Use your judgement.

3. Comb It: I comb my beard upward and outward to dry it for a few minutes so that air can get to my skin. Go ahead, fluff it out while you tend to some other grooming routines. Combing also allows for even distribution of the oil or balm you just applied.

It’s important to invest in quality beard combs. Cheap plastic combs will snag and catch your hair, as well as stress it. Even worse, plastic combs create static electricity and dryness. Stress and dryness are the enemy of healthy hair. Besides, you and your beard deserve it.

Comb slowly and gently. Combing your beard releases the natural oils of your hair and strengthens follicles. If you rip through it like a speed demon you are going to lose beard hair in the process. The bigger your beard the more wide you want the teeth on your comb to be.

4. Stop Touching Your Beard: Okay, it’s probably impossible to stop touching it completely but keep your hands clean if you must stroke your beard. I don’t mean to sound like a germaphobe but the more you touch your beard, the more you are introducing dirt and bacteria into it, especially when eating.

Letting other people touch it? You’ll have to make the call on that one.