Beard Balm

BEARD BALM

​So you've decided to take the plunge, stop shaving, and grow a long, manly beard. But now you've got to look after it. Innately, you figure that you can't just leave it the way it is. You're going to have to do something with it. After all, we wash and style the hair on our head, why would a beard be any different? Is there something like hair gel, but for your beard?

​So you've decided to take the plunge, stop shaving, and grow a long, manly beard. But now you've got to look after it. Innately, you figure that you can't just leave it the way it is. You're going to have to do something with it. After all, we wash and style the hair on our head, why would a beard be any different? Is there something like hair gel, but for your beard?

So you do a bit of research, check with your barber, have a chat with your dad, maybe ask the local lumberjack what he does, and you keep hearing the same thing. Beard balm and beard oil.

Before we begin: Our best beard balms

Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-in conditioner Review

Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-in conditioner Review

Major Beards's Overall Rating

The single best beard balm we've ever seen. Honest Amish's beard balm is made of 100% natural products, with a pleasing earthy, almost sweet smell that's subtle enough not to be overpowering.

It does everything you need a beard balm to do. It's a great moisturizer, cures beard dandruff fast and completely, and comes with a massive variety that covers just about anything you might want.

Scented or unscented, wax or balm, whatever you need, Honest Amish have you covered.

But don't take our word for it. Check out the Amazon reviews here or watch this Youtube review.

Pros

Cons

  • Most trusted beard balm in the world
  • 100% natural, organic ingredients, and a 100% recyclable, metal tin
  • Hand crafted in the USA
  • Can't use it if you're allergic to nuts

Scent

Price

Hold

Conditioning

Major Beards's Overall Rating

Smooth Viking Beard Balm Review

Smooth Viking Beard Balm Review

Major Beards's Overall Rating

Smooth Viking's beard balm is another of my personal favorites. It's far thicker than the Honest Amish, almost waxy, which gives you a really stiff, controllable hold, and use a lot less of the balm itself, making it pretty cost efficient.

Another huge reason to grab this is it's completely unscented, despite being all natural. So you're free to wear whatever aftershave you want without it clashing. Or just rock your natural scent. Whatever you want.

As an unscented beard balm, this can't be beat.

Pros

Cons

  • Really stiff hold
  • Completely unscented
  • All natural
  • Leaves significant residue in beard

Scent

Price

Hold

Conditioning

Major Beards's Overall Rating

Hoots Natural Beard Balm Review

Hoots Natural Beard Balm Review

Major Beards's Overall Rating

Hoot's beard balm is the best choice if you're a nature conscious man looking for a vegan safe beard balm. Using jojoba oil as its carrier, Hoots beard balm gives a great condition and leaves the skin soft and supple.

It's great value for money, as well. Not only do you get almost twice as much in the pot as you would with other brands, enough for a couple of months of regular use, they also throw in a free comb.

The scent did take a little getting used to. It was relatively neutral, but kind of earthy. Imagine lying face down on a log and taking a big sniff. It was easily covered by anything else I wore, though, so this isn't a big deal.

If you want to see our complete list of the best beard balms out there, you can read our best of review here

Pros

Cons

  • All natural, vegan-friendly
  • 3.5oz instead of the usual 2oz size
  • Comes with a comb
  • Scent takes some getting used to

Scent

Price

Hold

Conditioning

Major Beards's Overall Rating

So first off, what is beard balm?

A beard balm is a pomade conditioner designed to nourish, control and revitalise your beard.  

You know, all those words you hear on the girly, fruit smelling conditioner ads with girls showering in the jungle under a waterfall about all the things that are supposed to be great for the hair.

Trust me, though, until you've actually used a decent beard balm on your facial hair, you have no idea how good it feels. The difference in softness, in how it sits on your face, even in smell, is astounding.

See, for me, I realise I used to scratch my beard quite a lot, especially for the first few weeks where it was still growing in and pretty scrubby. Even when it got to a decent length, a few hours hard work or a particularly hot day and it'd feel scratchy as all hell.

After just a few days of using a decent beard balm, that stopped. It was weird. At first, I didn't realise what was different, but it clicked one day when I was sitting in my office idly stroking the side of my face as I stared at a screen full of figures, and I realised I hadn't touched my beard all day.

beard balm

My face doesn't itch and I don't care about smelling nice. Do I still need a beard balm?

Of course you do. At least if you care about keeping that beard you're growing in top condition. See, growing a beard is actually really hard on your face. At least for the first few months. You just aren't used to it, your body has to make adjustments. It drains your skin of the essential oils it needs.

You could even get dandruff. On your face.

Obviously, this is something we all want to avoid. And the single best way to avoid it is to use a solid beard balm to give your skin the helping hand it needs to adjust.

I'm sold. But what do I buy? Is there a difference between a beard oil and a beard balm?

First, the obvious. Beard oil is a blend of oils, and Beard balms are a pomade, a mixture of oils and thickening agents like beeswax and shea butter that leave it with a buttery or waxy texture, like a lightish hair wax. 

Beard oil is better when you've got a shorter, younger beard. Oils are generally absorbed quicker into the skin, and when your beard is still short you'll appreciate the lightness and delicacy that a great beard oil can offer whilst still moisturising everything that needs sorting. Because it's more readily absorbed into the skin, beard oil is actually a better skin moisturiser than Beard balm, and does more to fight the itchiness and dryness that can come with the first few weeks of new beard growth.

Conversely, Beard balm is far better suited for big heavy beards. Beards with thicker hair, dryer skin, or beards that are regularly exposed to the elements, harsh wind, rain and sun will want a good balm instead of an oil. The thicker consistency of a balm and the fact that it sits heavier on the beard means that it will be more slowly absorbed by your hairs and skin, offering longer and stronger protection for your beard and your face throughout the day.

Because it's a lot thicker, Beard balm is far better for conditioning and shaping your beard, meaning that using it alongside a good beard comb is the ideal way to get an unruly beard tamed and under control. As a bonus, a lot of Beard balms will make your beard look thicker and more luxuriant, just as part of the process of using them.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to start looking at using a Beard balm after about 3 months of growth, or when your beard is around 1 to 2 inches in length, whatever comes first. Before that, you'll want a good beard oil instead.

They both sound good. Am I supposed to use both together?

Yeah you can. But you don't have to. Like we explained earlier, beard oil is better for shorter beards and great for the skin and Beard balm is better for longer beards.

However, every beard is different, and I've got friends who look like they should be in ZZ Top and still only use beard oil every day, and only slap on a Beard balm once or twice a week, when everything starts to get out of control.

You could also use a Beard balm in the morning and beard oil at night before you go to bed, or any other variation that strikes your fancy. 

The important thing is that everyone's beard is different, with different needs. The best thing to do is experiment. What works for me might not work for you, so it's best to grab both and try out different variations.

Beard Oil vs Beard Balm, what's best for me?

See above, love. Beard oil and Beard balm are both great, and they're both going to do the job you need them to do. But again, beard oil is great for shorter, more controlled beards and a better moisturiser. (If that's what you've got, go here for our recommendations) Whereas beard balm is exceptional for controlling longer, more rugged, rural looking beards.

If you're interested in learning more about beard oils, follow this link to our guide on the best beard oils for men.

What are the benefits of beard balm?

There are so many benefits to using a Beard balm that the difference it makes is like night to day. 

First, using Beard balm regularly moisturizes and softens the hairs that make up your beard, as well as the skin under and around it. This is fantastic, as a lot of guys suffer with really dry skin and dry, brittle beards.

Second, the dry skin leads to beardruff, beard dandruff, which feels disgusting, looks disgusting, and generally is disgusting. Beard balm stops this dead at the source.

Third, Beard balms help to style and hold your beard, especially if you grab a balm with a high wax content.Fourth, balms make your beard look better. Most balms will make your hair look shiny and glossy, and add weight and thickness to a beard.

Lastly, the act of regularly brushing a Beard balm into your beard keeps it clean and healthy, and teaches it to grow more in unison, which will teach your beard to stay just the way you want it over time.

I'm sold. Where can I get beard balms?

You should be able to get Beard balm at any good chemists or pharmacy, but like a lot of guy stuff it's seen as quite a niche product, so if they do have Beard balms, they probably won't have much of a choice.

I'd always recommend having a look online first, as you're going to get a much better selection, and you can see pretty much everything out there before you settle on a product.

If you are going online, there are a lot of specialty sites out there that focus on beards and beard based products, (you know, like this one...) but the single best place to look for your Beard balms and other products is Amazon. It's where I get almost all of my stuff, purely because the selection is bigger than anywhere else on Earth and the sheer convenience of having it delivered to my door the next day can't be beat.

I've bought my balm, and got it out the box. So how do I use it?

Calm down, lad. I know you're excited to be joining the real man's club, but you gotta get this right. Luckily, using Beard balms is actually really simple, and after you've done it once or twice you'll have the technique down. 

First, thoroughly wash and dry your beard, preferably using an all natural soap or shampoo. (It's best to use a dedicated beard wash because shampoos designed for your hair have harsh chemicals in them that can upset the balance of your beard.)

Next scrape a small portion of the Beard balm out of the tub. You're going to need an amount of balm between the size of a pea and a dime.

A lot of balms are quite solid in the tub, so some people find it easier to scrape the balm out with the back of a fingernail. When you have the amount you need, rub it around your hands to soften it up and work it into your fingers.

Starting from the bottom of the neck and working up and inwards, rub the Beard balm into your beard. Make sure you focus on working it deep into the skin underneath your beard and not just coating the surface hairs.

Once the balm is all worked in, run your hands or a comb through your beard to make sure you haven't missed anything, and to help condition your hair to run the same way.

One of the major things when using a Beard balm, or even a beard oil, is to make sure that you aren't using too much. Too much balm stops it from soaking into your hairs and skin, which will overload your pores. This can lead to greasier skin and in some cases outbreaks of acne. Of course, you're going to have to really overdo it to cause this, but it's something to watch out for. 

Is beard balm a beard conditioner?

Uhh, depends. There is a thing called beard conditioner, or sometimes people call it beard shampoo. That's something entirely different, you use it in the shower to wash and clean your beard. Once your beard starts to get long, you're definitely going to need some of this. At least, unless you're looking at keeping half of last night's dinner stored in your beard like a hamster's cheeks.

We've got a guide to beard conditioners, so feel free to check that out.

However, one of the major benefits of Beard balm, on top of the fact that it will make you smell better and look amazing, is the fact that it conditions your beard and the skin underneath it, softening, moisturising and fighting against the dreaded beardruff. (That's beard dandruff if you didn't know. And yes, it's as gross as it sounds.)

See, your skin produces oils to keep you protected and lubricated, this is why your hair gets greasy after a hard day of working and sweating. It's a protective measure. Problem is, once you start growing a magnificent mound of facial hair, that sucks up a good portion of the oils that would normally go to hydrating and protecting your skin, so the skin under and around your facial hair gets dry and flaky.

Thankfully, a good Beard balm provides everything that your face needs to get back to tip top order, so a few days or regular use will fix all that.

If your face needs serious conditioning, you're going to want to look for an all natural beard balm, like the Honest Amish we recommend above. All natural beard balms are actually safe to leave in all day, so will continue to provide moisture and protection until you next wash your beard.

When is the best time to use my beard balm?

You're going to want to use your Beard balm once a day, and the absolute best time to use it is after you've dried yourself from your morning shower or wash, when your hair and skin are slightly moist, but not soaking wet.

I've been using this for a couple weeks, and I can't help wondering what's in it?

You aren't the only one. In general, there are three main components in a beard balm: Carrier oils, essential oils, and a stabilizing agent. 

What's a carrier oil?

Carrier oils are the active ingredients in the balm. The part which actually conditions your skin and softens your beard. They're also exactly the same oils used in beard oils.

Because this is the most important part of a Beard balm, it's not unusual to find Beard balms that only have carrier oils, and no essential oils, especially if they're unscented.

There are three carrier oils commonly used in beard balms;

Grapeseed oil: Extracted from grapeseeds (amazing, right?) Grapeseed oil is fantastic for the skin, and specifically doesn't clog pores, so its great if you suffer with oily skin or acne.

beard balm

Sweet almond: Sweet almond oil is crazy high in vitamin E and proteins, which makes it fantastic for rebuilding damaged hair and skin cells. If you're outside a lot or exposed to harsh weather or the sun, sweet almond balms are perfect.

beard balm

Jojoba: Just as great for the skin as the other oils, jojoba is the closest oil to natural skin oils, so it's by far the least allergenic. If you have problems with allergies or skin rashes, you'll want a balm with jojoba as the carrier oil.

beard balm

If carrier oils basically do everything, what are the essential oils for?

Essential oils, (yeah, the same kind that kooky aunt keeps in her cupboard) add scents to your balm. Because they're so overpowering, essential oils almost always make up less than 1% of your balm.

Essential oils can also add small amounts of vitamins and minerals to the blend, which obviously contributes to better beard health.

And a stabilising agent?

Like we said earlier, the oils used in beard oils and Beard balms are normally identical, but balms use waxes and butters as a carrier to help the oils soak better into thicker beards and do their job.

The wax used is normally beeswax, because it's natural and healthy. This works exactly like a hair wax, so it gives your beard a bit of stability and hold. The more beeswax in the balm, the thicker it will be and the more hold it will give, so if this is something you're looking for, check out balms with a higher percentage of beeswax.

The butters are there to give body to the balm without making it as thick as tar and impossible to spread. A good number of balms, at least that we recommend, use Shea Butter as a main ingredient, which by itself is fantastic for the skin, on top of providing hold for your beard. It also smells pretty damn good into the bargain

So why am I getting dandruff on my face, and how do beard balms fix this crap?

Sucks, don't it. Bane of my life too.The science is pretty simple. At the root of every one of your hairs you have sebaceous glands that produce oil. As your beard gets longer, your sebaceous glands can't create enough oil to keep your whole face moisturised, as the hair wicks that oil away from your skin, which leaves your skin dry and flaky.

So it stands to reason that if you're going to fix this problem, you need to replace these oils.

Now, when you first started getting beardruff, you might have done what a lot of guys did. Picked up an anti-dandruff shampoo from your local mall and thrown it on.

It probably made it worse, right? Yeah. This is a terrible idea. Whatever you do, don't use anti-dandruff shampoos on your beard. They're not designed for your poor, sensitive skin, and they're full of harsh chemicals that actually dry your skin out further. 

However, the carrier oils used in Beard balms and beard oils are very similar to the oils produced naturally by your face and help to replace the oils lost as you grow a thick beard. This means that not only are they better on the skin, but they're better in general. So if you start to suffer from beardruff, just apply a little more balm in the morning and it'll soon fit itself up.

Do beard balms do anything else?

As it happens, they do. First off, Beard balms naturally soften up your beard, and let me tell you, the other half is very happy about this. After all, much as she loves me with a beard, it's pretty hard on her poor, sensitive skin. You try kissing some wire wool and see how much you like it.

Regular use of a good Beard balm will soften up your hair follicles, and keeping the skin underneath nourished and moisturized also contributes to a softer, more comfortable face.

Regular brushing, which you should be doing if you're using Beard balm regularly, tends to train the beard to lie flatter and become less bushy, so if you're one of these guys who has a beard that defies control and you'd prefer something with a bit more style, using a Beard balm, especially a thicker more waxy balm, will give you that hold you desperately crave.

I've just found a 'beard butter?' What's that?

Well, the answer is simple. Beard butter is literally a Beard balm but without the beeswax, so it only uses a butter as a stabilizer. What this means is it's still just as simple to rub into your face and provides the same great effect to moisturize the skin and condition your beard, it will have pretty much no effect if you want to style or shape your beard.

They're a great product, and another option instead of using a good balm. You can find our guide on beard butters here.

So should I use beard balm with other products?

Definitely. Like we said earlier, Beard balm and beard oil focus on different things, so it's perfectly reasonable to use both. I personally use a beard balm every morning and a beard oil most evenings, or whenever I feel any itchiness or dryness on my skin or beard. 

As we've said before, everyone has different skin, and everyone's beard needs a different approach, so the single best thing you can do is try out both a good beard oil and beard balm and see what your face deals best with

Can you use a beard brush or comb with your beard balm?

Damn right you should. A good beard comb is a great investment anyway, what with it helping ta tame and shape errant hairs, so I'd recommend any man with a half decent beard grab themselves a good beard comb or beard brush.

The single best time to comb your beard is when you've just applied a beard balm. One, the balm will give more weight to your beard, which makes it so much easier to unfrizz the fuzz and get out those knots and tangles that life just keeps giving you.

Second, the balm makes it easier for your comb to get through your hair, especially if you've got crazy thick hair like me. Not only does this make combing your beard so much easier, it reduces the amount of broken hairs brushing it will get, keeping your beard thick and luscious.Lastly, beard balms help to tame a beard, so if you're looking for a style, it's like putting hair wax in your face hair.

Just in case I gave you ideas, don't ever put hair wax in your beard. Seriously.

beard balm

Conclusion

​So there you have it. You now know more about Beard balms and how to use them than probably 99% of men. Use this knowledge wisely. Look after your beard, and your beard will look after you. And if you see another man struggling with his facial hair, spread your new found wisdom. And don't forget to point him our way afterwards.

If you want to see our complete list of the best beard balms out there, you can read our best of review here

Any Other Questions?

We've attempted to answer all the questions we've been asked over the years, however if you've got a question that you want answering, please ask it below or contact us diectly via our contact form here.

Loved the article? Why not check out more of our beard articles or if you want, you can see more from beard product reviews

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Beard Balm
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Beard Balm
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Major Beards complete Beard Balm guide, everything you ever wanted to know about beard balm and what beard balm is best for you.
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Major Beard
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