With the hype of beard oil.
What often gets overlooked (apart from the savvy bearded amongst you) is the true versatility a beard balm has to offer.
(…especially if you “make the most of it” and apply some little known beard-grooming tricks, which we will get to in just a second…).
I like to think of beard balm as basically a quad-agent beard product that is literally just the dry version of beard oil.
Not only does it come with i) conditioning aspects like that of a beard oil to keep your beard strong, soft and in great shape — it also works a little like a ii) natural solid cologne too (a pretty decent one as well, if you get a balm with a masculine fragrance) which will hopefully keep the better half happy as well.
Plus, it also really improves the general iii) aesthetics (overall look) of your beard too - it will give your beard a really nice natural matte look, rather than the shiny finish a beard oil will give off.
But, what I like and what most other beardsmen I’m guessing who use beard balm often is the iv) styling and hold properties many of them have, it can help tame the wretched fly-aways and give a generally much better shape to your beard.
What ‘Exactly’ is Beard Balm?
Before jumping straight into which is the best beard balm and general guide to using it (and even making it yourself) — I thought it would be probably best to actual come up with a general concept of what beard balm actually is and a brief run through of the benefits it gives your beard and how it does work.
Like I say, it’s a lot like a dry beard oil.
Or another way I like to explain it: like a hybrid of sorts between that of a beard oil and a wax.
Sort of a all-in-one beard product, which is why I recommend it to those who have at least one months worth of beard growth. They help with conditioning your beard, keeping it soft and tamed — plus it gives you a styling element, giving your beard a more structured look and matte type finish.
9 Best Beard Balms — Reviews of What I Regard as ‘Premium’ Balms
Disclaimer: The following list is based on just one man’s beard (and a whole chunk of research and testing) and his humble opinion. If you’ve got additional suggestions to the list, by all means I would generally like to hear them, please shoot me a comment in the section below (p.s. I will read and reply to every single one).
Also please note that this is by no means a definitive list (hence is open to change), as I intend to keep this a ‘very live’ page, so you will see regular updates here as I try out new beard balms
Further note, where they come on list does not reflect how highly I rank them. E.g. because Mariner Jack is №1 doesn’t mean it’s better than Captain Fawcett that sits in sixth.
No. 1. Mariner Jack
Mariner Jack is actually a UK based beard company actually located down in Cornwall and all their beard balms (that have taken on ripe popularity recently— and as you will soon see, that’s for a very good reason) are handmade with local sourced ingredients. Although they aren’t that popular, not even in England — that said their reputation is growing and I’m personally quite the fan.
Packaging & Appearance
Granted although the design of the actual beard balm isn’t exactly enthralling it does come with a pretty neat amber jar with a hipster type vibe to it — and although my pictures above don’t give it the justice it deserves, quite frankly I do think their are better looks out there.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like the products to look good, but what I am more concerned with is how well they perform — and this is what the Mariner Jack beard balm really excels in.
They do offer a wide range of scents, I’ve tried most but I particularly like their cargo which is a sandalwood & bergamot — that gives off a real sweet musky and warm based scent (ideal for these winter months) — which I’ve got to say I’ve been complimented on a few times. There are 10 scents in total, although one is a plain sailing which is meant to be basically a scentless beard balm.
I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty darn impressed. To put it short I think they are probably brewing some of the best darn beard balm going at the moment — and it’s a shame it’s not so readily available over in the US (although if you look to some sites based in the UK they are willing to ship it over, fairly cheaply).
The texture is still firm, rather waxy so you still have to scoop it out but breaks down quite easily into between your palms — readily available to apply quite easily to your beard. What’s more impressive is the hold it offers, for a beard balm, I don’t really expect much in the styling aspect but Mariner’s gives quite a robust hold, allowing you to really take a hold of the beard to shape it how you want.
Now, what you tend to find with a balm that offers a good styling capability is that it will lack in the conditioning side of things — but to be honest I can’t really say that’s the case for Mariner Jack. It more than delivered when it came to keeping my man mane soft n’ supple.
In all, if you are on the hunt for a new beard balm and don’t mind waiting too long for it to get shipped over — I think you will be somewhat surprised at just how good this balm is.
Ingredients: “Organic unrefined Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Organic Beeswax, Vitamin E Oil” — They contain additional essential oils for each varying scent.
Formed in Texas, TBBINC are one of the very original beard companies out there, starting out with their famous woodsman mustache wax and eventually pushing on leaps and bounds to create a whole range of beard goods from oils to the very beard balm you see featured. They easily go down as one of the best in this craft (and probably my personal favorite) — hand producing all their goods with natural ingredients.
I’m trying to keep this list and my thoughts and reviews of these beard balms as objective as I can, but with TBBINC, I think I might be slightly biased — because man, I just love their products.
Packaging & Appearance
I mean, c’mon it’s pretty cool to look at.
Like I said just above, I do like some really nice packaging — and there are some pretty cool looking beard products to come, but I think this hands down — pretty much beats them all. It’s got real wood sheaths! Meaning pretty much every single product they produce is unique,
Jeremiah Newton or whoever is responsible for this packaging, can give themselves a well-deserved good pat on the back cause it’s pretty epic.
However, is the actual balm any good? You bet!
But before, I get right into the performance — let’s just discuss the scents (I’ve tried pretty much all of these) with woodsman still pretty much being my go to favorite.
- Simply Vanilla
- Opium Den
This woodsman was actually one of the very first ‘wood’ based scents that kicked off this entourage— now every beard company seems to have at least one ‘wood’ type scent across their range — as per it’s quite fitting that The Bearded Bastard claim it’s “often imitated but never duplicated”.
And I’ve got to say it smells pretty divine. There’s a real depth to the wood type scent that seems to linger on and on in your beard, rather than others which give you a burst and soon fade away. It’s actually one of the very few scents that I really love and that both the better half and the kids approve of.
It actually does a pretty excellent jobs of the two core principle aspects I look for from a beard balm and as well and that’s:
i) Leave in Conditioner.
Actually for me this is probably the most important purpose it should be performing, see unlike a beard oil, a balm should slowly release the moisture into your beard throughout the day. And this is exactly what you find with the Bearded Bastard it keeps your beard feeling fresh and supple during the day — not just at the start.
ii) Styling and Hold.
Now, by all means it’s not giving you the amount of styling ability that a beard wax has to offer — but it’s certainly a whole lot better in this regard than a lot of other beard balms. It will give you a mild hold that should tame and control a few of the odd fly aways and give some general purpose in the direction your beard going — and not do a bad job of keep it there.
Putting it blunt, it’s a pretty epic beard balm (and it’s actually my personal go to) especially for those looking for a bit of an edge for when it comes to styling.
Ingredients: “Beeswax, Safflower Oil (high oleic), Fractionated Coconut Oil (MCT), Corn Oil, Essential Oils (fragrance), Rice Bran Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Lanolin, Castor Oil, Broccoli Seed Oil, Argan Oil, and Jojoba Oil.”
No. 3 Scotch Porter
I hadn’t heard much about Scotch Porter up until recently — but I’m sure glad I checked them out. They produce quite a unique take on beard grooming goods, they’ve tweaked the traditional products and put infused it with a concentrated conditioning aspect for guys with thicker and coarser beards than usual.
If the other two above (Mariner Jack and TBBINC) are more styling-type beard balms, then this is what I would call an out and out conditioning beard balm.
[They actually have a set 4 stage beard grooming plan with use of the beard balm being stage 3, wash and conditioner comes before that and use of their beard serum is last].
Do note that it offers pretty much next to no real ‘styling substance’ but what it does offer — especially guys for really quite unruly dry, thick, rough textured beards — is a whole load of moisture. It’s more of a cream base (sort of a lotion) texture, so it’s really easy to apply — literally a case of scooping it out and applying directly on to your beard.
Packaging & Appearance
The balm comes in a 3 oz and 6 oz jar, it reminds me sort of American crew style packaging with a plastic container with a dark amber, but the design is rather formal and certainly gives off that ‘premium’ feel for sure.
I’m not the best at describing scents nor is my sense of smell particularly keen but it’s a sweet subtle vanilla sort of aroma — from reading that description, I would usually pass and say that’s not my sort of thing — but since I’ve got it here in my hands I’m actually quite digging in. That said, I can see why some guys wouldn’t be that keen on it though.
As I said above, if you are expecting this to style and hold your beard in place then you will be pretty disappointed. However, if you are after an additional moisturiser to fix up your rough beard, then you’re gonna love it — the only gripe I had is you can find yourself going through the jar a lot quicker than you would with a normal beard balm. They specify that it should last you around three months, but I could easily see myself going through it in half that amount.
To sum it up, I gotta say I really like it. Although, it’s certainly not for everyone, it’s a different take on a beard balmand is definitely worth a go (especially, if you are one for experimenting with different products).
No. 4 Uppercut Deluxe
Uppercut Deluxe (from down under) is probably the biggest brand name here on the list and perhaps more famous for their hair products that they produce (a big fan of their matt clay, if you ever come across that) rather than the beard goods — however as you will soon see — their beard balm certainly justifies itself on this list. At least, if anything to offer some beardsmen, something a little different.
Packaging & Appearance
I mean first off, it doesn’t look like a traditional beard balm — reminds me a little of a big tube of toothpaste (this and the only other one I’ve come across that is similar to this is the Muskoka beard balm by Apothecary 87). Not, that it takes away from the finish though — Uppercut Deluxe have pretty good vintage style branding right throughout their products anyway, this is certainly no difference (although a bit simpler than the others with no graphics featured).
They only offer one original: it’s subtle but the scent gives off a vanilla and coconut type vibe (I always think of a biscuit sort of smell when applying it), reminds me a little of Beardition beard oil and has quite a fresh feel to it. Certainly not over powering though, but I do find the smell tends to fade away a little faster than I would like.
What makes this beard balm rather unique is that it is actually ‘water-based’ and is basically a totally different spin on your traditional wax based beard balm. It states that it’s got “slight hold allows for controlled styling” but I wouldn’t get your hopes up in that aspect.
However, what it does do really well is just like the Scotch porter beard balm will help to properly moisturise and condition your beard. To the point, you could probably get away with easily interchange it with a beard oil — it’s more of a lotion/cream/moisturiser than an outright balm.
Ingredients: “Aqua, cetearyl alcohol, ceteareth-20, glycerin, PVP, glyceryl stearate, cetrimonium, PEG-100 stearate, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, fragrance (parfum), coumarin, citric acid, and tetrasodium EDTA.”
No. 5 Fit for Vikings
Fit For Vikings are a lesser known Norwegian beard company that have come on leaps and bounds over the last year or so — and are renowned for making some top quality beard goods. Although, I can’t pronounce a single one of their scents — they are pretty heavenly to sniff at.
The one I’m particularly fond of is the Hallormsstaðaskógur which is named after national forest based in the east of Iceland, so as you can imagine the scent is based around that typical beard type scent: woodsy, foresty (hence the use of sandalwood, cedarwood oils etc.) but I’ve gotta say Fit For Vikings really hits the spot with it.
Packaging & Appearance
Although the tin is pretty simple, I really like the minimalist art type feel to the labels, gives off a pretty ‘premium’ vibe for sure (which is good, cause the stuff ain’t cheap, especially when you import it). You will see the range of different scents sort of match the origin base with the varying colors, so as Hallormsstaðaskógur is a forest you can see from the pic above the use of green and Bárðarbunga (an icelandic volcano) makes use of different shades of red, which is a nice touch.
Where it does really excel though is the actual quality of the beard balm, unlike the previous two — this reverts back to your more traditional beeswax beard balm and really offers a solid level of styling capability and hold. Plus, the conditioning aspect is second to none (especially when you make use of the accompanying beard oil) — it will help to bring your beard to new levels of softness in no time.
What I really like (as with the first two beard balms) is the use of natural ingredients on offer, just how a beard balm ought to be made. A really top of the draw beard balm that I can’t recommend highly enough, just a shame it’s not as readily available in the US (at least anywhere I can see). In all, one of my best rated beard balms out there that’s for sure.
Ingredients: “Shea butter, Mango butter, Beeswax, Cocoa butter, Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Sweet Almond oil, Hazelnut oil, Coconut oil, Vitamin E, Aniseed, Sweet Orange, Black Pepper, Clove Bud.”
No. 6 Captain Fawcett
Another entrant from England is the well established British grooming company (actually named after the English explorer, Percy Harrison Fawcett who sported a mighty fine mustache) who priduce an array of beard care, shaving and general men’s personal maintenance goods. They happen to also make a rather killer beard balm.
What I have here is the Private Stock which is a pretty musky blend of black pepper and cedarwood, a proper man type smell — I’d probably say it has gotta be one of the best smelling beard balms going. They also offer the beard balm with the Booze N’ Baccy scent which if it’s anything like the beard oil that I’ve got then, you’ll definitely be in for a treat with that.
With this beard balm as well the scent tends to stick around a bit longer than a lot of other beard balms I’ve tried (you could top it up further with a later application of the beard oil if you wanted).
This beard balm has quite a heavy base of beard wax, so as you can imagine it is at least at first a little tough to work with — you are going to have to get right in there and work it well to melt it down to an applicable state.
The benefit of this of course is that it offers some pretty darn epic styling abilities (similar to that of an outright beard wax) in fairness. It’s more than capable of dealing with the odd stray hairs and offers a good base for sculpting and styling your beard.
When it comes to conditioning, it does a pretty fair job as well. That said, I would strongly recommend using a beard oil as well with the balm though (as you should be doing anyway) but it certainly doesn’t throw your beard enough moisture back into your beard that you really need.
You can tell there has been a lot of care that’s gone into their products, and is well thought out — but I’d class it firmly in the ‘styling’ camp of beards (perhaps too much so, mixing it with some beard oil before application is something I have been doing recently).
Ingredients: “Sweet Almond Oil, Crambe Seed Oil, Candelilla Wax, Shea Butter & Vitamin E, Atlas Cedarwood, Black Pepper, Patchouli, Palmrosa, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool”
No. 7Honest Amish
Probably the most famous beard balm going — and you know what? I reckon it might just about deserve to be. I mean to look at, there’s nothing particularly special about it, although the amish guy on the front is pretty cool but other than that, it’s just a tin can. However…
… it’s what inside that counts. And for the price, it pretty much is the best value balm on the market (hence why it boasts over 4000+ positive reviews on amazon).
After cracking the tin lid open and giving it the necessary sniff the scent hits you with a sort of a twist on the typical woody based scent with a sort of mild liquor that lingers on through — which is pleasant enough (it’s pretty subtle though, so you will barely notice it at all really especially after half hour so).
Where it does perform well though is the conditioning aspect of a beard balm. It will help to thoroughly moisturise and condition your beard, preventing you from the nasties that comes with owning a beard such as itching and dandruff — plus it won’t give that discomforting ‘heavy’ weighing feeling a balm can give.
What’s a little disappointing though is with regards to hold, it gives you some but not nearly enough to really get to grips with the odd stray fly-aways that you want flattening down. That said, I am yet to try their “heavy duty” balm which I’ve heard gives you those properties — again though, it still won’t give you the same sort of control that an outright wax will.
Personally, I would class this more on the side of the conditioning balm despite the use of beard wax. However, for the price you are paying — you are getting a top quality product (all made with natural ingredients) that your beard is sure to thank you for.
Ingredients: “hair strengthening botanicals infused in a base of virgin argan, avocado, grapeseed, virgin pumpkin seed, and apricot kernal oils. It is then masterfully crafted with fruit and nut butters (Shea, Aloe, Cocoa, Kokum…to name a few), and hair enhancing essential oils”.
No. 8 Can You Handlebar
If you are at all into beard oils, then you have probably come across Can You Handlebar’s wisdom oil already, well the ‘dry’ version (i.e the beard balm) ain’t half bad either.
It basically makes use of the same ingredients that the oil but has shea butter and beeswax thrown into the mix as well. So you still get that wood type warmth with a hint of lemon amongst other essential oils. They offer it in another three scents as well: initiative, classic and devotion.
Can You Handlebar have really done a pretty good job on it (and I’m, not sure why it doesn’t get more accreditation). They have used entirely natural ingredients and I think they have got the balance almost spot between that of providing a beard with sufficient amount of hold (although I guess it depends just how unruly your beard actually is) as well as the conditioning factor.
From the texture and consistency of the beard balm you can tell it lies somewhere between the stiffness of captain fawcett and the softness that Honest Amish offers and about there is where I think you hit the golden ratio of what a beard balm is about. And that’s a versatile conditioning and styling product.
As for the actual beard balm it’s pretty much nailed on.
Where I do feel a little let down is the blandness in the packaging, yes it comes in a neat little cardboard box but it’s literally just a silver tin with the label stuck on. Granted, many of the others above have pretty much done the same thing but there is a clear difference in the actual finish — when you compare them side by side.
I guess, just in comparison to their rather epic looking flasks that they have for their oils (although they have the same version but just in bottles too).
Ingredients: “Local wax, USP grade lanolin, castor oil, coconut oil, shea butter, Vitamin E and high grade essential oils”.
No. 9 Big Red
I’m a big fan of Big Red, not just of their product but their entire general ethos too — they easily go down as one of my favourites beard companies out there. Hailing from Canada, Big Red first mastered beard combs (hence, it’s given name) and eventually worked into creating killer beard care products too. Perhaps, this indeed is best ‘til last.
Packaging & Appearance
This is some pretty badass packaging.
The smaller Big RED balms are contained in a handy slider tin that you can take with you on the go (easily slip into a trouser pocket) and have been coated with balm resistant labels (so they aren’t just going to slip off)— the larger ones (which you see pictured above) come with in a larger tin with a lid that reminds me of traditional vintage signs. The actual logo and writing are raised from the lid — a really sweet finish.
I would say this and the Bearded Bastard probably win in regards to overall packaging, perhaps Big Red takes it given the actual practical use that’s on offer too (especially with the smaller containers).
Big Red offer their balms in three distinct scents:
The Dillinger is like a warm spicy musk, quite a complex scent really as it’s mixed with bay-rum and black pepper so quite syrupy too — and goes down as one of my favorites for sure.
A sort of light citrus based scent that offers a blend of bergamot and grapefruit — a real fruity sort of scent, that actually works rather well.
Factory is Big Red’s answer to the wood type scent (that most beard vendors tend to go with), it’s pretty darn good though — certainly the safer option.
From all the products I’ve tried, I think this has got to me my favorite of the lot.
Like it says on the front of the tin though, it’s for primarily styling and hold if you are after that conditioning aspect as well though — what I tend to do though is work the balm in my palms and add a couple of drops of beard oil (that’s the same scent) then apply that directly on to my beard. Helps with the ease of the application, although lessens the amount of hold it has to offer.
What I’m really loving about it though is firstly, just how well the thing holds and the fact you can carry it around with you, means if your beard just gets blown a bit out of shape you can take yourself off and fix it up. Plus, just how well the scents linger on in your beard — pretty much an ideal solid cologne replacement really.
Ingredients: “Shea Butter, Beeswax, Cocoa Butter, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Hempseed Oil, Essential Oil Blend”
They contain additional essential oils for each varying scent.
Which Beard Balms Do I Recommend You Try Out?
That’s the following three:
- Mariner Jack
- The Bearded Bastard
- Big Red
You can see, even from an elite selection of beard balms (that have been chosen from testing out 30+ other beard balms) these are the ones that stand out in terms of overall rating.
Actually at the time of writing, Beardbrand have recently introduced their own beard balm — which I’m keen to try. If any of you guys have tried it already, let me know what you think in the comments below. Certainly looks the part, I’ve had my eye on their four vices for a while now — you can also use it for tattoos and general hair care too, which is an interesting play.
Update: I’ve had some guys emailing in about a vegan beard balm option, the only that I remember coming across (other than a few Etsy store owners) is one d-and-t, however they reside in Australia as well as Brooklyn grooming.
Like, I’ve already said.
Please bear in mind that the beard balms and their reviews are based upon my beard and how I like my beard to look and feel.
You may find a beard balm that’s really doing it for you not on this list or vice vera that you might think one of the balms on the list as being awful (because it feels too heavy and gunky in your beard) and shouldn’t be anywhere near.
Maybe you are looking for a bit more shine. A bit more hold.
So don’t just disregard a balm by this list. It’s your beard — besides it’s often worth the gamble.
Beard Balm Benefits — 5 Reasons Why They Are So Freaking Great for Your Beard
I suppose the real question we are answering here is “why choose beard balm” over say a beard oil? And what are they actually good for? Well first off, they are quite different products — but we’ll get to that in just a second.
What’s truly great about beard balms is the versatility that they offer, they help your beard with a little bit of everything.
- Provides a Hold
As you will soon find out from the general ingredients used in beard balms (see section below) they consist of butters like shea and cocoa as well as waxes like beeswax.
It’s these ingredients which are basically the key differences between a balm and beard oil — because like a beard oil, you will find a balm consists of carrier oils and essential oils too. With the extra ingredients and the way it is processed is what allows a balm to go hard as well as to offer your beard some hold and allow you to tame your beard.
Whether you want to style your beard a particular way or after just taming some wretched beard fly aways, a balm will work nicely to help aid the general shape of your beard.
- Matte Beard Finish
Unlike that of a beard oil which gives the shiny aspect to a beard — a beard balm on the other hand tends to give a much more ‘natural look’ to your beard, a matte type finish.
For me personally, I prefer the balm finish than an oil finish — again this just comes down to preference. Either way your beard will look better with a coating of beard balm than it would just on its own without any product. You will see it gives it a clean looking coating that gives off the appearance you actually take care of your beard.
- Natural Fragrance
As they are infused with a range of essential oils (just like a beard oil), a beard balm will also provide a masculine scent to your beard too. As you can see from the list above, there is literally hundreds of scents to pick and choose from.
Whether you are digging the more woodsy type of feel (if so, I would point you in the direction of the Bearded Bastard woodsman scent — the original woody based scent), musky sort of aspect (take a look at the Big Red range) or a fruity based beard balm (checkout the Brighton Beard Company) — and obviously many, many more.
The advantage of a beard balm rather than an actual cologne is of course the nature of the product itself, it doesn’t contain alcohol so it’s not damaging your skin or beard. Plus, they are actually easy enough to carry around with you (especially the Big Red sliders) so if you are need of a top up — smell wise — they are easy enough to whip out and apply.
I think of them a little like the new ‘solid cologne’ craze that’s going on at the moment, but with additional benefits too.
- ‘Look’ of a Thicker Beard
Of course, it’s not directly thickening your beard and adding volume to it. I’m not sure any product out there really does that, although plenty claim to. (but hey I’m open to suggestions, if anyone has found a good one — I’m willing to put it to the test).
However, what it is doing — due to the hold that it offers is helping to separate the beard hairs in your beard (use a good boar bristle brush to help with this), so they don’t clunk together as much, resulting in the look of a patchier beard.
Essentially it helps with “beard flexing” — giving the appearance of a thicker beard.
- Conditions the Beard (throughout the day)
Of course it will also help to condition your beard.
Applying beard balm correctly (which I go into some detail just below) will help your beard become stronger (less prone to frizziness, split ends and breakages), softer (helping those who have to endure beard itch) and just generally your beard a whole lot healthier too (providing the much needed nutrition and moisture your beard needs).
It doesn’t just help your beard either.
Massaging the oils thoroughly into your beard and face helps to moisturise your skin too, this ensures future beard growth is strong as well. Please note: beard balm isn’t a substitute for moisturiser. I know it’s difficult to moisturise your skin when you’ve got a beard, but it’s important you do.
You might potentially find something like the Clarisonic Alpha fit pretty useful, if you are having a hard time with your beard getting in the way.
Doing this helps prevent beard dandruff (otherwise known as beardruff). This tends to happen as the natural sebum in your face is getting sort of soaked up by the beard follicles in your face (and the more they grow, the more you soak up) this in turn leaves no moisture for your skin — turning it dry.
(This is why you will later find that although I do really like using a beard balm for the best results I also use it in my daily beard care routine in tandem with a proper beard oil).
Making the Most of It
Back in 2015, according to that clever google trends tool this was the 5th most asked beauty question.
“How to Use Beard Balm” | Worldwide | Date Range: 1/11/14 to 17/11/16
Not only shows the recent boom beards have taken on and guys grooming them but specifically just how popular balms are becoming. Anyway, back on topic.
How to Apply Beard Balm
It’s actually pretty simple.
1. Back of Nail | 2. Apply to Palm | 3. Rub hands | 4. Apply to Beard
It basically breaks down to the following steps:
Before you start applying balm straight to your beard — it’s worth taking a few pre-steps to make the most out of it.
Firstly, it’s better to have your beard slightly damp (10% still wet) through use of warm water — straight after a shower and after you’ve almost dried your beard is ideal. This is because firstly, I generally think the balm applies a lot better to your beard a lot nicer than going straight onto a dry beard (but that’s completely fine too, if you prefer it that way).
And, secondly the pores in your skin are more exposed — helping the natural oils seep in better. See a balm isn’t just about improving the external beard, it’s about improving the foundation to your beard, the skin — improving what I like to call the ‘inner’ beard.
- Scoop it out.
Personally, I like to use the back of the thumbnail for this.
I know of some guys who like to use guitar plectrums and the like as well — basically just getting a little bit out the actual jar.
You’re going to find some easier to get out than others for sure, generally those with a higher wax content (and in turn offer more hold) — are going to prove tougher to get out.
How much to use?
It comes down to two things: how big is your beard? And how well does the product apply? You are going to be using a lot more Scotch Porter beard balm on a big beard than Captain Fawcett’s on a short beard, that’s for sure.
If you are new to the game of beards and aren’t really sure, start off slow, just take a bit and work it in. You can always apply more, best to start off with not much and work your way up — rather than too much and your beard getting too oily.
- Place into Your palms & Rub together.
You’ll want to work it down so it basically becomes like a liquid. The beard balms that have the more wax type consistency in them you are going to have work a bit harder at than say one that’s naturally creamy anyway.
But, the idea is that basically — don’t want lumpy bits on your hands as you apply the balm into your beard.
Finding it too hard?
A problem I often see with guys who are new to beard balm, is that they complain of it being too difficult to scoop out. To help out leave it in your pocket for 10 minutes or so, this will help to warm up and soften the balm — making it easier to work with.
- Work and Apply the Balm into your beard
I don’t think there’s really any ‘best way’ of going about this. It’s basically about woking it well into your beard.
Personally, I like to go from the top of my sideburns and slowly work it down towards my chin and into my neck — but it’s basically just about getting well in amongst your beard and skin.
What I do recommend you do though is actually work it into with a massaging motion. This is to help stimulate beard growth (not completely beard related), but my inspiration behind performing a facial massage with beard balm came from the following study:
Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness
What it showed was:
“Stretching forces result in changes in gene expression in human dermal papilla cells. Standardized scalp massage is a way to transmit mechanical stress to human dermal papilla cells in subcutaneous tissue. Hair thickness was shown to increase with standardized scalp massage.”
It would be interesting if they did a specific study related to beards actually (I’ve checked online, there are numerous sources claiming that it does indeed improve or at least stimulate beard growth but unfortunately they fail to reference a specific study p.s. if you do find one please hit me up, would be interesting to see for sure).
Even if it doesn’t do that much to actually improve beard growth, it’s still a good way of at least initially distributing it right through your beard.
Optional 4. Distribute it with a Bristle Brush (recommended).
At least for me, this is how I would finish off using a beard balm.
Although step 3 does well and truly get it into your beard, going over it with a beard brush (preferably a boar bristle one or one embedded with horse hair) is what really helps finish off distributing the balm (oils and butters) right along the hair (from tip to base).
Plus, it should help to stimulate growth as well (if my theory above holds any merit) — plus it just generally helps with getting the oils and nutrition of the balm right to where the hairs need it.
But mainly why I recommend this additional step (it’s not really needed, as I said, it’s optional) is from a general maintenance and aesthetics point of view. When balm has been applied your beard it is a lot easier to work with, so if it needs detangling or just some general shaping up — you will find it much easier to brush now than when it’s just completely dry.
Hey your beard might be different — like I always say it’s worth finding out what suits you and your beard.
What about a beard comb?
For me I tend to use a beard comb when I’m distributing a beard oil — I don’t know whether it is just habit or whether it is actually any better. The difference between them is probably not very much. I do generally prefer the way a brush works and feels than a comb though — plus I know a comb is definitely not providing stimulation and blood flow to potentially improve my beard growth.
Which ever you prefer really. If you are using a beard comb though, make sure it is a decent one and not a crappy plastic one you, like you pick up at a garage station — that’s probably end up doing more harm than good.
Working it into a Beard Caring Routine
This is how I use beard balm.
Before I got to bed at night I give my beard what I call the deep conditioning phase with beard oil. This gives my beard and skin the deep penetration.
Then when it comes to getting ready for work and I need to sharpen up, I will whip out a beard balm (using the same scent as the beard oil I used the night before to ensure no conflicting scents, unless I grabbed a quick shower) — to shape up the beard and tame the fly-aways. I find it gives my beard that bit more of an edge and at least looks more presentable with the hold that a balm gives you.
Since publishing this article, I’ve had a bunch of emails asking me more about using beard balm which is great! (keep them coming). But, I thought it would be pretty cool to post a little beard balm care FAQ here as well so everyone can benefit.
Beard Balm FAQ
“How often should you use beard balm?”
I don’t think there’s really a limit, it just depends on a few factors. Firstly, the type of balm you use — how much conditioning factor it offers. Secondly, how big is your beard and lastly, the weather and humidity.
The more you use it, the better idea you will get on how much to use. If you want to use it every few days, every day or twice a day — whatever works for you and your beard. Just ‘overdoing’ it you will notice it ‘weighing down’ your beard as well as your face feeling rather oily.
“Can you use beard balm at night (before bed)?”
There’s no problems there, you are essentially just using a leave in conditioner in your beard.
Personally, I would recommend a beard oil if you are planning on conditioning your beard whilst you sleep — but that’s just because I think it’s easier to penetrate your skin pores with an oil. However, if you prefer using a balm, then that’s completely fine.
“Can I use a beard oil and balm at the same time, together?”
I mean, you can.
But I wouldn’t.
First off, I’m not exactly sure why you would want to? What’s likely to happen is your face and beard is going to get way too oily and it will just look a little odd too.
You can use them together though of course, in fact I recommend it (make sure they are the same scent, so they don’t conflict) — a balm in the morning and oil at night.
“Beard balm before and after pic?”
Ideally, you should take one of yourself with your beard before as well as after, to prove to yourself the balm helps.
You can check out the vid above with different beard balm before and after pics, although I would take some images with a pinch of salt — as they have actually looked like they’ve been trimmed and sculpted as well as use of the beard balm.
(update: I plan on posting my own here very soon).
How long does beard balm last?
How much are you using? How big is your beard? How often do you use it? Does your beard need a little or a lot of conditioning? How big is the tin? I hate giving these answers but it just depends.
If you get hold of the Bearded Chap beard balm, it contains a rather monstrous 100 grams (that’s a lot in the beard balm world) can easily last you a good six months. If you grab hold of a Scotch porter, you can probably use it all within a months.
On average though is probably for every gram you can get two days. So a 30 gram balm, should last you two months — but that’s just guesswork with napkin maths.
“When to use beard balm? At what beard length?”
Unlike beard oil, you can’t really use beard balm right from the get go.
You need to have at least a beard of growth there, at least an inch or a good 3/4 weeks worth of growth before you can start applying and even then only some. Obviously, the longer your beard grows the more balm you can add and really get to work with it.
If you’ve got any questions with regards to ‘how’s the best to use beard balm’ and any other general problems you are facing — then hit me up in the comments.
Is there any difference between beard balm and butter?
If there is, I’m not really sure — exactly what’s it meant to be.
Similar to a beard tonic being a beard oil, a beard butter seems just to be another name a manufacturer has given their balm.
They might usually be formed with a concentration of butter than waxes — hence urge on the edge of being a more conditioning based beard balm rather than a styling one.
However, at least based on my experience with Fellows Essential Gentleman and other brands — I would still class them under the “beard balm” family but tend to be more on the conditioning side. There’s no real beard balm vs butter.
Beard Balm Vs Oil Vs Wax — What’s the Difference?
Although we’ve alluded to what the difference between a beard balm and oil (and to some extent a beard wax) — I thought this would be an appropriate time to clear any confusion between the beard products:
A beard oil is basically for purely conditioning your beard — to help keep it feeling fresh — basically like a moisturiser just for your beard (and your skin). What I would regard as the ‘staple’ product for your beard that basically every beardsmen (even those just starting out) should be using on the daily. And, if you are suffering with any beard problems whether it be itchiness, beard dandruff, a scraggly beard — this would be the first port of call as a solution.
Although there are literally thousands of variations of beard oils — they are all basically just made up entirely of just carrier oils (the likes of Argan, Jojoba and the like) that do the bulk of the moisturising aspect and essential oils (that offer benefits of their own but are mainly used for the scent aspect) blended together to help basically tame up your beard.
You can literally get every scent under the sun from “black coffee” to “bubble gum” — if you have a particular scent in mind, there’s bound to be a beard oil out there for it.
Whereas beard oil is all about conditioning your beard and offering no real style capability (apart from the shiny finish it gives off) — beard wax is the opposite. In fairness, they are very similar to a moustache wax (if not the same for some manufacturers e.g. Brighton Beard Co.), apart from they’ve just been labelled as being specifically for your beard.
Similar to how you use hair wax to control a hair style — beard wax can be used to conjure up a beard style. However, it’s main primary use and why most beardsmen go for it is to help shape and tame down those unruly whiskers and actually to turn their beard into something that looks half presentable. Plus, with the high level of hold that they offer — whatever way you do actually sculpt your beard, chances are, it’s going to stay that way too.
It’s a mix between the two. It carries the ingredients of both and fuses them together like a beard pomade of sorts.
You have varying beard balms that lie on this spectrum with one end being beard oil (a conditioning product) and the other end, beard wax (being a styling product).
Hence, no one beard balm from different beard companies are ever the same, which is what makes them rather interesting. You will have certain beard balms that feature more of the conditioning aspect and will only provide a light hold for your beard, and others that lack in the moisturising aspect for your beard but offer more styling capabilities.
Which Should You Use?
I think you should invest in one of each — personally.
Different situations call for different products.
Just general upkeep of maintaining your beard and ensuring it stays healthy, then just a good beard oil is going to do the trick. However, if you have a wedding to go to and need your beard to behave, then use of a beard oil is going to be pretty useless — a wax however is obviously going to give you the proper hold you are looking for.
That said, investing in an array of products can get expensive. Getting an oil andwax (not to mention the likes of beard shampoos etc.) will take a hit on a guy’s wallet.
Hence, why I hold beard balm in such high esteem.
As it is basically your all in one product.
Granted it won’t conditioning your beard to the extent that a beard oil can do nor will it offer your beard the level of hold a wax will, but it will be able to at least with most aspects.
Do what works for you. I can’t stress ‘self-experimenting’ enough here, different beards work better with different products at different times with different combinations. Have some fun, give your beard a play.
It might work out using oil one day, balm the next, oil again and so on. Could try out what I do, balm in the morning and oil at night (works particularly well for those rather rough beards). Use it together? Drop in ‘some’ beard oil and then work it through with a balm to give some shape.
How Does Beard Balm Work? Ingredients Inspection
As you can inspect from the list of above.
The ingredients tend to be very similar and there are a few core ingredients that make up a beard balm.
You will certainly have at least some of the following:
Typically Cera Alba (bees wax) although others are used (sometimes a blend of just one or even more)— this is obviously, this is what obviously offers the initial hold for your beard (and even contains certain beneficial properties of its own).
As you can it is usually Shea butter or Cocoa butter that is being used — again although it is mainly used to help with the actual application of the balm — you will see that they have properties of their own that’s helpful for both your skin and beard hair. Often it will be one or the other that’s been used, but you will at times see them being used frequently together.
Like with the wax as well, they are also great for locking in the moisture provided by the oils (see just bel0w) and holding it in your beard for longer.
Just like with a beard oil, the carrier oil is meant to primarily condition your beard and is the important aspect of the balm that keeps your beard feeling fresh and strong. The usual suspects are the likes of
:i) Coconut oil,
ii) Argan oil ,
iii) Jojoba oil etc.
The above ingredients are usually what make up the bulk of the beard balm, the different consistencies are dependent on what you really want to get out of the balm. If you’re wanting a greater “hold” from your balm, up the consistency with the wax — if you are after more conditioning up the anti a little more with the carrier oils and butters.
Although they often contain some of their own beneficial properties, essential oils are basically used for the scent they give off.
This is what gives the flavour to your balm.
As you can imagine the list of essential oils is massive — so if you have scent ind mind that you want to create, although it might take a few tries to get it just right and how you like it — chances are, you will be able to nail it eventually.
Of course with making your own DIY beard balm the majority of the costs come from the upfront uptake — but over the long haul, if you continue top produce your own beard balms — the overall cost per gram, compared to what you buy online or on the high street will fall drastically.
Plus, the fact you get to make it yourself — you can craft it just how you like. So if you want a beard balm without Shea butter (perhaps due to allergies) — then you can.
I can’t say I’ve tried many other things with a beard balm, but I’ve heard of a few guys who have come up with some pretty interesting ideas as to ‘what else you can do with a beard balm’ such as:
Shining your shoes?
If you carry around the Big Red Beard balm slider (very convenient for every day carry by the way) and catch that your left shoe has a bit of scruff on, add some balm on — give it a polish. The shoe apparently turns out great. You will find a lot of the dedicated shoe polishes have shared ingredients with beard balm.
Again, not tried it myself — but I can see how it works.
Comes in particularly useful in winter — if you suffer with drying and cracking lips, applying a bit of beard balm to them (make sure it is a natural product before you start dolloping some on, Percy Nobleman is the only company I’ve actually seen recommend it) can help soften them up.
Use in your hair?
I suppose just like a beard oil can help freshen up your head hair, a balm will do a good job of helping to condition it also. I wouldn’t however use it as a styling product (just a conditioning one).
Fancy Making Your Own Beard Balm (Homemade Basic Recipe)
You can either follow the video above or try out Cultures for health pretty basic beard balm recipe that you can build and experiment from.
What you’ll need?
First off they recommend:
- Two table spoons of beeswax.
Literally, you can source that from Amazon, you can pick up like 5 bars (at 30 grams each) for under 3 quid. Unless you know a local beekeeper?
- Four table spoons of Apricot Kernel Oil (carrier oil)
Again, I would head over to Amazon and grab a 250ml bottle for under a fiver.
- Two table spoons of Olive Oil.
Another carrier oil that you will work to blend into the kernel oil. It helps aid the exfoliation process of your skin ensures the balm won’t be too heavy, and should be light in application.
- A few drops of cedarwood essential oil.
Although you can buy small bottles of cedarwood essential oils, if you plan on making a range of beard balms with different scents, it might be worth looking into getting a selection of them.
- Another few drops of clary sage essential oils.
Note: there’s no use of any butters in the ingredient list — but the following instructions on how to make a beard balm are pretty much the same.
You will need to prepare a good work space to operate from. Right let’s get into it.
Grab a glass jar that has a little lukewarm water in and wok to melt the beeswax into it. Then give a little time for the wax to cool down, it should still be in a liquid form though — at which point you work in the carrier and essential oils.
At this point, give it a good stir.
Pour the concoction into another jar and leave it be — for it cool down. Once you’ve returned, you should have a nicely formulated beard balm ready to grace your manly mane.
Additional Beard Balm Recipes to checkout:
Working in beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. This provides the base — then you can make use of an essential oil of your choosing — in their case they use sandalwood & bourbon.
Offer a recipe for those after some extra styling capability from their beard balm (providing “extra hold”).
This is a recipe for cedar smoke beard balm, going to have to try this myself I think (I make sure to remember to upload a step by step picture guide too, stay tuned).
Homemade Vs Bought?
I’ve got to admit making them is pretty fun and quite rewarding and granted it saves money in the long run making beard balm yourself.
However, there is a fair amount of upfront of cost involved (both monetary and time wise)— and you will likely end up with an inferior product (unless you get to be a pretty darn good beard balm brewer) compared to the beard balms listed above anyway.
Any questions on beard balm either shoot them below in the comments or send over an email.