6 Reasons Your Beard Smells Bad & How to Fix It

Something keeps smelling off randomly throughout the day. You can’t quite put a pin on what it is. Sometimes it happens after you eat…a lingering food smell…weird. Maybe it’s a whiff of something slightly off. Not too offensive, just…off. Perhaps you keep smelling something truly foul, no matter where you go. If any of these are the case, you may be experiencing beard odor.

Beard stink.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s not an exciting day when you have to admit, “Man, my beard smells bad.”

Fortunately, millions of men have beards, which means beard stink is something that many of us have run into. If you want to learn the reasons behind this unpleasantry and learn how to prevent beard odor, this article is for you!

Reasons Your Beard Smells Bad

Determining the reasons behind why your beard smells bad isn’t too challenging. A lot of times it boils down to a handful of issues, which The Gentleman’s Playbook will share with you below!

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Part 1 of The Beard Playbook. We cover the basics of beard growth there. By making sure you are properly maintaining your beard, you can eliminate a lot of the causes of unpleasant beard odors.

Now, if you are already doing everything outlined in Part 1 of The Beard Playbook and are still experiencing stinky beard syndrome, it’s time we explored some of the other causes of beard odor.


The number one cause for intermittent beard stink is food.

If you find that your beard smells bad on a pretty rigid schedule, it could be tied to when you eat.

How to Stop Food From Making Facial Hair Stink

For men with gloriously thick mustaches, food and drink are often strained as they make their way to your mouth. That’s right, they’re strained by your mustache.

If you don’t keep your mustache trimmed along the top of your top lip, you will end up getting all the little wet bits of your food absorbed into your mustache.

Unfortunately, the wet parts of your food that get soaked into your mustache or soul patch are often the most flavorful as well! All that sweet seasoning soaks in and dries into your facial hair once you finish eating, leaving a beard odor that may not be the most pleasant.

Some of the worst offenders when it comes to food and drink causing beard odor are:

  • Dairy (Ice cream, whipped cream, milk)
  • Sauce-based dishes (fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti, lasagna, to name a few)
  • Juicy Red Meats (steak or ground beef)
  • Soups

One way to prevent beard odor from food consumption is to keep your facial hair trimmed back from your lips. Keep your mustache from curling down onto your lip and keep your soul patch from curling up toward your mouth. If your beard won’t stop curling toward your mouth, we have a great guide on how to stop your beard from curling.

A second method for stopping beard stink from food is to be prepared to clean your face after eating a particularly scent-rich meal. In most cases, just rinsing your beard in warm water and pat-drying is enough to rid your facial hair of food smell.

Poor Beard Hygiene

Here’s another reason your beard may stink: bad beard hygiene.

Keeping your beard clean and cared for is vital in your quest to prevent beard odor.

Poor beard hygiene isn’t always a result of not keeping your beard washed correctly.

For men with very large, full beards, improper drying could lead to a mildewy beard smell. This is just as undesirable as foul odors from improper washing!

Make sure your beard hygiene is on point to prevent beard odor that occurs due to hygiene issues. Part of being a member of the bearded brotherhood requires that you care for your fluff!


We still chuckle at that word, but sebum can cause beard stink. It’s an oil produced naturally by your skin that keeps it healthy and hydrated, but for some folk, they produce a lot more than is necessary.

Typically sebum only becomes smelly when lots of it has accumulated over a long period.

The solution to this is, again, great beard hygiene. Seriously – take care of your beard and clean it properly – it fixes a lot of the root causes of bad beard smells.

For some men, you may have to go as far as to exfoliate your beard routinely to scrub away excess sebum before it has a chance to accumulate and stink.

Just a little extra care can go a long way!

Drooling While Sleeping

This one is more obscure – some men drool when they sleep. This drool can creep into your facial hair and dry throughout the night.

Now, imagine morning breath infused into your beard over the course of 8 hours of sleep. See how this can cause some stank in your beard?

Beard Stink from Drool

If you’re a drooler who also doesn’t take a shower immediately after waking up, you may have a smelly beard from that drool. Even if you brush your teeth to get rid of your morning breath, your beard will still carry whatever salivatory fragrance you deposited into it all night.

The simple solution is, fortunately, showering in the morning after waking! If you’re resistant to morning showers, then washing your beard in the morning should suffice.


Lastly, one cause of having a smelly beard is if you’re a smoker. We don’t have to tell you why you need to kick the habit. We know it’s tough, but if you smoke, your beard will not smell amazing. Kick the habit if you don’t want your beard smelling like cigs.

How to Prevent Beard Odor

Fortunately, The Gentleman’s Playbook has some tricks on how to prevent beard odor.

Many of these beard stink remedies are effective, affordable, and easy to use. They don’t add much more time to your normal daily routines.

Again, feel free to refer to our guide on beard growth to make sure you’re doing your foundational beard care properly.

Beard Wash

The first method for preventing beard odor is to use a beard wash.

Specifically, a wash made for your beard. You don’t want to use regular soap or shampoo on your beard. And if you’re using hair conditioner in your beard, make sure to cease that immediately.

A dedicated beard wash is made with your facial hair’s natural oils in mind; it will clean your beard without stripping it of oils and can help control both overproduction of oil in the skin and underproduction.

Washing your beard doesn’t take longer than thirty seconds and is easy to integrate in your shower routine.

Beard Exfoliation

Using a beard exfoliator can help control smelly beard for those men who have high sebum production.

By using an exfoliating wash or an all-natural sugar scrub, you can gently exfoliate away any built-up, smelly oils that are caked onto the skin under your beard.

If you aren’t able to locate an all-natural beard exfoliation scrub, you can also opt to get a handheld beard scrubber that you use with your regular beard wash.

A beard exfoliator scrubber is often made of silicone and is gentle on the skin and beard, while thorough with its ability to break up oils and keep the skin clean.

It’s perfectly safe to use on your beard and anti-bacterial as well!

Beard Oil

Another great way to address and prevent beard odor is to use beard oil.

Beard oil helps keep the skin under your beard hydrated and moisturized. It also helps control oil production on the skin and can promote growth, reduce irritation, and help with sores under the beard.

Beard oil is also a great solution for beard smell, as it is often scented. Quality beard oil will be fragranced with natural essential oils and will use carrier oils that are natural as well.

To learn more about what makes a good beard oil, read Part 1 of The Beard Playbook.

Dry Thoroughly After Showers and Washing

A secret offender for men with especially thick or long beards is an improperly dried beard.

Water can get stuck deep into your beard and it’s easy to miss it when drying after a shower or a beard wash. When water sits in the beard for a long time, it can start to smell musty or mildewy.

Mildew Smell in Beard

If this is the kind of smell that you think is making your beard stink, take special care to thoroughly dry your beard after showers or beard washes.

Squeeze your entire beard with your towel when drying, don’t rub. You can also comb your beard or brush it with the right tools to knock out some accumulated water. Follow it up with another towel dry.

Never use heat (like a hairdryer) to dry your beard; this could cause damage and make the hair brittle.

Why Your Beard Smells Bad & How to Fix It

Now you know some of the top reasons your beard smells bad and how you can prevent beard odor!

We hope these methods help you or set you on the right track. Make sure to read The Beard Playbook, starting with Part 1. It will give you a complete resource on all things regarding beard growth and beard care.