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Beard Oil vs Beard Balm: Which One Is Better For You?

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Joe Niehaus
Expertise:

Style, Skincare, EDC, Fitness, Shoes

Joe is world traveler and brand fanatic. He's been writing about physical goods and the founders behind them for over four years. Beyond his work for The Adult Man, he's contributed to The Quality Edit, Business Insider, Men's Health, Travel + Leisure, and more. He's been around the block, taking his goods across the world to countries like China, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Dubai, France, and Mexico. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Mar 25, 2024
9 min read
Beard Oil vs Beard Balm Man With Red Beard Looking Sideways

Regardless of what type of beard you have, keeping it well-groomed is a necessity.

Beard oil and beard balm have a lot of similarities, but knowing when to use which is essential for maintaining your facial hair.

What’s the Difference Between Beard Oil and Beard Balm?

Guy with dark long hair and a beard holding his head with his hand

Men are hairy beings. While a proliferation of facial follicles and thick lettuce up top may be a good thing, the more you’ve got, the more you need to take care of it. Beard oil and beard balm are two solid options for beards, big and small, but they have very different uses.

While both are excellent sources of moisture and conditioning, beard oil will stimulate healthy facial hair growth and leave a clean shine, while beard balm can add volume and help you style your beard into your desired shape. 

What Is Beard Oil and What Does It Do?

Beard oil is designed specifically for maintaining and enhancing the health and appearance of facial hair, particularly beards. It’s usually composed of a blend of carrier oils such as jojoba, or sweet almond oil and fragrances.

Beard oil serves multiple purposes but leans more on the side of conditioning the hair and the skin beneath, rather than styling. The bearded guys on our team have tried quite a few but have found the Utility Beard Oil from Beardbrand to have struck the best balance here.

Beardbrand Utility Beard Oil

Utility Beard Oil is Beardbrand's award-winning rejuvenating oil for beard, hair, face, and skin. It's formulated with natural abyssinian, jojoba, castor, and babassu oils, for a light shine and non-greasy hydration for beard hair and skin too.

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Conditions and Moisturises Your Beard

A beard oil, like the Utility Beard Oil from Beardbrand, will moisturize your face and your beard without weighing you down. A little goes a long way; it only takes a few drops to go through your entire beard, and you shouldn’t need to reapply very often. 

Generally made from carrier oils and essential oils, beard oils are naturally fragrant and will keep your beard from getting dry, stringy, and stiff.

The carrier oils are primarily responsible for the moisture, while the essential oils provide fragrance and antimicrobial properties, which help keep your skin and beard clean.

Can Promote Hair Growth

Healthy skin and hair mean healthy hair growth. When you keep your skin clean and clear of unnatural oils and dirt, your beard hairs can grow to a healthy length.

Think of it like grass. If your lawn is covered with excess dirt or mulch, it will come through stringy and patchy. If you deprive it of nutrients and minerals, it won’t grow thick and healthy. 

Beard oil is the healthy nutrients and minerals, while excess dirt on your face is, well, dirt.

There is no evidence, though, that beard oil will actually make more hairs grow on your face. If you’re seeing it sold that way, beware.

Imparts a Healthy Appearance and Shine

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Dry hair never, ever looks good.

While you don’t want your hair to look greasy or weighed down by moisture, it needs to have a subtle shine to look its best. Without it, it just doesn’t look healthy.

Beard hair is no exception.

Beard oil will help add a bit of shine to your beard, ensuring that it looks somewhere between wiry and slightly wet. You’ll know what I mean if you have hair on your head.

What Is Beard Balm and What Does It Do?

Beard balm, like Beardbrand’s Utility Beard Balm is made to condition, shape, and style facial hair. The key ingredients in beard balm typically include a combination of natural oils and beeswax.

Unlike beard oil, which is primarily focused on moisturizing and softening, beard balm has a thicker, waxier consistency (it often looks and feels similar to chapstick), making it a heavier product more suited to deep-conditioning and styling.

Beardbrand Utility Beard Balm

Beardbrand's original Utility Balm is back is great for anyone with a thicker beard or who wants a more intense conditioning treatment. It's made with natural ingredients (like shea and mango butter) and is versatile enough to double as a beard balm, hair moisturizer, and skin treatment too.

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Helps with Styling Your Beard

Have healthy beard hairs, but can’t keep them in check?

If this rings true, then a beard balm formulated for deep conditioning and control, like Beardbrand’s Utility Beard Balm, is for you. Thicker than beard oil, beard balm stays on the surface of the beard longer. This helps keep pesky flyaways at bay, and the extra weight of the balm helps your beard hold its shape.

Acts as a Leave-in Conditioner

Due to the butter-like nature of beard balm, it will naturally keep your beard moisturized for longer. If you want to hop out of the shower and apply one round of moisture to your beard, balm is the right option.

It takes longer to absorb into the hairs fully and will keep getting softer as time goes on. 

Can Add Volume

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If you’ve got long, thin beard hairs, you may want to thicken it up.

A balm will coat each hair, flattening microscopic kinks and tears, resulting in a thicker look and feel without any oiliness.

Should You Use Oil Or Balm?

There are no “beard types.” You could perhaps think of beards as thick or thin, but it’s not something you can change on your own.

While no amount of product will add actual hair to your face, there are ways to decide which is right for you and the type of beard you prefer to grow.

Why (and When) Should You Use Beard Oil?

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There are certain times when you’ll want to pick beard oil over beard balm or wax. This will come down to personal preference, but since there are indeed distinctions between beard oil and beard balm, you can keep these quick tips in mind. You should consider beard oil over beard balm:

  • If you want a lightweight conditioning treatment: If you feel that your beard is already thick enough, consider an oil to simply refine and condition your beard without the weight of a balm or wax. It also conditions your skin, too—add a few drops of beard oil to your hands after washing and massage it into your beard and your face. Your skin will thank you.
  • If you have a short beard that doesn’t require much styling: Just like short hair on the top of the head, a short beard requires less maintenance (and probably doesn’t need to be styled every day). A beard oil will provide a slight, pliable hold that will look natural without much effort.
  • If you want to add some shine: For those with a thick beard, you may just want something to add a bit of shine to your facial hair. Beard oil will provide just enough sheen without making you look like you just got out of the pool.
  • If you have a fine, thin beard: If your beard isn’t thick, on the other hand, it’s still best to go for an oil. Just a few drops will take care of each strand of hair, no bulky putty necessary. Apply too much thick product, and it’ll be obvious you tried to do something drastic—a beard comb-over, if you will.

Why (and When) Should You Use Beard Balm?

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Conversely, there are times when beard balm would be the better choice over beard oil. Here’s when you should opt for beard balm instead:

  • If your beard lacks volume or consistency: Not to be confused with a fine, thin beard, a beard lacking volume or consistency is one that could use some thickening to fill in the blank areas. Beard balm can do just that, thickening the individual hairs to give your beard a full, hearty appearance.
  • If you have an unruly beard that won’t stay put: If your beard hairs like to point every which way, pick out some beard balm and tame those puppies. The adding weight and texture of the product can give you a little more control over your beard.
  • If you have a long, coarse, or dry beard: Moisture will also make your beard less abrasive. The balm will slowly absorb into your beard, ensuring that coarse hairs feel softer and any dry spots are smoothed out. Plus, longer beards are harder to moisturize, because the further the hair gets from your face, the harder it is for oils to make it to the very tip of your beard. 
  • If you don’t like the feel of oils on your skin: Even the lightest and most non-greasy formulas like Beardbrand’s Utility Oilf you have oily skin in the first place, you may want a beard balm that doesn’t absorb as easily into your face and focuses on the beard itself. 

Should You Use Beard Oil and Beard Balm Together?

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What about combining two products? After using both the Beard brand utility oil and their utility balm together – I can confidently say yes.

Using the two products together can be really beneficial—especially if you have a longer beard. Just be sure to use a small amount of each, or else your face and beard could become greasy.

If you do want to try both, though, pick up the Best Sellers Bundle from Beardbrand and give ‘em each a go.

Beardbrand Bestsellers Bundle

Cover all your haircare bases with this bundle pack of top-selling products from Beardbrand. These products serve as an entire grooming routine for your beard, hair, face, and skin with just four highly versatile products. -it's highly simple but extremely effective. Everything you need in one pack.

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Conclusion

No matter your beard type, it requires routine maintenance to look and feel its best. Beard oils and beard balms are two of the best ways to take care of your beard—both have been on the market for hundreds of years (even though the formulas may have changed). 

In the end, the choice is yours, but either way, your beard will thank you. 

FAQs

Is beard balm or oil better?

Neither is better than the other, but one might be the better choice over the other based on the type of beard you have. Beard oil and beard balm each have their advantages, so use the tips above to decide which product is the right one for you. 

Does beard balm actually work?

Definitely! If you’ve got a patchy or dry beard and want to shape it or just keep it in check, beard balm is going to help you keep your facial hair looking smart.

Does beard oil help growth?

While keeping your beard healthy and conditioned will promote healthier growth, no product will actually stimulate growth of beard hairs that aren’t there already—don’t believe everything you read on the internet. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

Is beard balm the same as beard wax?

No, beard wax is almost exclusively for styling your beard. Beard balm will provide health and moisturizing benefits that wax does not.