Beard Balm vs Oil: Which is Better + Pros & Cons


beard balm vs beard oil

Are you trying to tame and smooth your beard hair? Even if you just want to get a better facial hair style, you’ve probably seen two products pop up whenever you look for beard care products: beard balm vs beard oil.

While both beard balm and beard oil offer great results, their consistency, formula, and application are a bit different. Plus, some men prefer beard oil for skin care and other aspects. We show you the differences so you can make the best choice for your skin and beard.

What’s better, Beard Balm or Beard Oil?

Whether to use beard balm or beard oil really depends on how you want your beard to look and feel. While beard balms are made with essential oils and beeswax, beard oils use formulas with organic essential oils as well as hair growth elements like biotin.

beard balm vs beard oil
Beard balm vs beard oil? It depends on your beard length and skin type for most men.

The choice also depends on the length and type of beard shape you want. Some beard balms are labeled “medium to hard” hold so you can style your beard and mustache exactly the way you want. Beard oils tame coarse beard hair but won’t help you shape your beard.

If your skin is dry, then beard oil may be the better option to moisturize the skin underneath your beard and keep your facial hair healthy.

We look at the pros and cons of beard balms vs beard oils next.

About Beard Balm

Beard balms or utility balms essentially are leave-in conditioning agents made from essential oils and beeswax that moisturize, shape and condition your beard. These work better for those who like a wax consistency and want to condition their facial hair for a smoother beard.

Beard balms are typically manufactured in small 1- to 3-oz tins or containers due to their viscosity, which is much higher than beard oil. With the inclusion of shea butter and beeswax in most formulas, the consistency is tackier and thicker than beard oil. It’s made to absorb into your skin and facial hair slowly.

Check out the Best Beard Balms.

beeswax in beard balms
Beard balms typically contain beeswax.

Depending on the day, you may want to use beard balms to style your beard. Brands typically make light to medium hold balms and medium to strong hold balms. If you want to create a ducktail beard or style your mustache, you’d opt for a strong hold balm.

Beard Balm Ingredients

  • Carrier oils
  • Beeswax
  • Essential oils
  • Malleable agents (such as shea butter)

Pros of Beard Balm

  • Long-lasting moisture for beard hair and skin
  • Tacky formula helps with shaping your facial hair
  • Adds shine to your hair
  • Strengthens your hair follicles
  • Includes natural ingredients

Cons of Beard Balm

  • Can be expensive
  • Easy to overdo application and cause breakouts
  • May be too thick
  • Some formulas lead to flakes in beard once dry

Other Beard Balm Considerations

While beard balm is best for smoothing and styling beard hair, you wouldn’t massage beard balm into your skin as much as a beard oil. This is because of its thicker consistency and slow absorption, which can cause issues for sensitive and oily skin types.

However, beard balms can work as skin moisturizers so long as you pick a product with the right ingredients. For example, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, and aloe vera are great ingredients for a light hold beard balm that won’t clog your skin’s pores.

Heavier balms with strong styling holds aren’t the best moisturizers. These products can lead to dandruff if coated on to your beard hair more than it can absorb, so be careful how much product you use on your beard.

How to Use Beard Balm

A dab of beard balm can typically cover a medium to long beard, but you may need more product if you’re styling a longer beard. Here’s how to apply beard balm:

  • Use your finger to get a small dollop of balm
  • Rub the product in your palms, then apply with your fingers
  • Style your beard to a desired shape as you work the balm into your hair
  • Finish with a beard comb to perfect the shape

Who are Beard Balms Best For?

Check out: How to Use Beard Balm for a supreme beard.

You should use beard balms if you have a longer beard length and want to style your beard or mustache hair with a conditioning agent. The waxy nature of beard balms make it a superior styling product for taming flyaways and shaping your beard expertly.

About Beard Oil

Beard oil is made from carrier oils and essential oils, making it the perfect for moisturizing and softening skin and hair. It has a lightweight consistency and typically woodsy scent, though there are unscented versions.

Check out the Best Beard Oils.

beard balm vs oil
Beard oil is made to moisturize your skin and beard hair with essential oils.

Since it’s more liquid than beard balms, beard oils work better to hydrate skin and hair follicles, particularly if you have dry skin under your beard.

Many beard growth oils are also used for growing a beard thicker and fuller. However, it’s best to use beard oils with a comb or brush to spread the oil over hair in your beard.

Check out expert tips in our guide: What does beard oil do?

Beard Oil Ingredients

  • Essential oils
  • Carrier oils
  • Hair growth ingredients like biotin (for some formulas)

For years, beard oil has been a staple in men’s grooming routines. With ingredients like argan oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil, it can vastly improve the look and feel of your beard hair.

Pros of Beard Oil

  • Instant moisture and hydration for skin and beard
  • Relieves dry skin and beard itch
  • Restores shine and strength
  • Many essential oils blend together for stronger vitamin E content
  • Promotes thicker, fuller beard growth
  • Tames and Conditions coarse beard hair

Cons of Beard Oil

How to Use Beard Oil

One of the main differences between beard balms and beard oils is the ingredients and application. To use beard oil properly, you only need a small dab of beard oil to spread over your beard hair.

  • Use the applicator to drop beard oil onto your fingers or drop directly on your beard
  • Massage beard oil into the skin underneath your beard, then gently pull up through your beard hair
  • Use a brush or comb to spread oil over your facial hair

Have you ever tried homemade Beard Oil? Check out our DIY Beard Oil Recipes.

Who is Beard Oil best For?

Beard oil is best for those with stubble beards or shorter beard styles who want to moisturize their skin and beard with no need for styling.

For those who frequently have flakes in their beard, just using beard oil 2 to 3 times per week can improve your skin condition and strength of your hair follicles.

So Beard Balm or Oil?

Can both of these products soften your beard? Yes!
Do both have benefits for your beard and skin? Yes!

However, oil and balm brands are vastly different in their approach to application and uses for each product. Balms are better at styling such as a mustache wax, but lightweight balms work well as a leave-in conditioner, particularly if they contain cocoa butter.

For issues with beard dandruff, beard oils are better, especially when containing argan oil and coconut oil. You can improve your beard game with a beard brush and oil with just one application.

Certain hair textures also work better with beard oil, especially if you want to smooth out coarse, wavy beard hair. For example, black men’s beard hair softens faster from beard oils that contain shea butter. Just take a look at the #DefineYourBeard by Shea Moisture campaign for No Shave November to see why.

  • If you have a short beard and dry skin issues: Beard oil works perfectly to tame coarse beard hair. Daily use also resolves dandruff and beard itch problems.
  • For longer beards and beard styling: Beard balms work better to soften and shape your beard hair. However, it also provides some moisture to your skin with the right ingredients.

You may be able to have the best of both worlds by choosing a light beard balm with ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, aloe vera, and shea butter.

Beard Oil and Beard Balm Final Thoughts

  • Before using either of these products, test a patch of your beard first to see how your skin responds.
  • Some ingredients may be irritating or cause allergic reactions in either product.
  • You may also prefer the wax consistency and hold of beard balms if you have very wiry or bushy beard hair.
  • Why not use both? Using beard oil for your skin and beard balm for styling leads to a magnificent polished beard.

Check out our NEW Comparison – Beard Oil vs Beard Butter.

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I'm the founder of Bald & Beards, an amateur barber and I've been obsessed with men's grooming, styles, and trends for over 20 years.