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Beard Oil vs Beard Butter: What’s the Difference?

Are you confused about the difference between beard oil vs. beard butter? You’re in good company! It seems like most guys are a little baffled by all the beard products out there.

Here, we’ll break it down for you, and by the end, you’ll hopefully have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your grooming.

For those of you in the “tl;dr” crowd, we’ll summarize the entire post and get you on your way—and for those of you who really want to know what you’re talking about, we’ll dive into the finer details and describe the differences between these two products.

SUMMARY: Beard Oil vs. Beard Butter

Just the facts:

Beard oil and beard butter both have the same job: they’re designed to moisturize and soften your beard hair, hydrate the skin beneath, and relieve some of that beard itch / beardruff that a lot of guys experience. They differ in texture—beard oils are just oils and they have a slick, water-y texture, whereas beard butters are oils AND seed and/or nut butters (like cocoa butter or shea butter), and they’re a soft, spreadable semi-solid.

Both can do a great job moisturizing your beard and skin, but…

If you want to add a little shine to your beard, a beard oil can help, whereas if you want to add some shine and a little body to your beard, a beard butter is usually the better choice.

If you want something that stays in your beard for a longer period of time, beard butters usually last longer, because beard oils tend to evaporate;

If you want to alleviate beard itch and dandruff, both can do the trick, but beard butters seem to a slightly better job (but the downside is that beard butters tend to get used up a lot more quickly than beard oils do); and finally

If you’re looking for suggestions on which beard oils and beard butters we like, jump down to the “Our Suggestions for Beard Oils and Beard Butters” section at the end.

Alright! Now that you know the jist of things, here are the details:

Jobs: What Beard Oils and Beard Butters Are and Should Do

Let’s take a closer look at both these products.

Here’s what you need to know about beard oil:

> Beard oil is just that, an oil—and usually it’s a collection of oils. Most of the time it’s a few carrier oils (like coconut oil, argan oil, rosehip oil, and our favorite jojoba oil) and a couple of essential oils that are used for scent/fragrance (like rose oil, coffee oil, cypress oil, grapefruit oil, lavender, peppermint, spruce, and many, many others); and

> The oils have two jobs: they moisturize your beard, to keep it from becoming dry and prickly and gross-looking, and they hydrate your skin, to relieve some of that beard itch and get rid of beardruff.

Here’s what beard oil looks like in the bottle (and they almost always come in vertical bottles like this). This is a very popular option, called Honest Amish Beard Oil:

Beard Oil vs Butter Comparison

You’ll notice that there’s a little rubber tip at the top—that’s a dropper, and most beard oils some with one. They look like this:

Beard Oil Dropper

It seems like newer beard oils are ditching the dropper, though (they dribble a lot and they can leak if you put them in an overnight bag), and opting for a regular bottle with a regular opening at the top, like this:

beard oil vs beard butter

(That, by the way, is a FANTASTIC beard oil—it’s Beardaholic Beard Oil (affiliate link), and it has a really great cologne-like smell).

Here’s what beard oil looks like itself:

Beard Oil in Hand

Here’s what you need to know about beard butter:

> Beard butter is a collection of oils (both carrier oils and essentials oil, like the ones we mentioned above), PLUS nut or seed butters. A “butter” is what you get when you ground a seed or a nut into a paste, and many seed and nut butters are great hair and skin moisturizers. Popular options include shea butter (that’s probably the most popular), cocoa butter, and mango butter;

> Butters are a soft semi-solid, and they also have two jobs—the same jobs as beard oil: to moisturize your beard and hydrate your skin.

Here’s what beard butter looks like in the tub (and they usually come in tubs, although the shapes of the tubs can vary a lot):

What is Beard Butter?

Some of the tubs get pretty large, like this one—Maestro’s Beard Butter:

Beard Butter Container

…and here’s what beard butter looks like itself:

Beard Butter on Finger (close up)

As you can see, it has a creamy, fluffy texture, and it’s very smooth.

Now you know! The two products have the same job—to moisturize your beard hair and alleviate itch and beardruff on your skin—but they just have different consistencies.

Those are the “broad strokes,” anyway. The devil is in the details, as they say, and there are some small but important differences between the two.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Beard Oil

Beard oil is by far the more popular of these two products, and here’s why people love it and/or complain about it.

Reasons You May Want to Use Beard Oil

> It’s easy to work into a beard. Because oil is a liquid, it’s easy to get it to permeate your beard—just pour a couple drops of it in your hands, rub them together, and get to work, and that’s enough to moisturize a beard and make it look shiny and healthy;

> Many of them have all-natural, all-organic ingredient lists. For most male grooming products—and a looooooooooot of female grooming products—the ingredient list is mostly chemicals and synthetics. Beard oils are that rare grooming product where it’s not difficult to find an all-natural formulation, and that’s rad;

> They can last for a while. Some beard products tend to get used up really quickly (and that’s actually an issue with beard butter!), but oil—because you only use a few drops of it—can last for a good while, and that’s also rad; and

> They’re made in some fantastic scent options. Perhaps moreso than any other of the beard products available, you can get them in a wide range of fragrances, and beard oil makers try to outdo each other when it comes to scents (and our favorites are Mountaineer Beard Oil West Virginia Timber [affiliate link] and Grave Before Shave Bourbon and Sandalwood [affiliate link]).

Reasons You May Not Want to Use Beard Oil

> It can evaporate pretty quick. They obviously last longer than water, but oils—even the good ones—seem to wear off anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours after application. There are a lot of other beard products that stick around for a lot longer (and we talk about that a bit later);

> Because they evaporate so quickly, you may need to apply it a couple of times during the day. You don’t have to—a couple of drops should be good enough for a small- to medium-sized beard—but plenty of guys do; and

> Some oils are better than others. It’s sad but it’s true—there are some absolutely fantastic concoctions out there, but there are some that are pretty lousy—and the lousy ones are slick and slippery and make your beard feel like an oily mop. We provide a lot of reviews about the ones we like, and try to steer people to ones we think are worthwhile, and we talk about our favorites below.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Beard Butter

Alright, now let’s take a look at the other side of the aisle:

Reasons You May Want to Use Beard Butter

There are only two ways that beard butters seem to stand out, but they’re both biggies:

> Beard butter does a GREAT job moisturizing hair and skin. Beard oil does a good job too, but as we mentioned, it can evaporate—whereas that’s not the case with beard butter. Because it has all those mashed-up seeds and nuts, it’s got a thicker consistency and can coat beard hair and skin more adequately AND stick around longer. That’s a big deal, because that’s really the main task of a beard oil or a beard butter. In that sense, a beard butter is the “winner,” at least in our experience—it can moisturize hair and relieve beard itch and dandruff more than beard oil.

> It can provide a beard with a little “body.” That’s a huge plus, too—whereas beard oil can revitalize a beard and make it look a little shinier and healthy, beard butter—again, because of its consistency—can make it seem a little bushier and a little less wispy. Your results may vary (and if you’ve got a very wispy beard, it may not provide those kind of transformation), but that’s a big plus for a lot of beard-havers.

By the way, beard butter is often confused with beard cream or beard pomade—those are all basically the same thing. They’re all oils, butters, and sometimes some wax. Beard companies name their products whatever they want to, really, so those terms tend to get thrown around and confused. They’re all basically the same thing and do the same job.

Reasons You May Not Want to Use Beard Butter

We called it the winner a second ago—does that mean it’s perfect? Nope! Alas:

> You can run through it pretty quickly. Remember how we said that beard oil can last a while? Not the case with beard butter (at least not in our experience). Because it’s soft and fluffy, there’s less actual material that comes in a cannister, and whereas with beard oil you only need a few drops to get going, with beard butter, you need at least an almond-sized dollop to do the job, and there’s only so many almond-sized dollops in a tub. If you’ve got a medium- to long-length beard, you can use up a lot of butter really quickly. That’s a shame, because there are a lot of guys who really love beard butter—they said it’s helped with their under-the-beard skin itch, or relieved beard balm for them—but they have to go through a lot of butter to make that happen;

> The formulations aren’t always “all-natural,” or at least, it can be harder to find an all-natural ingredient list. Because butters are more complicated that oils—after all, oils… are just oils—they require binding agents, emollients, etc. It’s tough to make a butter using only all-natural ingredients;

> There aren’t really many beard butter options out there. Beard oil is far more popular, and whereas there are dozens (if not hundreds) of beard oils on the market, there are only a few dozen (at most) beard butters. We’ll talk about our favorites below (Maestro’s Beard Butter [affiliate link] is probably our top fave).

> The scent options are limited. Beard oils have a plethora of scent experiences, and beard butters—both because there are fewer of them, and because it’s harder to get a balm to smell like something—don’t have that range. There are few single-note scents on the market, and usually what you find is a “signature scent”—a scent that the beard butter company came up with. 

One last thing—beard butter doesn’t really provide much hold or styling capability. The ingredient you need to get beard hair to stay in place is wax—usually beeswax—and beard butter formulations don’t have much of it (if they have it at all). If you’re looking to hold your beard in a certain way, check out beard balm (which usually has some wax in it), or even better, beard wax (which usually has a lot of wax in it).

There you go! The pros and cons of each.

Does It Makes Sense to Use Oil *and* Butter?

You could, and if you find that works for you, the more power to you! Honestly, with all those beard products out there, there are very few “right” answers—you need to find what works for you. Some guys do, in fact, use multiple beard products, and the most common combo seems to be beard balm and beard oil—beard oil first, and then beard balm.

As far as a beard oil and beard butter, you probably don’t need to use both. Because both products contain the same main ingredient—oils—you’re “bringing coals to New Castle,” as my grandfather would say. Both products do the same thing—moisturize and hydrate beard hair and skin—so you probably don’t need to use them in tandem. The real reason you’d choose one over the other is because of the reasons we’ve listed above.

Again, if you want to use both, give it a try! But you probably don’t need to.

Alright! That wraps up the bulk of our beard oil vs. beard butter debate. Now for…

Our Suggestions for Beard Oils and Beard Butters

Here it is at last! Our “Recommendations,” where we get to talk about products we love. Here’s how it shakes out:

Our favorite beard oils—a two-way tie:

Grave Before Shave Beard Oil (affiliate link): Probably one of the best-known beard oils out there. Made in a wide of creative scents, from caramel mocha to pine/cedarwood to tobacco/vanilla to tequila limon and more. Moisturizes pretty well, in our experience. Plus—and this isn’t really important, but we go nuts for this sort of thing—the artwork on the products is fantastic.

Zeus Beard Oil (affiliate link): This is our favorite “high-end” oil. It’s got a lot of great moisturizing ingredients, including jojoba oil, which, as we mentioned above, is our favorite oil (and, yes, we have a favorite oil. We run a website about facial hair—we think a lot about these things). Anyway—jojoba oil is great because it’s similar to the oil our skin produces (called sebum), and it can balance out oil production in your pores. It seems like only higher-end, better-made beard oils have jojoba oil, and that’s one of the big perks of Zeus beard oil.

Runner-up: Honest Amish Beard Oil (affiliate link). The original gangsta of beard oils, this has a very sweet, spicy smell—it’s a mix of cedar, anise, and clove. Not everybody loves it, but we do. It seems to last a while too, which is nice.

Our favorite beard butters—a three-way tie:

Maestro’s Beard Butter (affiliate link). We mentioned this one earlier—it’s got a fascinating, masculine scent (grapefruit, pepper, and a not-so-well-known citrus named bergamot) and it feels nice and cool. It’s easy to work into a beard and easy to wash out, and can make a beard soft and bushy. Probably our favorite beard butter overall.

Every Man Jack Beard Butter (affiliate link). Remember how we said there aren’t many scent profiles available in beard butters? One company that bucks that trend is Every Man Jack. They’ve got a Hemp with Clary Sage and Bergamot, a sea salt and citron fragrance, and a sandalwood and vanilla mix, which is a fun take on the classic “barbershop” scent of sandalwood. In our experience, they do a great job moisturizing, particularly the hemp formulation—that’s a great moisturizer, and it will probably be in a lot more grooming products soon as people get more used to it.

Bluebeards Original Beard Saver (affiliate link). This isn’t technically a beard butter, but we absolutely love it, because it has the same feel as a butter and we’ve known it to work really well for itch on the skin and beardruff. It’s not as well-known, but the people who use it seem to have a lot of brand loyalty towards it. They also make a mint version of it, which is nice—those “single-scent” butters are kind of a rare thing. 

Honestly, we’re happy recommending any of those three—we’ve used each and hold them in high regard.

Wrapping Up the Beard Oil vs Butter Comparison

There you have it! Now you know more about beard oils and beard butters than you ever thought you needed to. We hope there’s something here that helps you—be good, have fun, and happy beard!

Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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