I often see these question a lot:
What’s the deal with beard balms? Are they really any different than say a beard oil? Are there any REAL benefits of using beard balm? Or is it a bunch of snake oil?
Here’s the deal:
If you have a beard, you should definitely be maintaining it properly.
How you go about maintaining could be a whole book in of itself!
You see, there are a plethora of beard related products available in the marketplace.
With products like beard oil, beard balm, beard wash, combs, brushes, etc, you would never initially think that just maintaining a beard would be so rediculous!
It’s just a beard after all, right?!
Well, I got news for you – some of these products are critical to making sure that your beard looks and feels its absolute best.
Let’s take a look at one of the products above: beard balm and discover the benefits it actually gives you.
First Off, What Are The Actual Products Contained In A Beard Balm?
Just about any beard balm you pick up off the shelf will likely contain these 4 core ingredients:
- Carrier Oil
- Essential Oil
In order to understand all the benefits you get out of a solid beard balm, its important that you understand what each one of these ingredients actually does.
First off the beeswax:
Beeswax in beard balm gives your beard a slight hold and styling properties to an extent. Unlike beard wax which gives you the ultimate hold that your beard can achieve, the beeswax in beard balm is only just a slight hold at best.
In addition to giving you a better hold on your beard, beeswax also helps to lock in the moisture given off by the other ingredients in the balm.
If beeswax is primarily for the hold, then the butter is for spreadability.
This isn’t your typical dairy butter that you may have in the fridge. Instead, the butter used in beard balm is usually along the lines of a shea or cocoa butter.
This stuff smells incredible.
Shea and cocoa add a couple layers of benefits when it comes to beard balm. First off, its extremely rich in moisture. Second only to carrier oils that I will cover next, butters help provide an ample amount of moisture for your beard.
This is critical, especially if you live in a cooler or dry climate. The butter in beard balm makes sure that your beard will remain healthy throughout the day.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, is that butters actually improve the spreadability of the balm itself.
Simply put, if butter wasn’t included in beard balm, trying to apply the balm would be an incredibly tough process and take a very long time for the actual wax to melt.
Next up on the core ingredients to beard balm is carrier oils.
Carrier oils are where you are getting much of the benefits of any decent beard balm.
Complimenting the butters used, a carrier oil will make your beard incredibly soft and healthy looking.
I will touch on the importance of why a soft beard is important below – but before I do that:
What is a carrier oil?
Carrier oils come from several different types of plants, the most common being jojoba (pronounced ‘ho-ho-ba’), argan oil, sweet almond oil, etc.
Also found as the core ingredient in beard oil, carrier oils core purpose is to only nourish your beard (there are guys that use just a straight up carrier oil in their beard and thats it!).
If its your first ever time using beard balm a great beginner carrier oil to look out for is either jojoba or argan oil.
Especially if you have very sensitive skin, jojoba in particular is just about as close of an all natural ingredient that you can use that closely resembles the natural sebum oil that your skin produces.
This greatly reduces any chance of having an allergic reaction – its generally recommended to do an allergy patch test before applying any new products to your skin on a regular basis.
Most manufacturers will list out their ingredients (if they I would recommend that you will want to steer clear as you will be applying this to your skin on a regular basis):
Last but not least critical component to any beard balm is essential oils.
Essential oils provide nearly all of the aroma to any quality beard balm.
Ranging from your typical woodsy scent all the way to scents like peppermint or citrus, essential oils make beard balm the incredible scent that it is.
That’s not to take away from the other ingredients however. If you have a balm with shea or cocoa butter, you will have that scent as an undertone too!
This begs the question: Are essential oils more than just scents?
In fact if you use a beard balm that has tea tree as an essential oil, not only will it smell terrific, but also tea tree is a completely natural antiseptic.
What does that mean for your beard?
If you suffer from acne, tea tree can be a great way to clear up your skin in an all natural manner. Here is a bit more detail outlined by the folks over at WebMD.
Furthermore, not only does tea tree essential oil treat acne, but it also has the tremendous benefit of treating beardruff as well.
Which reminds me…
The Single Biggest Benefit of Beard Balm is Treating Beardruff
After growing a beard for only a few weeks, one of the first thing you may notice (other than your manliness increasing), is this pesky thing called beardruff.
Don’t worry its totally normal for guys who grow a beard.
To understand beardruff – here is how it happens:
Your skin produces an oil called sebum oil.
This is sebum oil is naturally produced by your sebaceous glands.
As you can see in the picture above, the sebaceous glands are a finite size. When you grow a beard, it will suck up all of the sebum oil.
Sooner or later, depending how much sebum oil you produce, your beard will begin to outpace the sebum oil needed to stay healthy.
Why does this matter?
You see once you beard gets too long, it will start to dry out.
As with any area of your skin, once it becomes dry, your skin will begin to flake and become irritable. The longer the hair follicle the dryer it becomes, thus beardruff is born.
You may have noticed a common trend among 2 of the 4 ingredients (butter and carrier oil) listed above – its that they all did a great job in moisturizing your beard.
This is why products like beard balm and beard oil exist in the first place.
While they aren’t made of sebum oil, they do contain natural ingredients that most closely resemble the oil that your skin naturally produces.
As mentioned earlier, natures closest compliment to sebum oil is jojoba oil.
When you apply beard balm to your beard, you are layering on several different levels of protection.
First off the carrier oil will provide much of the hydration, then the butter will help that its evenly coated across the beard, and lastly the beeswax will help make sure that its encased within the hair follicle.
Benefits of Having a Soft Beard
While getting rid of beardruff is absolutely critical, are there any other beard balm benefits?
The answer to that is yes!
Beard balm does an incredible job of softening your beard.
Perhaps even better than a beard oil itself.
To note: if you want the ultimate soft beard, use a top rated beard oil in tandem with one of the best beard balms. Your beard will be at its absolute peak of softness and perfection.
So what benefits do you have with a beard feeling soft?
When you use beard balm, your beard will look and present a whole lot better. Instead of looking dry and frizzled out, beard balm will help make sure that your beard simply looks great.
So if you are going on an interview, attending a wedding, have a date night, or simply doing any thing that requires you to look your best – beard balm will help make your beard look great.
But looks are one thing, another benefit of having a soft beard is that it will prevent split ends from occurring.
This is a huge difference in your beards health and the second most important use of beard balm!
To further reduce occurrence of split ends its important that you do trim your beard properly.
Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but if you are serious about your beard and letting it grow longer, use shears instead of a beard trimmer.
Don’t get me wrong, beard trimmers are great, but when trying to maintain a longer healthy looking beard, beard trimmers only work to a finite length – usually around .75″ (or about 20mm).
Anything beyond .75″ you need to use shears as they give you a lot more control than a trimmer could ever provide.
Finally The Application of A Beard Balm
After talking about all the benefits of beard balm, I almost forgot about the actual application of it!
But its as simple as 1, 2, 3:
- First you will want to scoop out about a thumbnail size amount out of the tin
- With the balm scooped out, rub it into the palm of your hands until it is fully melted
- Once melted, you will want to massage it into your beard starting at the root of the hair follicle first and then gradually make your way to the end of your beard – this ensures that your beardruff will be nixed by keeping your skin and beard fully hydrated
Seriously that’s it for the application! It’s super simple to use and will make you look dapper in no time.
But don’t stop there – should you run a comb or brush through your beard?
Well it depends…
While The Benefits of Beard Balm Are One Thing – Proper Care Should Never Be Overlooked
As eluded to in the previous section, you can grow out your beard and have it looking great, however, maintaining should absolutely be never overlooked.
Split ends can be cure by a little clean up from a pair of high quality scissors.
But also using a beard brush or comb is also a critical part of the beard maintenance process.
With beard balm having beeswax as one of its 4 core ingredients, you have the ability to now give your beard a little bit of hold/styling abilities.
While I give a full breakout to the differences between a beard brush vs comb in this other post, here are a few of the highlights:
If you are going for maximum presentation and styling purposes, a comb is going to be better.
But not just any old type of comb, in fact, you would want to go with a quality comb from Kent (I wasn’t paid to plug this I swear)!
The difference between a Kent comb vs a drug store comb is that they are hand cut and polished.
This is a huge difference between the two.
When a comb is hand cut and polished, all the microscopic jagged edges between the teeth of the comb are smoothed out, therefore reducing the amount of pull, tugging, and tearing that will happen to your beard when you run a comb through it.
This will help the overall health of your beard and make it look great at the same time.
Oddly enough, a beard brush is used for a very different purpose than that of a beard comb.
Beard brushes, typically made of boars hair, will help ensure that your beard balm is evenly distributed across your beard.
Boars hair does a great job at trapping some of the oils within the balm into its bristles to ensure an even coat.
Another important difference between a comb vs a brush is that a beard brush will give your beard a much fuller look. Therefore if you have some patches in your beard and want to try and someone cover them (or make they appear that they blend it), a beard brush will help you out.
Where To Get Beard Balm?
Beard balm is available mostly online.
While you might be able to find the one off barber shop or boutique store near you, typically its best to hunt for deals online.
Another area where balms are sometimes available is also at your weekend craft show or flea market.
However, this can vary widely from city to city and availability is oftentimes sporadic at best.
You will find during your search, even at the most popular beard balm retailers, that the price is typically on the higher side for the boutique online stores- granted this is expected as most of the shops are small mom-and-pop outlets.
Personally one of my favorite places to check out beard balm is Amazon since it provides me a deeper selection and can easily compare one vendor to the other to determine the best balms.
It doesn’t end there though – if you are feeling adventurous check out our detailed guide on how to make it yourself! If you get good at it, you might be selling your very own beard balm for some beer money before you know it!
Is There A List of Best Beard Balms?
In fact we went over, in insane detail, of the very best beard balms available today.
We compared 4 of the most popular beard balms available in the marketplace today. Each balm was ranked on its holding ability, aroma, price, general effectiveness, and its overall performance.
Be sure to check it out and see which one will work best for you to ensure that you have a soft and healthy looking beard that will be the envy of guys everywhere.