What is Beard Balm? All you need to know as a beginner
When it comes to beard care, one of the less popular products is beard balm (especially when compared to beard oil).
Beard balm is like the middle child of the beard care world and often gets confused with other beard related products like beard oil, beard elixir, beard conditioner, beard wash, and heck even beard water (yes thats a thing we learned about recently as well)!
So what is beard balm?
We’ll get to that in a minute, but before we do, its important to understand what makes up a beard balm itself:
Ingredients That Make Up a Beard Balm
To understand what a beard balm is, its important to first understand the ingredients that are within the actual balm itself.
While every balm is unique, they typically will always have four distinct ingredient types:
- Carrier oils
- Essential oils
- Spreadability agent
Carrier oils – Not only found in beard balm, carrier oils are an incredibly popular type of oil that is found in many beauty and skin care products for both men and women alike. Their primary role within these products is to provide both moisture and nourishment to your skin and beard follicle.
To fully understand the benefit of a carrier oil, its important to look at what goes on with the surface of your skin a bit closer.
At the base of each one of your beard follicles you have these tiny glands called sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for discharging an oil called sebum oil. Sebum oil’s primary role is to keep your skin moisturized and helps to reduce dry skin from flaking – and if you have a beard – sebum oil helps to prevent beardruff (i.e. dandruff on your beard).
Some of the most popular carrier oils on the market that you will typically see within beard balms are going to be oils like jojoba, argan, sweet almond, and grapeseed. There are several other oils as well, however these are just a few of the more popular ones.
If you have severely sensitive skin, typically its best to use an oil like jojoba as its mild when compared to some of the others listed.
Of course when testing out any new skin care product, and especially if you have sensitive skin, its important to do an allergy patch test prior to a full application.
Another oil that is incredibly popular is argan oil.
Argan is derived from the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) and is considered a nut. Therefore if you, or someone that you are close with (i.e. wife or child), has a severe nut allergy, you may want to steer clear of this oil just to be safe. Now some dermatologists have stated that any allergic reaction from argan oil may be actually due to the preservatives within the product itself and not the actual argan oil. Regardless, its just something to keep in mind when selecting a beard balm.
One of the most common questions that beardsmen may ask around the use of beard balm (as well as beard oil) is that if they are susceptible to having acne, would be if its really a good idea to apply a product that contains oils to your face regularly?
From what we gathered in a few Google searches is that if a product contains milder oils, like jojoba, it will help even out the oil distribution from your sebaceous glands. This leveling of oils shouldn’t cause an uptick in acne production. However its always recommended to consult with your dermatologist for more serious questions.
Another important point when it comes to carrier oils is that they actually deliver a lot of great benefits. While the list is to exhaustive for this post, a simple search of “[CARRIER OIL]” + benefits will yield a ton of information.
Essential oils – While carrier oils are responsible for delivering a lot of moisture and nourishment within the beard balm, essential oils help to deliver a great fragrance along with some extra benefits for your skin as well.
Essential oils can be derived from many different sources. Typically in any tin of beard balm you can see essential oils derived from lavender, clove, tea tree, sandalwood, cedarwood, pine, citrus, lemon, and many more.
Their sole use is to deliver a nice subtle scent to your beard.
While some beard balms can smell pretty potent ant first, essential oils tend to dissipate as the day wears on. For the most part, you can expect any beard balm to largely retain its fragrance for the first couple of hours. If you applied it while you were getting ready for work in the morning, you shouldn’t have but a very light lingering scent (if at all) by lunch time.
Now there is a very important point of distinction when it comes to essential oils versus “Fragrance” (parfum) that is sometimes listed on skin care products.
If you see Fragrance on a side of a beard balm, this is not the same as essential oils – even if on the front of the beard balm tin its marketed as Pine, Sandalwood, or any other scents – point is, always read the ingredients.
Spreadability agent – In order to give a beard balm its “balmy” properties, there is usually a spreadability agent added in of some sorts. The type of product can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
However by and far the most common is going to be a shea or cocoa butter. These butters are usually found in all sorts of lotions and do a terrific job at converting a beard balm from a waxy block into something that is a bit more malleable. In addition, it will also add a terrific layer of moisture to the carrier oils that are already contained within the product.
If you are vegan, this is the one beard balm ingredient you want to be mindful of. Some beard balms will contain animal derived products. Most notably is that you may see Emu oil which is derived from the fat of an emu.
Beeswax – An additional product that gives beard balm its distinct property is the inclusion of beeswax. Beeswax will help to provide a very slight hold for your beard (we’ll touch on this more in a minute).
Beeswax does also have some great properties for your skin as well. Most prominently it will help to act as a protectant by blocking out natural pollutants that you may encounter through out the course of any given day.
Should You Use Beard Balm With Other Products?
Depending on the dryness of the climate where you live, more often than not beard balm will be more than sufficient when it comes to keeping your beard and the skin beneath your beard in excellent shape.
However, there is one facet to the grooming routine for beards that most men often trip up on – the actual cleansing of their beard.
For some reason beardsmen take such gentle care in selecting the right beard comb or boars hair bristle brush for their beard, careful selection of a beard oil or balm that has just the right ingredients that won’t harm their beard – but as soon as they jump into the shower all bets are off.