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Best Beard Wash

The Best Beard Washes and Shampoos, Because It’s Time to De-Stank Your Beard

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a beard, but one of the worst problems of all is that stanky beard. If you’ve had a beard for a while, you probably know what we’re talking about: all the sweat, oil, and dead skin cells from your face congeal, and the smell can be… pretty off-putting, to say the least. So here we’ll talk about our picks for the best beard wash and best beard shampoo for tackling all the grit and grime and funk that gathers on your face.

Why You Need to Wash Your Beard

We’ll start with a few quick summaries and then get into the nitty-gritty.

Ready? Here we are:

Beard Washes and Shampoos: Review Summaries

We’ll get to the details in a moment, but here’s a quick breakdown of our favorite beard shampoos and what kind of benefits we think they offer.

Our Favorite Beard Shampoo

"Just a small amount the size of a peanut or almond springs into a sudsy cloud that's easy to work into the beard, and easy to wash out. The scent is invigorating—a little mint-y, maybe menthol-y, or like tea-tree—but it doesn't last too long, so you can use a beard oil or beard balm afterwards."

- RTG Editorial

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Best Overall: Grave Before Shave Beard Wash Shampoo—Our top pick is a cult favorite beard wash that we think could work well for just about anyone, with a nice subtle scent and just the right level of cleansing

Best for Daily Use: Proraso Beard Wash Facial Cleanser—This mild, gentle cleanser doesn’t lather too much, making it a nice choice for everyday use, especially if your beard or skin gets dry

Best for Oily Skin: King C. Gillette Beard Wash—An intense, thoroughly cleansing formula with a great cologne-like scent; we recommend it for men with oily skin or anyone who doesn’t want to wash too often

Best for Dry Skin: SheaMoisture Beard Wash—This is an oil and plant-butter infused beard shampoo that still suds up nicely but could help guys with dry skin stay a little moisturized

Best for Combination Skin: Every Man Jack Beard and Face Wash—We like this balanced beard wash for guys with combination or oily skin who want a cleansing beard wash that will still help to fortify their beards

Best Conditioning: Cremo Beard Wash & Softener Palo Santo—This beard shampoo is like a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, so we think it’s a good choice for softening frizzy or coarse beards

Best for Brittle Beards: Viking Revolution Beard Wash Shampoo—This beard shampoo includes plant proteins and amino acids that may help fortify brittle beards while still being thoroughly cleansing; and

Best Premium: Jack Black Beard Wash—This elegant premium beard shampoo is powerfully cleansing so we like it for men who only wash a few times a week, but it also includes a few ingredients that may help the beard feel softer.

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Alright! There you have it. Now let’s jump into our in-depth reviews, and follow it up with some need-to-know info about keeping your beard clean.

The Best Beard Washes: Our Complete Reviews

And now let’s get a little more detailed—here’s everything we liked and didn’t like about these beard washes, as well as an explanation of the more subjective features.

Best Overall: Grave Before Shave Beard Wash Shampoo

This beard wash from Grave Before Shave (GBS) has a bit of a cult following online, especially on Reddit’s r/beards. The packaging might seem a little odd if you’re not into that old-school metal vibe, but this is a product that we believe was very thoughtfully made by real beard-lovers.

This wash is SLS-free, and we find that it lathers and cleanses nicely. On our beard, we find that it’s not too aggressive or stripping, so we can use it frequently without issues. It’s a good balance that we think would work well for most guys, but especially those with normal or combination skin.  

GBS added some organic argan oil to the formula, which may help to nourish and soften the beard hair a little bit. That said, this beard shampoo is often sold in conjunction with a beard conditioner, so for serious softness, we think you’d have to use the two products in tandem.

Another reason why we think this wash is so popular is because of its smell, which we’d describe as very light and clean. A lot of beard washes have strong, polarizing fragrances, but we think this could be a real crowd pleaser because it’s subtle, classy, and not too strong. It could probably pair easily with other fragrances or scented products although, as always, your mileage may vary.

Best for Daily Use: Proraso Beard Wash Facial Cleanser

We usually think of Proraso as a shaving brand, but even for men who don’t shave, this company has created what we think is a fantastic premium beard wash. A glance at the ingredient list shows that this formula contains relatively gentle cleansing agents rather than harsher ones like SLS, which is great if your skin is very dry.

As a result of that, we find that when we rub Proraso Beard Wash into our beard it doesn’t foam up a lot—it’s more of a light lather that leaves our beards feeling clean and fresh but not like it’s been stripped of oils. We don’t mind it, but we know some men will miss those big, fluffy suds. It could be a nice choice for men who like to wash their beards on a daily basis, as well as for guys with dry skin.

Aside from cleansing agents, this wash also includes some hydrating glycerin and a touch of polyquaternium-7 which sounds a little intimidating but is actually a conditioning ingredient that can make the beard hair smoother and more resistant to frizziness. If your beard hair often feels dry and messy, this ingredient may help.

The last ingredient we want to touch on is salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant normally recommended for acne. If the skin under your beard can get a little clogged or flaky, it’s possible this cleanser may help. 

It comes in four scents, but our favorite of the bunch is the Wood and Spice which we think is very elegant, complex, and masculine. The fragrance is pretty strong here, and we find that it lingers for a pretty long time. We like it when we want to feel extra spiffy but some men may find it overwhelming. If you use a beard balm or oil, make sure the scent matches!

Best for Oily Skin: King C Gillette

King C. Gillette is a somewhat new sub-brand from Gilette, named after the company’s iconic founder (and the man responsible for the popularity of the double-edge safety razor). This line features products with a more old-school design and traditional approach to grooming, although we dare say the only thing that’s traditional about this beard shampoo is its classy-looking label.

This is a soap-free beard wash that’s also designed as a general face wash. We find that it’s thoroughly cleansing but also helps us keep our beard a little softer. It comes in a very respectable 11 oz container, which we appreciate because it saves on re-purchasing, especially when you take into account that just a small amount of product lathers up into a big lather.

We find that this formula provides a fairly deep clean, which is not surprising because it contains sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which are powerful cleansing agents with a bit of a bad rep. The thing with sulfates is that they’re very good cleansers—they foam up beautifully and get rid of all debris and oils very easily. That said, they can also be a little drying, and they can irritate if they’re left on the skin for too long.

We do like that Gillette added some nourishing ingredients to make up for the drying effects of SLS, like hydrating glycerin and cuticle-sealing dimethicone. This prevents this beard shampoo from being too drying but that doesn’t mean it’s great for everyone. 

If your skin is pretty oily or you only cleanse a few times a week, this might be great because you’ll have a very thorough clean. If your skin is dry or sensitive, on the other hand, this ingredient can be pretty harsh.

The fragrance shows up pretty high on the ingredient list, so it’s not surprising that this cleanser smells pretty strong (at least to our nose). The fragrance blend features a lot of notes (ginger, citrus, lavender, bourbon, and mint just to name a few!) that smell like a traditional men’s cologne to us. There’s also a good amount of menthol which gives a bit of freshness and cooling touch to the skin—something that some men will enjoy but might be irritating for others.   

Best for Dry Skin: SheaMoisture Beard Wash

With a brand name like SheaMoisture you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this is a fairly moisturizing beard shampoo. It’s an SLS-free formula, which we like because we think it’s less likely to strip the skin. Instead, it’s made with gentle surfactants that we think still do a magnificent job of foaming up, as opposed to the milder Proraso. With this beard wash, a small amount can go a long way.

It also includes quite a few moisturizing oils and plant butter, including shea butter, maracuja oil, and argan oil. These ingredients may help prevent some moisture loss from the beard and they can also help keep the skin moisturized.

We find that this particular combination of cleansing and nourishing agents makes for a balanced formula. We think it could be one of the best beard shampoo options for men with normal or combination skin who want to cleanse every day, while those with dry skin could probably use it a few times a week. 

We like that the formula also includes tea tree oil, an essential oil that may help with breakouts as well as with dandruff, making this a potentially nice choice for guys with problematic skin. Tea tree oil is fantastic stuff but it also has a very strong medicinal/herbal smell that’s quite polarizing. It’s combined here with a more powdery, clean fragrance, and the result is polarizing: some men adore it, others not so much. If you know you’re already a fan of tea tree oil, you should definitely give it a try! 

Best for Combination Skin: Every Man Jack Beard and Face Wash

If you have an oily or combination skin type but you’d rather use a sulfate-free product, this might be the best beard wash for you to try. We think this formula foams up nicely even though it’s made without stronger cleansing agents, so distributing it through the beard and then rinsing it is out pretty easy.

In addition to cleansing, it also has a few proteins and conditioning agents that might help your beard feel softer and stronger. What we like about these ingredients is that even though they’re included to keep the beard hair strong, they don’t necessarily feel greasy or oily in the beard.

This product is also advertised as a face wash. On that front, we find that it’s not as moisturizing as some of the other beard washes we’ve recommended, so make sure to follow it up with some beard oil or balm that you can rub into the skin under your beard.

The scent is really phenomenal to our nose, with a blend of sandalwood, vetiver, amber, and vanilla. If you’ve been following Rough and Tumble Gentleman for a while, you know we’re suckers for sandalwood, and we think the bright and sweet notes do a nice job of balancing it out. The smell also tends to stick around in our beard for a good long time, which we enjoy.

Another bonus is that the package this beard wash comes in is recycled, which we always love to see.

Best Conditioning: Cremo Beard Wash & Softener Palo Santo

If your beard is in need of some conditioning, we think this is the best beard shampoo to try. It’s a little like a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, making it potentially even more beard-fortifying than our pick from SheaMoisture.

As a shampoo, it lathers lightly and provides what we think is a pretty nice cleanse. It’s not too intense, so we think it could be a nice option if you like to wash your beard every day, even if your skin is on the dry side.

In addition to gentle, non-sulfate cleansing agents, this beard wash also includes a host of ingredients you’ll normally find in hair conditioners, to soften and protect the hair. These ingredients include amodimethicone and polyquaternium-10, both of which are known for creating an outer protective seal. You may find that they make your beard hair softer, more manageable, and less prone to frizziness or breakage.

On the other hand, if your beard is in pretty good shape, you may find that these conditioner-like ingredients leave a strange residue. Plus, if your beard is very long, you may find it a little more difficult to rinse out.

This formula comes in a few fragrances, but Palo Santo is our favorite by far. It’s a unique mix of cardamom, papyrus, and woodsy palo santo, which is very complex but not too strong. It’s not the most long-lasting scent, so you don’t need to worry about how it’ll mix with other fragrances.

Best for Brittle Beards: Viking Revolution Beard Wash Shampoo

From Viking Revolution, we think this is another fantastic beard shampoo for softening and fortifying the beard. We find that it’s not quite as conditioning as our pick from Cremo, which we think might actually make it a very nice option for guys with oily or combination skin who also want a softer, more manageable beard.

What stands out to us in this formula is the presence of amino acids from oats and wheat. If your beard hair is a little damaged or brittle, these broken-down proteins may help boost the strength of your beard hair, which in turn can increase its softness, prevent frizziness, and reduce breakage.

Even though it’s nourishing, it’s still a beard wash first. It suds up well and gives the kind of thorough clean that many guys love. We like it best as an “every other day” beard shampoo, but if you work out every day or you have very oily skin, you might be able to use it daily. 

The scent here comes from simple sandalwood oil—the ingredient list shows no other fragrances. In practice, we find this means that the smell is soft, subtle, and doesn’t stick around for too long, which can be a bonus for men who use other scented products in their beards.

Best Premium: Jack Black Beard Wash

Last but not least, this is a slightly more high-end beard wash from Jack Black (not that Jack Black; the non-actor Jack Black, who is an English gentleman… maybe. We’re not sure who he is, but he’s not the actor Jack Black).

Anyhoo, it comes in an elegant blue squeeze bottle and has a formula that we think is solidly cleansing, making it a potentially pleasant choice for guys with combination and oily skin.

We think the best way to use this beard wash is every other day. That’s because, despite being sulfate-free, we still find that it can be a little drying. It does contain a lot of beard fortifying ingredients, like jojoba protein and panthenol, which we think helped make our beard feel softer.

The amount of oily ingredients is pretty low—just a little bit of shea butter and sunflower oil. These oils are largely considered non-comedogenic, and we actually think Jack Black could have used a slightly higher amount, which perhaps could have prevented some of the dryness caused by this formula. Based on our experience, we think only guys with very oily skin would enjoy using it every day. 

It has a very unique smell that we find is part clean and part herbal, with a floral touch of geranium that’s still masculine thanks to the balancing rosemary essential oil. If you’ve tried the Jack Black Beard Oil, we think it’s similar and maybe even complementary. The scent isn’t too overwhelming, though—it lingers gently. 

Why Should You Wash Your Beard, Anyway?

Here are the reasons why you should absolutely wash your beard—some will seem obvious, but others may surprise you!

Guarantee cleanliness. Just a rinse is not enough. Your beard hairs can trap all kinds of grime, oil, and food residue, so you need a proper beard wash that will actually dislodge and remove any buildup.

Eliminate itchiness. Itchiness, dandruff, bumps… the skin under your beard can get pretty angry if it’s forced into close contact with debris and germs. Cleaning your beard helps to dislodge irritants, and can often eliminate itchiness, irritation, and flaky skin. 

Healthier skin = mightier beard. If your hair follicles are irritated or inflamed, they’re not going to have an easy time creating new hair growth. Since beard wash can help improve the condition of your skin, chances are it’ll also help your beard look healthier and fuller. Just keep in mind that if you’re dealing with a serious skin condition, you may also want to speak to your doctor. 

You want your beard to smell good. Or at least, you don’t want it to smell bad. By cleaning the beard, beard shampoos remove debris or bacteria that can make your beard smell musty or strange. Plus, some beard washes will actually leave behind a nice, masculine scent!

Some beard washes will make your beard softer. A lot of beard washes are made with conditioning ingredients that will actually make your beard feel softer. Anyone who touches your face will appreciate a smooth, non-scratchy beard.

What is the Difference Between Beard Wash and Beard Shampoo?

It’s pretty common to see the words “beard wash” and “beard shampoo” used interchangeably. In practice, there isn’t a clear distinction—some brands prefer to market their product as a beard wash while others like the sound of the word shampoo.

In both cases, chances are that the product in question is made like a hybrid between a face wash and a hair shampoo, so it’ll suit both your face and facial hair. Beard washes usually include cleansing agents or cleansing agent blends that are a little milder and more gentle than what you would find in the average shampoo for the head. They still clean well, but with a lower risk of drying out your beard hair or irritating the skin of your face.

Where beard washes do resemble shampoos is that they’ll often include ingredients that are especially beneficial for the hair, as opposed to dedicated face washes that’ll only include skin-nourishing ingredients. Those ingredients are usually amino acids and specific silicones that have the ability to strengthen and condition the beard, so it’ll be softer and stronger.

You may also encounter “beard soaps”. Instead of gentle cleansing agents, beard soaps are made out of oils that have been turned into soap with the help of strong alkaline agents. Some guys really love using beard soaps because they think they’re more natural, but we actually don’t recommend them. Soaps have a high pH, which can be very disruptive to your skin’s barrier functions as well as to the health of your beard. Instead, it’s better to choose beard washes since their acidity level will be more in-line with what’s optimal. 

Tips on How to Select a Beard Wash

Those are a lot of truly phenomenal beard washes, but they’re not one-size-fits-all. To help you find the right beard shampoo for your whiskers, here are a few useful guidelines and considerations.  

Skin Type

Skin type is determined based on the amount of oil your skin produces, and it’s the biggest factor to consider when choosing your beard wash since you’re using it not just to cleanse your beard but also the skin under it.

Note before we jump in: we don’t think skin types count as issues—no skin type is good or bad, it’s just something you need to embrace and account for when choosing a product.

Oily. Oily skin produces a lot of oil! If you’re oily, chances are your pores will be a little more visible, you might get shiny during the day, and you might also be a little more acne-prone (we’ve got more on that in our section on skin concerns). If that describes you, you’ll want a stronger cleanser that suds up easily and removes that excess oil but without leaving your skin feeling parched or tight. Our picks from King C. Gillette and Every Man Jack are both excellent choices for your skin type.

Dry. Dry skin doesn’t produce a lot of oil, so your skin can feel pretty rough, itchy, and sometimes even flaky or irritated. It’s still important to keep the skin clean, but you don’t want to choose a stripping or sulfate-based cleanser that’ll make things worse. Instead, look for nourishing formulas infused with oils that will clean the skin without removing too much of your natural oils. Our pick from SheaMoisture definitely fits the bill.

Combination or Normal. Normal and combination skin types are in the middle. They don’t produce too much or too little oil, although sometimes you may notice different rates of oil production in different parts of your face or during different times of the year. Your best bet is to choose a middle-of-the-road beard shampoo that cleanses gently and includes some beard conditioning agents, but isn’t too mild—our picks from Viking Revolution and Grave Before Shave are both solid options for your beard.

Beard and Skin Concerns

If you’re dealing with any beard or skin issues, you definitely need to consider them when choosing the right beard wash for you.

Brittle or coarse. Brittle facial hair breaks easily, preventing you from growing that full, lush beard you dream of. To prevent brittleness, it’s important to choose a conditioning beard wash with ingredients that strengthen the hair shaft. Those ingredients include hydrolyzed plant proteins or amino acids that fortify the hair shaft from within or oils and conditioning agents that create a protective seal on its outside (these sealing ingredients will also make your beard feel much smoother).

Our pick from Cremo is the best for the job because it contains a lot of those conditioning and fortifying agents. However, it’s a pretty creamy beard wash that’s better for dry skin, so if you want something a little more cleansing, our pick from Viking Revolution might be a better choice.

Flaky Skin. Dandruff and flakiness under the beard can be pretty hard to manage, especially if you’re not sure what’s causing it. If you haven’t cleansed before, any beard wash that’s appropriate for your skin type may help eliminate the dead skin buildup that’s causing you trouble. If you think the dandruff is a little more serious, our pick from SheaMoisture includes tea tree oil which may help.

 Acne-Prone. The simple act of keeping the root of your beard clean might be enough to help with breakouts. Choosing any beard wash appropriate for your skin type should help! Our pick from Proraso might be the best of the bunch, though. Even though it’s not aggressively cleansing, it includes some salicylic acid which may help you unclog those pores.

Sensitive. If your skin is very prone to turning red or feeling itchy and tender, you may have sensitive skin. It’s not exactly a skin type, since you can have sensitive skin and also be dry or oily. Finding a beard wash for sensitive skin can be difficult since almost all formulas are designed with fragrances which can be irritating.

If your skin generally doesn’t have an issue with fragrances, we recommend choosing whichever sulfate-free beard wash you think will give you the right level of cleansing based on your skin type. Just make sure to use the cleanser on a small part of your neck or face for a few days, to ensure you won’t react badly to it.

If you do want to avoid fragrances or other potentially irritating ingredients, you may have to resort to using a facial cleanser instead of a dedicated beard shampoo. On that front, we think Olay’s Gentle Foaming Face Cleanser is a good bet since it has similar cleansing agents to the ones we usually see in beard washes but no potentially irritating ingredients.

And one last note on skin concerns: While the right beard wash can help with these concerns, remember that they’re grooming products, not medications. Dandruff and acne are both skin conditions so actually treating them requires real medical care—when in doubt, please speak to your doctor.

Easy Rinsing

This feature is especially important if you have a longer beard, although even guys with shorter beards will want to look for it. When you use a beard shampoo, you want it to rinse out easily with just a few splashes of water, no matter how bushy or thick your beard happens to be. For us, this was a non-negotiable feature, so we’re happy to report nearly all of the best beard washes we reviewed are quite easy to rinse away. 

Do You Nourish Your Beard?

Do you use a beard conditioner or beard oil after cleansing? Your other beard care products may certainly influence the beard wash you choose.

If you’re a one-and-done kind of guy who doesn’t want to use anything else, you may want to choose a slightly more moisturizing beard wash, even if you have a combination or oily skin type. On the other hand, if you’re great at nourishing your beard regularly, you don’t need to worry too much about how moisturizing your beard wash will be, since you have other products for the job.


In many of the beard shampoos we tried, the fragrance can linger for hours after we’ve washed. Since they’re all excellent beard washes, having the smell stick around was pretty nice!

If you do want to use a beard wash with a long-lasting scent, make sure to choose one with a fragrance profile that suits your taste. At Rough and Tumble Gentleman, we like anything woodsy, but you can also find spicy, herbaceous, or clean scents. Some brands, like Cremo and Proraso, offer their beard washes in a few different fragrance options.

On the other hand, if you don’t like a scent that lingers at all, you can go for a less scented option like our pick from Viking Revolution.

Another thing to keep in mind: Two fragrances can smell great individually but horrible when combined. So if you wear a beard balm or cologne, make sure to choose a beard wash that’ll have a complementary scent.

How to Use a Beard Wash

Here are the steps to using a beard wash, along with a few suggestions and tips that’ll help the simple process go even more cleanly.

Get wet. To start, let your beard and face get a little wet. You can splash your face with water or hop in the shower—that part is up to you!

Lather it up. Squeeze out some of your beard shampoo in your hand, and then rub both hands together with some water to lather it up as much as you can—this will make it easier to rub it through your beard.

Massage away. Rub the beard wash into your beard, starting with the roots. Take your time to massage it in, focusing on the skin under your beard. If your beard wash doubles as a facial cleanser, you can also massage it over the rest of your face.

Work it through. If necessary, you can work your way outwards through the rest of your beard length. It’s especially useful if you have some beard balm you want to wash out, or if your beard shampoo is also very conditioning. In most other cases, you can just focus on the roots, and rest assured that the length of your beard will get clean enough as you rinse. 

Rinse. Once you’re feeling nice and clean, rinse away the beard wash thoroughly. This part can get pretty messy, so we do suggest washing your beard in the shower. If you’re at the sink, splash your face with water until all the beard wash is gone.

Moisturize. Your beard wash just removed a whole lot of oil and debris from your beard, so you’ll want to use a product to help seal in some moisture and add some protection to your beard. You can opt for beard oil, beard butter, or beard conditioner, and apply them focusing on the ends of your beard where the hair doesn’t get naturally lubricated by the sebum your skin produces.

How Often Should You Wash Your Beard?

There are no strict rules about how often you have to wash your beard. Your skin type, day-to-day activities, and the other products you use in your beard can all impact your beard care routine.

Some guys feel like they absolutely have to give their beard a scrub every day, while others may find that washing more than two or three times a week isn’t necessary. Here’s how to decide for yourself.

You should wash your beard every day if…

You exercise or participate in intense activities that cause you to sweat every day;

Your job or daily activities include getting dirty, oily, or muddy;

You live in a polluted or very dusty area;

You have very oily skin;

You use a beard balm or wax that leaves a residue in your beard;

And lastly, your beard wash is gentle and not too stripping for your specific skin type.

You should only wash your beard a few times a week if…

You don’t think your beard gets particularly oily or dirty throughout the day;

Your skin can get dry or sensitive;

And lastly, you use a more intensely cleansing beard wash.

Even though it may seem like there are fewer reasons to only wash a few times a week, we actually think both options are equally good, and it’s just a question of circumstances!

When it comes to the beard washes we recommended, the more intense shampoos, like our pick from King C. Gillette shouldn’t be used every day unless your skin is extremely oily. On the other hand, mild, gentle options like our picks from Proraso, SheaMoisture, and Cremo can be used every day by most skin types.

Cleanliness is Next to Beardliness 

Is cleanliness truly next to Godliness? We’re no theologians, but we do know that keeping your beard clean is essential to helping it grow strong and healthy. Finding the right beard wash is all about remembering that you’re unique and so is your beard. We hope we’ve managed to point towards the beard shampoo that’ll give you the most pleasant, effective, and beneficial clean. Happy washing! 

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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