The 10 Best Beard Balms
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Having a beard isn't just a fashion choice, it's a statement about your lifestyle. But if you're not careful, that statement can be that you're sloppy and unkempt. Luckily, these balms, some of which border on being waxes, will keep your facial hair in order by taming flyaways and softening that scruff, ensuring that you and your whiskers both get the admiration you deserve. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 11, 2021:
Along with a good beard wash and beard brush, beard balm is an excellent way to add body, shine, and a pleasant aroma to your awesome facial hair. Considering the fact that all our previous recommendations are still available, more popular than ever, and offered in an even wider range of smells than before, we elected to leave our rankings as is. Alternatively, if you want a good sheen, healthy hair, and a nice smell but want to minimize stiffness and heat retention, a quality beard oil is worth considering instead of a balm.
March 04, 2020:
As anyone with a serious beard can tell you, growing it is just the first step to creating a manly mane any viking would be proud to call his own. Just like the hair on your head, beards and mustaches require care and maintenance to look their best. This includes using washes, oils, and of course, the balms on this list. You'll also need to keep a decent comb or brush on hand, as well as a trimmer to help you achieve your desired style.
If you prefer something masculine, woodsy, smokey, and spicy scents are going to be best, like what Bossman Stagecoach, Seven Potions Woodland Harmony, and the Rocky Mountain Barber Company Variety Pack offer. If you haven't quite decided on what kind of scent you prefer, or simply like to vary depending on your mood, the Grave Before Shave Dual Pack is a good choice, since it contains one that is a bit sweet and another that is more woodsy. Smooth Viking Balm, Honest Amish Organic, and BushKlawz Urban Prince have a fragrance that tends to lean towards the sweeter or more floral side.
While beard balms differ from waxes in their consistency and how well they hold a style, some, like Smooth Viking Balm, The Gentlemen's Beard Premium, and those in the Rocky Mountain Barber Company Variety Pack have a more waxy consistency, allowing you to create a style that should hold through long days without having to add another product.
If you are trying to avoid contact with all chemicals, you'll want to consider Honest Amish Organic, Seven Potions Woodland Harmony, Wild Willie's Beard Butter, Professor Fuzzworthy's Gentleman's Gloss, and The Gentlemen's Beard Premium, all of which are organic. That being said, pretty much every option on our list is produced from all-natural ingredients.
Maapilim Beard Balm Made with grapefuit and lavender, Maapilim Beard Balm offers a nice blend of citrus and floral scents that will appeal to both men and women. It helps to lock in moisture, so the strands stay healthy, which also results in a nice shine without feeling greasy. maapilim.com
Olio Beard Balm If your scruff is getting a bit too hard to manage, specifically regarding frizziness and fly-aways, Olio Beard Balm can help. It offers some slight holding properties, so it can tame that wild mane, while maintaining a natural look, so no one will have any idea you've added some product. olioskin.com
Beard Balm Vs. Beard Oil
There are some brands that work exclusively like beard oils: moisturizing, scenting, and softening.
So, you've grown yourself a beard. Perhaps, it's well along its way to legendary status. That's a good thing. But is your beard too dry, too itchy, too flaky (one flake is too flaky), too thin, too boring? Go ahead, touch it. Take a look at it. I'll wait.
Odds are, if you aren't already using a beard balm or oil, you encountered one of the nightmares listed above. Rest assured, there is hope for you, but you're going to have to decide just how you want to address the problem(s).
At the end of the day, there is no inherent superiority between oils and balms. This is ultimately a matter of personal preference, but I'll endeavor here to save you some time and money in figuring out which is right for you.
Beard Oils are predominantly conditioners. They are designed to soften your beard and sooth your skin, to moisturize and, sometimes, to add fragrance. Like New York Fashion Week, they have no real bearing on style.
Beard Balms, on the other hand, can serve multiple purposes. There are some brands that work exclusively like beard oils: moisturizing, scenting, and softening. But most beard balms are wax-based, and so they also serve as styling agents for your facial forest, providing shape and thickness in ways that oils cannot.
These waxes and sealants also help lock in the fragrant and moisturizing elements that you want to stick around throughout the day.
The downside? Beard balm tends to be pretty stiff at room temperature, so it requires a little handy work (rubbing your palms together) to get it going.
For my money, I recommend the workhorse, the beard balm. That little bit of friction you need to create is a small price to pay for an added level of protection and control.
But What IS Beard Balm?
I probably shouldn't admit this, but I had "blonde tips" in middle school, just in the front where my hair got oh-so-slightly longer and was styled upward. It was a bad look, and it took a lot of work to attain it. My hair is absurdly thick and unmanageable, so I used to use Clubman mustache wax to get those golden locks of shame to stand up.
Your basic beard balm consists of a wax base, usually beeswax, shea butter or lanolin.
That thick, utterly sticky material, that mustache wax is the precursor to the modern beard balm.
Essentially, beard balm is a marriage of beard oil–that simple, shapeless material used for conditioning a beard–and beard wax, which is ostensibly mustache wax in bulk.
Where beard balm outperforms beard wax is in its ingredients. Quality beard balms will pass over the more common and less soothing ingredients like petroleum jelly in favor of softer mixtures of wax and oil. As result, beard balm has superior conditioning and a more natural feel, even when heavily styled.
Your basic beard balm consists of a wax base, usually beeswax, shea butter or lanolin. Next you'll find one or more conditioning oils, most often jojoba or argan oil, which are preferred for their long shelf-life and gentle nature. Finally, most balms will contain some combination of essential oils to keep your beard smelling like anything from a seaside resort to a mountain hot spring.
We've Been Doing This for Years
That picture of a funny looking guy on horseback is one of the first images of a curated mustache in the history of art. Theoretically, it's been possible to shave for the last 30,000 years or so, as evidence of stone blades suggests. But in this image from Iran, not only is the man's face shaved down to its mustache, but that stash is neatly curled at the ends like Bill the Butcher's. See?
One of the questions raised by the shape of these ancient whiskers is: how did he do it? Well, if you take a look back into the oldest written histories known to us–take The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Akkadian poem from around 2700 BCE–you'll find all sorts of references to characters anointing their beards and their bodies with various oils. Since tallow and beeswax wouldn't make their way into the middle east until many centuries later, we can assume that one or more of these anointing oils stayed relatively stiff at higher temperatures, allowing it to work as the very first beard/mustache styler.
So remember Iranian Bill there the next time you scrape a little beard balm onto your thumbnail, and realize that you're dipping your finger deep into human history.