The number ONE beard question – Answered!

Should I use beard oil or beard balm?

Man stroking his beard at barber shop. Gatsby and Bootlegger

For the inexperienced this is a loaded question with, believe it or not, many variables. Variables that only you, the bearded man can evaluate. Sure, you could ask one of the many very knowledgeable “bearders” out there…I will tell you – it’s a question that we never get tired of answering. Why? Because we encourage good looking beards and to tell you the truth many of us sell great products that can help. And with a little insider information, when we help people grow better beards we sell product, when we sell products we grow our brands. Don’t take that the wrong way – it’s not always a sales pitch. We genuinely care about proper beard care and “at least for me” I will always be available to help those that take the time to ask.  

Without question the most asked question we get is “should I use beard oil or beard balm and which one is better?” – Like the magical beard lies in the answer to that very question. If I say oil and you use oil the next day suddenly your face will appear on magazine covers across the globe - - ahh, nope. Not even remotely true. Honestly, if you use oil in a daily routine for three months your beard will be noticeably better…but I digress. Read on and let’s tackle this issue the best we can in a short blog post.

Remember, everyone is different, everyone’s beard is different, and everyone’s SKIN is different. The question of which is better matters a lot less when you must consider your own skin and beard goals. You see, beard hair grows from the hair follicles on your face and it’s the hair follicles that contribute a great deal to a good-looking beard. And that, that right there is why OIL is the king in beard care.


Beard Oil at gatsby and bootlegger

Lets start with beard oil: a mixture of carrier oils, essential oils and sometimes fragrance oils – okay, so I may have lied already because now that I’m thinking, the number one question is “does beard oil work?” and YES! Beard oil works with one caveat and something you’ve heard from us and probably other beard bloggers…we always refer to oil as “quality beard oil.” FOR A REASON. There are companies that use harmful artificial or harsh essential oils, cheap carrier oils and fragrance oils and they are bad for your beard – no matter what their label says. Don’t worry, it’s a hell of a lot easier to find quality than crap – and if you shop at G and B, just know we don’t sell junk, and we preach the all-natural varieties.

Beard oil itself is the number one beard care product by a long shot, it is THE KING. For many reasons: it acts as a leave in conditioner and moisturizer for your beard and for your skin. If used correctly and routinely, it’s going to transform the skin and hair follicles underneath and create a healthy environment for a healthy growing beard. Best part about oil it can be used from day one, and be the best asset you have as you grow past the feared “itchy” phase.  The amount of oil you use will be the only thing that changes, oil goes a long way – even longer beards only require a dime sized application. A healthy beard is a hydrated beard.

The application of beard oil is also the easiest of all beard products too. The amount you use will greatly depend on experience and trial and error.  A medium to long beard will require a dime sized amount in your palm – distribute evenly on your hands and massage into and all over your beard and ‘stache. It’s important to go deep and get your skin underneath. Now it’s a matter of using a quality comb or brush to evenly distribute and style for the day. To keep it hydrated you may find yourself doing this routine one to three times each day, resulting in a shiny and great smelling beard. Its best to note that oil does absorb quickly resulting in a flat finish for most of the day.


Man in flannel using beard balm. Gatsby and Bootlegger.

Beard balm is the product you will inevitably graduate to as you grow into the medium sized beard. It’s an amazing product with similar benefits as its big brother oil.  Balms are essentially a pomade and a cologne for your beard. Like oil, it acts as a moisturizer with the added benefit of a sealant for the hair.  The biggest benefit of the balm is to control those nasty flyaways and strays that can make your beard look bushy and unkempt. We’ve likened it to pomade for good reason, it controls and styles your beard in a healthy way. Those dapper gents with the biggest, most perfect beards you see on Instagram – Their secret? Balm.

Beard balm is a powerful agent, it has staying power. Much better than oil for longevity, and not only does it control, style, and smell good longer, it actually makes your beard appear fuller and shinier because its less absorbent and coats the hair. The only drawback to balm: it’s a slightly more difficult application and it does less for the skin underneath – well actually it’s better as a moisturizer because of its makeup, but it’s harder to apply directly to the skin.

If you’re used to using beard oil, you’ll feel comfortable using balm. Start with a fingertip sized amount and work into your palms, it should be smooth and shy of any clumps. Apply just like you would with oil, coating the hair – pay special attention on getting to your skin for moisturizing. Then comb through and style…a good boars bristle brush will be much better to evenly distribute, but find what you like the best. Again, you can do this one to three times a day. Another thing to think about - - you should use balm right before you go to sleep, remember it lasts much longer than oil and this simple bedtime routine will do wonders for your overall beard health.

One thing we need to mention is the ingredients and what to look for.  We recommend not using anything that isn’t natural such as the popular base of petroleum jelly…it’s just damaging, especially if you don’t wash your beard daily.  Shea butter is the most used base along with all-natural beeswax and those are great to use with no damaging effects or worry.  You will want to take notice of other ingredients that can go rancid if left unwashed daily – and since they are natural, I trust you can spot those by name.

Beard Oil   - -  Or  - -  Beard Balm? 

So that’s good and all, but which one should I use? Well I didn’t mention those variables, and that was intentional. Everyone is different and their facial hair especially. You’re simply going to have to experiment and see what works for YOU. For general purposes we recommend using oil from day one until you can run your fingers through your beard.  At which point, switch to the balm and see what it does for your hair and appearance. It’s likely you will end up using some combination of both oil, balm and maybe even dabbling into other must try’s. Enjoy the process and keep it up. And remember, you will see zero benefits if you’re maintaining only occasionally, its only beneficial with a daily routine.

There you have it, an almost coherent written answer to the most commonly asked question. If you’ve never tried anything – START.  Don’t be bashful - - ask your questions, it’s a whole lot better than the meaningless experiments we’ve tried on ourselves.

Randy - - Founder

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