- What is Beard Oil
- Why Most Beard Oils are Bad
- Beard Oil Ingredients: The Good & The Bad
- The Six Best Beard Oils of 2019
- How to Use Beard Oil & When to Apply It
- Beard Oil Vs. Beard Balm Which to Use?
- Beard Growth Oils, Do they Work?
- Frequently Asked Beard Oil Questions
Wondering where to buy beard oil? Just type the word “beard oil” into one of the biggest online retailers (Amazon), and you will be greeted by more than 1000 products, from hundreds of different brands.
Some years ago, nobody was making beard oils, but nowadays, every beard hipster seems to have their own company, crafting “premium” oils from the most precious and expensive oils and whatnot. Everyone says their product is the best beard oil out there, but they can’t all be the best, right?
As for this post, we are answering the following questions:
- What is beard oil?
- Do you even need beard oil?
- Why most beard oils are really bad.
- What are the best and worst beard oil ingredients?
We will also lay down the most curated and researched list of six of the best beard oils currently available (one of them which is a beard oil recipe you can make yourself at home, and save hundreds of dollars down the line).
This post is long and detailed, but take the time to read it, as it’s nothing quite like the other posts that just try to push you their own products. We actually dug up the scientific research behind every ingredient and rated our list based on how they impact your beard growth hormones, the scent, the usefulness, etc.
↓ No time for full review? Here’s a quick beard oil comparison table. ↓
Without further introductions, let’s get right into the content. ↓
What is Beard Oil
Beard oil is a specially blended oil mixture used by men to nourish and moisturize the skin under your facial hair.
It can also be used to seal in moisture and to add some shine and volume to your facial hair. Since washing (even if you’re using a special beard shampoo) strips a lot of the natural sebum oil from the beard, applying beard oil right after showering can be really helpful for prevention of beard dryness.
The importance of beard oil is really up for debate, but the fact is that men have been growing glorious beards for centuries, while beard oil is only some tens of years old “invention”.
Still, beard oil is extremely helpful in maintaining proper oil-balance of the skin underneath the beard and it can really transform the look of your facial hair from dry and brittle looking, into a shinier more vibrant looking mane.
You don’t need beard oil but since it’s so cheap (at least if you make your own) and provides legit uses, it doesn’t hurt to use some.
However, most of the beard oil industry are utterly clueless about what they are doing. ↓
Why Most Beard Oils are Bad
Although there are thousands of products from hundreds of manufacturers, only a handful have managed to create good beard oil.
What do I mean?
Well, all facial hair growth is essentially regulated by the two key male hormones; testosterone and DHT. And in order to grow the beard, and to keep it growing, men need to maintain high levels of these hormones1–3.
What a lot of beard oil companies are doing is that they try to add dozens of different oils to their bottles, claiming all of these “premium”, “botanical”, “nourishing”, etc.
Sadly, many of those oils are scientifically proven to block the most crucial androgen for beard growth; DHT. And some oils even directly suppress testosterone levels. This is something you wouldn’t expect from oil that is “designed” to be applied on your facial hair.
Most often, DHT-blocking and testosterone suppressing oils are the polyunsaturated kinds (PUFA). There’s a lot of evidence suggesting that when tested in cells in a petri-dish or consumed orally, PUFA lowers androgens4–7, whereas monounsaturated (MUFA) and saturated fatty acids (SFA) can increase both8,9.
If the bad oils lower androgens when consumed orally and when applied directly to cells in a petri-dish, then it’s likely that they suppress the hormonal balance of the skin around the face when applied directly to the beard. After all, oils do penetrate the skin, and many brands are proud to tell you that as well.
Polyunsaturated fats are also prone to lipid peroxidation, which is a fancy way of saying that they are extremely volatile (due to lengthy carbon-carbon chains), and easily go rancid when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen.
This is the reason why some years ago vegetable oils were used in oil-based paints, as the oils reacted with oxygen and light, they went rancid, causing the paint to dry and stick.
Well, to put it simply, I believe that most people who formulate beard oils have no basic understanding of the endocrine system or how the beard growth really happens. In most cases, it’s likely that they add these oils with no bad intent, they just don’t realize what their effects on DHT and testosterone are.
And if someone is genetically prone to growing super-thick beard incredibly fast, then having couple DHT-blockers in his beard oil won’t stop that growth. But for someone who has slower beard growth or patchy beard, dousing their face with antiandrogenic oils is going to make the situation worse.
It’s time beardsmen actually looked at something else than just the coolest looking bottle when purchasing beard oils.
Below, I have listed some good and bad beard oil ingredients, backing most of the points up with studies where the oils were either consumed orally, or those were added to human or animal cells in a petri-dish. It’s not absolute proof that those would hurt your beard, but it’s good evidence.
Beard Oil Ingredients: The Good & The Bad
In order to filter out the good beard oil products from the bad, we will first have to understand the ingredients used in the oils.
Usually, it’s a mixture of several main carrier oils, combined with a much smaller amount of “essential oils” for scent.
Some of the Good Beard Oil Ingredients
- Jojoba oil: This is the best carrier oil out there. It’s practically unscented and closest to the natural sebum oils of the skin. No evidence suggests it would have any androgen suppressing effects. Jojoba is mostly monounsaturated eicosenoic acid.
- Argan oil: Pressed from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania Spinosa). It’s mostly monounsaturated, and one study saw that when young Moroccan men switched their main fat source to argan oil, their testosterone increased by 19.9% in 2-weeks8.
- Olive Oil: Similar to argan oil in its viscosity and qualities. Mainly monounsaturated and has been found to increase testosterone levels when consumed orally. In the same study mentioned above, olive oil resulted in a 17.4% boost in testosterone8.
- Castor oil: Quite unique oil where the majority of the fatty acids are monounsaturated ricinoleic acid. May slightly promote hair follicle circulation and beard growth through increased Prostaglandin E2 (PGD2) synthesis10.
- Coconut oil: Although one in-vitro study showed that the lauric acid in coconut oil may have DHT blocking effects, they’re likely canceled out by coconut oil increasing the production of testosterone trough elevated 3-β-HSD and 17-β-HSD.
- Avocado oil: Very similar to olive and argan oils, the avocado oil is mostly monounsaturated and has only low amounts of the harmful PUFAs in it. No studies exist on its hormonal effects but they’re likely similar to the two above.
- Blue spruce oil: This is very powerful essential oil that you can use for scent, as a positive, Dr. John Berardi has found that it can enhance testosterone production, even just a few drops of it. It’s expensive but other spruce oils could work too.
- Balsam fir needle oil: This is another androgenic essential oil that can be used for scent, just a few drops are enough, and it was also used in the experiment by Dr. Berardi, and resulted in elevated testosterone production.
Possibly Harmful Beard Oil Ingredients
- Safflower oil & Rice bran oil: According to one study, these two are the worst offenders when it comes to DHT suppression. Avoid them in your beard oils if you don’t want suppressed growth and worse beard health.
- Pumpkin seed oil: In humans and rats, pumpkin seed is antiandrogenic and blocks the 5-a reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone to DHT11. It may help scalp-hair growth because of this, but also hurts the androgenic facial hair.
- Almond oil & Sweet almond oil: Surprisingly popular in beard oils, probably because the “industry leaders” use these and the rest are copying. Although they have some MUFAs, they’re also high in T & DHT suppressing omega-6 linoleic acid4,5,7.
- Sunflower seed oil: This is one of the worst oils for your hormones. Up to 60% of the oils being omega-6 polyunsaturated linoleic acid, which is one of the most potent DHT blocking oils and can suppress testosterone when consumed orally.
- Hemp oil: Similarly to sunflower oil, hemp is really high in the hormone-suppressing omega-6 linoleic acid. This type of fat suppresses DHT in-vitro4,7, and reduces testosterone when men consume it orally, so why put it on the beard?
- Canola oil: Although canola oil has some MUFAs which can be helpful for testosterone, it also has really high amounts of the beard hurting PUFAs. There’s simply no reason – other than cheapness – to have it in beard oils.
- Sesame oil: High PUFA, and thus, possibly lowers testosterone and DHT in cell-culture studies and in men who consume it orally. If it absorbs through the skin, why put it on testosterone & DHT driven facial hair?
- Peppermint oil, and other oils from the mint-family plants: These are popular essential oils to put in beard oils for scent. Although not used in large amounts, most of the plants in the mint-family have testosterone suppressing effects12–14.
- Tea tree & Lavender essential oils: Tea tree oil for beard oil is a popular ingredient and lavender is occasionally used, and although they both provide antimicrobial benefits and a nice scent, they also contain endocrine disrupting compounds linked to androgen receptor inactivation.
- Amla Oil: Not extremely popular, but some brands still put amla oil to their beard care products and some even claim that it promotes growth. Sadly, the amla berry is one of the most potent known DHT-blockers and in no way shape or form suitable for facial hair use.
One of the studies cited above noted that the longer the carbon-carbon chains of the fatty acids, the more they tend to suppress DHT7. And since most polyunsaturated vegetable oils have lengthy CC-chains, they tend to be the worse for your beard.
Bottom line: When choosing beard oil ingredients an easy rule of thumb would be to prioritize the stable saturated and monounsaturated fats and limit the use of unstable and volatile polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
The Six Best Beard Oils of 2019
1. DIY Beard Oil
After realizing that most of the beard oil brands out there are selling their oils with ~90% margin, using DHT and testosterone hurting ingredients, and essentially being just random vegetable oils in a 1 oz. dropper bottle with a $30 price tag…
…I decided I could just try making my own.
So I did some research on the price of organic beard oil ingredients, and tried to put together a nice blend of natural oils that wouldn’t hurt the androgenic hormones, smelled nice, and was pleasant to use (good viscosity, absorption, etc).
Turns out that even if you use 100% organic high-quality carrier oils, and some of the more expensive androgenic essential oils for scent (namely balsam fir and spruce oil), you can still make your own DIY beard oil for 1/10th of the price that it costs to buy some.
Here’s the all natural and organic beard oil recipe:
- 3/4 ounce organic jojoba oil.
- 1/4 ounce organic castor oil.
- 4 drops balsam fir essential oil.
- 4 drops spruce essential oil.
Well, jojoba oil is the perfect all-natural carrier oil to use in a beard oil. It’s closest to the natural sebum oil, has no hormone-suppressing effects, and it’s light enough to use on beard without blocking the pores.
Castor oil is a tad bit thicker oil that provides a bit of hold to the beard and a visual impact of added thickness. It has no hormone-suppressing fatty acids, and can possibly enhance growth through PGD2 activation.
Balsam fir and blue spruce essential oils were both tested by DR. John Berardi and found to be quite androgenic in their effects (see link in above subheading). They also provide a really nice foresty & manly scent, which I think helps create some of the best smelling beard oil there is.
Due to the hydrating effect of jojoba oil, you could also make this beard oil for prevention and treatment of beard dandruff (beardruff).
When I calculated the volumes of the oils used for 1 oz. dropper bottle (this bottle included in calculations), it ended up costing a whopping $4.69 to make a bottle of DIY high-quality organic beard oil.
↓ Oils used in the calculations. ↓
Considering that you can re-use the dropper bottle, after getting one, each 1 oz. of this DIY beard oil will end up costing just $2.2
The big brands of beard oil makers are ordering their carrier and essential oils in huge batches, which ends up costing them far less, so they can probably push the price of making a bottle much lower than we can. Yet they sell those beard oils for $20-50 per bottle.
You may know ZilberHaar from making some of the best beard brushes out there.
But little do most beardsmen know, ZilberHaar also makes one of the best beard oils. And not just any random oil with dozens of poor ingredients like their competitors. Instead, they seem to focus on quality over quantity.
They have two ingredients in the N°1 Beard Oil:
- Unrefined 100% organic jojoba oil.
- Unrefined 100% organic Moroccan argan oil.
Nothing more is used, and nothing more is needed. Some people have this weird notion that the more oils there is inside the bottle, the better it must be, but that’s just nonsense.
The higher the number of oils, the higher the change that the company accidentally uses a DHT-blocking oil in there.
As for ZilberHaar, I’m not sure if they did it on purpose or through pure luck, but they managed to use only two of the common beard oil ingredients and landed on two of the best ones out there.
I found this beard oil brand accidentally when I was looking through different products on Amazon.
I must of have been on page 20+, going insane about the fact that every single product I had seen before that used some of the DHT-blocking and testosterone suppressing oils, and because of that, I couldn’t be recommending them.
Then I found Beardology, and I can honestly say that they make some of the most affordable, yet best beard oils out there.
And at the time of writing this, they are the only brand I’m aware of who has publicly talked about the harmful effects some beard oil ingredients have on androgenic hormones and are the only company that purposefully crafts their beard oils to include only the oils that won’t harm the beard growing hormones.
These oils are hand-crafted in Cleveland, Ohio, by a couple running a small home-based company. Their pricing is reasonable and the product is of great quality, which is why I have no issues recommending their beard oils on this list.
All of their beard oils have the same carrier oil base:
- Argan oil (works well on the beard, may raise testosterone).
- Jojoba oil (in my opinion the best stuff you can apply to beard).
- Avocado oil (highly similar to argan in its fatty acid ratios).
- Vitamin E (important vitamin for facial hair growth).
All-in-all, these ingredients are surprisingly good for a pre-made oil. And you can get this base with multiple different scents like the “barbershop” or “tobacco”.
This is the best bang for your buck when it comes to beard oil.
Using the 2 oz. dropper bottle, they have managed to keep the price down to under ten bucks, meaning that it’s not that much more than our DIY example above.
The ingredients in ArtNaturals beard oil are great too:
- Organic Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) seed oil
- Organic Argan (Argania Spinosa) kernel oil
- And vitamin E.
Being 100% natural beard oil with minimalistic good-for-hormones oil mix, we can only applaud ArtNaturals for creating this gem of a product (which was surprisingly hard to find through hundreds of poor quality oils).
You won’t get much of a scent or hold from this product, but in all honesty, those are not the main things you should be looking from beard oils in the first place. Beard balms provide superior hold to any oils, and if you need some scent, it’s easy to add your own favorite essential oils into this and give it a shake.
If you hate scented beard oils, then this will be the best smelling beard oil for you, as it’s fragrance-free.
Jokes aside, it’s pretty good, organic beard oil. Like many on this list, it consists of just the right key ingredients that won’t suppress your hormones, in their most high-quality organic form.
The ingredients are:
- Pure cold-pressed organic jojoba oil.
- Pure cold-pressed organic argan oil.
Like I’ve said many times before – in this post – the best beard oils don’t have to include a list of tens of different “premium” oils. Just a couple of good ones is perfect. In fact, the fewer oils a product has, the likely it is that there’s no DHT or testosterone suppressing ingredients in it.
If you are too lazy to make the DIY beard oil recipe I included above, you can just get this one and add your own essential oils to play around with the scent. I recommend balsam fir or spruce essential oil, but you can try many others as well, just look first that the oils you add have no T or DHT-blocking effects.
Castor oil itself has been used for years by women to thicken their hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
And it didn’t take long for the trend to move into beards as well. Currently, many men are using castor oil as their daily beard oil, to provide some visual thickening effects to their thin and patchy beards.
Due to its unique monounsaturated ricinoleic acid, the viscosity of the oil is much thicker than many other beard oils out there, because of this, the castor oil “sticks” into the hair strands and makes them appear denser than they actually are.
Apart from only enhancing the beard thickness visually, some evidence suggests that the ricinoleic acid in castor oil may promote the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGD2), which at least in scalp-hair, can enhance the circulation to the follicle and promote growth.
If you get the authentic pure and unrefined Jamaican castor oil, it will be quite dark in color, giving you bit of a natural tint as well without having to use beard dye.
How to Use Beard Oil & When to Apply It
Here’s how you get the most benefits out of your beard oil:
- Best time to apply beard oil is right after a shower, this way you will immediately replace some of the natural oils lost, and also seal in some of the moisture.
- Gently dry your beard by patting it with a towel. Take your favorite beard oil bottle and put some oil on your palms (shorter beards need 2-4 drops, longer 5-8 drops).
- Rub your palms together for a while to heat up the oil, then run your palms and fingers across the full facial hair area, make sure to thoroughly apply the oil.
- Once you have rubbed the oil in with your palms, you can use a beard comb or a beard brush to further distribute it along the facial hair strands and style the beard.
Below is a great video by George Bruno about the topic:
Make sure you’re not applying too much oil to your beard, that’s one of the most common beard mistakes men make. Ten drops will be too much for almost any length of beard, and dousing your facial hair in oil will not only make it look bad, but it will also clog the pores underneath the beard.
Beard Oil Vs. Beard Balm Which to Use?
Right behind the most popular beard treatment product; beard oil, is another big-time player; the beard balm.
Naturally, a lot of guys are asking:
In all honesty, beard oil is more versatile and has more uses than beard balm. That doesn’t mean beard balm would be useless, just consider it to be more nourishing, thicker, and more “sealing” version of the oil.
You primarily use the oil to replace the natural sebum oils lost from showering and to moisturize the skin underneath your beard.
And you use the balm to prevent beard dandruff and itchiness, to create a hyper-nourishing barrier that protects your beard and seals in the natural oils and moisture, and as it’s much thicker and waxy, most guys use it to help style their beards.
And hey, you don’t even have to choose. I apply my beard oil right after the shower, and usually apply a small amount of beard balm a couple hours later to further seal in the oil and make it last longer in the mane.
It’s a wonderful combination, just don’t overdo it, you don’t want your face to have too much product in it.
Couple drops of beard oil and a small pea-sized chunk of the beard balm are plenty enough.
Beard Growth Oils, Do they Work?
Checking the market, there seem to be these five prominent products that all promise their beard oil or cream to stimulate facial hair growth, and they are;
- Beard Farmer Growther Oil.
- Dollar Beard Club Grow Oil.
- Beardilizer Beard Growth Cream.
- Ustraa Beard Growth Oil.
- Beard Flux XL beard Growth Oil.
The unfortunate fact is that after checking and reviewing the ingredients on all of them and checking for research and anecdotal evidence, I can guarantee you that none of them will work in the way as advertised.
Beard Farmer’s Growther Oil
This beard growth product claims to grow your beard 6x faster. Yes, that’s not a typo, they actually are arrogant enough to claim that.
When looking at the ingredients (which they make really hard to access), we can see that their product is mainly olive oil, with some essential oils thrown in there that do absolutely nothing for facial hair growth.
Oh did I mention that they are also perfectly OK selling you mostly olive oil at the price of $24 per 2oz? This is a scam. Plain and simple. Don’t believe the fake Amazon reviews, don’t waste your money.
Dollar Beard Club Grow Oil
Although they have a strong brand with quality beard oils, awesome advertisements, and great mission (no shaving), their “Grow Oil” isn’t really going to grow your beard any faster.
Their monthly program includes growth oil at $8 per 1oz, which is really a decent deal considering that the oil goes just well as a normal beard oil, but let me be clear by saying that it doesn’t do anything significant in stimulating beard growth.
Even though their Grow oil contains castor oil (which may marginally benefit beard growth), these effects are likely reversed by another ingredient; rice bran oil, which blocks the most potent beard growth hormone (DHT).
Beardilizer Beard Growth Cream
Even before I checked their ingredients I was pretty sure they were out and ready to make another low-quality product just as their Beardilizer beard vitamin is.
And I was correct. Their cream is basically water, olive oil, and coconut oil. Along with possible DHT blocking oils (that actually reduce beard growth) such as lauric acid and sunflower oil. Rest of the ingredients are either preserving chemicals and/or scents.
And they are glad to ask you to pay $23 for 4oz of this cream that for certain does not stimulate any new growth of beard.
Ustraa Beard Growth Oil
This is one of the best-selling beard growth oils in India, and they claim its a “blend of 8 natural oils”, and contains the growth promoting “Redensyl” compound.
The 8 oils are nothing special, after viewing the list, we can see that none of them (with the exception of maybe argan oil and vitamin E) do nothing to promote growth.
Then there’s the mystical “Redensyl” which is highly praised online for its magical hair growth effect. On a closer look, however, you can discover that it’s just green tea extract, and thus, not good for you beard, as green tea catechins can actually lower testosterone and DHT levels.
Beard Flux XL
This one comes from the manufacturers of the beard growth product “Beard Grow XL“, which is a massive failure containing DHT blockers.
I was expecting their growth oil to be bad as well, but out of the ones mentioned here, it’s actually the best (yet still, nothing special).
They have managed to (this time) keep away from DHT suppressing fatty acids, and list their ingredients like argan oil, amla oil, and Jojoba oil, with the addition of caffeine.
And then you notice something they didn’t even mention.
Safflower oil. Right there, as the second ingredient in their bottles (but not mentioned on their sales page). And as you might guess, safflower oil is one of the most potent DHT-blocking oils, right after rice bran oil.
Considering their past as deceptive beard pill company, you can be sure that there’s something wrong with their beard growth oil as well.
And in addition to having a potent DHT-blocking oil in it, it is the price. They are happy to charge $47 from 1 oz. dropper bottle of oils and caffeine that literally costs less than $3 to make.
The bottom line on beard growth oils being;
The main beard growth oils on the market are ineffective and probably sold simply because there is demand for such products.
Frequently Asked Beard Oil Questions
The one that you like and that doesn’t come with any hormone-suppressing oils. I’d say the DIY beard oil recipe above is the best one out there, but you can try some of the brands above too. Money-wise, if you want cheap beard oil without sacrificing quality, start making your own.
We all have different preferences but I’d say a combination of blue spruce oil and balsam fir oil as essential scent oils is the perfect combo, plus both of those are androgenic, unlike many of the essential oils used by bigger beard oil companies that tend to be estrogenic.
These days pretty much any pharmacy, supermarket, and online retailer has a wide selection of beard oils. Sadly many of them have no clue how to formulate the ingredients so that they wouldn’t suppress hormones, but hey, those same places usually also sell pure jojoba oils, castor oil, and argan oil, so just get those and make your own.
Jojoba oil is easily the best carrier oil, after that, I would say argan and castor are great too. For essential oils, balsam fir, cedarwood, and spruce essential oil provide masculine scent with possible androgenic benefits as well.
Most vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats I would not recommend applying anywhere close to your beard. This includes almond oil, rice bran oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seed oil, hemp oil, etc. If it’s high PUFA, it’s a no-no hormonally speaking.
From the essential oils, all the mint-family essential oils like peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus seem to have some antiandrogenic effects, so I can’t recommend those. As for tea tree oil and lavender, they smell nice but also seem to contain endocrine disrupting compounds linked to blocking the androgen receptor and upregulating the estrogen receptor.
Since your beard is androgenic-hair and the growth & health of it is largely regulated by the androgens testosterone and DHT, I see no reason to use the above.
It’s unlikely that you will ever notice any beard growth benefits from basic beard oils. In fact, most of the oils out there have some testosterone or DHT blocking ingredients in them, so they can actually end up suppressing your facial hair growth over long-term.
If you fell victim to buying a special “beard growth oil” then I’m sorry, but you have been scammed. Check the ingredients and compare them to our list of “good vs. bad beard oil ingredients” above in this post.
Conclusion on Best Beard Oils
There are thousands of beard oil products out there battling for superiority.
Everyone claims to have the best premium oil, but the harsh reality is that most of them completely missed the memo on how beard actually grows, and why they should care more about androgenic hormones, and less about jacking their bottles up with dozens of “cool sounding” oils.
Making beard oil is also extremely cheap. So cheap that our DIY beard oil recipe example above will cost you less than 5 bucks to make, and it’s all organic ingredients with the finest essential oils as the scent.
Think about that the next time you’re about to spend $20-50 on a 1 oz. bottle of beard oil.
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