If you’re planning to start coloring your beard, there are two things you need to understand. First, it takes a real long-term commitment. And second, you really need to find a natural beard dye with which you’re comfortable so you don’t spend the rest of your life smearing chemicals on your face.

Let’s talk about all of this in a bit more detail.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Gray

The problem with beard coloring is that there’s never a good time to stop. If you start when the first few gray hairs appear, it’s possible that no one will notice. But as you get older and there’s more and more gray, it takes longer to cover your gray than it did when there were just a few hairs.

When you’re 45, 55 or 75, you may want to let your beard go gray. After a certain age, it’s okay to have a gray beard, right? But how do you do that? If you shave it off, you’re betraying all those years of beardedness. And if you just let the gray grow out, you’ll look really bad while that’s happening and everyone will notice the awkward transition.

You may say that you’ll just cross that bridge when you come to it, but if appearances matter enough to you to use a beard coloring now, you won’t be comfortable looking bad while the color grows out later.

Plus, you have to remember that your head hair will go gray at some point too — unless it all falls out, of course. Even your chest hair and arm hair will go gray. Will you color those? Or will you have a dark beard and gray hair?

Starting down the pathway of dying your beard mean a time-consuming long-term commitment, and it isn’t something you should undertake if you don’t understand that.

All Those Chemicals

The beard coloring products that work the best are loaded with chemicals. While millions of men have used them and few have any side effects, it’s right to worry about the long term effects of putting all those chemicals on your body.

That’s why many men turn to natural beard coloring products. These take longer work and results are inconsistent, but there are no worries. In fact, with most natural beard dyes you can repeat the application immediately if you don’t get good results. You can’t do that with chemical dyes.

Whether you use a chemical beard coloring or a natural product, you’ll need to put some effort into choosing the right shade. The best idea is to go just lighter than your natural coloring. Hair that’s dyed darker than your natural color usually looks unnatural and fake, but lighter hair can look summery and casual. Just don’t go too light. We’ve all seen old men with dyed red beards who never had red hair when they were younger.

Other Considerations

No matter what kind of beard dye you choose, understand that these products stain everything they come in contact with. That includes your skin, your fingernails, the sink, the furniture and even your bed linens if your product isn’t completely dry when you go to bed.

There’s also the issue of the smell. Some beard colorings smell terrible. Others aren’t so bad. But they all have some kind of odor, and a portion of the aroma remains with you as long as the products does.

And there’s one more thing to consider: there’s nothing wrong with having a gray beard. Lots of people do. Many of them look great. Even if you’re prematurely gray, you don’t have to color your beard unless you want to. You can simply be secure with who you are and enjoy being natural.

If you choose to start coloring your beard, you’ll have to do it once a week for the rest of your life — or until you shave off your beard. That’s a real commitment, but so is having a beard. If you want to commit to coloring your beard and can find a product you’re comfortable using, go for it.

You deserve to look your very best no matter your age, and if beard dye helps you do that, that’s just fine with me.