There are hundreds of different beard oil and beard balms — with various uses and specific ways to make the most out of each. To understand which one you need and how they play well together it’s best to first discuss them individually.
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What is Beard Oil?
You probably know about beard oil already, but it’s best to go through it exactly to help you better understand beard balm too.
- A conditioning product that keeps your beard and skin fresh.
- Considered a ‘necessity’ in your beard grooming routine.
- Won’t offer you any styling benefits.
- Leaves a shiny finish to your beard.
- Can help your beard feel light and soft.
What Does Beard Oil Do?
Basically, beard oils are made up through carrier oils (to help with the actual conditioning aspect) and essential oils (to provide a scent) that have been specially blended together to help simulate what your face just naturally produces (i.e sebum).
By helping to supplement the natural oils with a beard oil you help give your beard (and skin, the foundation to your beard) the best possible conditions to thrive.
It’s basically helping to condition and hydrate your beard hairs providing them with the right nourishment it needs to stay strong and coats it to keep it protected (remember beard hair is a lot different to your head hair).
What Are the Benefits of Using Beard Oil?
Of course, it’s not just helping your beard either — it’s helping to keep your skin moist — being an oil form it’s better at penetrating the skin to ensure it’s kept fresh (and ‘feeding’ the inner beard, the hair that has yet to sprout).
All of this helps fights off the typical issues guys run into when growing their beard without grooming products: beard itch, dandruff, split ends and so on. Plus, it will actually give you a darn fine looking beard too.
Which Beard Oil Should You Use?
Of course, every single beard oil from different manufacturers is unique, varying oils with an array of scents. Even if a beard oil matched another with the exact same ingredients, the ratio of the ingredients could be different as well as the way it was brewed (making it a completely different oil).
With all this, one beard oil will offer varying properties from the next (as well as just how well it conditions on your particular beard — not all beards are the same either — so one beard oil might work better on another guy’s beard than your own).
When Should You Use Beard Oil?
Regularly applying a good quality beard oil (the right way) will keep your beard in better shape from a ‘health’ aspect. It won’t fix a scruffy beard as such but it will help to tame unruly hairs and give the look of a ‘properly cared’ for beard.
However, it is only one half of the formula to an aesthetically good looking beard, the rest comes from regular brushing, trimming and neatening the beard up.
Examples of Beard Oils:
What is Beard Balm?
What is Beard Balm?
When it comes to beard balm it’s not as easy to tie down an exact definition, as they vary depending on beard vendor. The way one beard manufacturer makes a beard balm will differ a fair bit to how another one will (even more so than beard oil).
Although balms effectively do both, they operate on a sort of scale that goes from conditioning to styling.
- Offers slight conditioning properties, won’t penetrate the skin as well
however holds in moisture.
- Tends to leave a matte type natural finish.
- Provides ‘hold’ so you can style your beard to rope in fly aways and sculpt a neat beard shape.
- Adds some weight to your beard.
What Does Beard Balm Do?
You can basically get balms that are mostly for conditioning purposes acting like ‘leave in conditioners’ where they are made up with a heavy focus of carrier oils to ensure the moisturizing aspect is there and then the butters and waxes help to conceal that moisture throughout the day.
Then you can also get balms that are meant for styling purposes, where there is heavier attention on the likes of beeswax — there is also uses of butters and oils, so they will have a moisturizing impact as well but aren’t the frontal purpose of the balm.
Again, like beard oils, they are made up with a range of different ingredients but the basic breakdown is a beard oil added with the likes of shea butter or cocoa butter as well as a wax (typically beeswax).
Tip: Making Beard Balm Easier to Use
If you are having difficulty scraping out the beard balm and is in general just proving a bit tough to actually work with, just leave on top of a switched-on radiator for a few minutes on in your trouser pocket — it should make it a little better to actually use).
Examples of Beard Balms:
What Are the Differences Between Beard Oils and Beard Balms?
Now you should have a clearer idea on the actual aspects of each product — how do they translate when caring for your beard.
Should You Use Beard Oil or Balm?
Pros of Using Oil:
A beard oil should pretty much be considered an essential product to make sure that your beard is properly cared for — providing the deep penetration of moisture. So regardless of whether you get a beard balm or not, you should be always be using a beard oil somewhere in your grooming regime.
Pros of Using Balm:
A beard balm will help to add additional moisture to your beard (and using a balm is certainly better than not using anything at all) but can’t penetrate the skin as well as or directly as a beard oil can. Plus, how much it does provide depends on the way the manufacturer has intended the balm.
That said, the advantage in this regard that the beard balm offers is that due to the butters and wax it helps to ‘lock in’ the moisture, so it can slowly release it and maintain it right throughout the day.
Which is why the beard balm vs oil debate is misleading — they actually can play very well together.
When Should You Use Oils vs Balms?
1. As soon as you have the plan to start growing a beard, start using beard oil.
Even if you are completely clean shaven because you will be ‘feeding’ the inner beard, injecting moisture into your skin. So the beard hairs, when they do sprout out from your cheeks, will be healthier than they would have otherwise.
2. With a beard balm give it at least a month or so worth of growth, so your beard scruff is at least an inch long. Where a beard oil will do both penetrate and coat your hairs to moisturize and protect them — a beard balm can only do the latter. It won’t do any harm applying it when it’s very short, but there’s no real advantage either.
How to Use Beard Oils and Balms
Despite one being a liquid and the other being a sort of solid (although beard balms break down quite quickly), they actually have very similar ‘usage’ guidelines
- Drop some beard oil into your palm/scrape some beard balm into your palm.
- Rub together with your other hand to spread and evenly distribute it.
- Work it right into your beard (using a massaging motion)
- Distribute it appropriately with the aid of boar bristle brush.
The only real difference in this regard is that the beard balm will need some extra to work to smelt down into liquid form for easy application. They can both be applied dry, but to take real advantage of a beard oil it’s ideal use is just after a warm shower.
Can You Use Beard Oil and Balm Together?
Yes, you can. However start slow when you are new to the beard game — otherwise you are likely going to get a high buildup of oil and balm smothering your face.
If you do try out using them at the same time:
- It’s best to start with the beard oil at the start, use about 2/3 rds of what you would normally use, then work that really well into your beard. Then take just a little bit of beard balm and then work that over the top.
- The trick is not to over go overboard and have your face covered in oil. Be sure to have a play around though with your beard and see what works out for you.
How Beard Oils and Balms Feel on Your Beard
If you work outdoors or are doing manual labor, you might find you prefer a beard balm as it doesn’t get as sticky when working the heat where the a beard oil can end up getting bogged down.
On the other hand, a beard balm can weigh down a beard. An oil will to keep your beard feeling light and fresh.
That’s why it’s worth at least trying out both, just to get a feel for both and what is the best fit of your face, style and hair texture.
When to use beard oil?
Whatever the size and state of your beard, you should use beard oil daily. If you have dry skin and beard, twice a day wouldn’t be a bad idea: once as you get up and once at night. In either case, beard oil is a must have product for your beard care routine.
When to use beard balm?
A beard balm can be used on an as needed basis. Whether that be every day or only on unruly beard days. Use it in the morning on workdays to help style and sculpt your beard. It will give you more control and help you look more presentable, giving you an extra edge that you can’t get with an oil.
Should You Use Beard Oil and Balm Together?
For sure. However, make sure you’re getting the most out of each. This is how to they can work well together:
1. Just before bed, grab a warm shower and pat dry your beard.
2. Add beard oil as your skin pores are more exposed, meaning better penetration for the beard oil.
3. Give your beard a quick comb through.
4. Leave the beard oil in overnight to do its magic and get all that deep conditioning and beard lovin’ so it will be on point — ready for the next morning.
5. If you wake up suffering from a serious case of a bad beard day, this where beard balm comes in. It will help to inject more moisture into your beard but also transform that scruffy beard into one that's at least half presentable.
6. Throw in a bit of mustache wax on the top lip rug for a bit of distinction and you're golden.
Note: Make sure the scent of the beard oil and balm (and any general beard products you are using) don’t conflict. For example, if you get a cedarwood beard oil, make sure you are getting a cedarwood beard balm too, using mixed scents just wrecks the smell of both.
Do You Really Need Beard Oil and/or Beard Balm?
Beard oil? Yes! You absolutely need beard oil to keep your beard in the best possible shape. Although you could try just using beard balm, it’s not going to sort out the full array of beard problems that beard oil can.
Beard balm? Maybe. It’s good to have but it’s not a necessity. If you are struggling with a rough beard or have a longer beard, then a beard balm could definitely help you look more polished.
Do You Use Beard Oil and/or Beard Balm for Short Beards or Long Beards?
Both short and long beards need oil. If you are just rocking a short beard, then you can certainly get away without using a balm, but it would be beneficial to make sure of it for sure. As your beard grows out though, arguably the need for a balm does increase at least from styling and ‘holding it together’ aspect.
So in all, make sure you do pick up a beard oil and if you are after some additional control with your beard as well as extra conditioning aspects then for sure consider picking up a balm to help out your beard some more as well.
Summary: What Do You Want for Your Beard?
If you have a beard, you definitely want to use beard oil. If you are committing properly to growing and keeping your beard, here’s what to do — regardless of where you are in the beard growth stage:
What do you need to start growing a beard?
If you have just started growing out your beard, literally from ‘beardless’ (or clean shaven), then just getting the oil to start with is good preparation.
Then as your beard starts to develop the flyaways, it would be then appropriate to invest in the related beard balm to work as a leave-in conditioner throughout the day as well as to tame back the frizz and unruly beard hairs. In all, giving you a super soft — well-maintained beard.
Want to care for your existing beard better?
1. Do a bit of research into beard oils — see what’s out there, considering your skin type, hair texture and beard goals.
2. See if there is an accompanying beard balm that goes alongside it, that’s produced by the same company and also has the same scent.
3. Use the products strengths (and weaknesses) to make the most of them for your beard.
For instance, if you know you want a shiny aesthetic to your beard, then applying beard oil in the morning is the best way to go about it.
If you want a more matte-natural (yet healthy looking finish) — you can apply beard oil the night before, so you are still getting the ‘deep conditioning’, that will give you a slight glisten for the following morning (a more diluted version anyway) and then use beard balm for a finish.
If you're new to owning a beard (or just want to take care of it better), consider investing in a beard kit which will have all the basics.