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Should I Wash My Beard After Eating?

If beards need to be washed after every meal, bare faces do too

Being bearded certainly has its perks: You can spend less time shaving and more time, uh… twisting your mustache! You can wear less sunscreen, too. You can even transcend to a higher level of hotness, at least hypothetically. But every rose has its thorn, as Bret Michaels famously cautioned — and every beard has its nauseating collection of residual food crumbs.

This begs the all-important question: Should you wash your beard after every meal? 

Interestingly, the answer has less to do with beards and more to do with how you feel about germs in general.

This is because, while beards seem like sponges for food leftovers and general debris, research shows that clean-shaven faces are actually more likely to harbor bacteria than their hairy counterparts. Researchers believe this is due to micro-abrasions that happen during shaving, which may support bacterial growth.

None of this is to say that beards are pristine or anything. In fact, studies also show that they commonly harbor literal ass particles, and Jason “The Germ Guy” Tetro recently confirmed to me that flavor savers do indeed save flavor. The point is simply that bare faces can be just as filthy, if not more filthy, than bearded ones — and yet, the non-bearded among us rarely talk about washing our faces after every meal.

To that end, beard YouTuber Dan Command tells me, “I’ve never felt the need to wash my beard after eating.” He does, however, take some precautionary measures to avoid collecting too much debris while chowing down. “I use a fork and knife on things like hamburgers and pizza. There are also some foods that I just completely avoid eating — or at least eating in public — such as ribs or ice cream.” He also uses straws religiously to circumvent drenching his mustache with liquids.

Only when Command has a noticeable amount of food residue in his beard does he feel the need to clean up in the bathroom. “If you do get your beard messy with crumbs — or even worse, sauce — you can clean up in a sink,” he says. “You can do a simple rinse and comb through, or you can rinse and use a liquid beard wash. They make small, travel-sized containers. They even make a product similar to moist towelettes for beards, where the cloth has beard oil.”

But again, whether you decide to partake in this sort of post-meal facial cleansing has little to do with being bearded, because all faces are susceptible to collecting germs, debris and crumbs. Still, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we could all benefit from a little more washing up.

So, I’ll see you in the bathroom after lunch, right?