Many men decide to grow beards because they love the rugged, masculine look that comes with the aesthetic of clean facial hair. However, leaving your beard alone to grow and do whatever it wants is a recipe for disaster. Any savvy beard wearer knows that a crusty, dry, brittle beard has the opposite effect on people. The reasonable maintenance of your beard makes the difference between looking powerful and looking unkempt. That’s where beard oils and beard balms come in.
Beard oil and beard balm are the perfect tools for long-term maintenance and repair of your beard issues. However, choosing the right one for your beard can often be a challenge. While you may think they do the same thing, beard oil and beard balm differences are pronounced, and they matter. If you care a lot about your beard maintenance, you will most likely use both, but depending on your goals for style and wear throughout the day, you may use one more often over the other.
Today, we’re going to finally answer the question of how beard oil and beard balm differ. We want to steer you in the right direction based on your beard type, style, and goals.
Any questions about beard care? Shoot us your query at Beard Gains, and we’ll walk you through every step!
Beard oil is a mixture of different moisturizing oils that nourish the facial hair and the skin underneath. For longer beards, beard oil helps minimize stray hairs and keeps little bits of dead skin from flaking into the hair. For short beards, it gives you a good shine and improves the definition of the shape of the beard. It helps keep the hair looking fuller and silkier, rather than clumpy and messy. Beard oil is very similar to leave-in conditioner, since both work by providing long-term moisture throughout the day.
The best time to use beard oil is after washing your face after a shower, for instance. The heat helps open up the pores, allowing for the oil to absorb properly into your skin. You can experiment with a schedule by using it either every day or every other day, but you want to avoid overdoing it. Otherwise, your hair can become too oily and hard to manage.
To apply, drop a couple of drops of oil into your palm and rub them together. Many stylists will refer to this as a “dime-sized” puddle, and it’s a good starting point. Longer and thicker beards will need a little more. You don’t want to go overboard with this, since a little goes a long way; plus, you can always add more if you need, but it’s a hassle to remove oil once it is placed. Brush your hands through your beard, starting with the sides and moving to the front. Lightly pat the oil into the hair, as this will help it to penetrate deeper. Use your fingertips to apply to your mustache area. Finish by using a comb to distribute the oil throughout all of the hairs.
Carrier oils are often included in beard oil and other beauty products to help carry the essential oils into the hair. This is where the name “carrier” comes from; they are rarely used on their own without essential oils in cosmetics and hair care products. This is due to the somewhat irritating nature of essential oils as they can cause slight redness and itchiness if applied directly, undiluted. They are crucial for beard oil since they keep your hair silky and comfortable. Beard oil may have different types of carrier oil like argan oil, jojoba oil, tea tree, coconut, or any mixture. The majority of beard oils are simply different ratios and measurements of carrier and essential oils as ingredients.
The most common types of carrier oils are:
- Rice bran
- Sweet almond
- Tea tree
Essential oils in beard oil are responsible for keeping your beard fragrant, and they’re one of the distinguishing characteristics of beard oil over beard balm. While beard balms still have some essential oil, beard oil is basically a suspension of pure carrier oils, essential oils, and sometimes Vitamin E oil for added nourishment and optimal skin health. Essential oils have strong scents, but they are not overpowering or intense due to being diluted by carrier oils. Beard oils usually have woody scents like vanilla, balsam, cedarwood, or frankincense. Essential oil smells usually dissipate after a few hours.
The most common types of essential oils in beard oil (and balm) include:
- Texas Cedarwood
Beard oil does not contain any kind of shea or cocoa butter; instead, they are entirely oil-derived. You will know if your product has butter in it based on the look and feel; pure oil products like beard oil will be transparent, while butter-based products are more opaque. The lack of butter helps the oil remain fluid and workable, but it does rob it of extra moisturizing properties.
This component is also absent in beard oil, despite how powerful it is for keeping your beard hairs firm and stylish. Beeswax is a natural extract secreted by honeybees and is common in products that offer moisture and light hold. With beard oil being a pure moisturizer, it does not include beeswax in its formulation.
Unsure if beard balm or oil is right for you? Contact us at Beard Gains, and we’ll set you up with the materials you need.
Beard balms are much more specialized than beard oil is, and it’s a good choice for styling. The thicker consistency makes it easier to work with your beard more precisely. High-quality beard balms keep your beard from flaking, and will not contain any synthetic or harmful ingredients. It has a similar consistency to pomade, but it doesn’t stick; many would describe it as creamy and soft. Much like lip balm, unlike beard oil, the ingredients inside of beard balm help lock in that moisture, keeping your beard full and soft throughout the entirety of your day.
To apply, take a good-sized amount on your fingers and rub it until you’ve spread it accordingly. A fingertip-sized dollop is a good placed to start. Like with beard oil, you can add if you wish, but taking it off after applying is difficult. Then, begin working it into your beard, starting from your neck. You’re basically massaging upwards, moving closer to the top as your fingers work the balm from the tips’ root. Unlike with applying oil, you want to ensure your beard is basically dry. From here, you can style it into the shape desired. The use of a small comb is advised here, too.
Like beard oil, beard balms contain carrier oils to help the other ingredients penetrate the skin and absorb better. Despite being a balm, it has a sizeable amount of carrier oil, very similar to beard oil. This will allow your beard to remain smooth and less vulnerable to split ends or fraying combined with the balm’s thickness. Carrier oils are also substantially more crucial when used in beard oil over beard balm because carrier oils are where beard oils get a majority of their moisturizing properties from.
Essential oils are also included in beard balms, in similar ratios to beard oil. Their scents also range from woody to lightly sweet. Essential oils also contain anti-fungal properties, actually combating harmful bacteria types that may live in the pores. There is also some speculation that the essential oil in beard balm helps with beard growth. This is also true of beard oil, so on this point, the two are pretty much comparable.
Beard balms have a good amount of butter in them like shea and cocoa butter we talked about. This is an added moisturizer that oils lack. Natural and smooth, butter inside of balms add more softness and silkiness to the hair. It is this property that keeps beard flakes from becoming too unmanageable. It also prevents your skin beneath the beard from getting too dry. Cocoa butter’s benefits to the skin include improved elasticity and protection. It is also commonly used to smooth out wrinkles, scars, and other unsightly marks.
The beeswax inside the beard balm gives this product some firmness, which translates directly into how easy you can style it. The beeswax’s light touch helps keeps stray hairs from fraying out throughout the day, ensuring that your beard remains tight and manageable.
Beeswax, beyond being a good styling agent, protects the skin from drying out. In hot and dry areas, beeswax products ensure your beard never loses moisture throughout the day. Its moisturizing properties locks moisture in and keeps the skin beneath the beard supple. Beeswax also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe skin. This is why it is often used in ointments that treat chapped lips and eczema. Beeswax also protects from irritants like extreme weather and prevents the minor irritation that comes from sweat. There is some evidence the beeswax improves hair retention and hair growth.
Which is best for my beard type?
Long beards and those that are short can both benefit from either beard balm or beard oil, but depending on the style of beard you’re going for, as well as your individual skin conditions, one may be better than the other. If you want your beard to have a consistent shine throughout the day, beard oil will reign supreme. However, if you find yourself plagued with flakes and unruly hairs everywhere, beard balm will be your best friend.
All in all, which you choose depends on the goals for your style and comfort. You will most likely reap great benefits from using both in your routine, though many stylists will recommend that you use the beard oil first before applying a balm.
Which is better for styling?
Beard balm is a much better choice for styling a beard versus beard oil. The issue with beard oil is that it lacks ingredients that provide hold, like beeswax and butter. It is a mixture of different oils that maximize softness and moisture, but they do not provide firmness. If you really want a stylish hold similar to a gel, a mustache wax would be a good choice. However, if we’re speaking solely between balm and oil, the balm is much more suited for styling and keeping your beard looking put together throughout the day.
The other issue with beard oil is that it is mainly made of oil, and this composition may, in fact cause your beard hairs to move independently. If you ever used coconut oil in your hair, you notice that instead of falling and laying flat, like if you used water, it instead furls up and tends to do its own thing — the same thing happens when you introduce beard oil to your beard. While it gives a unique shine and definitely improves your beard’s look and feel, it is not the best choice to finish your look. This is one of the primary reasons to use beard oil first before beard balm, as the balm will help set everything nicely.
No matter what kind of beard you are going for, you cannot neglect basic beard maintenance. Beard oil and beard balm are essential in keeping your beard looking shiny, healthy, and moist.
Ready to take your beard maintenance game to the next level? Beard Gans has you covered with your proprietary Punisher Beard Care Kit that includes oil and balm!