Beard Balm vs Wax: What’s Best for Your Beard?


beard balm vs wax

What’s the best styling combination for your beard? Do you want to moisturize and tame or sculpt and define? With some beard balms, you can do both, but in other cases, wax offers a stronger hold. For beard balm vs wax comparisons, we compared the benefits and differences of these popular facial hair styling products of the pros.

Salon stylists and barbers both use beard balms and waxes to style men’s hair. What makes one better for your beard? Here’s an in-depth look with pros and cons for any skin and hair combination.

Best for Beard Styling: Beard Balm or Wax

Beard balms and waxes have different concentrations of beeswax, but both contain carrier oils, essential oils, and other ingredients like shea butter or aloe vera. The difference in these styling products is the amount of hold and control each provides to your beard.

Got a wiry, wavy beard? Try a styling product like balms or waxes. Depending on the level of sculpting you want, choose a utility balm or beard wax. If only wanting to tame and soften coarse beard hair, beard balm is the better lightweight option.

We break down the differences even further between beard balms and waxes.

What is Beard Balm?

Beard balm is typically made from essential oils, beeswax, and shea butter. It’s a slightly thick styling product that comes in a tin.

Beard balm mixes a small amount of wax, shea butter, and essential oils.
Beard balm combines a small amount of wax, shea butter, and essential oils together for a moisturizing styling product.

There are different types of beard balms. Lightweight balm has the consistency of a vaseline due to shea butter and wax. However, it’s not as sticky or tacky as beard or mustache wax.

Like beard oil and conditioners, some beard balms have moisturizing ingredients and may even contain hair growth ingredients such as biotin or saw palmetto oil.

Additionally, balms also contain ingredients for sensitive skin, such as argan oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, and others. If weary of skin irritation, always avoid products with alcohol or super oily ingredients like olive oil.

How Beard Balm Works

You only need a small amount of beard balm to get the job done for short to medium beards. Medium to long, thick beards may require more beard balm.

  • Wash with a good beard shampoo and dry hair off first, then start with the balm that provides the right strength.
  • Use lightweight balms for moisture and shine, and utility or maximum hold balms for more distinctive shaping.
  • Simply scoop a small amount on your finger, rub in palms, then apply beard balm directly to your hair
  • Use a beard comb to spread through beard hair.
  • Use a medium to maximum hold utility balm if you want to sculpt your beard and add more shine

Pros of Beard Balm

  • Softens hair with beeswax and shea butter
  • Beard oil beard balms provide more moisture
  • Tames flyaways
  • Moisturizes skin and hair
  • May contain hair growth and skin healing properties

Cons of Beard Balm

  • Not all beard balms add moisture
  • Utility balms may cause dry skin if applied too heavily
  • If you haven’t washed your face, balms may clog pores.

Beard Balm Ingredients

Some typical ingredients in balms include:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Argan oil
  • Beeswax
  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Cedarwood
  • Sandalwood
  • Grape seed oil
  • Saw palmetto oil

Check out our DIY Beard Balm Recipe Guide.

Who is Beard Balm Best For?

If you have a thick, medium to long beard, then beard balm can soften and strengthen hair while adding an intoxicatingly earthy scent.

While balms may have more conditioning ingredients, there are also utility balms for stronger hold. For example, beard championship participants typically use wax to sculpt their beards into the perfect shape.

Recommended Beard Balm Products

We’ve done the research and found the best beard balm products for your facial hair. Take a look to see our recommendations and get guidance on the best ingredients in balms for your beard. 

What is Beard Wax

Beard wax is made from higher concentrations of beeswax and a few ingredients similar to those in beard oils and balms. However, the additional wax offers a higher hold for styling and sculpting long beard hair.

Beard wax has a higher concentration of beeswax along with other complimentary ingredients.
Beard wax has a higher concentration of beeswax for a superior strong hold on your facial hair.

Beard wax and beard shaping go hand-in-hand. Be prepared to only use beard care products like wax if you want more hold on longer beards with unruly hair.

If you have wiry, stray beard hairs, then you can use a thick beard wax to create a pointed beard or ducktail beard style, among other beard shapes.

Many performers in beard competitions use beard wax because of its ability to keep hair in place for hours at a time, offering the exact shape you want. These are more water-resistant, maximum hold variations of a typical beard balm or beard oil.

How Beard Wax Works

We recommend that you use beard oil and beard wax together to achieve the greatest-looking beard if you like sculpting. You can use beard balm if you like a milder version of wax to style and shine up your beard hair.

  • Wash your beard and dry off completely before applying wax
  • Massage a small amount of beard oil into your skin and hair beforehand
  • Apply wax to root of your hair then pull through, sculpting and twisting hair in place
  • Comb through to sculpt and distribute wax evenly through beard hair

Pros of Beard Wax

  • Sculpts your beard
  • Holds hair in place
  • Natural, woodsy, earthy scents 
  • Condition your bead hair

Cons of Beard Wax

  • May cause dry skin and flakes if not washed out
  • Leads to clogged pores when applied to skin 

Beard Wax Ingredients

Most beard wax products are made from beeswax, though some of them may contain petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, or shea butter. Additionally, they may contain carrier oils and essential oils for additional conditioning and scent.

  • Beeswax
  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Cedarwood
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Sandalwood
  • Jojoba oil (carrier oil)
  • Other essential oils (such as rosehip or saw palmetto)

Recommended Beard Wax Products

Our best beard wax buyer’ guide provides more in-depth reviews of the top products currently, but here are two of our favorites.

Honest Amish Original Beard Wax
See the best star ratings & reviews on
Badass Beard Care Beard Wax for Men
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Can You Use Beard Balm and Wax Together?

Beard balm and beard wax can be pretty similar. For example, a heavy duty utility balm will have a higher beeswax concentration than a regular, lightweight balm.

Ideally, you wouldn’t use beard balm and wax together. However, you can use beard oil to stack with either product. Beard oil will provide more moisture and healing for your skin, then the wax or balm can help you hold your hair in a specific shape.

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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.