Your beard is getting longer, you're drawing admiring glances from men and women everywhere, but you're starting to get a little, well, uncomfortable.
Especially in the first few weeks of beard growing, your face can feel awful.
You're not used to the feeling of your beard, the added weight, and especially the heat. But you're also starting to get a little … itchy. You've probably drawn a couple of odd looks from people as you sit there idly scratching your beard without even thinking about it, your nails a noise like a wire wool on a blackboard.
You've asked around. Maybe thrown an idle comment at one of your more heavily bearded friends, because you don't want to sound like a beard novice. You've almost certainly Googled the answer, because after all, you're here. And you keep hearing the same thing. Beard oil.
But what is beard oil? What does it do? And does it really work? Read on to get the lowdown.
What is beard oil?
Short answer. Beard oil is oil. For your beard.
I know. Madness.
Long answer. Your face is packed full of tiny little glands at the base of every hair follicle that produce tiny amounts of sebum, or skin oil.
This oil keeps your face moisturized and healthy, and unless something goes wrong and the oil production kicks into overdrive, you'll never even know they're there.
But when you start to grow a beard, your beard hairs absorb the vast majority of the oil that's being produced. Your body can't adapt that fast, can't keep up, and so your skin starts to get dry.
Worse, once your beard gets long enough. (And in this case, long enough is far shorter than you might otherwise expect) there's not enough oil for your beard, let alone your face. So your beard hair starts to get brittle and fragile.
Beard oil acts as a supplement for your natural face oil, replenishing your skin's natural moisture, nourishing beard hair, keeping everything soft, healthy, supple and lots of other words you'd hear on a ladies moisturizer ad.
What does a lack of beard oil do? Why should I use one?
When you're looking at a beard oil, it's surprising just how much they actually do.
First off, there's the dryness issue. This is easily solved, and probably the major advantage of using a beard oil.
There's an easy way to check if your face is dry. Get up close and personal with a mirror and check. Examine the skin around your beard, especially in less traveled areas like around the 'stache. Pull some of your beard hair up and take a peek underneath.
If you see dry skin, or worse, flakes of dead skin, then you've obviously got dry skin and beardruff. Yeah. That means beard dandruff, and it's as disgusting as it sounds. Worse, you let that baby carry on, and it'll soon get out of control. Do you want to cause a snowstorm of dead skin every time you stroke your beard? Didn't think so.
Second, your beard probably needs nourishment. Growing a beard to be proud of is hard, men. Hair takes a lot of nutrients that your body might not otherwise have high amounts of, so slapping an oil that contains all of them and more on to your face is a great first step.
Third, beard oil actually works to help keep your beard clean. A lot of the ingredients in beard oils are natural cleansers and skin boosters. Slapping this stuff on your face every day will make a major difference.
Lastly, while your beard looks awesome and sounds so satisfying when you run your hand against it, it's a little rough to the touch and lacks in the scent department.
A beard oil will fix both of these problems, making your beard softer and more strokable, and if you buy a scented beard oil, it'll make you smell fantastic too, increasing the likelihood that your significant other will want to get a little closer. That's four of the five senses stimulated. With just one beard!
(If you want the full five, you're going to have to find a way to make it taste good by yourself. We ain't into that.)
How does beard oil work? Why should I use beard oil?
You've probably got a morning ritual. You wouldn't think about heading into work without washing your hair, so why would you leave your beard exposed to the elements, and not treat it with anything?
Your beard is the same. It needs the same level of care and attention that you lavish on the rest of your appearance, and if you're a man that likes to look his best, it's important to put the final finishing touches to your beard. After all, it's on your damn face. The part everyone looks at!
When you're discussing beard oil and how it works, you divide the ingredients into two parts: Carrier oils and essential oils.
Carrier oils are the base oil that your beard oil is built around. They're the biggest component of your beard oil, so it's important to make sure that you're getting something quality.
It's the carrier oil that's going to replace your natural skin oils, and there's an awful lot of variation out there, so you want to get the right stuff. We'd recommend one of three oils:
- Jojoba oil: All natural and used in high-end cosmetics for its skin healing properties
- Grapeseed oil: Heals the skin without clogging pores, and helps fight acne
- Argan oil: Moisturises, exfoliates and heals, argan is awesome for irritated skin, like razor burn
While essential oils only make up a minor part of your beard oil, that doesn't mean they're not an essential part of the mixture.
Essential oils do two things. They add a scent to your beard oil, because a lot of essential oils are the same stuff you see in hippy shops.
But they're also responsible for a whole cornucopia of minor vitamins and minerals that your face wouldn't see from any other source. And many of these can have a huge effect on beard health and growth.
We won't go deep into the science here, but if you're interested in learning exactly what's in your beard oil, and why, you can read our primer.
How do I use beard oil?
Beard oil is deceptively simple to use.
All you have to do is put a few drops on your hand, then spread them evenly on your beard and mustache.
For a light beard, a couple of drops is normally enough. Thicker, heavier beards might require four or five. But rarely more than that. You want your beard to be evenly oiled, and for the oil to sink in after a few minutes at most. If you spend the next hour feeling oily and oversaturated, you've used too much.
When you're applying the oil, try and focus on massaging it into the skin underneath your beard first. Your beard can naturally draw up the oil and moisturize itself, but if you don't apply the oil deep enough to be absorbed into the skin, then you're losing a huge part of the effect.
Try and distribute the oil evenly. There's no need to focus on specific areas. It's more important to make sure you're hitting every part of your face, so you don't end up with patches of dry, itchy, irritated skin.
If you've got a particularly large or bushy beard, we'd also recommend picking up a beard brush or beard comb. They're excellent both for taming a wild beard and spreading beard oil evenly through your magnificent mane.
Will a beard oil leave my beard feeling greasy or oily?
It shouldn't. Unless you're using too much, your beard oil should be absorbed within a few minutes, leaving your face feeling tight and refreshed.
If you do feel oily or greasy for a longer time after using your beard oil, there's two possibilities. One is that you're simply using too much. Like we just said, a few drops is more than enough.
The second is that you have naturally oily skin. If that's the case, you might want to use less as well. Try using one or two drops less than the day before. Just adjust as you go.
What about beard balms?
Yeah. Beard balms are great too, but because they're a little thicker, they tend to be better for men with larger beards or really dry skin, whereas beard oil can be used by any man, from a three day growth, to three years.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. Beard oil and beard balm go together like eggs and bacon, so we'd always recommend you get both, if you can.
Can beard oil cure beardruff?
Yes. It can. Beardruff is generally caused by dry skin, but can also be caused by a skin deficiency of some kind.
Either way, a good beard oil will fix that problem. And stop it coming back in the future.
How often should I use my beard oil?
Every single day. For best results, use your beard oil at the same time every day.
The best time to use it is after you've showered. Pat down your beard so it's damp but not dry, then apply your oil using the method we described earlier.
Your hair being damp will do two things. One, it makes the oil spread easier, because we all know how water and oil mix, right?
Two, it helps your face stay relatively moisturized, on the surface, which means you'll get the beard oil exactly where it needs to be.
The final thought
So, the million dollar question. Is beard oil worth it, and does it work? Absolutely.
It's a tool every single beardsman shouldn't be without, whether they're just making the decision to grow a beard, or they're weeks and months into the process and looking for help.
If you aren't already using a beard oil, it's time to up your game. Grab some beard oil from our recommended products list, and get started!