Beard Balm vs Oil: Which is Best for Your Beard Care Routine?

Feb 27, 2022by Heather Smith

As a person with a beard, you might be wondering if you need to use skincare products. The answer is yes - all skin needs a routine! Men's skin is different from women's skin, and it needs specific care. 

When choosing between a beard balm vs oil, many of the same principles for choosing a face oil apply. We've written extensively about how to choose a face oil for your skin type. Applying those principles for your beard care routine will help you be successful.

Read on to find out exactly how to tailor your routine so that your beard and skin beneath it can be healthy and acne free.

How is Men's Skin Different Than Women's Skin?

The most significant difference between men's and women's skin is that men have more facial hair. This means that their skin needs to be tough enough to withstand the daily shaving routine.

While women's skin often has cyclic breakouts due to hormonal fluctuations, testosterone levels make men's skin oilier than women's.

If not cared for properly, having a beard will allow more oil and debris to build up, making acne more likely. There are plenty of commercially available as well as natural remedies for acne that can be incorporated into your routine.

How are Men's Skincare Products Different?

The two main differences between men's and women's skincare products are the scent and the packaging. And, of course, the marketing hype.

For years, skincare marketing towards men was aimed at the 'all-in-one' product. Technically speaking, this isn't a horrible approach; however, tailoring a routine for different areas of your body can be done without adding too many steps.

There is no reason to discount men as consumers. Matching your personal style to your appearance and the products you use is not something that should be left just for woman.

You do You.  beard balm vs oil for men's skincare and personal style

A man can create a routine for his face using any products that are already available. However, specific beard care products can be a useful addition.

Beard Balm vs Beard Oil: Which is Better?

A beard balm is a leave-in conditioner designed to hydrate and style your beard. It often contains beeswax, which gives it a thicker consistency and helps to hold your beard in place.

Beard oil is a lighter product designed to moisturize and soften your beard. It contains nourishing carrier oils like jojoba oil, argan oil, or hemp oil which helps keep your beard and skin healthy and shiny.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you.

When choosing a beard balm or beard oil, it's essential to consider your skin type and the length of your beard. If you have dry skin, you'll need a beard oil that contains moisturizing ingredients. If you have unique skincare needs, like acne or dandruff, there are specific products that can help with each of these issues.

Five Steps for a Beard Care Routine

Looking after your facial hair and the skin beneath it is important, but doesn't need to be complicated. 

Step 1: Trim Your Beard

Start your beard care by trimming, clipping, and shaving. It's important to get the trimming done first so that the little hairs get washed away and not trapped within your beard.

Think of your beard as a bit of a net, the more it traps, the more it can get clogged up (as will your pores).

Step 2: Wash Your Face and Beard

It's essential to wash your face and beard every day to remove dirt and bacteria. Use a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Be sure to avoid harsh detergents, as they can damage the skin barrier.

You can use a beard shampoo or a beard wash, but they will probably be the same as other cleansers you already have, so there's no need to buy new products.

The most important factor is to wash down to your skin, not just the beard hair itself. Comb or massage the cleanser into the skin on your chin, upper lip, and cheeks. This step is easier if you have a short beard.

No need to scrub and do not use harsh detergents or bar soap. Over-washing is a major cause for dry, damaged barrier and can increase acne. 

Step 3: Exfoliate Your Face and Beard

Exfoliation is essential for removing dead skin cells and preventing beardruff. It also decreases ingrown hairs.

One thing to keep in mind is that beard hair is usually quite thick and coarse. If you're using a scrub with exfoliating particles, rinsing them out is tricky and annoying.

Using a gentle chemical exfoliating toner and massage it down to the skin before rinsing it away is an excellent way to manage this challenge.

Start with only 2 times a week at first. Salicylic acid toner is a good choice if you have acne or dandruff. Glycolic acid toners are another good option. If your skin is sensitive try lactic acid because it will help with moisture levels as well as exfoliation.

Again, remember to not over do it. Helping lift away dead cells is important, but over-exfoliating will leave you with a damaged barrier and possibly increased acne.

Step 4: Apply Beard Oil or Beard Balm

The purpose of the beard balm or oil is to condition and moisturize your skin and facial hair.

Once you've chosen the right product, apply it to your beard using your hands or a brush. Be sure to distribute it evenly throughout the beard. If there is excess product, you can blot it with a towel.

But, if you want to take it to the next level - use a beard oil serum! They're packed full of active ingredients so they target the skin all over your face, not just the beard.

Step 5: Style Your Beard

Like hair, there are many different styling products designed for beards. If you choose a beard balm, the consistency of it may provide enough hold that another styling product isn't needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Your Beard Care Routine

 Here is a list of common questions we get asked about beard care:

Can You Shampoo Your Beard?

Yes, you can use shampoo. Just choose one that matches your general hair and skin type and avoid over washing with water that's too hot.

Can I use Face Wash on My Beard?

Yes, absolutely. Face washes are fine for your beard. Comparable to if you choose to use shampoo, be sure to use a face wash that matches your skin type and avoid over washing with water that's too hot.

Why Does My Beard Itch?

The most common cause of beard itch is dry skin. When the skin is dry, it produces more sebum in an attempt to rehydrate itself. This can lead to an overproduction of sebum, which can then block pores and trap bacteria.

Another common cause of beard itch is ingrown hairs. When hair grows back into the skin, it can cause irritation and inflammation. Be sure to exfoliate regularly to help prevent ingrown hairs.

There are a few things you can do to stop beard itch. First, make sure you're using a quality beard oil or balm. This will help to keep the skin hydrated and prevent dryness. Second, exfoliate regularly to help prevent ingrown hairs. Cleansing is very important, but avoid using harsh detergents or soaps on your beard. Over-cleansing can make the itch worse. Avoiding hot showers and super hot water is also important to prevent stripping and skin barrier damage.

Watch out for skin reactions. Beard oils often contain essential oils for their herbal and woody scents. Some can be quite irritating for your facial skin. 

Can You Use Dandruff Treatment On Your Beard?

Yes, you can use dandruff treatment on your beard. If dandruff is an issue, it may be one of the reasons you have beard itch. However, check with your barber if the flaking is persistent or excessive. Also, check with your doctor if there are open areas or scabbing, as this is probably more than dandruff.

sustainable bamboo beard comb

Why Does My Beard Have Dry Skin?

Some people have dry skin types and this can be related to the seasons or the weather.

However, it could be that you are over processing your beard with hard soaps (bar soap is a huge culprit) or excessive exfoliation.

Does Beard Oil Cause Acne?

No, not specifically. Acne is caused by a buildup of oil and dead cells. The pores become congested and clogged and then inflammation and bacteria start to increase. Acne breakouts can be cyclic, hormonal, seasonal, or triggered by new products.

Neither beard balm nor oil should cause acne, but excessive oil buildup can. When using facial oils, it's actually possible for your own sebum to regulate and for inflammation to decrease. Sometimes the cause of acne is having insufficient oil to protect your skin barrier. The key is to wash well every day (with gentle cleanser) and then moisturize, but not excessively.

Is Beard Balm or Oil Better For Acne?

It's unlikely to make a difference. Some people with very oily skin just don't need oils or balms for their beard. They still need the cleansing and exfoliation though. And moisturization can be done with a lighter lotion or conditioner rather than an oil or balm.

Do I Need Any Special Tools or Kits For Beard Care?

No. A soft bristle brush, wide-toothed comb, and sharp scissors are all you need to groom your beard at home. Of course, there are Beard Care Kits available that come with different products and tools like beard combs. But if you're starting, you don't need anything fancy.

They do make a lovely gift; look for sustainable materials like bamboo rather than plastic.

Is There a Beard Oil Recipe?

If you're looking for a DIY approach, there are many beard oil recipes. You can adapt any recipe you find that is designed as a face oil as well. Our guide to the best face oils is a good resource to start with. We've also covered the topic of the best hair oils in a lot more depth. One specific oil that is getting a lot of attention is daikon (radish) seed. The reason is because it has a very light feel, like silicone. Another one to look for is Eclipta alba (Bhringraj) oil, which is associated with hair growtn.

You can't go wrong if you use a mixture of hemp, squalane, and rosehip oils to start.

As you can see, there are a few things to consider when choosing a skincare routine for your face. With so many available on the market, it can be challenging to determine which products are right for you.

If you're unsure where to start, consult with your barber. They can help you create a routine explicitly tailored for your needs.


What do you think? Do you have a product or routine that you swear by for keeping your beard healthy? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.