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Does Beard Balm or Beard Oil Cause Acne?

In recent years, many beard care products have been introduced, and with that comes confusion about their effectiveness and how they impact your skin.

Given that many products are produced by startups, testing and research are limited, resulting in potential side effects for men of specific skin types.

We’ll look at how to read an ingredient list and what to look for when buying beard care products to prevent breakouts.

Common ingredients in beard care products that may cause acne

The base ingredients for many beard conditioning products include butter, waxes, and oils. Butters and waxes can provide hydration and nourishment, while oils can provide additional shine and conditioning.

Each beard conditioner often contains many different oils, including jojoba oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, castor oil, and grape seed oil. These ingredients have different properties and levels of comedogenicity or pore-clogging potential.

Here’s a table of common ingredients in beard care products and their comedogenicity rating:

IngredientsComedogenic Rating
Almond Oil2
Aloe Vera0
Apricot Kernel Oil2
Argan Oil0
Avocado Oil2
Castor Oil1
Cocoa Butter4
Coconut Butter4
Coconut Oil4
Emu Oil0
Grapeseed Oil1
Hemp Seed Oil0
Jojoba Oil2
Lanolin Oil1
Mango Butter2
Mango Seed Oil2
Shea Butter0-2
Shea Oil0-2
Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol)2
Wheat Germ Oil5
Safflower Seed Oil0
Pear Fruit Extract0

How to read an ingredient list

Luckily most beard care products have less than ten ingredients, so you don’t have to be a chemist to make an informed decision. All you need to do is learn to read an ingredient list.

When reading an ingredient list, note the comedogenic rating of each ingredient. If you have oily skin or skin subject to breakouts, you want to avoid any ingredient with a rating of 3 or higher. A rating of 3 or higher has been linked to pore blockages and potential acne.

On the other hand, if you have dry skin, products with higher ratings are a good choice as they can provide more hydration and nourishment.

What does the rest of your skincare routine look like?

man washing face with light stubble beard

Aside from regularly cleansing your facial hair, just because you are growing a beard doesn’t give you a free pass to ignore the rest of your skincare routine. Poor hygiene and a lack of proper skin care can lead to breakouts, even if you are using beard care products.

Make sure that you are using a gentle face wash to cleanse your skin and applying a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. If your skin is prone to acne, we recommend using a mild, non-comedogenic face wash with salicylic acid or glycolic acid to help prevent breakouts.

Exfoliating your skin is also important, as it helps to remove dead skin cells and excess oil, allowing the products you use to absorb better into your skin.

Are you sure it’s zits and not something else?

It is well documented that essential oils in skincare products can cause sensitivities and irritations, and this can also happen with beard care products. If you are experiencing itching, bumps, burning, or any other irritation after using a beard care product, it’s best to discontinue use until you can pinpoint the cause.

It is also possible that the “zits” under your beard are folliculitis, which is an inflammation of the hair follicle caused by bacteria or fungus. If you have any doubt about the cause, we recommend speaking to your doctor for a diagnosis and the proper treatment.

Other factors that may cause beard acne

Aside from the products you are using, there are other factors that can lead to breakouts, such as stress and hormones. Making sure that you are getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet are important in keeping your skin healthy.

Additionally, try not to put your hands near your face too often, use a clean hand towel when pat drying your face, and make sure to thoroughly wash your beard before bed. Lastly, be sure to change your pillowcases often, as oils from your skin and hair can build up on them and transfer back onto your skin while you sleep.

Suggested beard oils and balms for oily skin

Here are a few non-comedogenic beard oils and balms that we recommend (the number in parentheses next to each ingredient is the comedogenic rating of that ingredient):

Viking Revolution Beard Oil

While not marketed as a beard oil for oily skin, this offering by Viking Revolution contains only three ingredients: jojoba oil (2), argan oil (0), and sandalwood seed oil (2). It’s simple, effective, and non-comedogenic. It also has a nice scent that isn’t overpowering.

GRAVE BEFORE SHAVE Tequila Limon Blend Beard Oil

Nothing like a little tequila limon to start your day. Containing sweet almond oil (2), apricot kernel oil (2), jojoba oil (2), grapeseed oil (1), argan oil (0), and essential oils, this beard oil won’t clog pores and will leave your beard smelling like a nice summer day.

Burt’s Bees Conditioning Beard Balm

It’s hard to find a beard balm that is non-comedogenic, but Burt’s Bees has done it. This balm contains the following ingredients: olea eupoaea fruit oil (2), beeswax (0-2), fragrance, cannabis sativa seed oil (0), safflower seed oil (0), aloe barbadensis leaf extract (0), pear fruit extract (0), coumarin, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitronellal, and limonene.

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few common questions about beard care products and acne:

Does growing facial hair cause acne?

No, when you grow a beard, the hair follicles and skin doesn’t change. However, what does change is the skincare routine that you should follow and the types of products you use on your face. This problem becomes compounded because you can’t necessarily see the areas under the hair, which can lead to a build-up of dirt and oil, leading to acne. So be diligent about your skincare routine and make sure to wash your face and beard regularly.

Are there any beard care products that may prevent acne?

While some companies may claim that their beard oil or balm may reduce the risk of acne, there is no scientific proof that these products do anything to prevent breakouts. With that being said, some beard care companies may make non-comedogenic formulas that may be better suited for those with acne-prone skin.

What if the beard oil or balm has only one high-rated ingredient?

If there’s only one high-rated ingredient in the product, we recommend erroring on the side of caution and not using the product if you have acne-prone skin. The reason is that the oil from that single ingredient is likely still enough to cause an excess of oil on the skin, which could result in breakouts.

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.

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