Tools of Men is reader supported. We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Beard Balm vs Beard Wax: Which One Should You Be Using?

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 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:

AmountBeard BalmBeard Wax
Carrier OilModerateModerate
Essential OilModerateModerate

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.

Sean Miller

As co-founder of Tools of Men, Sean Miller has nearly a decade of experience in male beard and grooming care. He started the site in 2014 after discovering the lack of quality men’s grooming information online. He is a nationally recognized expert in hair, beard and skin care for men, and has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Vice, and more. He is also a frequent contributor to various online and print publications.

Sean Miller has dedicated his career to helping men understand the basics and fine details of proper grooming. He's traveled the world, testing products and learning from industry insiders to gain the knowledge he shares on Tools of Men. With a special focus on the trends, technology and products specifically designed for men he provides an educated, honest and informed perspective.