Beard balm vs oil: The MOST important things you should know

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Alright, gentlemen! It’s time for a favorite topic of mine: the whole beard balm or beard oil debate.

I’ve sported just about any type of beard. From that shy little stubble to a glorious full beard I could lose my utensils in.

Guess what? Yeah. I was pretty dumb with my first efforts in growing a beard. No oil, no balm, no beard care at all…

And I wondered why the hell it itched like crazy. Not to mention my skin was as dry as a Sahara desert patch.

Before, I used this sandalwood oil. It ROCKED! Out of curiosity, I’m currently using organic pure Jojoba oil:

The reason for that is I’m sporting a medium length beard. My beard is somewhat orderly, so all I need is light daily maintenance and to take care of the skin underneath.

But you’re not me. Your beard might be different.

So where do we draw the difference between beard oil and beard balm?

Hint: The general rule is, beard oil is for softening/conditioning, while balm helps with keeping things in shape/providing hold.

Beard oil in a nutshell – when & why to use it

You should start using beard oil the day you decide to let your beard grow.

I’m serious.

(Alright, maybe you need to have a few grown hairs present already, as rubbing it on bare skin would be strange.)

Beard oil isn’t only about that facial hair you want to see blooming. It also takes care of the skin beneath it.

Let me tell you a harsh truth: your newborn beard will itch, and it will itch like there’s no tomorrow. Your skin will be dry and patchy. You’ll probably see what beardruff is all about.

Beard oil is your sidekick that soothes all these symptoms. From the very first hairs popping up your face, right until you get a decent, medium length beard: use beard oil.

A cheatsheet on beard oil

  • Softens your otherwise bristle facial hair

  • Reduces the darn itch that’s been driving you insane

  • Moisturizes and softens your skin too to prevent any irritations

  • Promotes healthy growth of a gentlemanly, lush beard

An important note is that beard oil gets “soaked” into your beard faster than beard balm.

It can either come packaged in a full bottle like the Jojoba oil I use…Or you can get it in a more easy to use packaging like the Gentleman’s oil I used before.

Beard oil is made of carrier oils (utility ingredient) and essential oils (fragrance/scent ingredient.) I recommend you to pick a beard oil product that has at least one of these carrier oils:

  • Jojoba: very easily absorbed, less “grease” after application

  • Argan: best carrier oil for your skin, silky effect

  • Coconut: awesome for dry weather, best moisturizing effect. 

  • Sweet almond: for those of you who suffer from inflammation/ingrown hair

Note: Some researches show that Coconut oil is a DHT blocker and negatively impacts beard growth. Keep that in mind!

In terms of fragrances, you can pick whatever tickles your fancy. I love the smell of sandalwood, so I’ve stuck to this for a long time.

Just make sure you’re getting essential oils for your beard, and not pure fragrances. You want natural ingredients, not cheap synthetics that might cause irritation.

 Other beard oils I’ve been satisfied with:

Honest Amish oil, as well as Mountaineer’s more prominent/masculine one.

Beard balm summarized – longer beards need it

Once you find yourself having quite the volume of facial hair, it’s time to think about beard balm.

Unlike oil, balm mainly focuses on your beard.

To be more precise: it helps with making your facial hair more orderly. Giving it a presentable appearance and proper shape so you stay sharp and charming.

After all, you don’t want to look like a caveman (or at least I hope so!)

The thing is, some guys (me included) have awfully wiry beard once it grows to a significant length. And nobody likes an unruly, disheveled beard that looks like something electrocuted you just before you went out.

Now, good beard balm brands will also help with controlling the beard itch. A good example would be the popular Honest Amish Balm:

But as I said, the main purpose here is to give your follicles some hold and form.

A cheatsheet on beard balm

  • Provides hold for better beard styling/shaping

  • Makes your facial hair look a bit thicker/dense

  • Helps with the beard itch

  • Isn’t as shiny as beard oil; more of a matte look

Summed up, jumping on the beard balm ship is a natural progression once your beard enters the medium length stage.

If you have a long beard, skipping on beard balm borders with insanity…Or you just don’t care much about looking neat and stylish.

Similar to beard oils, try to be as natural as possible with your facial hair balm. Good ingredients include:

  • Beeswax: provides the “hold” for the balm

  • Butters: shea, coconut are top of the top

  • Carrier oils: same oils as in the beard oil section

  • Essential oils: again, same as the beard oil section

If you see the term “Petroleum jelly” written somewhere on a beard balm…RUN away! Synthetics are no fun, as I pointed out before. They might irritate your skin and hinder the growth of healthy facial hair.

How do I use beard balm and oil?

Ridiculously easy.

No, seriously, there’s no chance of you getting it completely wrong. But there are a few good practices to keep in mind.

Essential rule #1: Always make sure your beard is clean before applying either of the products.

The perfect time is just after a good refreshing shower. Bonus parts for it being hot, as this will soften up your facial hair. It’ll also allow for better oil absorption.

Essential rule #2: Always make sure your beard is dry.

If it’s not, the oil will get diluted. The balm might turn into something messier than you wanted it to be.

Essential rule #3: Don’t overdo it.

You need no more than 2-4 drops of beard oil. Rub it so it gets spread evenly in your fingers, then gently rub your fingers on your facial hair.

Bonus points for combing your hair with your fingers or a beard brush while doing so.

Essential rule #4: Give your mustache some love too!

Plenty of people neglect the mustache in favor of the glorious full length beard they aspire to sport. Remember, that upper lip is a pain to have if it’s too unruly or itchy. Take care of that area too!

But…
do I really need beard oil or balm?

Yes, if you want a healthy, nice looking beard that will turn the heads of men and women around you.

If you want a frizzy, disheveled pile of facial hair that’s causing your skin some serious issues…you can skip on these products.

For me, it’s unthinkable to NOT use either (or why not both) if you’re in for the long term. Your beard, your skin and you yourself, actually, will be thankful.

How often should I use beard oil?

Once daily is enough. Some people will do it every other day.

It really depends on your skin type, beard length, and last but not least – the climate you live in!

I’ve lived in both humid and dry areas. I couldn’t go even one single day without applying some beard oil – my skin would dry out like crazy.

2-4 drops of oil per day are a recipe for healthy growth and follicles ready to give their best to make you a full bearded gentleman.

Additional care:
Good to consider

Using balms and oils is a good start, but for a great beard you need to make some additional efforts.

The top one would be properly trimming your beard so you don’t look like a (total) caveman. If you don’t do this, not even balm or even wax would be able to help you out.

A few tools come in handy when taming your beard and making it look as awesome as it should be.

If you’re at a short-to-medium length, consider grabbing a proper hair trimmer. For performance, barber-grade trimmers will provide you with what your stylist would use.

Some people prefer convenience – vacuum trimmers reduce post-beard shaping clutter so you don’t need to collect all these fallen hairs.

That said, at one point you’ll see trimmers can’t keep up with your beard’s length.

This is when you know you need a pair of scissors. They might look like this:

Or you might prefer not-so-flashy designs. In any case, grab a good pair of hair scissors and get to work!

For those who like neat designs, over the past year or so I’ve seen quite a few beard shaping tools pop up. Some of them are great, others not so – we’ve done some research on beard templates for your convenience.

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