by Mr. Spruce
Today’s quick pick is prompted by a couple of questions that we get asked pretty often; (1) What’s the difference between a beard balm and beard oil, and (2) do I need to use them both?
Since this is a quick pick, we’ll try to keep the answer nice and concise for you. Here goes!
Let’s start with the physical form of each. A beard balm is a solid, it generally comes in a tin, and usually has a consistency similar to a traditional hair product like pomade. You use a balm similar to how you use a hair product as well; rub a little on the palm of your hand to warm it and soften it up, then apply it directly to the beard.
A beard oil on the other hand is, as the name suggests; oil. It’s a liquid, it generally comes in a little bottle with either a dropper or a drip-cap, and you apply it by placing 3-4 drops on your hand and then massaging through the beard to get a good coverage.
(Note - Beard oils also work well with a beard comb to get a nice distribution of oil throughout the beard.)
There are really three primary goals which beard oils and beard balms seek to achieve. These are; to moisturise, to condition, and to style.
Both beard oils and beard balms tackle each these three goals with greater lesser success. Remember the old ‘pick any two’ philosophy? Well here’s how it applies to balms and oils;
As you can see, the main functional difference between the oil and the balm is that oil doesn’t have the hold or styling power that balm can afford (it does have some of course, just not a lot), whereas whilst a balm can be great at styling and conditioning your beard, it often has trouble penetrating deeply to moisturise the underlying skin.
With both beard oils and beard balms you can achieve a really great, shiny, healthy look for your beard. In fact, whichever product you choose it’ll make a huge difference to the overall tidiness of your beard versus not using any products at all.
Having said that, it’s difficult to beat the feel of a well hydrated and conditioned beard that you get when you use an oil. Because it penetrates deep to the underlying skin and follicles, an oil will moisturise your face much better than a balm and reduce that tight, dry feeling which you can often get after washing.
Also, if you suffer from beard-itch or beard-ruff (dandruff of the beard) then an oil will go much further to alleviating that than a balm would.
So, to sum up; if you’ve got a short – mid length beard then a beard oil is more than sufficient for you. You’ll get the nicely moisturised feeling, a reduction in beard-itch and beard ruff, lovely full conditioned beard hair, and a tidy, shiny look. Plus you can save the money which you would have spent on a balm (or buy yourself a nice beard brush instead).
If your beard is in the mid-long length range then I’d recommend both an oil and a balm. The oil will give you penetration right down to the follicles and will help to keep the underlying skin in good order, whilst the balm will do a great job of holding all the hairs in place and giving you a nice, full-but-tidy outer-beard.
Easy-peasy, right? Any questions or comments please leave them below. Always keen to hear your thoughts on what works best for you and whether or not you find this sort of advice useful!
Like what you see here? Check out our guides to Beard Maintenance Essentials for Beginners and Beard Care Products Simply Explained if you want to find out more. Or you can always jump right on over to our Beard Care Collection to grab some balms and oils and try them out for yourself!
Cheers,Andy.Head of Good Grooming
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Mr. Spruce aka Andy. One half of Worthy & Spruce. Blogging about all things gentlemanly, and many things not. Tired but tireless dad, business dude, consumer of coffee, and deliverer of timely quips.
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