Beard Breakage and Split Ends – Causes and Prevention

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Article updated: April 26, 2023

Ah, beard breakage and split ends. Every bearded man’s worst nightmare.

Okay, worst nightmare might be a bit of an overstatement, but I think all bearded gentleman will agree that having beard breakage and split ends really fucking sucks. 

Not only does beard breakage and split ends look really unsightly, but it can also seriously hamper beard growth and hinder your beard from realizing it’s true potential. Which is of course, No bueno.

What Exactly is Beard Breakage?

Simply put, Beard breakage occurs when the beard hair breaks off part way down the hair shaft. 

Breakage can occur for a number of reasons, but is most often the result of beard hairs that are extremely dry and brittle.

If you’ve ever compared one of your beard hairs to one of your head hairs, you’ll undoubtedly notice that your beard hairs are noticeably thicker and much stiffer than the hairs on your head. 

And while this thickness usually equates to strength, it can in fact become extremely brittle and fragile if not properly moisturized and hydrated. 

What are Beard Split Ends and what do they Look Like?

So we’ve all seen those shampoo commercials for women that talk about split ends, but many men have never actually seen a split end in person and might not know what a beard split end actually looks like. If that’s you, fret not.

A beard split end looks pretty much exactly how it sounds. It is a beard hair that is split in half (or multiple times) at the end. If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about, the picture below will help clear it up for you:

A beard split end

What Causes Beard Split Ends and Breakage. 

While beard split ends and breakage are two separate problems, the cause is usually the same. And so is the solution. Split ends and breakage most often occur when the beard hairs are not properly moisturized and hydrated.

Facial hair receives moisture and hydration from the sebum that our bodies produce in our pores. This sebum coats the hair shaft which helps to keep it soft and healthy.

An up close look at a hair follicle and sebaceous gland.

But as beard hairs increase in length, the sebum that our skin produces has a harder time moisturizing the full length of the hair shaft – which often causes the ends of the beard hair to become dry, brittle, and more susceptible to breakage and split ends. 

Make sense?

How to Fix Beard Breakage and Split Ends

The unfortunate truth is split ends cannot be fixed once they occur. Once the beard hair splits, there is no repairing it. Unless you’re really skilled with duct tape.

If you notice a split end in your beard, the best course of action is to trim off the split end with a pair of scissors. This will remove the damaged section from your beard, and prevent the split from increasing in size and working its way up the hair shaft. 

And while you can’t fix a beard split end, the good news is that you can help prevent them from occurring.

Use Beard Conditioner

Everyone is familiar with hair conditioner, but did you know that there is conditioner formulated specifically for use on the beard? Beard conditioner is safe to use everyday and helps keep the beard hydrated and less prone to breakage and split ends.

Use Beard Oil

Every bearded man should own a bottle or two of beard oil. Beard oil is made up of 1 or more carrier oils that help keep the beard moisturized, soft, and far less prone to breakage and split ends. In a 2009 study, researchers found that treating the hair with oil reduced split ends.

Protect your Beard While You Sleep

Did you know that your pillowcase can also cause beard breakage and split ends? Most pillowcases are made of cotton which can create a lot of static and friction on your beard while you sleep. Over time this can lead to damage in the form of breakage and split ends. Investing in a silk pillowcase or a beard bandana will help protect your beard while you sleep, and can help reduce breakage and split ends.

Let’s Recap:

  • Beard breakage and split ends are most commonly caused by lack of moisture and hydration
  • Split ends cannot be repaired, they must be trimmed away to prevent further damage
  • Beard breakage and split ends are prevented by moisturizing and hydrating the beard daily
  • Use beard conditioner daily to keep the beard soft and supple
  • Use beard oil daily to keep the beard moisturized and soft
  • Protect your beard while you sleep by using a beard bandana or silk pillowcase

Thanks for reading. If you found this article helpful, check out my list of best beard oils for men. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.