Beards aren’t going anywhere. For years people have claimed we’ve reached “peak beard”— that the number of men willing to grow facial hair has peaked — and that men will once again start shaving. Much to the chagrin of big razor companies, that hasn't happened, and facial hair prevalence continues to grow (pun intended). More importantly, men’s grooming habits are evolving. As men realize the benefit of living a healthy lifestyle, more and more of us consider proper grooming an essential part of overall health.
Like beards, beard care products are popping up everywhere. “Beard oil” is one of the top search terms for men according to Google search data and it’s by far the dominant product within the beard care category.
But with so many different options available, how do you know which product is right for you? And with prices ranging from a buck to over a hundred dollars, how do you know if they’re worth it? Are cheap beard oils safe? Do expensive beard oils have magical powers? Is there really a difference? While we’re admittedly partial to our own premium beard oil, we’ve got your back, and below we’ve highlighted the top considerations you should take when choosing a beard oil.
1. Effectiveness - Does it do what I need it to do?
2. Price - Is it worth it?
3. Scent - Do I like the smell? Is it fragrance-free?
Beard oil primarily softens and conditions the beard. It helps to improve beard health by locking in moisture and nourishing the facial hair. Some oils are known to increase blood flow to the hair follicles resulting in healthier growth. While other oils mimic those oils naturally produced by the body.
Some claim that the primary purpose of beard oil is to reduce beard itch, but that is a misleading statement. The most effective product to stop beard itch is a specialized facial + beard moisturizer. This type of product includes non-oil ingredients that are far superior at reducing beard itch.
Reduce beard itch? Help with beard growth? Soften your beard? Strengthen your beard? Add shine to your beard? Improve your skin’s health? Stop beard dandruff? All of the above? Most beard oils claim to help with most, if not all of these issues.
What is considered effective by one man, might not be considered so by another. It all comes down to your specific beard and skin needs. If you’re looking for a beard oil that does it all, then, generally speaking, the cheaper the beard oils are less effective at addressing multiple beard concerns. Why?
It all comes down to the type of ingredients, the quality of those ingredients and their concentration.
Pick up a bottle of cheap beard oil and look at the ingredient list. You'll see a list of hard to pronounce words. This is because cheap beard oils tend to use a lot of synthetic ingredients. After all, it is much cheaper to source mass-produced chemicals from China than it is to use cold-pressed argan oil or jojoba oil from sustainable farms. Natural beard oils tend to be more expensive for this very reason: natural ingredients and essential oils are not cheap compared to the chemicals used by mass-market brands.
Aside from synthetic ingredients, cheaper beard oils use low quality and lower concentrations of natural ingredients. Both argan and jojoba oil are considered some of the best beard oil ingredients. Cheap beard oils tend to use these ingredients in very low concentrations or very poor (heavily processed) quality. Either way, you are not getting the benefit of the oils. It is purely a marketing tactic by the maker.
Hemp seed oil is one of the single best oils for your hair follicles, beard, and skin beneath. It is actually dubbed “nature’s most perfectly balanced oil” because it provides the perfect 3:1 ratio of Linoleic (Omega 6) to alpha-Linolenic (Omega 3) fatty acids and contains all of the 21 known amino acids, making it a highly beneficial skin and beard treatment. A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed that hemp seed oil helps alleviate dermatitis and skin inflammation. Other highly effective beard oil ingredients include argan, jojoba, sunflower and castor seed oils.
While all of these oils are excellent for your beard and skin beneath, where and how they are grown impacts their quality. Think wine and whiskey. Cabernet Sauvignon is grown throughout the world yet the best grapes come from Napa Valley and Bordeaux. Why? The growing conditions are right. The combination of soil and climate combine to produce superior fruit. Furthermore, the winemakers are experts. They employ tested methods to expertly extract the juice from the grape. The same applies to the raw ingredients in your beard oil.
How the oil is extracted matters. Most oils are extracted in one of two ways:
Beard oils containing cold-pressed oils tend to be more expensive given the higher cost of the raw ingredients.
Another factor to consider is fragrance. Many beard oil companies use the one beard oil, multiple fragrance model. They simply have one "beard oil" and then added different fragrances to the base oil resulting in a verity of products to sell.
Fragrances are a blend of smelly chemicals. What chemicals, you ask? We don't know. Brands are not required to list the harsh chemicals in their fragrance formulas. This is why dermatologists recommend using fragrance-free products if you have sensitive skin. Fragrances tend to include a lot of alcohols which can dry out your beard.
High-quality beard oils tend to be fragrance-free. This doesn't mean they don't smell, they just use natural oils (more expensive) to create the scent instead of relying on cheaper, chemical fragrances.
We’re firm believers that you get what you pay for. At the end of the day, a business must make money in order to be in business. If the beard oil is priced cheaply, it must be fairly inexpensive for that business to produce.
Selecting a beard oil is a very personal experience. The ingredients are absorbed by your beard and your skin...the body’s largest organ, which has an impact on your health and well-being. Some refuse to pay more than $10 for beard oil and others who won't even consider a beard oil cheaper than $20. At the end of the day, regardless of price, if it makes you feel more confident and better about yourself, then it is worth its weight in gold.