The salt and pepper beard is a mark of a distinguished gentleman. Although it was once avoided as a sign of aging, many more men are now leaning into the natural suave effect a sprinkle of gray can achieve.
Even celebrities have helped increase the popularity of the salt and pepper beard.
However, getting that perfect salt and pepper look is difficult. Nature doesn’t always provide us with an even scatter, and sometimes time just isn’t on our side.
So, what can you do to get the salt and pepper look, when it isn’t coming naturally?
In this guide, we introduce you to three popular methods used for creating a salt and pepper beard.
Ranging from the simple and temporary, to a more permanent dye, you can find the right method for your beard.
What Is A Salt And Pepper Beard?
Before you start dying your beard to achieve a salt and pepper look, you want to be clear what the desired outcome actually is.
A salt and pepper beard is when gray hairs (the salt) and dark hairs (the pepper) are fairly evenly distributed across the beard.
So, why might you want to get the salt and pepper look?
First, if your beard has gone mostly or fully gray, you might want to create a salt and pepper look. If you just dye your beard black, you’ll end up with a very uniform finish, which may appear unnatural.
A salt and pepper beard looks mature without looking old, and looks natural. (Although some people can really rock an all-gray look.)
Second, you might consider creating a salt and pepper look if gray hairs are coming through unevenly. For example, if a patch of hair has turned gray, while the rest remains dark.
The salt and pepper evens things out, and can allow for the natural growth of other gray hairs.
Finally, you might consider the salt and pepper beard if you’re aiming to create a sophisticated look.
The salt and pepper beard is a mark of maturity, and many now associate it with a suave sophistication.
Although we might still dread the day a gray hair first appears, a man with a salt and pepper beard is often seen as experienced, confident, and self-possessed.
How Can You Achieve The Salt And Pepper Look?
There are all kinds of reasons why you might consider a salt and pepper look, so how do you go about it?
Dying your beard is one way to achieve a salt and pepper look, and the most permanent solution. If your beard is already gray, dying can be the best way to go. Just make sure the result isn’t too uniform.
If you don’t have time to dye your beard, then you could also use makeup products to create the distinguished salt and pepper facial hair.
One way to achieve the salt and pepper look is using eyeshadow. This will wash out quickly, but is easy to apply. Choose the eyeshadow method if you have a brown or black beard, and want to add more gray.
Or you could try beard wax. It’s a little more permanent than eyeshadow but will wash away quicker than dye. Beard wax can be hard to use, but once you’ve mastered the technique, this has a very natural finish.
What Do You Need To Get The Salt And Pepper Look?
Depending on whether you use makeup or hair dye to color your beard salt and pepper, you’ll need a different set of equipment. However, there are a few things that must be considered.
For example, before you start, you want to make sure your beard is clean and groomed.
Using dye is a popular method, but it’s also the most complicated. We’ll cover the specific needs of each method below, but take a look at this general guide before you start.
You’ll need shampoo that won’t strip your beard of its natural oils, leaving it dry.
However, only use a beard shampoo 48 hours in advance of dying. This will allow the natural oils and sebum to build up, offering protection and helping the dye stick.
After you’ve applied your beard dye, rinse the beard through with warm water and a gentle beard shampoo. This will help remove any excess dye.
Our favorite beard shampoo is the Live Bearded Beard and Face Wash. The all-natural formula is gentle but thorough and leaves you with a deeply cleansed beard.
A Beard Trimmer Or Scissors
The salt and pepper look is all about appearing sophisticated, so you want to make sure your beard isn’t running wild. A beard trimmer or scissor is essential to help keep your beard under control. You can also use the scissors to trim off any stray hairs that may be sticking out.
It’s important that the beard is trimmed before you start dying – don’t leave it to do afterwards.
For our top pick of beard trimmer, try the Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion 2.0+ Beard Trimmer For Men.
Your Chosen Dye Method
Of course, before you start dying your beard, you have to have the product you’re dying it with. That could be eyeshadow, beard wax, or hair dye.
We recommend looking for quality when choosing a salt and pepper dye. A low quality dye, and even poor makeup, will look unnatural and can cause skin irritation.
If you’re using a makeup method, make sure to find a product that will last throughout the day. Bad makeup will just slide straight off, leaving your look either all salt or all pepper.
We’ll go into a few of our top picks for each separate method below.
Face Wipes Or A Face Cloth
Face wipes are especially important if you plan on using a dye, but we recommend having them on hand whatever the method. They’re great for removing makeup, dusting off excess powder, or cleaning your face after shaving. Make sure you have strong face wipes if you’re using a dye, to get the stain off your skin.
You can also use a cloth instead of a wipe. Just make sure to wring it out thoroughly before applying.
Disposable Gloves And Application Methods
Disposable gloves are another item mostly used with dye, but you might want to have some on hand if you’re using beard wax too. It makes application easier and prevents your hands from getting stained.
If you’re using dye, make sure to have Vaseline as well. Apply the Vaseline to the skin around the beard, to prevent staining.
If you’re using eyeshadow, make sure to have an eye shadow brush, and possibly a spoolie brush. This will allow you to apply the eyeshadow in the exact place you want it to be.
Of course, make sure you have a mirror handy while you’re dying your beard. You can see what looks good, how much color you’ve applied, and if it’s all in the right place.
Now that you have everything in order, you’re ready to start creating that salt and pepper look.
How To Dye Your Beard Salt And Pepper
Using beard dye to create a salt and pepper look is the longest-lasting method. Although the initial dye phase can be difficult, once the color is on, there’s minimal upkeep.
Dye is best if you have a gray beard (or mostly gray beard) and want to add some darker shades.
Our top choice for a salt and pepper look is the Just For Men Touch of Gray Mustache and Beard. It’s easy to use thanks to the no-mix formula, and creates a subtle result.
The very first thing you must do before using a dye is a patch test. Patch testing allows you to determine whether the dye will harm your skin or lead to irritation. It’s important to patch test every time you use the dye, even if you’re still using the same brand.
To patch test, apply a small amount of the dye behind the ears. Wait 24 hours, then check for any redness or other signs of damage. If you don’t experience any adverse effects, the dye should be safe to use.
Some recommend patch testing on the elbow, but we think it’s better to test the delicate skin behind the ear.
Prepare The Face With Vaseline
Before you start dyeing, prepare the area by applying a thin layer of Vaseline on the skin around the beard. This will help prevent the dye from staining the skin.
Mix Or Prepare The Dye
One of the best things about the Just For Men Touch Of Gray is that it doesn’t require mixing. Simply put on your gloves, squeeze the dye into the application tray, and brush it through the beard using the included brush.
Other dyes may require mixing, so make sure to read the instructional leaflet before starting.
Apply To Beard
Gently brush the dye through the beard in even strokes, making sure not to push too hard. You want to apply the dye to the hair, and avoid rubbing too much onto the skin.
A salt and pepper look is achieved by distributing the dye in a scattered manner. Typically, the bristles of the applicator brush will do this for you. Start with the thickest areas, which are harder to dye, before covering the rest of the beard.
For best results, cover the whole beard. Even if you have more gray hairs in one spot, an even application will lead to the best results.
Having applied the dye to your beard, the next step is to wait. A 5-minute waiting period is typical, although some find 10 minutes is needed for a better final result. Don’t leave the dye for any longer than 10 minutes.
When 5 or 10 minutes is up, rinse the beard with lukewarm water. Then wash it through gently again using your beard shampoo.
Grab a towel or face cloth that you don’t mind getting dirty, and use this to scrub the face. Scrubbing the beard thoroughly will remove excess dye that’s clinging to the skin and hair. Dye that’s left on the skin will make the beard look darker and unnatural.
Take a look at your new salt and pepper beard. The gray hairs should be scattered throughout the dark, looking natural and distinguished. Apply some beard oil to keep your beard healthy and groomed.
Beard dye should last for roughly 4 to 6 weeks, before the hairs have grown out.
Using Eyeshadow For A Salt And Pepper Look
Do you already have a dark beard, but you want to create a mature salt and pepper look? Then you might want to try eyeshadow.
This technique is probably the easiest option, but not necessarily the most effective. It’s important to use a quality eyeshadow, or it won’t stay on the beard hair.
Either powder or cream eyeshadow can be used to create a natural salt and pepper look.
When using a cream eyeshadow, dab the color onto your index finger. Grab a small tuft of beard, and apply the eyeshadow by twisting the hair through your index finger and thumb.
Repeat across the beard, until you have an even look. Brush through with a spoolie, to complete the look.
If using a powder eyeshadow, simply dust the color through using an eyeshadow brush, and finish with a spoolie.
If you already have gray hairs, and you want to tone them back a bit, you can try this technique the other way round. Use a brown or black shadow, and comb it through the gray patches.
It can take some practice to nail this method, but the end result is natural and attractive.
Using Beard Wax For A Salt And Pepper Look
A salt and pepper look can also be created using beard wax. This is a great choice for those who want to achieve a clean, neat look, without the permanence of a dye.
Beard wax is applied in the same way as a cream eyeshadow. Apply the wax to the end of your index finger, and twist a lock of beard to transfer the color. Finish by brushing the beard, and rinsing your fingers.
Or, use a dye applicator brush to apply the wax. Use the wax on a dry beard, for the best result.
We have found that beard wax tends to last longer than eyeshadow, but can give a less natural appearance. Take care when combing it through not to overdo things.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Do If I Stain My Skin While Dying My Beard?
You may stain your skin while dying your beard. Unfortunately, it happens.
The best way to avoid it is by preparing the face with Vaseline, and avoiding touching the skin with the stained gloves or pressing down too hard with the applicator brush.
If you do stain the skin, it can be removed. Once you’ve rinsed out the excess dye, scrub the face with a towel.
Use face wipes to clear the rest of it. Any dye remaining should go with time.
How Do You Care For A Beard That’s Been Dyed?
If you’ve been looking after your beard well, then you won’t need to make any changes caring for a dyed beard. Keep it clean, use a beard shampoo, and comb out any knots.
Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner to help keep your beard soft and moisturized. Make sure to scrub out all the product once used, or it can dry and go flaky.
Beard oil can also be used to soften the beard and help it maintain a naturally healthy look.
Properly maintaining a beard will help extend the life of your dye.
What Do I Do If I Don’t Like How The Dye Looks?
Applying a beard dye can be tricky, and you may not always like the results – especially if it’s your first time attempting a salt and pepper look.
If it’s a semi-permanent or temporary dye, a more intense shampoo regime can help to shift the shade.
For a permanent dye, unfortunately, the best option is to wait for it to grow out. But you’ll have learned, and can apply the dye better in the future.
Is There A Natural Method For Dying Your Beard Salt And Pepper?
Unfortunately, the only way to achieve a salt and pepper look with natural methods is to wait for time to turn your hair gray.
Although there are some natural methods for dying beard hair, none of these materials will turn the beard gray, or can be applied as precisely as they need to be for a salt and pepper finish.
Instead, look for a beard wax or dye that uses natural ingredients.
These options are becoming more and more popular and are often safer to use. Make sure to avoid any products that contain ammonia.
Salt and pepper beard dyes are great for adding a distinguished touch to your facial hair.
We hope this guide has helped you discover there are several methods for achieving a salt and pepper look.
For a semi-permanent solution, there are dyes that can give your beard the naturally suave finish. And for a short-term choice, use beard wax or makeup!
Of course, there is one final way to achieve a salt and pepper look in a dark beard – waiting. Eventually, the natural gray hairs will give your beard that mature finish you’re hoping for.