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What's the difference between Beard Balm and Beard Oil?

Beard Balm or Beard Oil - which should you use?

A very decent dark beard and moustache shown on a man's face from nose to neck

The answer lies in what you want to achieve for your beard. Mostly this comes down to

  • reducing irritation and discomfort, or
  • styling and taming.

Keep in mind that (generally speaking) oils condition the skin and beard, but don't style much, and waxes hold a style, but don't condition much. Products range from Oily right through to Waxy with every possible ratio combination in between. 

    Problem #1.  Reducing irritation and discomfort

    Does your beard area feel itchy? You may also have flaking skin within the beard (affectionately called "beardruff"). In this case you need to treat the skin to some moisturising.

    Regular moisturiser will be good for the underlying skin, but will cake up the beard hairs. Instead, you can use a few drops of beard oil massaged right into the beard and face. Generally speaking beard oil is Moisturiser for People With Beards. Because it's also going to coat the beard hairs, it will provide a gloss and softness. It may also soften some of the more wiry "stickie-out" hairs.

    If you find that beard oil leaves you feeling... well... oily, then use a beard balm which is moisturising rather than waxy. We find Nishman Beard Balm operates this way. A pea-sized schmear warmed and massaged between your hands will transfer easily to your beard. Comb it through with your fingers (or a wide-toothed comb). As it sets it will return somewhat to its original state which is more solid, thus also holding the beard in shape.

    Another factor making beards dry is over-cleaning. Leave the hair shampoos for your hair, they tend to strip out too much oil when used in a beard, so use only a dedicated beard shampoo or beard cleansing product - there's a reason why they exist. Or use nothing but water. 

    Problem #2. Styling or taming. Is your beard too wild? If you want to keep it compact and tame the flyaway whiskers then you need to look for a styling product such as a beard balm.
    Generally, the more oil a product contains, the better it is for skin and beard gloss. Solidified oils and butters will be more moisturising, while waxes will provide hold. The proportion of each in a product determines which function it will perform.

    Products which present in a more solid form are better for styling. If it melts very easily in your hands it will provide more moisturising and will help with flaking or itching. If a balm is harder to emulsify in your hands (and probably contains more wax), then it will provide greater hold, but less moisturising to the beard.

    Pushing over to the very wax-full end of the spectrum, the ultimate shaping product is a moustache wax as some are almost exclusively beeswax. This type of product can take a bit of work to warm up (kept in the pocket, or blasted with a hairdryer in winter) and apply, but can hold an impressive shape all day and into the night! 

    So what does your beard need?


    Looking for suggestions? Here are some of our best-selling beard products:


    With that old school scent, this is a semi-solid product with nice conditioning properties and some styling as well.  Tabac Beard Balm

    Emulsifies easily in the hands, and affords some styling and some conditioning Nishman Beard Balm

    The softest of these balms, it's so easy to apply, has a light scent and conditions more than it styles. Truefitt & Hill Beard Balm

    A manly scent of tobacco flower and a nice consistency which won't run right through your fingers. Sheffield  Beard Oil - Tobacco 

    A cologne-style scent which is a little brighter than it's stable-mate above. Sheffield Beard Oil - Royal