Understanding the difference between beard balm and beard wax can be confusing at first, given that they share the same ingredients.
In short, beard balm is a conditioner with some styling ability, whereas beard wax is a styling product with some conditioning abilities.
Below we expand on their core ingredients, how and when you should use one over the other, along with their compatible styling tools.
Beard Wax and Beard Balm Ingredients
Both beard wax and beard balm often contain only four categories of ingredients. Here’s what they do:
- Carrier Oils: Helps to nourish and moisturize the skin. Carrier oils are nearly unscented and have a slightly nutty aroma. Many beard waxes and beard balms contain one or more of the following – jojoba, argan, sweet almond, grapeseed, etc.
- Essential Oils: Added to beard balm and beard wax to provide a fragrance. Scents tend to skew masculine or earthy. Essential oils must be diluted with a carrier oil as the direct application can cause irritation or allergic reactions (source).
- Butter: Additional moisturizing and nourishing agent to compliment carrier oils. Typically with either be shea or cocoa butter. Butter helps to resolve dry skin.
- Beeswax: Added to beard balm and beard wax as a protectant and styling agent. Higher concentrations of beeswax allow for a stronger hold.
Concentrations of the above ingredient categories differ between both beard balm and beard wax. Here is a table comparing beard balm and beard wax ingredient compositions:
|Amount||Beard Balm||Beard Wax|
Which Should You Use, Beard Balm or Beard Wax?
While you can use both products together, that would often lead to unnecessary waste.
Consider using a beard balm if the following is true:
- If your beard feels itchy or dry
- If you live in a naturally arid climate (i.e., southwest)
- If you plan on growing a beard for the winter months
- If styling your beard is only somewhat important
- If your beard isn’t too unruly
Consider using a beard wax if the following is true:
- If your beard is unruly or has many wispy hairs
- If you need to make your beard look presentable (i.e., office setting)
- If you live in a moderate climate that isn’t too dry
Use the Correct Styling Tool for Your Beard
When using a beard balm, use a beard brush, especially one made from natural animal fibers. Natural fibers make for even product distribution. Using a beard brush with beard balm will help soften your facial hair while also producing fuller-looking results.
For beard wax, use a beard comb. Beard combs allow for better control when styling. We recommend going with a saw cut and hand-polished beard comb as it will have evenly spaced and smooth teeth.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.