So you’re looking for some quality beard balm? Good, we can help. In fact, I think we can save you from possibly buying something that could end up hurting your beard (yes, no joke).
When it comes to beard balms, beard pomade, creams, and whatever butters they are called, not all products are created equal.
The same thing rings true here as it does on most beard products out there; manufacturers rarely understand the difference between scalp-hair and androgenic-hair (facial hair), and they time-after-time end up manufacturing beard care stuff that unfortunately doesn’t suit most facial hair.
Below, I will dig deeper into the science of what differs between good and bad beard balms (and beard care products in general)…
…But let’s start from the basics first. ↓
What is Beard Balm?
Beard balm is the second most popular beard care product out there, right on the heels of beard oil.
What constitutes a balm, is that its a waxy blend of buttery fats, melted and blended into a variety of oils, and then poured into a tin.
When the mixture cools inside the tin, the end result is beard balm. And in theory, this thick waxy beard butter can be used to nourish the facial hair, more so than oil, although each of them has their specific uses.
Usually, the base ingredients are a combination of beeswax, lanolin, coconut oil, shea butter, and some essential oils for scent (which is all good).
Sadly; many manufacturers go way over-board with their search for “premium-sounding” oils and end up filling their tins with polyunsaturated vegetable oils that are prone to lipid peroxidation.
Through that mechanism primarily, their products end up suppressing your beard growing hormones; testosterone and DHT. Not good.
Beard Oil Vs. Beard Balm, which is Better?
The primary reason to use beard oil is to replace some of the natural oils lost when washing the face or taking a shower.
For longer and thicker beards, oils are crucially important, as the natural oil and sebum production of the skin underneath is limited, and doesn’t come close to that of your scalp.
When it comes to balms and butter, they are used more for “healing” and nourishing a dry beard, and they can be used in small quantities after applying beard oil to seal in the oils for a deeper nourishing effect.
Since the facial hair balms are also much thicker and waxier than oils, you can use balm a lot in your beard styling. Personally, that’s the only reason I use beard balm.
My beard has gotten long and thick enough that there’s no way beard oil alone can give it any hold whatsoever. Quality beard balm (I make my own DIY style, recipe below) helps.
The Difference Between Good and Bad Beard Balms
Most men choose their beard care products by nothing more than looking for that cool bottle or tin with a flashy design.
Or they go to any big online retailer, look for the ones with the best reviews (most stars), and think that it has to be good.
Well, the problem is that most manufacturers, and most people reviewing the products, have no understanding of how and what makes facial hair grow and stay healthy, and the impact different natural compounds can have on your facial hair.
What everything boils down to is this;
You need to choose the ingredients in your beard care products so that they favorably impact testosterone and DHT.
Those are the key male hormones (androgens) necessary for beard growth.In fact, without DHT or testosterone, you cannot physically grow a beard.
While there are natural oils and fatty acids that have a positive impact on your facial hair growing hormones, there’s also quite a few of them that suppress – sometimes significantly – testosterone & DHT levels.
Good beard balm ingredients to look for:
- Beeswax, rich in saturated fatty acids and vitamin A.
- Shea butter, a mix of monounsaturated and saturated fats, good for androgens.
- Jojoba oil, rich in monounsaturated fats, closest to natural oil of skin1.
- Castor oil, rich in ricinoleic acid, may boost facial hair growth.
- Balsam fir and blue spruce essential oils (both may raise testosterone).
- Olive oil and argan oil are high in MUFA and at least when eaten, may boost T2.
Bad beard balm ingredients that likely hurt the beard:
- Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils (PUFA), lower T due to lipid peroxidation3.
- Rice bran oil, pumpkin4, and safflower oil (the most potent oils for blocking DHT).
- Peppermint oil, spearmint, soybean oil, and hemp oil all lower T & DHT5,6.
- Parabens, chemicals used in many cosmetics as preservatives, estrogenic7.
- Sunflower seed oil, canola oil, sweet almond oil, are all High-PUFA and possibly lower androgens3.
Jojoba oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and lanolin are often used in beard balms and are – based on the studies I’ve seen – mostly neutral for androgenic hormones, but so useful in producing beard balm, that they should be included.
The Five Best Beard Balms of 2019
1. DIY Homemade Beard Balm
The grand majority of beard balms sold in major online retailers are chock-full of androgen suppressing polyunsaturated fats and essential oils like peppermint.
As I prefer to not to have testosterone & DHT suppressing oils close to my beard, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best beard balm in terms of costs and quality, is the one you make yourself.
It’s stupidly easy to make homemade beard balm. Once you do it yourself, you can also see just how cheap it can be.
This is my favorite DIY beard balm recipe:
- Get a heat-resistant bowl or pot, heat it up a bit in stove or water.
- In the bowl, add 2 tbsp beeswax, 2 tbsp jojoba oil, 1tsp argan oil.
- Then add 1 tbsp of shea butter, keep melting and stirring the mixture.
- Finish off with 4-8 drops of balsam fir and/or spruce essential oils for scent.
- Pour your ready mixture to one or multiple 1-2oz. metal tins.
- Let it cool and you’re officially done.
Depending a bit on your ingredients and the choice of essential oils, you will usually end up spending about 1/10th of what the same amount of oils and waxes would cost you in ready-made beard balms.
So if you’re not afraid of some DIY work, give this homemade beard balm recipe a test (trust me, this is as easy as it gets).
Here’s a visual example by the Family Mixx:
2. Big Forest Beard Butter Balm
The balm that is included, is possibly the best one out there. And if you’d ask me what would be the best smelling beard balm out of the pre-made ones, this would be it for sure.
From the hundreds of products I reviewed for this article, I ended up disqualifying more than 95% due to lack of good ingredients.
Big Forest made it through with flying colors.
Here are their ingredients (all good):
3. Viking Revolution Balms
I was quite surprised to find that one of the cheapest beard balms on Amazon, was also one with some of the best ingredients.
They also use the 2oz. tin, which is larger than with most of their competitors. And as you can see from their ingredients, this is 100% all natural beard balm. For under $10 per tin.
Granted, it’s still much cheaper to make your own, but compared to other pre-made balms, Viking Revolution has managed to put together a really inexpensive, yet high-quality product.
Their ingredient list is as follows:
The only issue I would see here is the eucalyptus oil, which belongs to the same family of plants as peppermint and spearmint, and those can slightly hurt your DHT levels.
But for what it’s worth, even with eucalyptus, this is one of the better balms out there.
4. Maison Lambert’s Beard Care Kit
This is my all-time favorite beard product. The Maison Lambert Beard Kit.
Why the full kit in a beard balm review post? Well, simply because you can’t really buy it separately as far as I know (during the time of writing of this post at least).
If you want their facial hair balm, you kind of have to get the full kit on the side.
Which isn’t a bad thing, since the ingredients of every item, on top of the nice design + the PU leather case, make this the creme of the crop in beard styling product niche.
If you want to learn more about the kit and all of its contents + the ingredients, I have writtein more in detail about it in my review of the 10 best beard products.
5. Organic Argan Oil & Shea Butter Balm
I referenced a study earlier where Moroccan men switched their main dietary fat source to argan oil2 and in two weeks it increased their testosterone production by 19.9%.
So it’s only natural to include a natural beard balm from Morocco, with organic argan oil as an ingredient.
It took me several product pages of Amazon searching to finally find this gem. And their ingredients definitely do not disappoint.
How to Use Beard Balm
Using facial hair balms, lotions, butter, pomades or whatever you want to call them, isn’t rocket science.
I found this video from the founder of Beard Brand, Eric Bandholz, to explain the use of balms to be the most well-explained out there.
But again, it ain’t too hard to figure out. Take some on your fingers, melt it down a bit, rub into your beard when necessary (when you need to style it a bit, or to seal in some moisture & prevent dryness and itchiness).
Conclusion on Facial Hair Butter and Balms
I hope you found this beard balm review and DIY guide useful. Even though it probably didn’t include the products you were expecting to see (you know the usual best-selling suspects, honest Amish beard balm, etc).
I know it’s different from most other articles out there as well, but that’s because I’m approaching the topic from a different angle.
For me, it’s not only about the design and scent. It’s also about the ingredients and how they work together with your beard growing androgenic hormones…
…Because after all, without androgenic hormones, you wouldn’t have the beard in the first place.