Looking for the best beard balm? One that can make your beard bushy, shiny, and health-looking? One that can hydrate your skin, and maybe even clear up some beardruff?
Welcome—you’re in the right place. We’ve tested dozens of different beard balms, took a ridiculous amount of notes, and come up with the following data. Here are our picks for best beard balm, divided up into different categories.
We realize not everybody may be as obsessed with beard balms as we are, so we’ll keep this organized and brief. We’ll give a quick overview about all our favorite balms and then, if you’re interested in all the details, we’ll go balm-by-balm and discuss why (and when) we think it’s worthwhile.
Let’s dive in—hopefully there’s something here you like.
All the Best,
The RTG Crew
The Best Scented / Most Fragrant Beard Balms
We’ll list this first. Scent isn’t the most important feature of a beard balm—the most important feature of a beard balm is its ability to moisturize your beard hair and the skin beneath it—but it is our favorite aspect of beard balms, so we’ll talk about it first. Keep in mind, all of the beard balms below work great as moisturizers (except for Clubman Pinaud)—it’s just these are the ones that we think smell the best:
Honest Amish Beard Balm: Sweetest
In many ways, Honest Amish Beard Balm is the original gangsta of beard balms: they were one of the first balms on the scene when beards started becoming popular—this is about 10 or 15 years ago—and they probably have the most name recognition.
Their balm—and all their beard products—feature their signature scent of cloves, anise, and cedarwood. It’s sweet but not overly so—the cloves are mild and pleasant, and the anise (which is a faint licorice-like smell used in a number of different liqueurs) is bright and perky, and the cedarwood gives it a little bit of an earthy tone. It’s very unique, and while not everybody likes it, a lot of people do (and you can check out our before-and-after photos of Honest Amish here). Honest Amish does a great job moisturizing, too, and we never feel like we’re losing out on any of the beard/skin benefits.
Pro tip: if you’re looking for a sweet scent but also want to increased hold, check out their Honest Amish Heavy Duty Balm. It’s got a very similar scent and it’s made with a lot more beeswax, so you can have an easier time shaping your beard.
Best Line of Beard Balm Scents
No contest—the “Best Line of Scents” award goes to Grave Before Shave. They cover all the basics—they’ve got a bay run, a pine scent, and an “outdoors” scent—but they range out to some creative concoctions, everything from cigar + vanilla to leather + cedarwood to + tequila + lemon to caramel + mocha. If you’re into scents—and we’ll be honest, that’s a big reason why we use beard balm—these can be very satisfying, and you can get a Grave Before Shave Dual Packs to rotate them.
They’re also winners in the “Best Looking Artwork on a Beard Product,” as well—all of their products feature great logos of pirates and skeletons and other ne’er-do-wells with beards, and they look great in a bathroom cabinet.
Viking Revolution: Best Multiscent Variety Pack
Speaking of variety packs, our favorite variety pack is the Viking Revolution 4-Pack. In it you’ve got four of the fundamental male grooming scents: sandalwood (which is the quintessential masculine scent, that a lot of people equate with barbershops), bar rum (which has a sweet-but-not-cloying liqueur scent), cedar and pine (which is another classic masculine scent—the outdoorsy/lumberjack-y scent), and clary sage (which has a deep, earthy scent). That’s everything we could ask for in a multipack.
The best thing about Viking Revolution is that their beard balm is one of the “cleanest” formulations out there—it includes only a handful of ingredients, and the ingredients included are 100% natural, which is sadly not the case with all the balms out there.
Best Over-the-Top / Powerful Scents
Most companies that make beard balms go for a “subtle” approach—they don’t want to overdo their scents—but Striking Viking decided to go in the other direction, and their Striking Viking Variety Pack can be a fantastic option if you like strong, powerful fragrances. Even their selection is pretty bold: they’ve got vanilla (a rare scent in beard balms, and this vanilla smells VERY vanilla), a citrus (not rare among beard balms, but this is a STRONG citrus, that smells a bit like one of those orange creamsicles you get as a kid), cedarwood (another regular scent, but very woodsy here), and sandalwood (which is *the* classic scent, but their take on it is very unique—a little sweeter, perhaps).
If you think most beard balms have too weak a scent profile, you might find what you’re looking for here. These are big, bright, over-to-top scents that seem to last a while, and they’re a fun, youthful take on the old classics. These won’t be for everyone, but we imagine some guys will enjoy them very much.
The Best Beard Balms for Styling and Beard Maintenance
As we mentioned earlier, the primary job of a beard balm is to moisturize beard hair and the skin beneath it, but we realize that a lot of guys use beard balm because they like the way it looks: it gives a beard some “body,” and it can provide a little bit of shaping capability.
With that in mind, here are our favorite beard balms for styling:
Top Beard Balm for Hold: Clubman Pinaud Beard Balm
There are a LOT of guys who seem to believe that beard balms provide a lot of hold, and sadly, that’s not really the case—and that’s fine, because “hold” isn’t something they’re really supposed to do. The primary job of a beard balm is to moisturize beard hair and hydrate the skin underneath the beard. They can make a beard look healthier and fuller, but that’s not really Job #1—they’re main job is to rejuvenate beard and skin.
There are a few, however, that do provide some hold, and Clubman Pinaud Beard Balm is probably top among them. Clubman is a very old company—more than a century old, if you can believe it—and their products are used in barbershops all over the world. Their balm has a lot of ingredients that can help you mold your beard into shape, and even make it a little stiff, if you use enough of it.
The only downside to this balm—and, in fact, the reason why it provides so much hold—is because there are a lot of synthetic ingredients in it. Whereas most other beards balms have tried to incorporate as many natural ingredients as they can, Clubman looked at that trend and said, “Nah.” It *does* have some great ingredients (beeswax and coconut oil among them), but it’s got a lot of ingredients that are hard to pronounce.
If you’re looking for a formulation with a more natural ingredient list, we’d recommend…
Top Beard Balm for Hold, Runner-Up: Smooth Viking Beard Balm
Smooth Viking Beard Balm seems to offer a lot more hold than other beard balms, and that may be because 1) it features not one, but two different types of waxes (carnauba wax and candelilla wax), but also because it 2) features the wax a little higher in the ingredient list (carnauba wax is ingredient #5, whereas in most balms, it’s far further down in the ingredient list, if it’s included at all).
The ingredient list itself is pretty clean, as well—it’s mostly all-natural oils (olive, safflower, avocado, sweet almond, pumpkinseed, and jojoba), and butters (shea), and waxes (the two we just mentioned). There’s “fragrance” included, and that’s a catch-all word that could mean anything, but other than that, it’s very clean (and the caprylic capric triglycerides that are included sound suspect, but that’s actually just an oily liquid derived from palm kernel and/or coconut oil).
If you’re looking for hold, but you don’t want to deal with all the chemical-y ingredients in Clubman Pinaud, this is the one we’d suggest.
Keep in mind, if you really want hold, you may want to consider Honest Amish Heavy Duty Balm, which we mentioned above, or an actual beard wax, which usually has a very high wax content and can provide hold that a beard balm isn’t capable of providing.
Best Balm to Soften Hair: Bull Dog Beard Balm
Most balms add a little bit of firmness to a beard—not as much as a beard wax, but a good bit of stiffness to form it a little bit. Bull Dog Beard Balm offers a different take: they provide a bit of body and sheen, but also soften beard hairs. That’s a nice change of pace if you’re put off by regular beard balms, as some can make your beard feel a little tough (we should note: none of the balms we mention in this post do that, but there are plenty out there that do).
The scent of the Bull Dog Beard Balm is pleasant, too—it’s a mix of aloe (no smell, but great for your skin), camelina oil (which has a mild, earthy scent, like fresh vegetation), and green tea (which has a perky, minty aroma). Altogether it’s a calm, cool experience—clean but not soapy. It’s very gentle, which is also a nice change of pace, because some beard balms really try to sock it to you when it comes to fragrance (again, none in our list—except for Striking Viking Beard Balm, which definitely tries to sock it to you). That sort of scent—simple and gentle—is a great option for beard grooming products, because it can feel clean.
Best for Short Beards and Scruff: Cremo Beard and Scruff Cream
This isn’t technically a beard balm (and we discuss Cremo’s “normal” beard balm here), but it offers the same benefits as a balm, and a few more: Cremo Beard and Scruff Cream. We like this product a lot—most beard balms are marketed towards guys with big, bushy beards that are dry and need some taming, and there’s not much offered for guys with a stubble-beard and/or a small- or well-trimmed beard, and those shorter beards have their own issues.
Cremo Beard and Scruff Cream is more of a skin care product, and it has an ingredient list that’s a little bit more similar to a face cream. It’s made in two scents—Forest Blend and Mint Blend—and both are pleasant (but we should mention, the Mint Blend feels mint and cool on your skin, so if that’s the sort of thing you don’t like, this may not be for you, and you may want to check out the first blend, which has a nice fresh saw-dusty scent).
The only flaw to the cream is that you can run through it pretty quickly, because it’s not as dense as balm—it’s sort of light and fluffy. It’s got a great “feel,” but that fluffiness means it’s not very densely packed, and you can use it up pretty quickly.
Cremo is a great company, and along with Honest Amish, they were one of the first companies to dive into the men’s grooming/beard grooming game. If you’re interested in them but want to stick to a regular beard balm, they also offer Cremo Beard Balm, which can be a good pick for medium- to long-length beards.
The Best Beard Balms for Skin Care, Hydration, and Beardruff
Alright! We’re finally at the place where we’ll talk about beard balm’s REAL purpose: to moisturize your beard hair and hydrate the skin underneath it. All of the balms we’ve discussed so far do a good job of that—and we feel great recommending all of them, as we left those we found lacking off our list—but here are the real standouts when it comes to hydrating skin and beard hair:
Best Balm for Beardruff: Viking Revolution
Right off the bat, our favorite thing about Viking Revolution Beard Balm is that Viking Revolution really stayed true to the “all-natural ingredients” idea. There are a lot of beard balms out there that talk a big game and have a few great ingredients, but also include some synthetic ingredients, but Viking Revolution really does deliver when it comes to the all-natural stuff.
Most of those ingredients are just argan oil (great for moisturizing beard hair and giving it some shine), jojoba oil (great for skin and can balance oil production in pores), beeswax (great for providing some hold), vitamin E (great for skin and hair, and is known to have curative properties), and then an essential oil for scent.
Those main ingredients—argan oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E—can relieve the flakiness that comes with growing out and maintaining a beard, and we’ve had great luck with it. Your mileage may vary, and beardruff—which affects a LOT of guys—is one of those issues where you might need to try a few different products to find a way to combat it, but we’ve known this to work for some people. We’ve also had good luck with Bluebeard Beard Saver (more on that later).
Our second favorite thing about Viking Revolution is that they offer the “classic” masculine scent profile, which we mentioned earlier: they made their balm in sandalwood, cedar and pine, bay rum, clary sage, and their “main” scent has a light citrus-y scent. In other words, the whole range of “masculine” scents.
One of our favorite beard balms overall, and we talk more about Viking Revolution here.
Best Not-a-Balm for Skin Care / Moisturization: Bluebeard’s Original Beard Saver
This next one isn’t technically a balm, but we’re going to describe it anyway, but we want people to know about it: Bluebeard’s Original Beard Saver. This isn’t as well-known as a lot of other beard products, and we think that’s a shame—we’re huge fans.
This a product that’s made specifically for skin care, and it’s designed *specifically* for under-the-beard skincare. It can combat itchiness, dryness, flaking, and beardruff—the Four Horseman of the Beard Apocalypse. It features a lot of the same ingredients you’d find in a skin cream or moisturizing cream made for women (and that’s quite unique for a beard product), and the direction on the jar (to rub it through facial hair, from “root to tip”) is imperative—in order for this to do anything, you need to get it to connect to your skin.
As we’ve mentioned, beard balms do a number of different things—they moisturize, they style, they smell nice—but Bluebeard Beard Saver is mostly about moisturization, and it’s designed to deliver hydration to dry, prickly beards and make them softer, and to invigorate the skin below. This is not an all-natural formulation, and that’s very often the case with face and moisturizing creams made for women—and that’s because… well, a lot of those synthetic ingredients work really well!
As with all things beard-related, your mileage may vary, but we know a lot of guys who absolutely love this product. Now you know!
Best Alternative to Balm
As long as we’re discussing products that offer the same benefits of beard balm but aren’t beard balms, we should mention Bossman Beard Jelly. Basically, Bossman Beard Jelly is the marriage of beard oil and beard balm, and it’s a best-of-both-worlds situation, that can provide all the hydration benefits of a
It’s got a really unique consistency—it’s a bit… jelly-like?—and that makes it a lot easier to apply than most beard balms, especially if you distribute it afterwards with a wooden beard comb.
Our only minor gripe with the Bossman is the way he names his scents. They’re all good, but with names like “Gold” and “Magic” and “Stagecoach,” you’re never really sure what you’re in for. They even have one named “Hammer,” which smells like… hammers?
That’s a small complaint, though. The idea of a beard jelly is really fantastic, and it does capture the best of both those beard products—it features the moisturization capability of a
Alright—there you have it! We tested dozens of beard balms and other various beard products, and these are the ones we feel good recommending.
If you need a little more background info about beard balms before you feel comfortable making a decision, well then here you go:
Balm Benefits / Why They’re Worthwhile
If you’re new to having a beard, this section is for you. There are literally dozens of types of beard products, and hundreds of companies that make those beard products, and it can all get a little confusing.
So keep it simple, here are the main benefits of using a beard balm—in other words, what a good beard balm should do for you:
It Should Hydrate Your Beard Hair and Your Skin
This is the main purpose of a balm. Beard hair, on its own, doesn’t really get hydrated—in fact, it gets dryer and dryer as it grows out, and if you’ve ever seen a reaaaaaaally long beard, chances are you notice that it tends to get frayed and loose at the ends. It’s really difficult to get those strands hydrated, and that’s what a beard balm is supposed to do—hydrate. Hydrated hair is healthy hair, and that’s Job #1 of a beard balm.
But Job #1 of a beard balm also means hydrating the skin beneath your beard. Most of the problems bearded fellas have—such as itchiness, flaking, and beardruff—are a result of dry skin. Even guys who tend to have appropriately-oily skin can encounter dry-skin issues when they grow out a beard, because 1) beard hair can lead oil away from your skin, and 2) it can be very difficult to replace that oil, because getting to that skin—and applying skin care products to it—can be difficult.
So hydrating skin is really important, because the mere act of growing a beard can create issues on your skin. Beard oils, with its oils and butters, can replenish a lot of that moisture, and we’ll talk in a minute about which ingredients are good at that sort of thing.
It Should Take Your Dry, Scruggly Beard and Give It Some Body
If you’re new to having a beard, you may find that after a few weeks on its own, with no grooming interventions, it will become knotted, dry, and “bird-nesty.” Some guys encounter this more than others, but it’s a problem for everyone, and without some grooming, your beard will eventually become a tangled mess. Think about taking a shower every day but never washing your hair—eventually your hair is going to be in bad shape. The same is true for beards—you need some products to maintain it and keep it in shape.
Those products usually include a beard wash for the shower—which is like a shampoo, but made specifically for beard hair—and either a
The ingredients in a beard balm imbue your beard hair with all sorts of fortifying nutrients, like Vitamins A, C, and E, and moisturize it through various oils and butters. They coat your whiskers and hairs and make them more pliable, a little more springy, and a little more shiny. In other words, they can take a dry, crazy-looking beard, and make it look lush and healthy.
That’s actually a good segue to the next section, where we’ll talk about ingredients, but we should mention—if you’re wondering about how beard balms compare to other beard products, we’ve written at length about all that, and you can read about how beard balms are different than beard oils here, and how beard balms are different than beard butters.
What to Look for in a Balm
Alright! Now we’ll get into some real detail, and how to really know what balm will be good for your beard and face:
It Should All-Natural Ingredients (Or At Least a Few All-Natural Ingredients)
Beard balms are pretty simple—or they can be, anyway. All a beard balm needs to be a beard balm are the following ingredients: carrier oils to provide moisturization for skin and hair, essential oils to give the balm some scent (and these are unnecessary in an unscented formulation), nut and seed butters to provide moisturization for skin and hair, and one or more waxes, to give the beard some body. That’s it! That’s really all you need to make a beard balm.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients we hope to see in a beard balm, along with a quick description of what it does:
> Carrier Oils. These include sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and avocado oil, among others. Each one is a great moisturizer and can bring great things to a balm, but the real stand-outs are almond oil, which contains magnesium, calcium, and zinc, all of which are great for hair and skin; jojoba oil, which has a structure similar to the oil made by our skin, and can balance oil production in the pores, making it great for dry skin issues; and argan oil, which can penetrate hair shafts and revitalize beard hair, and can alleviate itch and flakiness on the skin.
> Essential Oils. As you probably know, there’s been a loooooooooooot of hype about essential oils over the last few years. While most of it is nonsense, there are a few ways that essential oils can be of benefit, and in beard balms their main functions are to 1) provide hydration/moisturization to skin and hair, and 2) provide balms with scent. There are almost 100 essential oils that are commonly used, but the ones you’ll find in beard balms most often are sandalwood (this is probably the most popular, and it’s often referred to as “that barbershop scent”), rose, bergamot (which is a variety of citrus), tea tree (which has a bright, minty scent), peppermint, lemon, lavender, chamomile, and jasmine. There are more, and balms often include other ingredients for scent (like pine and fir), but those are the most common.
> Nut and Seed Butters. These sound exotic, but “butters” are just mashed up seeds and nuts (which makes them very different from dairy butter—the term “butter” just means something that is smooth and spreadable). There are a lot more oils out there than there are butters, but some of the ones you’ll see in beard balms are shea butter (probably the most common—it’s made from the seed fat of the African shea tree), cocoa butter (also very popular—it comes from the seed fat of the cacao plant), and mango butter (which comes from that big old seed at the center of a mango). All are good, and all provide hydration/moisturization properties to a balm, and also give it a little heft. Last, and usually least…
> Waxes. The common wax you’ll come across in a beard balm is beeswax—it does a great job keeping the other ingredients together and making the balm into a paste, and it also allows to use the balm as a sculpting agent. The amount of wax in a balm is usually minimal—it’s usually there to keep the other ingredients from separating—but it helps give your beard some body and some heft. If you want to do some serious sculpting, most guys use a beard balm to moisturize their beard, but then use a beard wax to keep beard hair in place. Honest Amish Beard Wax is probably the most common beard wax out there, although Viking Revolution Beard Wax is another option we like a lot.
And… that’s it! Each of the ingredients provides hydration, but the majority of the nutrients come from the oils and the butters (and it’s not uncommon for beard balm makers to also add Vitamin E directly to the formulations, because that, too, has a lot of restorative properties for skin and hair).
Now, congratulations—you know just as much about beard balm ingredients as we do! And if none of that does it for you, you can always make your own!
It Should Have a Scent You Like… Or No Scent at All
After you get over the hump of figuring out how to take care of a beard, and what products you want to use, most guys tend to get specific about scent. There are guys who seem to stick with minty scents (peppermint, spearmint, tea tree), citrus scents (lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot), “earthy” tones (pine, fir, eucalyptus, clary sage), and liqueur-based tones (bourbon, tequila, rum). Then there are guys who stick to the “classic” beard balm scent, which is sandalwood (and that’s why most every beard balm has a sandalwood scent).
It’s tough to know what you like when you’re first exploring beard balms, because there are so many out there, and even balms that are supposed to smell the same all smell different. Sandalwood is a scent that’s basically re-imagined by every company that makes it, and every sandalwood that we’ve tried smells a bit different.
So—enjoy the journey! Once you figure out how to keep your beard healthy-looking and trim, guys seem to really enjoy experiencing different scents (and if you’ve read any of the dozens of reviews we’ve written, it’s our absolutely favorite thing about beard products). Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone—there are a lot of fragrances out there, and some of them, despite their names or how they’re advertised, can be quite surprising.
And then, of course, there are those of us who don’t want a scented beard to give every one of your inhales an aroma, and you can always choose an unscented version!
It Should Have Other Grooming Products by the Same Company, If You’re into That Sort of Thing
There are a lot of guys out there who are very brand-loyal, and we appreciate that. If that’s your thing, it can help to explore beard balms made by companies that produce a lot of other beard and male-grooming products. Those companies are Cremo, Every Man Jack, Viking Revolution, Bull Dog, and Clubman Pinaud. Each one of those companies makes beard balms, beard oils, beard washes, and various other shaving products, and many of them also features soaps, body washes, even fragrances.
If you like to branch out and really explore a company, those are the ones that have the broadest range of offerings.
Tips on How to Apply a Beard Balm
Applying a beard balm will be the simplest thing in the world after you use it a few times, but it’s not really obvious how to do it if you don’t know. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind (and if you can click here, if you want to read our lengthy guide with pics on to how to apply beard balm).
A Little Dab’ll Do Ya
To get started, you’ll only need a portion the size of a peanut (for small beards) or an almond (for mid-sized to longer-length beards). Once you’ve got that amount on your fingertip, rub it between your fingertips to spread it out and warm it up, and then work it into all parts of your beard. For most guys that amount should be enough, but if you’ve got a humongous beard, you may need to use a walnut-sized dollop, and come to peace with the fact that a big beard usually requires a looooot of grooming products.
Beard balm is the kind of substance where it’s better to use too little and then add to it, rather than to use too much of it and have it feel gloppy and dense in your beard.
Make Sure You Get It onto Your Skin
Beard balm can make your beard look great, but a lot of guys work into their beard hair and stop there. For it to help your skin at all, it’s actually got to connect with your epidermis, and that can take some effort. Your beard, after all, will soak up all that balm, so you may need to really give it is some effort and work it in there.
The best way to approach balming your beard is to get it “tips to roots”—try to work the balm into all parts of your beard, and don’t forget about the sideburns and that area behind your jawline (a lot of guys tend to neglect those areas), and then use a beard comb to further distribute the balm to your roots. We’re big fans of the Viking Revolution Dual-Sided Comb, because it’s got a narrow edge and a wide-set edge, and you can feel the balm meeting your skin.
Working it so far into your beard that it reaches your skin may require dipping into the tin again, so use what you need.
Remember That You’ll Need to Wash Your Hands Afterwards
Beard balms are, by their nature, sticky substances, and you’ll need to wash your hands after using them. That’s not a big deal if you’re fresh out of the shower and standing in front of your sink, but if you’re out and about in the real world, remember that all that balm will make your hands tacky and gunky. Best to do it in front of a sink, or bring a wet wipe or something to wisk it off.
Beard Balm Doesn’t Need to Be an Every-Day Thing
Some guys use it every day (and some guys even use it a couple of times a day), but your mileage may vary, and you may not need to reapply that often. Once a day or a couple of times a week is usually enough, and you should be able to see whether or not your beard is dry and prickly and needs some love.
That’s a Wrap on Beard Balms!
Hopefully, in our long-winded ramblings about beard balm, there’s something that will shed some light on the topic and find the beard balm of your dreams. If you have any questions, feel free to hop over to our “Contact” page and drop us a line, and until then—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.