Balm or Oil? What does your beard want?

The number of products for our bearded brethren on the market has been growing rapidly and we often get questions about what product is best for them. Two of the main products that we get the most questions about are which is better, beard balm or beard oil and what is the difference? Well each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully the following will shed a little light on the subject.

Beard oil is a product that is used to condition and soften the beard hairs on your face. Good beard oils are made up of a blend of oils (such as Argan, coconut, evening primrose, grapeseed, hazelnut, kukui nut, marula, avocado, camellia, hemp seed, and jojoba) that are selected for their beneficial properties. Some oils focus on making hair healthy and softer, while others focus on balancing pH levels, and still others focus on skin health and sebum production.

Most times beard oil blends are also blended with essential oils to fragrance the product in a natural way which turns the beard oil in to sort of a beard cologne. Beard oils are great to use on all beards, both thick and thin, long and short, wild and neat.



In my experience I get the most benefit from my beard oil when applied after a hot shower or hot towel treatment when the beard hairs are relaxed and can absorb these great ingredients more readily. Beard oils condition the beard greatly but can leave the user with oily hands. Also if the user has sensitive skin or tends to be more acne prone, more care needs to go into selecting the proper beard oil. Oils like Kukui nut, Hemp seed, Marula, and Argan oil are great for hair but also absorb quickly so the skin does not stay oily.

I recommend anyone looking to grow a distinguished beard to try it with beard oils. It helps condition not only the beard hairs, but the skin as well and reduces the infamous “itchy beard” stage of growth.  Usually applied using only a few drops (3 to 8 depending on beard length and thickness) rubbed together in the hands and then rubbed into the beard followed by a boar hair beard brush after to make sure the oil is distributed properly and evenly. A good beard brush will be your best friend when growing your manly mane.


  • Smells great, like an extra manly cologne depending on the brand
  • Absorbs easily after a hot shower
  • Conditions both skin and beard hair
  • A little goes a long way
  • Works great for any beard size, shape, length, thickness, color, etc.


  • Can get expensive
  • Can be messy when applying
  • Can aggravate sensitive skin or skin prone to acne
  • Effects are not as lasting if the oil applied without the beard being pre-warmed


Beard balm is a product that is considered a leave in conditioner for the beard (although there are options out there which help with styling the beard, we will be mainly discussing just those that are for softening the beard). Typically it tends to contain oils similar to beard oils but also uses butters that will help to soften the beard and skin on your face and can also contain additional ingredients like beeswax or lanolin to thicken it up just a tad and give more control over the beard. Usually applied with the hands or by brush, this leave in conditioner is great and can be applied any time of day, but has the most benefit when applied after a hot shower or a hot towel treatment which allows the beard hairs to absorb the ingredients easier. Personally I find that beard balms are best for longer length beards or beards that tend to be thicker and coarser. A little balm goes a long way and I typically prefer to apply my balm with my boar hair beard brush instead of my hands. The beard brush does a great job of evenly distributing the product throughout the beard and gives my beard the well groomed look instead of the wild woodsman look and when finished my hands don’t feel oily or greasy. There is nothing more satisfying than a well-trimmed, well-kept beard.


  • Absorbed easily after a hot shower
  • Longer lasting effects when beard is not pre-heated
  • Tends to be cheaper than oils
  • Most are packaged in easy to carry tins
  • A little goes a long way
  • Works best on longer and thicker beards


  • Scent or fragrance may not be as powerful or long lasting as beard oil
  • May leave face feeling too greasy or oily with short, thin, or new growth beards due to extra butters and waxes used in most formulas



My advice to any and all bearded and fixin’ to be bearded gents out there is to experiment. Find what works best for you and your tastes. My beard care regiment includes both beard oils and balms and tends to be Portland General Store’s beard oil (any fragrance) after a nice hot shower in the morning and/or evening and I use my Beard Balm brand balm (Heavy Duty Naked or Heavy Duty Original) during my midday mini relaxation while at work. Whip out the old beard brush and beard balm, sit back and brush it a few times. Usually helps to settle down whatever may have gotten me riled up from the day and keeps the ol’ whiskers from going rogue.

Find what works best for you and may all your beards be plentiful and soft.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s