Beard Balm vs. Beard Oil: The Definitive Guide

Beard Balm vs. Beard Oil

Incorporating beard care products into your grooming routine is a powerful way to improve the health of your facial hair, decrease irritation, itchiness, and damaged hair. 

The main question I receive from customers is, "What does beard balm and beard oil do?" and "Which should I pick?" when they're trying to determine whether they need a beard oil vs. beard balm.  Both help tremendously from the initial stubble stage to when you have a gorgeous mane.

Before we talk about which to choose, it makes sense to look at each in more detail.  There are a few things that these two have in common, so we'll go over that first to make things easier when deciding what's right for your face.

What is Beard Oil?

Beard oil is used to keep a beard soft, moisturized, and smelling great throughout the day.

The essential ingredient in a beard oil is a carrier oil. True carrier oils, like the ones in Otter Grooming Co. Beard Oils, are generally cold-pressed or macerated vegetable oils. They're named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin, and are necessary for diluting essential oils.  Essential oils are simply the oil of the plant from which they were extracted. They're generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam.

Beard oil should mostly be used on beards in the first 0-3 weeks of growth because it provides both hair and skin benefits. It's best to choose a beard care product with oils that most resemble the sebum our faces produce. These are lightweight and absorb faster into the hair shaft without leaving a residue. Plus, all the vitamins help sooth irritated skin, fight acne, and remove free radicals that cause aging.

Beard oil is simple, yet effective, for everyday needs, but it won't tame your fly-aways and unruly beard style quite as much as a beard balm. At the same time, it will still help more than not using an anything at all. 

How to Apply Beard Oil

how to use beard oil
  1. The best time to apply is after a hot shower, when your hairs are cleanest and softest; this is when they will most easily absorb the oil. 
  2. Dry your beard completely before applying any beard oil. Water will prevent the beard oil from being absorbed.
  3. Put 2-3 drops of beard oil in your palms (This will go a long way, and you can apply more later if needed). Spread it evenly in your palms and fingers.
  4. Brush your palms along the sides of your beard. Do the same down the front. Then bring both hands up through the bottom of your beard. Use your finger tips to coat the hairs on your mustache.
  5. Use a beard brush to evenly distribute the beard oil while setting the hairs back in place. Repeat this process once daily to keep your beard soft and conditioned.

    What is Beard Balm?

    As opposed to a beard oil, a beard balm will provide more hold for beard styling, taming fly-aways, and unruliness.

    The essential ingredient in a beard balm is a wax.  Beeswax, like the ones in Otter Grooming Co. Beard Balm, is a natural ingredient that has the most hold compared to shea butter and cocoa butter, which are more for spread than hold. 

    The reason beard balm controls facial hair so well is due to the hardening point of the wax, butter, and oil. Because the butter and oil are fast absorbing, once they're applied and cool off, the butter and wax invisibly harden around your hair, locking in moisture and providing a hold in the style you created. They do not make your beard feel hard like a hair gel would. They'll continue to do their thing regardless of whether of the outside temperature.

    How to Apply Beard Balm

    beard balm how to use
    1. The best time to apply beard balm is after a hot shower, when your hairs are cleanest and softest; this is when they will most easily absorb the oil. 
    2. Dry your beard completely before applying any beard balm. Water will prevent the oil from being absorbed.
    3. Scoop out about a thumbnail size amount out of the tin.
    4. Rub the beard balm into the palm of your hands until it is fully melted.
    5. 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. Rub beard back down and hand-style. 
    6. Complete styling with a beard brush to evenly distribute the beard balm.

      By now you should know whether you should be using a beard oil vs. beard balm, or both. 

      Personally, I like variety. That's why I opt for a beard oil set as a more intensive moisturizing treatment and use beard balm when my hair gets longer or it get's a bit colder out. It's all a matter of personal preference, but together they work wonders. Here's a nice little cheat sheet.

      Pros and Cons of Beard Oil

       + Great for beards with at least 0-3 weeks of growth,
       + Good for beards with over 4 weeks of growth.
       + Easily measured drops via dropper.
       + Fits most places for traveling.
       + Generally cheaper than beard balms.
       - Not as much styling hold as beard balm.

      Pros and Cons of Beard Balm

       + Great for beards with over 4 weeks of growth.
       + Great hold for styling.
       + Fits most places for traveling.
       - Melts in hot temperatures (such as traveling, left in hot car).
       - Easy to overuse for beginners.

      Beard Grooming Tip

      It's recommended that you only wash your beard 2-4 times per week to avoid it drying out.  Simply rinse with plain water with no soap. A shower is preferred over washing at a sink, but either works great.

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