How to Dye Your Beard in 9 Easy Steps (A Beard Coloring Guide)

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how to dye your beard coloring

On the one hand, a bit of gray in your beard and scalp shows wisdom and experience. On the other, it shows that you’re getting older.

For many men, the signs of aging are not only relentless in their march forward, but a tough thing to face in the mirror every morning. Hair dye is one solution to your aging angst, and so is beard dye.

Beard dye provides a versatile solution to obvious signs of aging which pop up on your hard-earned, studly facial hair.

In this post, we’ll look at how to dye your beard in 9 easy steps while also taking a look at three excellent dyes that we think you’ll like.

Don’t like the way your beard looks as you age? No worries, because beard dye is there to help.

Before you begin: Should I dye my beard?

Dyeing your beard can be a great way to cover up some grey hairs or just change things up and try a new look. But dying your beard is nothing like dying the hair on your head—you can’t just slap it with some store-bought color and hope for the best. If you don’t do it right, you could end up with an uneven mess or even a patchy beard altogether.

There’s no reversing the aging process, no Fountain of Youth that will peel away the years after we drink deeply from it. However, there are things you can do to make yourself look younger, and beard dye is one of those things.

Or, maybe you just like the idea of changing your beard’s color.

In any case, at this point the question of “Should I dye my beard?” is one you’ve pondered.

And it’s always helpful to think about why you’re considering dyeing your beard. Every man is different, with different preferences, but here are some common reasons why some men go the beard dye route:

It’s a matter of aging

Those first gray hairs that pop up in a beard are confidence-killers for some men. Or, while not necessarily a blow to one’s self-esteem, you simply want to preserve your youthful appearance for as long as possible.

You want to change your look

Nothing too complicated here: you’ve grown weary of your beard’s natural color and you’re looking for a change.

Maybe you’re the kind of guy who’s looking to rock his world, and the world of those around him, with a navy blue beard, or a pink beard. More power to you if you’re one of those gentlemen.

It’s a job/career thing

Youth is often valued in the modern workplace, rightly or wrongly. Again, the aging process is sometimes a detriment in the business world and some men choose to dye their beard to maintain a youthful appearance while potentially preserving their job status.

You’re willing to take the time

Dyeing your beard won’t consume your life but it will take up some time and add a few minutes to your morning grooming routine.

Make sure you’re willing to make the time commitment, especially if you’re one of those guys who’s always running behind schedule in the morning. The good news, however, one application of a permanent beard dye will last you several weeks.

What color should I choose?

OK, you’ve committed to dyeing your beard. Now it’s time to pick your beard color. In the majority of cases that means choosing a color that matches the hair on your head – unless you’re bald, in which case all bets are off.

Don’t get us wrong, you’re perfectly free to transform your beard into whatever color you want.

If you want red beard dye while the hair on your head is dark brown, go for it. There might not be a lot of people like you out there, but you wouldn’t be completely alone, either.

There is, however, more to the process of dyeing your beard than simply picking “black” because your scalp hair is black.

For one, beard hair is rougher, coarser, and drier than scalp hair, so dye absorption on facial hair is a bit trickier.

For some men, the best option is to use a beard dye that’s a shade lighter than the intended results – and the dye is applied twice, if need be. Professional stylists often suggest choosing a color that’s a couple of shades lighter than your beard.

The drawback of going “light” is that you risk not dyeing your beard dark enough, which means you may have to start the process over (and potentially have to buy new dye).

The other option is to use a darker dye, which takes less time and holds better when you’re trying to cover gray hair.

But be careful in choosing black hair dye; it often looks too obvious and may make your face appear pale, especially in winter climates where the sun seemingly never appears until summer.

A darker beard is often easier to maintain and the results may last longer than using lighter colors.

The key to coloring your beard usually boils down to this: you don’t want to color it so dark that people will immediately notice the changes. A beard that’s slightly lighter than your natural color is less jarring and noticeable to the outside world.

Temporary or permanent dye?

You have your choice of temporary and permanent dyes and there are big differences between the two:

  • Permanent hair dyes (beard or scalp hair) are meant to retain their color long after their initial application – for several weeks or months to be exact. They aren’t actually “permanent” in that they’ll last forever, or until you shave off your beard, but you’re stuck with them once they’re applied. That said, make sure the color is what you exactly want if you go with a permanent dye, because there’s nothing easy about washing it out.

Permanent dyes get their permanence by mixing an oxidizer such as hydrogen peroxide, ammonia with a coloring agent.

An advantage to permanent dyes is that they usually come in a wider range of colors – colors that are more natural-looking.

However, they may damage hair because the chemicals are left in your hair for a longer period while you wait to get your desired color.

he downside to this is that permanent beard dyes can be harsh on your skin and cause irritation. To avoid this, follow these tips when applying them:

1.If you haven’t dyed your beard before, do a patch test first to make sure you’re not allergic.

2.Always follow the instructions on how long to leave it on for and how often you should reapply it (usually once a month).

3.Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any of the dyeing products (such as gloves or applicators).

4.Consider using gloves during application so as not to irritate your hands with any residual dye that may be left over from previous applications or while mixing colors together if they’re not pre-mixed in one tube).

  • Temporary beard dye doesn’t penetrate as deeply into your beard as do permanent dyes. Instead, the outside shafts of your hair are colored and there’s no chemical reaction as you get with a permanent hair dye. Temporary dyes fade rather quickly with shampooing and exposure to the elements, but they’re ideal if you don’t want to make a permanent commitment to a certain color, or if you just want a quick touch-up to keep those gray hairs undercover.

This kind of dye is best for those who are looking to change up their look temporarily. Temporary dyes usually last anywhere from a few days to a week and can be easily removed by washing your beard with regular shampoo and conditioner.

Temporary dyes come with a brush applicator which you use to apply the color on your beard.

As mentioned, they’re great for random touch-ups and once the coloring dries (and it doesn’t take long), you’re ready for your day.

Most temporary dyes wash out easily and you can apply them again the next day. Note: You’ll probably want to wash your temporary dye out at night because it can rub off on your pillow and sheets.

The only downside to a temporary beard dye is that it’s temporary.

It comes off at the end of the day, so you can’t just go ahead and make your new look permanent.

How soon do you want to see results?

Choosing the right dye for your beard is an elaborate process. You need to factor in quite a few things – the speed at which you want to see results being one of them. 

There are two types of beard dyes when it comes to the speed. One gives you an instant result and the other will take more time before the color starts to show.

Instant result

If you have an important event coming up very soon and you don’t have the time to fine-tune your beard and let the color grow naturally, this one’s for you. Here, the dye constitutes a full potential coloring agent that instantly colors your beard. However, the results aren’t as natural. 

Also, depending on the brand and the ingredients, instant coloring can also do potential harm to your beard.

Gradual result

Beard shampoos and comb-in beard dyes usually obtain gradual results. These products color your beard one shade at a time. With repeated use, you’ll see that color slowly starts to darken until your beard completely turns the color you chose. 

This is a much more efficient way to color your beard as you get time to fine-tune the color into the beard to give it a more natural look. Also, depending on the brand you choose, these products are potentially less harmful to your beard than instant color dyes.

Things to keep in mind before you start dying your hair

Here are a few things you should consider before setting out to dye your beard:

  • When you’re doing it on your own, it can get pretty messy. So always wear an old- t-shirt that you’re willing to throw away. 
  • Always wear protective gloves when you dye your beard. This will ensure that the color doesn’t leave a mark on your hand. Also, people with extra sensitive skin can suffer adverse reactions from the chemicals used in the dyes. The glove, in this case, will prove to be even more valuable. 
  • Always apply the dye to unwashed hair. This will make the color reach the hair follicles better, ensuring that the color lasts longer.
  • Try to opt for dyes with more natural ingredients. Chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide should be avoided. Ammonia breaks open the shaft of your hair follicles to help chemicals go deeper, and hydrogen peroxide bleaches the natural color of your beard. 
  • Don’t apply hair color to your beard. Although both of them serve the same purpose, beard dyes have special applicators that enable your beard to absorb the color better.

How to dye your beard in 9 easy steps (A simple, illustrated guide)

Let’s get down to the actual business of dyeing your beard. It’s sometimes challenging but, like anything else, the more you do it the better you’ll get the hang of it.

1. Preparation

how to dye you beard 1The first step is getting organized which, in this case, means gathering all of the materials you’ll need:

  • Beard dye (be sure to include an oxidant if required)
  • Rubber gloves (to protect your hands from dye)
  • Applicator (which may come with the dye or maybe a toothbrush, small comb, or mascara-type brush, depending on your preference).
  • Paper towels (or cloth towels if you don’t mind getting them stained)
  • Vaseline (which is used to protect your skin from the dye. Mineral oil also works).
  • Tint remover (if the product requires it, that is. You can use a homemade tint remover made from 50% bleach and 50% water. Just make sure to test your skin for sensitivity first).

2. Do a sensitivity test

how to dye you beard 2Mix up a bit of dye and place it in an inconspicuous place on your body (behind your ear, the inside of your forearm, etc) and leave it on for 24 hours.

Wash off the area with soap and area when the time is up and check for redness or inflammation – which means you’re probably sensitive to that particular dye and need to choose another.

3. To wash or not wash your beard

how to dye you beard 3There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to washing your beard before you dye it.

School No. 1 suggests that washing your beard beforehand is a good idea because it removes dead skin cells while nourishing your hair follicles. This school also claims that a clean beard helps your hair to retain the dye.

School No. 2, however, says not even to shower before you apply dye because you risk robbing your beard of its natural oils that truly help to retain the dye. Of course, you can always apply beard oil, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

One pre-dye thing you could do is to trim it and groom it into the style you want. Just make sure to use a quality trimmer or scissors.

4. Provide protection

how to dye you beard 4Apply a thin layer of Vaseline or mineral oil around the beard to prevent dye from leaking onto your skin.

And don’t forget to protect your hands against staining and irritation: always wear rubber gloves.

Rubber gloves work better than other types of gloves because they provide enough dexterity and sensation in the fingers.

You’ll appreciate the extra bit of control once you’re applying the dye.

Dye definitely will stain your clothes, as well, so it’s a good idea to put on a tattered shirt and an old pair of pants before you apply your dye.

5. Preparing the dye

how to dye you beard 5Many beard dye applications contain a tube of base color and a tube of color developer, which thickens the solution and acts as a filler.

Mix the two ingredients in the tray that comes with your beard dye or another dish-like container, but don’t use the bristle end of your brush to do so because bent bristles make it harder to apply the dye to your beard.

Mix just enough dye to cover your beard once. Many dyes are good for multiple application, but you don’t want to overdo it – especially at first.

6. Apply your dye

how to dye you beard 6After you’ve mixed the dye solution, dip the tip of your brush into the dye and apply it on your beard with an up-and-down motion.

Work the dye deeply into your beard to ensure that you cover all visible patches. Make sure that you cover all of your beard’s hair while trying not to get dye on your skin.

7. Wait and test

how to dye you beard 7Follow the instructions on the package (always!) for how long you should wait after applying the beard.

Once you’ve waited the allotted time, do a color test by using a paper towel or cotton swab to wipe off a small portion of the dye.

If it’s not dark enough, apply more dye and give it a few minutes.

Remember, your best strategy is to start light and gradually increase the color’s darkness. The color will fade after the first couple of washings so it’s OK if the color seems a bit dark at first.

Note: Don’t wait too long – again follow the instructions on the package – to test your beard’s color after you’ve applied the dye, because your beard may take on more color the longer you wait.

8. Rinse

how to dye you beard 8Once you’re satisfied with the color, rinse your beard with lukewarm or cold water until all of the excess dye has washed out. Pat dry it with towels once the water runs clear.

9. Wash it

how to dye you beard 9You’ll want to wash your beard at some point following your application of the dye. Your best bet is to use a shampoo that’s safe for color-treated hair.

Maintaining your beard

Dyeing your beard requires its share of effort and commitment, but maintaining a freshly-colored patch of facial hair isn’t quite as complicated. Let’s take a look at some rules of the road regarding the tender loving care of your freshly-colored beard:

1. Use a beard oil

We love beard oil and discuss its many virtues in other posts.

Beard oil serves many functions, including that it helps smooth and soften your beard when the sometimes harsh chemicals of beard dyes make it feel and look rougher.

Your beard grooming kit should always include beard oil, friends.

In the morning, after you’ve washed and dried your beard, rub a few drops of oil into your hands and massage the oil into your beard. If you have extra time, you can also use a comb or brush to work the oil through the entire length of your beard.

2. Shampoo carefully

The chances are that you’re going to want to shampoo your beard at some point rather than just rinsing it with lukewarm water. That’s perfectly normal, but it’s best to use a quality beard shampoo made for color-treated hair.

Shampooing your beard is simple. While you’re in the shower, just take a tiny bit of shampoo and lather up all over your beard. Make sure that, while you’re massaging it in, the water is getting to it. Let the suds sit for a second or two, then rinse thoroughly until there’s no more shampoo residue on your beard.

Most dyes will fade away rather quickly, especially with frequent shampooing. If you want to add a few more weeks to the color’s life, opt for color-treated shampoo instead of regular shampoo. These are specifically designed to be less harsh on your beard so that the color lasts longer.

3. Keep on top of it

Beards grow quickly, so carefully monitor any signs of gray hair that necessitate the occasional touch-up.

A touch-up isn’t as extensive as a full-beard coloring and doesn’t require the same time commitment.

Just a few minutes here and there will keep your beard colored just the way you want.

4. Touch it up

Many dyes are non-permanent and can be re-applied every few weeks, or when you start to notice a few gray hairs.

Doing so will also help give the appearance of a thicker, fuller beard.

5. Be patient

Beards require patience but we all know the reward for our patience – a wonderous beard that exudes confidence, positively affects those around you, and even has health benefits.

The same is true for dyeing your beard – don’t throw your hands up in despair if the process didn’t produce exactly the color you were looking for on your first attempt.

Remember, the dye washes away gradually and is replaced with new growth.

Furthermore, there are products available that get rid of the color if you become truly desperate.

Whatever you do, however, don’t shave your beard!

Some Things to Remember:

  1. Don’t be afraid to check in with your local hair salon, especially if you’ve never dyed your beard. The pros there have plenty of good advice on colors, types of dyes, etc. They can even show you some tips, tricks, and techniques for applying the dye.
  2. Be ready for other people’s comments because the chances are that they’ll notice the changes, but hopefully in a good way. If the dye looks natural on your beard, you’ll surely get some positive comments but, hey, you may get some razzing, too. No big deal.
  3. Dyeing your beard is a commitment and like any commitment, you have to work your way through any struggles that may arise. It’s similar to growing a beard for the first time; you may have to endure some struggles, such as beard itch and patchiness, before it reaches its full potential. That’s why it’s often helpful to start with a temporary dye to get the hang of it.
  4. Follow directions! Even if you fear no evil, i.e., a poorly colored beard that makes your butt clench in embarrassment, it’s still important to follow the directions that come with your supply of beard dye. Dyeing your beard isn’t overly complicated, but a lot could go wrong, too – allergic reactions on your skin, stains on your skin, clothes, etc.
  5. Finally, timing is often everything, and one strategy for dyeing your beard advises that sooner is better. That is, if gray hair covers more than 20 to 30 percent of your beard, it’s more obvious when you start to dye it. However, you’ll get excellent results if you leave some of the grays in by blending them with your natural (and dye) color.
  6. A frequent question of beardsmen is, “Can I dye my short beard?” While the how to dye a very short beard isn’t that much different regarding the actual application, many experts advise that you wait for your beard to reach a suitable length before you dye it. The bottom line is that you’ll probably like the results better on longer whiskers.
  7. Are you thinking of dying your beard white? Some men do, especially around Christmas and they want to play Santa, but it’s hard to get the color you want with white beard dye. Your best option may be a spray-on color that provides full coverage even on the darkest of hair.

2 Best beard dyes for men

Now that you’ve mastered the how-to of beard dye, it’s time to take a look – if you already haven’t – at some high-quality products that will make your job easier.

Here are three beard dyes that we like and think you’ll like, too.

1. RefectoCil Color Kit

RefectoCil Color Kit

RefectoCil’s Color Kit is a wonderfully versatile kit that gives you everything you need to color both your eyebrows and sideburns, but it’s particularly effective as a beard dye. And unlike many options on the market, it’s a more ‘permanent’ option, lasing around six weeks.

Not only is it effective, but it also produces less irritation than most beard dyes, and is highly regarded by many men with sensitive skin who’ve struggled to find a solution they can use elsewhere.

Clearly, as with any dye product, you need to be careful with the color: this is a natural brown dye, and if your beard is a strikingly color, it will look very weird.

The process of using it is simple: it takes around 10 minutes, and the kit provides everything you need. And while the process is a little longer than most, the quality is worth the wait.

2. Henna Guys Pack of Dark Brown Henna Hair Color

Henna Guys Pack of Dark Brown Henna Hair ColorHenna Guys rank near the top when it comes to natural beard dye and their Dark Brown Henna Hair Coloring is no exception.

The marquee ingredient in this beard dye is henna, an herb grown in India used for a variety of purposes, including medicinal.

It’s been around since the beginning of time – OK, perhaps not that long ago – and used to dye hair, skin, fingernails, fabrics (including leather).

The stuff works.

But Henna Guys also packs their henna beard dye with a slew of natural ingredients, including indigo powders, neem, and false daisy.

Neem, a.k.a. Indian lilac, has many medicinal uses, as well.

What the Pack of Dark Brown Henna Hair Color doesn’t include are harmful ingredients such as chemicals, pesticides, metallic salts, and alcohol.

In short, it’s the solution for how to color beard naturally.

Henna Guys are vigilant about not putting their powders on the market for longer than 12 to 18 months.

Doing so keeps their powders potent with strong staining powder.

They triple-sift their powders following production to ensure a fine, smooth texture in every batch.

A few other things worth noting about Henna Guys Dark Brown Henna Hair Color:

  • It’s recommended that you leave the Henna dye in your beard for two hours after application before rinsing it with water.
  • The powder comes in a 5.3 oz aluminum foil bag and contains 100 grams of dark brown henna hair coloring and 50 grams of pure henna.
  • You can also use it on your scalp hair and mustache, and it’s suitable for men and women.
  • It doesn’t work on black hair or lighten your hair color.


For many men, beard dye is a go-to option in the fight against aging’s obvious signs.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to dye your beard, arming yourself with the best knowledge while observing best practices – such as applying beard dye correctly – will produce the best possible results.

Have you dyed your beard or are thinking about dyeing it? Do you have a favorite beard dye?

If so, we’d love to hear your feedback or comments. We always look forward to hearing from you!

About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

  • You made a great point about how you might want to change your look since it can make you feel powerful. My husband and I are looking for a brush-on beard dye he can use to dye back to his original color. We will keep these tips in mind as we search for a professional that can help us best.

  • Thanks a lot, you have certainly done your home-work. I found the article very informative and an easy read.

  • Any suggestions on a natural beard dye? I’ve tried Just For Men and Bigen but had allergic reactions to both, actually ended up in urgent care from the Bigen.

  • I have been dyeing my beard and moustache for six months now. It is naturally a patchy grey/white and I don’t want to look like Santa. I use hair dye but the colors in the ammonia-free ranges are limited. For a long time I went with light brown which looked great but then I got bored and chose an ammonia-based copper tone. Trouble is the ammonia fumes are toxic – but only last a minute or two… Use a fan to circulate the air around your face when applying the dye so the full-strength fumes don’t choke you. I am now experimenting with two-toning – and have a blonde moustache and triangle (the bit under the lower lip) and the rest is copper. Gingers rock and now I have the Viking mojo!

  • Try using hair dye for women on your beard. If it works for you, the color is much better than the henna (red or green tinge) or other natural products and it doesn’t give you a rash like Just For Men.

  • Great article, you’ve really put in a lot of efforts. The content is creative and pictures are very informative. Keep up the good work!

  • I use Bigen…a Japanese hair dye for dyeing my hair and beard, works fine for me. and the dye has no harmful chemical in it. there are two type of this dye, one is a powder form that you mix it with water, and the other version is a cream (color and developer)

  • I use just for men hair dye. I actually use the stuff that is time released so it only colors so far then stops. I went with a light brown because my beard is white ( premature) . So I find by doing this the beard has slightly subtle differences in color so it looks natural. I really don’t mind a little gray coming thru. I just didn’t want to look like Santa.

  • I have a white point from my chin that I want to dye 1st green for St. Patrick’s day & then orange & blue for the Denver Broncos SuperBowl 50 win! Can I use what’s available in the stores for crazy hair colors? Do I have to bleach it too?
    Dave in Denver

  • I used Just For Men beard for a few months and then gave up on it because it washed out in about a week. After about a year I got sick of the gray again so I bought some Just For Men hair dye and it never seemed to wash out. Because it lasts so long you clearly see roots, unlike their other stuff for beards that washed out long before new gray growth caused an issue. It’s cheaper too.

    • I have dyed my beard for years.
      I go to Sallys to purchase my color. I use what is called a deme color. Its not a permanent color but last for about 3 weeks. The brand I use is Ion. I use light brown. Trust me its dark enough. I use Sallys own brand peroxide #20 and mix 50/50 color to peroxide. I use a color brush with a pointed tip. My beard is long so it make it easy to part the hair. Apply at the roots and comb it out to the ends of the hair.
      One thing this article didn’t mention is that hair color makes your hair very soft and healthy feeling.
      I now bleach the ends of my beard hair. I like the contrast. I use bleach once every six months. When I color with the light brown I don’t pull the color to the ends of my beard to keep the ends the bleached out color. Bleach comes in a packet. Ask a clerk for help. They are always helpful at Sally’s stores.
      Sallys carries men hair color too. However, I have always used the women’s color and have had great results.
      Good luck men. It’s not as hard as it seems. Remember, it will look very harsh the first time you color because is a new look. Most people forget quick what you looked like before you colored.

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