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The salt and pepper look is becoming increasingly popular these days, and we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from guys wanting to know how to achieve it. This is what we’ll discuss in this post, but before we get into how to do it, let’s take a quick look at the reasons you might want to get this look.
There are 3 main reasons to get this look.
- If you have grey spots and want to get a more uniform look.
- If you have a white beard and don’t want to look like Santa. (Some people like white beards, and we have a guide on how to dye your beard white).
- If you are in your mid-30s with a black beard and want to get a more sophisticated look.
Table of Contents
What is The Salt and Pepper Beard?
To make sure we are on the same page, let’s first talk about what a salt and pepper beard is and what isn’t.
Salt and pepper beards are a balanced mix of white (salt) and black (pepper) facial hair. Some grey spots on your beard or some white hair here and there are not considered a salt and pepper beard. The 2 colors should be consistent and balanced across your facial hair.
How to Get The Salt and Pepper Look?
There are many ways to get this look, but in this article, I am going to cover the 3 main ones.
- Dye your beard with a high-quality beard dye
- Use beard wax.
- Use eyeshadow.
Salt and Pepper look using beard dye
This is the most standard way to get this look but also the most difficult. Before using a beard dye, we recommend trying hair wax or eyeshadow to see if you like the results.
If you have done that already or you are determined to dye your beard, keep reading.
The process of dyeing your beard salt and pepper is exactly the same as dyeing it with any other color. We cover it in great detail in our how-to-dye your stubble guide. (we strongly advise you to go and read this article if it is the first time you are going to dye your beard).
Now let’s see what you are going to need.
1. Salt and Pepper beard dye
We recommend using Just For Men: Touch Of Gray Mustache & Beard
Just For Men: Touch Of Gray Mustache & Beard is a semi-permanent beard dye, and its effects will last for about 6 weeks. If you want to know more about how long beard dyes last, read our article.
If you know how semi-permanent hair dyes work, you already know they use ammonia and other chemicals to penetrate the hair and insert the color pigment from the inside. So be careful because ammonia and these chemicals can cause allergic reactions and irritate your skin.
The good thing about this dye is that it doesn’t contain ammonia or other chemicals, which is one of the many reasons we recommend it.
Another pro of Just For Men is that it comes pre-prepared, and you won’t have to mix it before you use it. It comes with an applicator brush making it really easy to apply.
You should cover your entire beard with it, and it will dye some of your hair, giving you a well-balanced salt and pepper-colored beard look.
2. Beard Shampoo
You should use a high-quality beard shampoo to wash your beard before you dye it in case you decide to trim it. If you don’t trim it you will just use the beard wash after you dye it to rinse off the excess dye. We recommend using Polished Gentleman Beard Shampoo.
You should use vaseline (petroleum jelly) to seal the beardless part of your face to protect it from staining with dye. More about that is below. If you got stained, read our article about how to remove beard dye.
4. Rubber Gloves
You will need to put on rubber gloves to make sure you will get the salt and pepper look only on your bead and not on your fingers.
5. Alcoholic face wipes
You might accidentally stain the skin on your face and neck. You should use face wipes to clean it immediately, so keep them close.
6. Beard trimmer (Optional)
If you want to trim your beard, you should do it before you dye it. To do that, you should use a beard trimmer. The one we suggest is Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 7000. If you want to know more about beard trimmers and how to choose a good one, read this article.
Ok, now that you have everything you need, it is time to talk about how you will do it.
Time needed: 1 hour
- Do a patch test
If you have read our other beard dyeing guides, like the best beard dye guide, you already know that we recommend doing a patch test before you use a dye or any other product on your face.
As we have mentioned before beard dyes and especially the permanent and semi-permanent ones contain chemicals to penetrate the hair.
These chemicals can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. So before you use the beard dye to your whole beard, apply a small amount of it on a spot and wait for about 24 hours.
If you feel a burning sensation or your skin is red and irritated you should ditch the dye and use one with 100% natural ingredients.
Some fellow bloggers suggest doing the spot test on your elbow. We strongly disagree as the skin on your elbow is coarse and facial skin is way more sensitive.
If you have sensitive skin read our guide about beard dyeing & sensitive skin.
- Trim your beard (Optional)
If you want to trim your beard now is the time to do it. You want to trim your facial hair before you dye it for 2 reasons.
a. The problem with trimming your beard after you dye it is that some areas like the neckline and cheek line that you dyed will get shaved. The skin below the facial hair that now got shaved off will be probably stained and visible.
b. The second reason is about being economic. You will dye hair that will get trimmed so you will spend more dye for no reason.
- Apply Vaseline
After you are done with the patch test and you are sure about the dye you have chosen, the next step is to start dyeing your beard.
Before you do that apply a layer of vaseline on the skin around your beard to protect it from staining.
- Prepare the dye
Just For Men: Touch Of Gray Mustache & Beard makes this step really easy.
It comes in a single tube so all you have to do is to put the desired amount of dye (about ⅓) in the mixing bowl that comes with it and just use it.
If you decide to use another beard dye brand you should follow the instructions on the box.
- Apply the dye
Now that the dye is ready dip the application brush in, stir it a bit, and apply the dye on your beard.
Use soft circular motions and make sure to massage your whole beard.
Don’t apply too much pressure because you don’t want to stain the skin below the beard that much.
This is the easiest part, all you have to do is to wait for the dye to work its magic.
According to the instructions on the box you need to wait for 5 minutes. My advice is to take the recommended time with a grain of salt.
You will probably need to leave for a couple of minutes more depending on your beard color.
- Wash your beard
Now is the time to wash your beard. Do it with lukewarm water until it runs clear. Then wash your beard with shampoo thoroughly.
After you are done with the beard shampoo take a paper towel and scrub your face to get rid of the excess dye from the skin below your beard.
I have promised to show you more ways of dyeing your beard salt and pepper. And this is what I am going to do now, but keep in mind that the 2 techniques I will talk about work only if you have a dark beard. If you have a grey or white beard, you should stick to the beard dye method we just described above.
How to dye your beard Salt and Pepper Using Beard Wax
This method is pretty straightforward and easier than the beard dye one, but it is a temporary solution, meaning it will fade after you wash your beard.
All you have to do is to buy a gray beard wax and apply it to your beard. I recommend using MOFAJANG Ash Gray Hair Coloring Dye Wax.
MOFAJANG Ash Gray Hair Coloring Dye Wax is an affordable beard wax with 100% Natural ingredients. Meaning it won’t irritate your skin and will give it a nice natural hair color.
The tricky part when using beard wax is not to dye your beard completely gray.
There is a big debate in the grooming world about whether you should apply beard wax on a dry or wet beard. I have tested both methods and what works better for a natural salt and pepper look is to apply the wax on a dry beard with an applicator beard brush. Because if you use your fingers on a wet beard, you will probably get a messy look.
How to dye your beard Salt and Pepper Using Eyeshadow
This is the easiest way to dye your beard salt and pepper if you have dark hair. As I mentioned above, it does not work if you already have grey hair.
All you have to do is to get get a gray eyeshadow (you can “borrow” your girlfriends for a quick test), take an applicator brush or an old toothbrush, and dye your beard. The process is the same as the beard wax but less messy.
I recommend using Yves Rocher Eyeshadow Trio Palette Gray; I like this one because it has 3 different shades, and you can experiment with the different colors and see which one you like the most.
How can I do it naturally?
Unfortunately, there is not a natural way to get this beard style. The best thing you can do is to use a natural beard dye like MOFAJANG that contains 100% natural ingredients.
What should I do if I stain my facial skin?
This is why we told you to get the alcoholic wipes. Just use them and scrub the stained area immediately.
What if I don’t like the results?
This is something that might happen. If you have used a temporary dye just wash it off and you should be fine. In case you use a semi-permanent dye there are two possible scenarios.
1) It is too dark, don’t worry the color will fade naturally after a few days depending on your type of beard.
2) It is too light, again no need to worry, you can re-dye it later.
Should I change my grooming routine after I dye my beard?
No, you should not change your grooming routine. You should keep a healthy routine as you did before you dyed your beard. You should use beard oil, beard balm and all the other beard grooming products you used.
Dyeing your beard is not rocket science, but you need to do it correctly in order to be safe and get the desired effect. Make sure to follow all the steps we have highlighted above, especially if you are going to use a semi-permanent dye. Happy dyeing!
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.