The secret to having a healthy beard is keeping it moisturized and nourished. That’s why one of the many debate topics among the bearded community is over using beard oil vs. balm. So, which is better and what actually works?
We weigh the pros and cons of using beard oil vs. balm and vice-versa—according to their most avid users. And here are the things we found out:
- Differences Between a Beard Balm and Beard Oil
- Is Beard Balm Better Than Beard Oil?
- Should You Use Beard Oil?
- Should You Use Beard Balm?
- Benefits of Moisturizing Beards
Differences Between a Beard Balm and Beard Oil
Being new to the beard game will most definitely confuse you when choosing between beard balm and beard oil. After all, they are both moisturizing products for your facial mane.
Here, the differences between a beard balm and beard oil will be more apparent. We lay down a few scientific facts that explain the varying consistencies of these beloved beard products.
What is beard balm?
A beard balm is a product that is usually made of wax, and other natural essentials, like oils and extracts, that aim to moisturize, condition, and nourish the beard and the skin. It helps the hair stay healthy, which keeps it from pulling nutrients from the skin, causing it the area to dry out. Using balm leads to a more manageable beard situation without frizz and is smooth and silky to the touch.
What is beard oil?
Beard oil is a viscous product that blends or mixes several essential oils and carrier oils. It is also great for moisturizing and keeping the beard healthy as it goes through several beard growth stages.
The main difference between these two beard moisturizers is their state of matter, wherein one is liquid, and one is solid. The reason behind this is fairly found in the ingredients.
Beard balms have natural wax, which also acts as emulsifiers because they are lipids or an ester of long-chain alcohols and fatty acids. These usually have longer lengths of carbon chains. Hence a higher amount of temperature is needed for them to melt. Therefore, the absence of wax in the ingredients keeps the beard oil from solidifying.
On the other hand, beard balms contain essential oils that are also present in beard oils. But the difference lies within what kind of oils are used. Oils contain mostly saturated fatty acids, and the higher the number of saturated fats, the more chances the oil will solidify.
Oils with high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, like Sunflower Seed, Olive, and Castor Oil, are excellent carrier oils because they remain liquid at room temperature. Meanwhile, Coconut Oil is a favorite among balm makers because it has a high amount of saturated fatty acids and has a lower solidifying temperature.
Is Beard Balm Better Than Beard Oil?
After establishing the significant differences between beard balm and oil according to science, it’s time to clear the table and serve what the beard community has to say.
So, for the bearded gents, when it comes to beard oil vs. balm, which is better? We took a deep dive into several of your favorite forums, including Badger & Blade, r/BeardTalk, and more, and here’s what we found out:
Beard oil is more lightweight
For many gentlemen, the consistency of beard oils is more lightweight. It is absorbed into the skin much faster than the balm. Hence it feels like you applied nothing after. Plus, it only takes a drop or two to do the job.
Balms are harder to brush in
Some men opted out of using beard balms because they felt like it was too thick and difficult to brush into their manes. However, these same men agree that the job gets easier when using a beard balm with natural and organic ingredients.
Shorter beards do fine with oil
Beard oils are more effective for nourishing shorter beards, according to Reddit user macgarthur, and several users agree with him. The reason behind this is pretty straightforward.
The oil’s consistency is easily absorbed. If you apply it on thicker, fuller, and long beards, the nourishment will most likely be concentrated at the tips of the hair, and only a few will go towards the skin underneath.
The hair benefits more from beard balms
In the same Reddit thread, macgarthur notes that beard balms are more beneficial to the hair. He says, “[it] does more for the hair than the skin and oil more for the skin than the hair. A quality balm [will] nourish the hair so it doesn't draw and wick away as much oil from the skin,” which makes perfect sense.
With that, beard balms work wonders for longer and thicker beards. The wax offers a stronghold that tames and keeps a beard perfectly in style. Meanwhile, the essential oils in the balm moisturize and condition the skin and the hair, therefore helping prevent beard dandruff and relieve itchiness.
Balms may crust during cold days
Here’s the thing about going through real-time experiences from real-bearded gents. You get firsthand experience, like some getting crusted balms on their beards during winter, which can happen especially if the balm is not correctly incorporated in the hair.
Just to be sure, use a beard balm with an ideal ratio of wax and oils with the right level of saturation of fatty acids to guarantee that your beard balm does not crust in winter.
When it comes to beard care, to each his own, they say. But if there is one thing that many avid fans of shaving and beard grooming agree on, natural and organic beard balms and oils work best to your interest.
The Solomon Beard Balm uses Carnauba wax, Beeswax, Safflower Oil, and Sunflower Oil for the base, guaranteeing a velvety texture and extra hold without shying away from its moisturizing properties. Meanwhile, the Solomon Argan Conditioning Beard Oil features the carrier oil trifecta, Coconut, Argan, and Babassu oils, among other essential oils that promote a strong and healthy beard while soothing irritated and dry skin.
Should You Use Beard Oil?
Keeping the hair moisturized is crucial to its health, wherever in the body may it be. That is why during the early stages of your beard growth, it is necessary to use beard oil.
But, who should use beard oil?
Since oils work best for shorter beard length, men with stubble and growth up to 1” - 3” can have enough conditioning and nourishment from using only beard oil. The skin tends to feel itchy at this stage and needs a fast-acting solution like an easily absorbed product, such as beard oil.
Beard oil also works excellently with thin and wispy beards. This beard covers all the necessary areas on your face but lacks opacity and volume. Therefore, beard balm is not advisable because it will weigh the hair and make it sleeker and thinner.
How to use beard oil
Using beard oil can be tricky as some men like to go overboard. The rule of thumb is to start small and add more as needed. Below is a quick guide:
- Wash and clean your hands dry before the process.
- Put one drop of beard oil on your palm.
- Rub your palms together to warm the oil gently.
- For stubbles, apply the oil by patting and pressing gently on the area. For medium growth, pat the oil on the beard and brush using the tip of your fingers.
- Once your hand feels dry and not sticky, the oil has successfully been incorporated into your skin and beard.
Always start with a single drop of oil and repeat the process by adding another drop until you get the texture you need.
Should You Use Beard Balm?
When your beard length goes beyond three inches, using beard oil is no longer enough. The further along you are in your beard journey, the more necessary it is to use a beard balm.
For men with medium beards, or 3” to 12” of growth, applying beard balms will offer more nourishing properties as it slowly conditions the skin and hair. It is also great if you have patchy beards because the balm will coat the beard, making an illusion of a fuller beard.
Meanwhile, coarse, curly, and aging or grey beards are all more susceptible to being dry. If you have any of the three, smothering your beard with the right amount of balm will keep the hairs nourished properly.
How to use beard balm
How much beard balm you use and how to apply it varies on your beard length and whether you want to style or just moisturize the beard. Below is the most straightforward way to use a beard balm:
- After taking a shower or washing your beard, dry it with a towel and remove the excess water.
- Ensure that your hands are clean and dry before scooping a small amount of the balm using your fingers.
- Warm the balm using the tips of your fingers until slightly melted.
- Brush through your beard while also letting your fingers glide over the skin underneath.
- Use whatever is left on your fingers to put some stray hairs in place and style your beard accordingly.
You can watch the video below to have a click glimpse on how to apply a beard balm using the beard balm from Naked Armor’s Grizzly Beard Kit:
Benefits of Moisturizing Beards
The American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) said that damaged hair breaks easily, leading to frizzy, dull, and unhealthy-looking hair. The same applies to your beard. Damage hairs on your beards diminish their shine and make them coarse and shabby. That is why AAD recommends using conditioners to keep the hair properly moisturized.
Using moisturizing products like beard oil and balms prevents the skin under your beard from becoming dry, flaky, and itchy, making your beard feel dry and prickly, says board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Anthony Rossi, MD, FAAD.
Dr. Rossi recommends using a beard product with added sun protection. Naked Armor’s Solomon Men’s Grooming Kit features ingredients, like Tamanu and Safflower Oil, with UV-shield properties.
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