From neatly trimmed to long and shaggy, beards have never been more popular, with new research suggesting 69% of men have grown one in their lifetime.

In light of the findings, we asked health and grooming experts to explain why facial hair cleanliness is important, and how to keep your beard in pristine condition…

Why do you need to wash your beard?

“When it comes to men washing their beards, there are two factors to consider – health and cleanliness,” says Dr Stuart Sanders, GP at The London General Practice.

“From the point of health, exhaled droplets from nose and mouth will be teeming with bacteria, some friendly and some pathogenic [disease causing] – and they will be trapped in a hairy jungle.”

This is important when the beard owner has a respiratory infection, Dr Sanders warns, in addition to the cleanliness factor: “Who wants to go through life with a beard clogged with remnants of your dinner!”

Sophie Saunders, aesthetic clinician at Stratum Clinic in Cheltenham, explains it’s not just about washing the facial hair: “Healthy-looking beards come from taking care of the skin beneath it.

“Not washing can create skin problems such as acne, ingrown hairs and dandruff, which is why it’s necessary to take extra care of your facial hair.”

How often should you wash your beard?

When it comes to frequency of washing, our experts disagree on the best approach.

“The sweet spot for washing a beard is two to three times a week,” suggests Thom Watson, beauty expert and consultant at Humānery. “You can easily make it part of your weekly wash routine, by washing your beard at the same time as you wash your hair.”

Saunders says: “Beards should be washed daily with a cleanser – not soap – to remove the build-up of dirt, oil, bacteria and pollution. Washing daily will also remove dead skin cells that build up, and prevents blocked pores and irritation.”

Sanders believes you should wash your beard as often as you brush your teeth.

What products should you use to wash your beard?

To keep it simple, you can double up your products. Watson says: “If it’s a good quality shampoo, you can opt for this for your face too.

Lather up as your would with shampoo, and Watson recommends: “Massage the face thoroughly using upward motions, to ensure you get into the roots of the beard.”

But be careful not to scrub too hard. “Unlike the scalp which can take a slightly tougher ride, remember the skin on your face is more delicate, so treat it with care,” says Watson. “Use just enough pressure with your hands that allows you to give the skin underneath a deep cleanse.”

Saunders suggests tailoring your cleansing products to your beard needs and skin type.

“If you are getting dandruff, a moisturiser or oil will help hydrate the skin and prevent flaking. Keeping the skin hydrated will also reduce the likelihood of getting an itchy beard.”

“After applying your moisturiser, comb your beard to spread the product evenly. This will also help keep your beard looking neat and tidy, and easier to style.”