If you don a hairy face of some kind - whether that’s stubble, goatee or full-on Jesus beard - you’ll probably be aware of something called beard oil.
Acting as a sort of conditioner for the hair growing from your chops, beard oil is a skincare product that’s designed to moisturise and hydrate a person’s facial hair as well as the skin underneath it. The point of it is that it’s supposed to leave the beard looking healthy and smelling super nice.
- Best beard oil: for soft and supple beard
Normally, a good quality beard oil is made up of two core ingredients: a carrier serum such as jojoba or grapeseed oil, and some extra essential oils to add scent or other benefits, such as sweet almond oil.
When applied to the beard, the oil in the serum is said to add nourishment to the facial hair. This is important because it’s been found by skin experts that beards, especially with impressively long ones - aren’t able to provide themselves with the same nourishment as the hair on your scalp. This means they can become dry and out of control if not looked after properly. .
We’ve got a full article on what beard oils are, how they work and the benefits, so check that out here if you want to understand more about them.
Who uses beard oil?
To answer the question “who uses beard oils”, it would probably be quite passive-aggressive of us to say “people with beards” so we won’t. Instead, let’s talk about who the target audience for beard oils are.
Naturally, the target market isn’t going to make up a huge part of the population but, surprisingly, it’s probably larger than you think. Not everyone who uses beard oil has to have a massive Gandalf-style beard dragging on the floor, even those with stubble can make good use of it. That’s because the skin underneath the hair growth will benefit, too.
It might help to know that beard oil isn’t some newfangled invention. In some cultures, men have been using beard oil, or an equivalent of it, for decades.
Consultant dermatologist Dr Ophelia Veraitch tells T3 about the benefits of beard oil and how many men have used it - or similar, natural alternatives - long before it became associated with the beard-wielding hipster crowd.
“I’m Sikh and it’s part of our religion that we shouldn't cut our hair,” says Veraitch. “Sikh men tend to have long hair (kept in turbans) and beards and it’s also part of the religion to also take good care of hair.”
To do this, Veraitch explains that Sikh men tend to use almond oil or coconut oil in their hair and beards, which is also common in Mediterranean and Asian cultures, where long and healthy hair has a significant association with beauty and even spirituality.
The ‘dos and don'ts’ of beard oil
For more intensive treatment it's good to keep the oil in for a few hours or even overnight, and then wash it out in the morning.
“This tends to be a Sunday routine for many cultures that commonly use hair/beard oils,” says Veraitch. However, for those with acne or oily/folliculitis-prone skin, she wouldn’t recommend using beard oils, as this can be occlusive and make spots worse.
“Some people also suffer from flaking in hair-bearing regions, and this can be caused by a variety of different skin conditions including psoriasis and seborrhoea dermatitis,” she says.
“These often have to be treated with medicated shampoos and creams (such as ketoconazole, elide or hydrocortisone) but when the scale gets very thick, one of the most effective treatments is to soak olive oil-based treatments into the affected area and leave it in for hours to overnight.
“When washed out the patches or plaques of scale will come away more easily.”
Also beware that many hair/beard oils have fragrances in them, which can commonly cause significant skin sensitivities and allergies, she adds.
Does beard oil really work?
So we’ve heard a lot about the benefits of beard oil and how it should be used, but the big question here is: does it really work?
As a beard owner myself, it was only right that I put some of the market’s biggest names to the test to find out.
I tried three different beard oils over the space of a week to try and see which worked best, if at all. Here are my thoughts.
Packed with shea butter and Argan oil, this beard product by Hawkins & Brimble helps to fight away any frizz and dryness of the facial hair while also nourishing the skin underneath. Out of the beard oils we tested, this product smelled the strongest. For me, it was a little too fragranced and sweet-smelling, especially right after application. However, it did make my beard feel luxuriously soft for a decent part of the day and at £10 for 30ml, it’s great value.
Jack Black Beard Oil, £21
For those who want to look sharp with a glossy healthy-looking beard, this oil is the one. Giving facial hair some great shine thanks to Kalahari melon oil and vitamin E, Jack Black’s beard oil leaves the face and the hairs growing out of it feeling super soft without smelling too strong.
What we love about Kiehl’s beard oil is that it absorbs super quickly, meaning you still get that softening effect but you aren’t left with that greasy feeling after application. It also boats salicylic acid, which gently exfoliates the skin underneath the beard to remove dry skin cells, preventing dandruff. Bonus points for the woody, uplifting essential oils used in here, too, including cedarwood, sandalwood and eucalyptus. The only downside is the price. Just short of £25 for 30ml, Kiehl’s offering is the priciest of the bunch.
You can also check out our guide to the best beard oils.
Out of the three, I think my favourite has to be the Kiehl’s beard oil, despite it not offering great value for money.
If you’re still not sure which to go for, I’d recommend visiting a department store and seeing if they have any testers laying around so you can see what smell and consistency suits you best. If that’s not possible, start with a cheaper product and if you find that you’re using it regularly, then it’s probably worth experimenting with more expensive options once you've run out.