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March 20, 2019
Looking for the ultimate beard oil guide? This should help you.
“Is beard oil a gimmick?”
“Is it really necessary?”
“Is it ‘even’ that good for your beard?”
Sound familiar? Before I ventured into beard oil myself, I asked myself those ‘very’ same questions (embracing the inner cynic), is it ‘literally’ some sort of snake oil?
I mean some of it ain’t cheap, you can easily be looking at more than £30 a bottle — so it’s only natural to consider:
i) what beard oil does (or at least claims to do i.e what benefits does it offer my beard) and ii) does beard oil work (and will it work for ‘my’ beard in particular).
That’s exactly what we are going to explore here today, granted I am an avid ‘user’ (been applying it pretty much daily for a few years) but I want this to be a relatively objective account.
Now before we delve straight into the benefits that beard oil offers, it’s better to firstly understand ‘what it actually is’ and how it’s comprised (i.e the ingredients).
They are basically a concoction made up primarily of carrier oils (for the conditioning aspects) and essential oils (that contribute mainly to the scent) that help hydrate your skin and mimic the effect of natural oils that occur on your face (mainly sebum).
Of course — you will have probably realised — beard oil has undergone somewhat of a huge ‘boom’ over the last few years (going somewhat side by side with the so called beard trend).
And it makes perfect sense.
Guys want to start looking after their beards — and the best way to do that, or at least one of the very first steps is to turn to beard oil (and we’ll look to ‘exactly’ why in just a second).
As we briefly mentioned above they mainly made up of:
i) Carrier Oils
This is what makes up the majority of the entire oil — and is what acts to actually ‘condition’ and help your beard, giving your beard the needed hydration and nutrition.
Why it helps out your beard?
Your face naturally produces sebum (amongst some other oils) and this is what’s helping to keep your face hydrated (and protects your skin from growing dry). However, when you start growing a beard?
Those natural oils that your face was producing — start to get absorbed by your beard hair — as a result, there tends to be a ‘shortage’ for both your skin and beard. This is where the carrier oil comes into play, basically to help supplement (and in some cases regulate the oils on your face).
It’s as much a skin product as it is a hair product in many ways.
This helps to obviously prevent your beard and skin from going dry, which if it does, can see you run into an array of beard problems from beard dandruff (where dead skin cells fall from your beard), split ends in your beard (and general shedding and breakages) as well as just an unpleasant untamed rough scraggly beard — if you’re not using beard oil, probably one like you are wearing now.
Common Carrier Oils:
There are certainly a few usual suspects you will see amongst beard oils, the carrier oils tend to be:
As you might have guessed, it’s extracted from coconuts and the benefits it offers are pretty impressive, to say the least. It’s a light oil that will act to not only make your beard softer, look shinier but is effective at penetrating and hydrating your skin too.
Not only, that there have been studies looking to the oil actually minimising hair damage too.
Hailed as a “super oil”, this stuff is pretty much epic for your beard. It’s super high in Vitamin E so provides a heavy amount of natural nutrition a beard needs to thrive. Plus, what it works with the natural oils your body produces, showing to help provide stabilise sebum levels.
It’s great for your skin too, reducing inflammation, provides a natural deep moisturiser ensuring your skin feels softer and smoother (ensuring you don’t have to contend with beard dandruff) as well as generally blemish free.
Another oil that is packed with a range of nutritional aspects that your beard is going to love with the likes of copper and zinc which are naturally great for your hair (acting as protectants). Again, it’s also pretty great for keeping your skin on point too, by acting as a long-enduring moisturiser that can last as long as a day since applying it.
Produced by pressing the seeds of castor oil plants that produces a pale yellow and rather viscous vegetable oil that’s incredibly good for your skin, a natural moisturiser that helps fight against aging and removes the gunk from your pores.
However, the most interesting aspect, certainly in terms of beards is the fact that it can potentially help stimulate beard growth. Now, there’s not study to say that it has a direct impact — rather the case it’s more likely to help supplement your beard to grow darker in color tone as well as become slightly thicker.
There are a lot more too.
ii) Essential Oils
Although they do actually contain beneficial properties of their own, their primary use is for the ‘scent aspect’ of the beard oil.
And there are literally hundreds, upon hundreds of different essential oils out there, again though you have the more popular ones such as sandalwood and pine (mainly a result of beard oil tending to verge on the manly aspects and ‘woody’ type theme).
It’s where the art and science of beard oil come into play, mixing and trying out varying combinations try to hit that ‘right flavor’ with just the right amount of magnitude.
These are also the ingredients that will probably cause you the most issues too, as carrier oils tend to be softer — the essential oils are more stringent and are what’s going to cause any irritation or reaction. Always check the ingredients on the bottle to make sure it works out for you.
Whether you have rather sensitive skin or are just unsure, you will see that a lot of beard oil manufacturers actually just recommend you try a little out on a bit of your skin before you fully apply to your face — then see how it turns out.
If you are looking into buying a new beard oil, this is where you want to spend your time ‘investigating’.
What else to look for?
I tend to look for natural and organic based ingredients — if there’s something you don’t recognise, to me at least that’s a bit of a red flag — and I’d be questioning whether I want that on my beard and how it’s exactly helping.
Let’s go through a little breakdown of perhaps my favorite beard oil going that we’ve made:
The general difference between a ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ beard oil: there are a few things at play here, that unfortunately the labels just can’t tell you.
i) The composition of the oils (oil ratios)
Yes, they might have the same ‘listed’ ingredients on the packaging of the bottle of themselves, but they don’t give the relative quantities. You will find with a cheaper based beard oil, although they will list it contains Argan oil — the amount they actually use will ‘tend’ to differ a whole lot more than an expensive one.
ii) Types of Oils Used
Of course, there is also a difference in price between certain oils. Some are simply more readily available and cheaper to get hold of than others. For instance, Argan oil — also known as liquid gold that’s not a name that’s just given for its color — it isn’t exactly cheap. However, jojoba oil and the like tend to be much cheaper, however still offer your beard a good source of conditioning.
iii) The quality assurance.
Again, with the bigger and more reputable brands (shameless plugL Robin Hood Beard Co) you can trust that these products have properly tested and have been gone through quality control & assurance tests. This can be checked on their sites though (and you should), if not send an email asking what procedures have been taken out.
iv) The packaging.
Not entirely important to some, but they are often there.
These are meant to be a general guideline for why ‘some’ are more expensive, sometimes though — it’s as plain as them being literally being more expensive.
Of course from the ingredients — we can pretty much workout (as well as beard companies repeatedly telling us) that beard oil benefits you in a fair few ways:
Particularly useful for when you start growing out your beard for sure (but will help later on too) and have to undertake the grueling “itchy beard phase”. It will help to firstly soften your skin as well as smooth out the beard hairs themselves so irritation is kept at least to a minimum.
A beard oil that’s crafted with a good set of core ingredients (and has actually been tested and assured) is going to help your beard but naturally stronger and healthier.
This improves not just the aesthetics of your beard but also keep the amount of ‘beard problems’ you’ve got to run into at a minimum. You won’t suffer nearly as many breakages, beard split ends or just general beard shedding — when you are regularly topping up the hydration of your beard and skin.
Note: it will only potentially help ‘future’ beard growth i.e hairs that haven’t left the skin, once it has — it’s too late, from there you can only hydrate it with the oil (as well the oil coating it to protect it).
It also offers a great, healthier alternative to using an alcohol or synthetic based product to give you a great distinctive masculine fragrance too.
I’m not sure if you have had a look at the beard oils out there.
But, there is literally an oil for every scent you could imagine. Woodsy types and bourbon tend to be the most popular, but you can get the likes of black coffee and even bubblegum too. Literally, pretty much anything you can think of.
[Plus, it helps mask your beard smelling if you haven’t washed it in a while].
Despite it actually being a beard product — you can see there is a whole load of benefits it can offer your skin with regards to aiding repairs, keeping the skin hydrated and again all around healthier. This, in turn, feeds through into an overall ‘better’ beard. It’s also likely to prevent you from running into beardruff (also known as beard dandruff) later down the line — which trust me, is a problem you don’t want to have to deal with.
Your skin is the ‘foundation’ to your beard, keeping that in good shape — should help your beard out too. Although beard oil does help with your skin, I would recommend (despite the beard getting in the way) keeping up with a daily skincare routine.
Personally, I’m using a clarisonic alpha fit —not the cheapest solution in the world but it sure works a dream — and easily gets round the beard too. Using a moisturiser and face wash of some kind will do the trick too, just make sure you properly work into the base of your face — making particular use with the tips of your fingers.
With regular application of beard oil, you just tend to look like you actually take care of your beard — instead of that just “forgetting to shave” appearance. It will come across better kept, plus you will find the beard oil naturally gives a healthy sheen to it (it’s pretty intense at first but after a while they tend to gently fade away).
All those fly-aways, scruffiness and frizziness will get tamed and relaxed and fall nicely into place with the rest of your beard as well.
After a while, dealing with your beard just gets easier too. There are less knots and tangles to deal with — combing and/or brushing your beard will be a lot simpler. Plus, the fact that it is less itchy now, means you will be scratching at it less — meaningless sore/red patches that peer from the surface of your beard.
So as you can see with beard oil it’s pretty much a necessity for growing and maintaining a ‘healthy’ beard.
However, the benefits can only really be properly realised — if you are actually using the beard oil the right way (and to its full potential), day in day out.
First off: you don’t want to be using too much or too little on your beard (either way you are wasting the oil).
So how much to use? I generally go by the +2 rule, so for every how many months of beard growth you have — add two to it — and that should give you a guide to how many drops you should be applying.
Even with zero months of growth, I recommend applying at least two drops to work into the foundation of your beard (i.e the skin). Generally though, you will start to get a good idea when your beard is getting too little (you find your beard getting dry even after a few weeks of use) or too much (your face is covered in oil).
How to Apply.
It’s pretty simple really.
Right after you have had a warm shower and almost dried your beard, this is when your pores are most exposed and most receptive to the oil being applied.
After a minute or so afterward (basically when it is pretty much fully dry) I recommend grabbing a trusted beard comb or brush to help tame up the beard to get it all in order as well as helping to evenly distribute it throughout.
Since posting this article, I’ve had a bunch of questions fired through regarding beard oil (and keep them coming!), so I thought it would be pretty useful to make
Will Beard Oil Grow My Beard?
This is probably the most commonly asked question and the answer is ‘no’.
There’s no ‘oil’ out there (at least natural anyway) that will help a beard to grow more and fill in patches etc. It will improve the ‘quality’ of beard growth you do have.
But, not the quantity. Your genetics and beard growth potential (also impacted by age) are mostly at play with regards to your actual ability to grow a beard.
Make it Thicker?
Along the same lines, but again ‘no’ not really (at least not directly anyhow). If you see beard ‘growth’ oils.
I’d be pretty wary of them, at least look into the details of ‘exactly’ what terminology they are using.
They say that it ‘aids’, ‘helps’, ‘promotes’ growth?
How do they help it? If it’s in terms of quality of growth, then yeah sure — we can all live with that (giving you a healthier more luscious beard).
But if they are claiming that they add’ growth to your beard (that you wouldn’t have had otherwise for not using the oil) — I ain’t buying that. If you do, 100% inspect their ingredients.
In short, you won’t get a thicker beard as a result of coating your beard with beard oil.
How fast or slow you grow a beard, beard oil will have very little to no impact on it.
What it will do is condition and help the beard that you do grow reach it’s full potential.
Beard Oil: Before and After Pictures?
I don’t want you to think that beard oil is some sort of ‘magic transformation oil’ that will have your beard looking scruffy — add some oil — then it’s suddenly all groomed.
It’s not quite how it works.
The benefits and effects of beard oil are achieved over time. Even then the true effects of beard oil can’t really be seen in pictures, see:
It’s only half the formula to getting a groomed looking beard. Shaping it up is where the visual aspect comes into play — combing, brushing and trimming.
My beard is scruffy, will it fix it?
This again, sort of relates to my answer above.
On its own will beard oil fix your scruffy beard? No, it won’t.
That said, when it does come to fixing it — it will make the job a whole lot easier and a far better finish. Like I said, beard oil is the first half the formula. It will lighten the rigidness of flyaway beard hairs and soften them up, but it won’t style up your beard to look neat.
Beard wax — is the primary styling product. This is what’s going to get your beard to hold and give you the ability to sculpt shape and style it. Combine that with a general bit of maintenance of regularly brushing your beard — that will ‘fix’ the beard more from the aesthetics point of view, the oil will ‘fix’ the quality of your beard.
Your beard may need trimming up too, head down to a good local beard barber if you aren’t brave enough to take it on yourself for the first time (I know I wasn’t, nor the second or third time).
Will it Make My Face Feel Greasy?
For sure you will find some beard oils heavier than others.
However, greasy not as such.
You can overload your face with too much beard oil but even then it is just a case of your face, beard (even get your head hair involved) to naturally soak it up. Just grab a rag to clean up any excess.
Will beard oil cause acne?
By no means am I a dermatologist, so I don’t think I’m really a 100% qualified to provide a ‘proper’ answer:
However, if you actually take a look at the ingredients, you will actually find most of them help deal with blemishes and spots. Some of them actually help to regulate your natural oil production to bring it more into check.
So in most cases, probably not. Of course it's worth checking.
Although, I’ve never had a breakout of spots as a result of beard oil — what I’d recommend is you test out a small amount and see how you react. Make sure you are applying it when your face is clean though.
How long does beard oil take to work?
It depends on the beard oil.
It depends on your beard.
How much you use the beard oil.
How you are caring for your beard.
What do you mean by “work”?
There’s a few factors at play here, that said you should start to see results of your beard getting softer, healthier and just generally better by two-three weeks — from there on in, it’s just a matter of upkeep.
Note how your beard feels, looks and how ‘easy/hard’ it is to manage — on a scale of 1 to 10 — before you start using beard oil and then ask yourself the same questions after you have been using oil regularly for a month or so.
How long does it last?
A 30ml bottle should last you around 3 months if you are using around 5 drops. Obviously, you get varying sized bottles and you will use it more at certain times of the year (when it is more or less humid), but on average 10 ml = 1 month of use.
Can you use beard oil in your hair?
In fact I recommend it. If I’ve got any excess on my hands after I’ve worked it into my beard, I will often just run it through my head hair.
Although the composition of a beard oil is slightly different to that of dedicated hair oil — it will still help to condition it. Just remember though, your beard oil is probably scented — so your hair will end up smelling that way too.
I guess that answer depends on what you are expecting it to do?
Will it fill in patches in your beard? No.
Will it help soften up your beard? Yes.
And so on.
I’m sure you if you have reached this far, you will have seen that we have gone through what beard oil can and can’t offer you quite extensively but just to show you what it ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ do.
What beard oil will do:
What beard oil won’t do:
Remember also that everyone’s beard varies, so certain oils will respond more/less favorably with your beard than someone else’s — so just because one beard oil didn’t work out for you how it hoped, don’t lose faith and try out another with a carrier oil make up that’s a little different.
Some swear by Argan oil, some swear by Jojoba — for me I’m a big fan of coconut oil (mixed with jojoba) works a treat. The point is everyone’s beard is different.
There’s, of course, one other alternative to ‘buying’ beard oil and that makes it yourself — nothing like a bit of homemade DIY beard oil.
Well sort of.
See, you have to bear the upfront costs of making a full on range. You’ve got to go out and buy 500 ml of coconut oil, then so much jojoba, more grape seed oil and so on, not to mention the essential oils (which are pretty darn costly, although if you are doing it on a budget you can cut them out).
Then you actually have to buy the bottles, the droppers and so on. You can’t just get a 30ml beard oil, you have to make a whole load of the stuff.
At first, it can set you back a fair bit.
But, once you’ve got it done. You’ve literally got probably a year’s worth of supply and the cost per ml comes right down.
You won’t, however, end up with a nice looking bottle that sits on the side of your cabinet, nor will it (unless you perfect the craft) really smell that great — but it will do a good job of looking after your beard.
As with most things, pros and cons to each.
However, is beard oil as a whole worth it?
Whether you are making it yourself (even if you are just directly applying jojoba, it’s better than nothing) or buying a specially concocted one it — some sort of additional conditioning should be used as part of a daily routine to keep your beard in the best state and to reach its growth potential.
Beard balm would be the next best thing for guys who want a bit more grip and style about their beard, however, are still after the conditioning aspects — and so on. I would always have a beard oil somehow featuring in your daily beard grooming regimen though.
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