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Beard dye isn’t just for older men looking to cover up gray spots. Beard maintenance is important for men of all ages, and the color of your beard is just as essential as proper trimming and conditioning.
Luckily, with a little help and advice from us, it won’t be that difficult to get (and keep!) the color you want.
Facial hair dye can be used to cover blonde or red hair that doesn’t match the rest of your facial hair, eyebrows, or head hair. Beard coloring can also make a patchy beard appear thicker because darker beards appear thicker while lighter beards appear finer.
On the other hand, you can go for something more unconventional by dyeing or highlighting your beard with a louder color, like blue or purple (fortunately, there are temporary dyes for this purpose, in case you want to be creative without committing fully to your wild side).
If you’re still unsure of whether or not you should dye your beard, Youtuber Eric Bandholz has a fairly in-depth video that tackles questions such as; which dyes are best suited for tackling beard health, rocking a blonde beard, and the age-old question of whether you should embrace the gray (since silver foxes are a real phenomenon) or get rid of it.
Whether you decide to go with a permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary dye job, there’s a lot of stuff you need to know about beard coloring, so keep reading and learn about them.
Table of Contents
A Quick Glance At The Top 3 Beard Dyes
Henna Color Lab Beard Dye is our number one choice. It is made from all-natural organic ingredients and is cruelty-free. It has a huge selection of color variants, so you will find what suits you the best.
Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye is another 100% Natural organic beard dye. It is a long-lasting dye, and it is a good choice if you have sensitive skin.
Blackbeard for Men X is a cosmetic-grade dye that won’t irritate your facial skin. It is water-resistant and easy to apply, making it a really good choice for beginners.
How Does Beard Coloring Work?
If you want to dye your beard, you should understand the science of how dyes work. Most permanent chemical hair dyes work by penetrating the hair follicle and adding the pigment, which then reacts with the melanin that’s already present in your hair.
There are two steps here, normally involving two different chemical agents (ammonia and peroxide).
First, your natural base color is lightened. Then, the new tone or color is added. A chemical reaction causes the molecules in the dye to expand to a size that essentially lodges them into the cortex of your cuticle; this is why they cannot be washed out.
Though they will never wash out, permanent hair dyes can sometimes fade over time. And, of course, as your hair grows, the new hair will not be affected by the dye. So your roots will be visible.
In order to prevent your roots not matching the rest of your hair, you will have to touch up the roots with your chosen dye every few weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows.
The more drastic the color change, the more noticeable your roots will be, and the more frequently you will have to re-dye your roots.
Temporary dyes work by coating each hair to alter the color, which is why they don’t last that long.
They don’t contain ammonia or peroxide. This makes them gentler on your hair, but the color will fade away after only a few washes with a good beard shampoo.
There are also dyes that are in the middle between temporary and permanent. These are called semi- or demi-permanent dyes.
They contain peroxide but not ammonia, which means they cannot be used to lighten your hair. Semi- or demi-permanent dyes are used for enhancing your beard’s natural color or masking grays rather than entirely changing the color of your beard.
Depending on the formula, these dyes wash out after a certain number of washes. Basically, this happens because, depending on the chemicals used, they penetrate the cortex to a certain amount; the molecules react and become varying sizes but never penetrate as deeply or become as large as the molecules used in permanent dyes.
It is important to note that the result of permanent or semi-permanent beard dye will be unique for each person.
In other words, the color that a dye shows on the box or the beard color of your friend who swears by it won’t be exactly the same as the one you will get in your beard.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that the texture and condition of your beard hair (thick or thin, oily or dry) can influence how the dye reacts. If your beard is dry, you can always use beard oil.
Your beard hair has a very different texture than the hair on your head, so if you have dyed your head before and looking to try out a beard dye for the first time, keep in mind that these two are different beasts!
Dyes that work by penetrating the follicle (anything other than a temporary beard dye) will react differently to thick hair than to thin hair.
The number of natural oils in your beard can also affect absorption. Many people recommend avoiding washing your beard for two days before dying, claiming that the buildup of natural oils will help the dye set.
Others claim those oils decrease the quality of the dye. Ultimately, it varies dye-to-dye. Follow the instructions on the box for the best results.
Finally, different hair dyes require different amounts of labor. Most dyes come in cream, liquid/gel, or powder forms.
Certain dyes will require you to mix the dye with a cream base and then apply it to your beard.
Liquid dyes are effective because little to no set-up is required on your part, and it is very easy to coat your beard evenly.
The downside is that it can be quite messy, and oftentimes once you open the bottle, it cannot be reused.
Cream dyes, on the other hand, allow you to have more control over the sections of your beard you are going to dye. So, they are ideal for touch-ups on your roots.
Powder dyes require you to mix them with a base (often water), allowing you to use only the amount you need. It is a more economical option if you require frequent touch-ups to your roots, but it is the most labor-intensive of the three options.
No matter what you choose, always follow the instructions on the box for the best results.
Natural Beard Dyes vs. Chemical Beard Dyes
Any color change to your hair requires chemicals of some sort, so do not be fooled into thinking that natural or organic dyes are chemical-free. The only way to get a completely natural dye is to make your own DIY beard dye.
The real difference lies in the types of chemicals used. As we discussed, many dyes include ammonia and/or peroxide and color pigment.
However, ammonia and peroxide can both be quite irritating to your skin. The use of these chemicals can cause damage to your hair if they are used frequently for a long period of time.
When choosing between an all-natural or chemically-based dye, the most important thing to consider is your skin sensitivity.
All-natural options without these two harsh chemicals are more suitable if you have sensitive skin.
If you have had issues in the past with dyes or other skin products, consider a dye made from plant extracts or other natural materials (Grizzly Mountain beard dye and Henna Color Lab are both all-natural and free of chemical additives).
If you know that certain artificially produced harsh ingredients will irritate your skin, check the ingredients on the packaging to make sure they’re not present in your dye.
Try a Patch Test
Whether you have sensitive skin or not, it’s recommended to try a patch test before fully applying a dye. You should always consider doing a sensitivity check before applying anything to your face.
To ensure that nothing goes wrong, try a patch test by applying a tiny amount on a small patch of skin and wait 24 to 48 hours after application.
Mild redness and a light (but not painful) burning sensation are normal. If a more severe reaction like a chemical burn occurs, consider trying another dye.
It’s also important to note that your face skin may be more sensitive than the skin on other parts of your body.
Be aware of this when you do a patch test, and choose a spot with similar texture and toughness to your cheek and jawline.
Remember, no beard is worth severe skin irritation! You should be able to find a dye that will work for your skin and hair type. Don’t force anything.
Choosing a Beard Dye
Now that you know what to look for, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular products out there:
Just For Men is by far the most popular and recognizable brand of chemical beard dyes. This dye is applied using a non-drip brush, allowing you to treat your beard quickly in just a few minutes.
Unlike some of the other dyes out there, it doesn’t require you to mix in powder, so the prep is a bit easier and probably less messy.
While some prep work is involved, the mixing tray provided in the box makes it easier.
The combine-it-yourself gel formula allows you to use the amount you need, making it an economical and convenient option.
It is perfect for a last-minute touch-up on those sparse gray hair before you walk out the door. This dye can’t be beaten when it comes to convenience and ease of use. Just be aware that this dye has a reputation for causing skin irritation, so a patch test is a must.
- Easy to use brush-in gel.
- Quick solution.
- Great for gray beards.
- Great for darkening a beard to give it a thicker appearance.
- The ammonia-free formula makes it less damaging to hair.
- Affordable Price
- It may irritate the skin. (Some have also reported allergic reactions even after using the dye for a couple of weeks without issue.)
Technically, RefectoCil is for eyebrows and eyelashes, but it works well on beards. The RefectoCil website has an informational video about how to apply this cream-based dye to beards.
It is a dye that is often used in professional salons to dye hair around sensitive areas.
It’s more for tinting than dying, so if you’re trying to totally hide gray or white hair, you should try something else.
But if you’re a brown-haired guy whose beard is turning red, you can use it to tint your beard to a truer brown color.
This dye is quite easy to use; you only have to mix some drops of the dye into the cream base. You then apply it by working it into your beard.
- Professional quality.
- Great for a subtle change.
- It can be used on other hair.
- It May cause irritation.
Blackbeard for Men X is an easy way for you to color your beard without resorting to tricky, messy dyes.
It isn’t a dye, so it doesn’t chemically alter the natural color of your hair; rather temporarily coats each individual strand to give you a bold and fresh look that isn’t harmful to your hair or skin.
That means it does wash out and needs to be reapplied daily or whenever you’re looking to give your beard that extra boost of color.
Blackbeard for Men’s applicator allows you to precisely apply color to fill in, touch up, and cover grey hair. The small, maneuverable brush applicator makes it perfect for smaller areas and shorter beards.
You can fill in as much or as little as you like, color your beard fully, or leave some grey hair for a more natural salt and pepper style but still polished look.
Unlike traditional dyes, which can contain harsh chemicals that cause irritation or adverse reaction, Blackbeard for Men is a hypoallergenic beard dye.
With four color options available (Brown/Auburn, Dark Brown, Brown-black, and Black), everyone should be able to find an option that will work for them.
- Easy, precise application is quick and natural-looking.
- The cosmetic-grade formula does not irritate the skin.
- The water-resistant formula applies in seconds and dries easily.
- The semi-permanent dye lasts 8-12 hours, making re-application a daily task.
Grizzly Mountain is an organic dye made 100% from natural plant extracts and contains no added harmful chemicals.
It comes as a herbal powder that you mix with hot water until it is the right consistency (follow the directions on the packaging). Then work it throughout your beard, leave it on for ten to thirty minutes (thicker beards require more time for the dye to set), and then rinse it off to see the result!
Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye dyes the outside of the follicle and does not penetrate your hair. Despite the fact that it doesn’t chemically penetrate each cuticle cortex, the coloring is permanent. The resulting color is based on the coarseness of each hair.
For example, if you’re using their brown dye, darker and coarser hair could end up a darker brown, while white or gray hair might become blonde or light brown.
The result won’t be perfectly uniform, but it might look more natural than a uniform jet black.
This dye is perfect if you are beginning to see some gray but are hesitant to go “all-out” on a uniform color.
Grizzly Mountain beard dye is an excellent choice if you have sensitive skin since it doesn’t contain chemical additives that may cause irritation.
- The long-lasting color doesn’t wash out.
- Natural hair color.
- All-natural beard dye with organic ingredients.
- Free of harsh chemicals found in other permanent dyes; good for sensitive skin.
- Permanent beard color.
- Hard to predict the outcome due to the way the dye works.
- The powder-based setup can be messy.
Henna Color Lab is a Portland-based company that creates natural hair dyes using the henna plant. Yup, it’s the same stuff used to make henna tattoos.
The plant is sourced from award-winning growers in its native India. This dye comes as a powder made with all-natural vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.
Henna Color Lab also offers more than the standard beard dye colors. In addition to natural colors like brown and black, you can go for something louder, like indigo or wine red.
However, the lack of chemicals like ammonia and peroxide means you can’t use Henna Color Lab dye to lighten your hair.
Whether you have sensitive skin or not, this is a great choice if you want to incorporate a more adventurous color and if you are environment and animal-friendly.
Mix the powder with water before applying, so you can use only the amount you need and save the rest. Keep in mind it can get a bit messy and more labor-intensive than the simple gel-based dyes.
- Wider color selection (including some out-there ones like indigo and wine red).
- All-natural ingredients.
- No animal testing.
- Good for sensitive skin.
- It can be used on other types of hair.
- Powder-based, so it can be messy.
- It takes longer to set after being applied.
- It can’t be used to lighten the hair.
Godefroy color tint kit is a semi-permanent beard dye that does not contain ammonia or any of the harsh ingredients other beard dyes contain. It comes in a box containing 20 premeasured capsules, so you won’t have a hard time calculating how much of the product you should use. In this beard dye kit, you will also find a color developer, a small and a big mixing dish, and 2 applicator brushes.
Godefroy’s color tint is really strong and will cover all the grey spots on your beard (you can also try some natural ways of stopping the greying of your beard). According to our tests, it lasts for 3 to 4 weeks before you need to reapply, which is way above average.
It comes in 3 different shades: black, dark brown, and medium brown. This is an area I think they can improve a bit and add more shades.
Overall, Godefroy is a good choice if you want to cover some gray spots on your beard. It is not designed for complete beard coloring, so if you have a gray beard and you want to recolor it, you should look for another dye.
Finally, when it comes to pricing, it is not the cheapest beard dye out there, but if you consider that it lasts for 3 to 4 weeks and you get 20 capsules, I think it is a good value-for-money choice.
- The beard kit contains everything you need.
- Ammonia free.
- It comes in capsules making application easy.
- Only 3 different shades
- Not good for a whole beard coloring
Clairol natural instincts is a semi-permanent hair dye that can also be used on your beard. It is ammonia-free and contains ingredients like aloe vera extracts and Vitamin E.
The application time is about 10 minutes, and the color will last for about 6 weeks, but from the second week, the color starts fading. Each package contains 3 treatments, so it will last for about 18 weeks.
It has 5 different shades; if you are unsure what color to choose, you should go with a lighter one for the first time.
Overall, Clairol’s natural instincts is a good choice if you are looking to change the color of your beard and not just cover some gray areas.
- Lasts for 6 weeks.
- Contains Aloe and Vitamin E.
- Quick application.
- It might irritate your skin.
- Don’t dye your beard right before an important event. If something goes wrong, it’s a good idea to give yourself some time to either fix a mistake or get rid of excess dye.
- Keep a towel handy. These dyes will stain more than your beard. Keep your clothes out of the way when applying and cleaning up the dye. If you are supposed to rinse the excess dye out, make sure to be very thorough, as it can get to your clothes or bed sheets if you don’t get it all out. If you want to know how to remove beard dye, read this article.
- Take your time. You don’t want to find out you used twice as much dye as you were supposed to after you’ve already applied it. Read the instructions!
- On that note, start small. Use less dye than you think you need at first to avoid an extreme and unnatural-looking result. It is a lot easier to dye it again to achieve the desired color change than to undo what you’ve already done!
- If you are looking for crazy facial hair color, we recommend starting with a non-temporary dye that will wash out, so you can get a feel for the look before committing to it.
- Finally, take it incrementally if you want to make a permanent and drastic color change (for example, from blonde to dark brown or black). Start with a lighter color than you think you want, and then work from there. Changing your beard color too drastically at once can look unnatural, so you must be careful.
So What’s The Best Beard Dye?
Finding the right beard dye for you can take a bit of time and experimentation.
There are two major risks if you are dyeing your beard for the first time. First, your skin might not like having dye on it, and second, you might not like having jet-black hair if you wanted something more neutral.
With these concerns in mind, Henna Color Lab is the best beard dye. In addition to boasting all-natural ingredients and cruelty-free production, Henna Color Lab offers several shades of brown and black and colors like wine red and indigo, making it the most versatile dye on the list.
It comes from a small company that uses natural ingredients from dedicated professionals and doesn’t use animal testing. (After all, humans aren’t the only animals with sensitive skin.)
The henna-based dye can be used to recolor your entire beard or could be used for a patch test. You could go all out and dye your beard blue or add a few colorful streaks. This versatile dye should suit most men’s needs, making it a great choice for those unfamiliar with beard dyes. As it doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals of other dyes, it is safe to use again and again. Each time you dye your beard the same color as the henna dye, it will come in a little darker shade. This way, you can make the transition to your new look more gradual and natural!
Uses for Beard Dye
Before looking for a dye, you need to consider what kind of results you want.
- Are you trying to recolor your entire beard in a single, uniform shade?
- Do you want something subtler, like a slightly different tint?
- Are you just treating gray spots?
- Do you want to add different shades or highlights?
- How long do you want the coloring to last?
- Do you want an unconventional color like blue?
The best beard dye for you will depend entirely on your answers to these questions.
1. Full Recoloring
Some dyes are intended to be applied to the entire beard. The result, in theory, is a uniform color, without any streaks or highlights appearing on hair that is naturally a bit lighter.
These dyes are often permanent, so choosing the right color is especially important.
A beard color that is poorly matched with your hair or drastically different from what you had before will make the color seem unnatural.
Dyes made for a full recolor are often the strongest and are made to be applied throughout your whole beard, so there’s plenty of room for things to go wrong if you don’t do your homework.
You should do a strand test (the same technique as a patch test, except on a small patch of your beard rather than your skin) to be 100% sure that you like the color you’ve chosen and see how it will look on your beard.
Full recoloring with a permanent solution can be used to make your hair lighter or darker and is a good option if you are looking to drastically change your appearance or cover a lot of gray hair.
It should be noted that lightening your hair requires more chemicals and more time in order to let those chemicals set. Professional bleaching may be recommended depending on how much lighter you want to make your beard (for example, if you are going from black to blond or light brown).
Darkening your beard is much easier and is a great option if you want to make your beard appear thicker.
Finding the right color is a process. You should make sure to match the beard color to your eyebrow and head hair color, so you won’t have an end result looking obviously unnatural. Avoid over-applying, and definitely do not rush the process.
2. Spot Treatment
Beard dyes are designed to be applied to small areas of your beard where the facial hair is a different color than the rest.
Cream dyes with an applicator brush are best for getting at these small areas in a controlled and intentional way.
The most common spot treatment dye is coloring the gray spots.
Another common use is red or blonde hair in a brown or black beard; spot treatment works just as well for these.
Spot treatments are also used to tint patchy beards. However, when dyeing these areas, keep in mind that the skin is more sensitive, and it is especially important to do a patch test to avoid irritation.
Dyes used for tinting are often semi-permanent or temporary. They don’t contain many chemicals to alter the color of your hair. This is the major difference between dyes for tinting and dyes for full recoloring.
For example, if you have a brown beard but it has a more reddish tint, you can use this type of dye to match the colors without a drastic change.
No matter what kind of dye you choose, fully read the instructions before you begin. The results may last for several weeks, so it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you reach the point of no return.
How to Use Beard Dye?
Wash your beard
Before you color your beard make sure to wash it with a beard shampoo and pat it dry. At this point, you can apply Vaseline to your skin to protect it from the color.
Mix the dye
Depending on what type of dye you have bought now is the time to follow the instructions and mix it.
Do a patch test
Apply a small portion of the mixed dye on your beard and wait. If your skin feels irritated or you don’t like the color you should consider buying another product.
Apply the dye to your beard
Now that you have mixed the dye properly and done a small test it is time to use the application brush and put the dye to your beard. Tip: Make sure to use enough dye and cover your whole beard.
Now comes the easiest part. You have to wait for 20 to 40 minutes depending on the application time on the instructions.
Use cold water to rinse off the excess dye. Don’t overdo it because the color will fade out and will become lighter.
Beard Dye FAQs
What is the Best Beard Dye for Sensitive Skin?
If you have sensitive skin you should avoid products that contain ammonia and alcohol. Probably most of the permanent and semi-permanent beard dyes will irritate your skin so a product like Henna Color Lab is a safe bet.
How Often Should I Dye my Beard?
Well, we can’t give you an exact answer to this one because it depends on the type of dye you will use and your hair type. The same dye will last longer for some guys because of their hair type. So the answer to this question is “it depends” and you should test yourself.
What are the Different Types of Beard Dyes?
As we have mentioned many times in our post there are 3 different types of beard dyes:
Permanent beard dye: It lasts forever and you just have to dye the root of your hair as it gets longer.
Semi-Permanent beard dye: It lasts a few weeks and you will need to refresh it when it starts fading.
Temporary beard dye: It lasts a few days or when you wash your beard.
Can I Use Beard Dye to my Beard?
The short answer is yes. Some of the products we recommend are hair dyes. But we recommend doing your homework before buying a hair dye.
Should I use Beard Dye Before or After I Trim my Beard?
You should color your beard after you trim it. It is not a big deal if you do it before but you will spend more dye on hair that will get cut later. We explain more in-depth why you should trim before you dye in the how to dye a very short beard post.
How to Pick the Right Color?
Before you dye your beard especially with a permanent dye you should do a patch test and see the results.
As a rule of thumb when you use a permanent beard dye you should choose a darker shade than the color of your beard. When you use a semi-permanent dye you should use a lighter shade cause they get darker.
Can I Use Other Beard Products after I Dye my Hair?
You should not change your grooming routine because you have dyed your beard. We always recommend using other products like beard oil or beard balm.
My Beard is too Dark after Coloring it, what Should I do?
Well don’t panic, you just need to act fast. Get in the shower and give it a good wash. If you do it quickly after coloring, the color will lighten.
Will Beard Dye Damage my Beard?
No, beard dye will not damage your hair as long as you are not overdoing it and you are not bleaching your beard every now and then. The most common side effect of beard dyes is skin itchiness and irritation and not damage of the hair.
Beard coloring is a great way to spice up your look and keep yourself looking fresh and ageless. Whether you’re trying out a whole new look or just trying to keep those gray hairs in check, maintaining the color of your beard is as essential.
With such a wide variety of types, colors, and brands out there, it is really important to do your research. Take the time and read reviews of different beard dye products. Read the instructions carefully before ever applying a new beard dye.
Consider how long you want the color to last if you want to color your whole beard or just parts of it, how drastic of a color change you are looking for, and the coarseness of your beard. Remember that in addition to color, you have to choose if you want a liquid, gel, or powder-based dye and a temporary, semi- or demi-permanent, or permanent hair dye. Different types of beard dyes work better for different skin types and different desired outcomes.
We hope our beard dye guide helped you get an idea of what you need to do to get the exact beard color and quality you desire! When it comes to getting the best beard dye job, a good rule of thumb is to be bold but always do your homework. And don’t forget you should use other products too, like good beard oil, a beard balm, and a wooden beard comb.
Russell is the founder of themensattitude.com. He is a barber a beard enthusiast and he is obsessed with trying men’s lifestyle products and blog about them. If you have any questions you can hit him up via the contact page.