If you’re new to having a beard, you’re probably overwhelmed by the seemingly endless number of beard grooming products out there. There are beard oils, balms, butters, soaps, washes, conditioners… the list goes on. It’s all a little bit much. Luckily, all you really need is a
So in this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know to learn how to use beard balm.
It’s pretty simple, but we’ll split this post into two sections:
- In the first section, we’ll give you just the facts—four simple steps on how to apply beard balm. If you don’t want to spend any time here and want to get back to your life, this section is for you—we’ll provide quick, simple steps, so you can read it and be on your way.
- In the second section, we’ll go into more detail, and describe each step—what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how to do it right, along with images and photos and pointers.
Okie doke. Let’s jump in:
How to Use Beard Balm: Boiled Down
This may feel weird at first, because it is a little odd to rub stuff into you face, but after a few times, it’ll seem second-nature:
Step 1: Rub your index finger or middle finger in your beard balm and take out a dollop. If you’ve got a short beard, a dollop the size of a pea is fine; if you’ve got a medium-length beard, a dollop the size of a peanut is fine; if you’ve got a longer-length beard, a dollop the size of an almond is fine. You may find you need more, and you can use more if you need it.
Step 2: Rub the beard balm between your fingertips and hands. Keep going until the balm loosens up a bit and feels warm in your hands. It’ll look like it’s disappeared, but don’t worry about that—it’s still there.
Step 3: Run your fingers and palms over all the parts of your beard. Get all sections of your beard—your sideburns, your mustache, your goatee, and the hair underneath your neck. Make sure to work it in, and—this is important—get the balm onto your skin if you can. After you’re done, a beard comb can help distribute the balm evenly throughout your beard and make you look groomed. And finally…
Step 4: Wash your hands. Balm can get really sticky, and you’ll need to rinse it off (using a soap) after you’re done apply it.
And… there you go! Easy as can be. Now you’ve got all the knowledge you need to apply beard balm and jump back into your life.
And for those of you who want to really know what you’re doing, here are the details, along with how to select a balm:
How to Apply Beard Balm: Each Step in Depth, with Photos
OK! Let’s start from the beginning.
Step 1: Rub Your Index Finger or Middle Finger in Your Beard Balm and Take Out a Dollop
Here’s how the balm it looks. Like most beard balms, it comes in a thin, round container:
That’s Grave Before Shave Beard Balm (affiliate link), and it’s among our picks for the best beard balm. We love it. Our other favorite pick, of course, would be Honest Amish Beard Balm (affiliate link), which is the favorite pick of a loooot of guys—it’s probably one of the best-known balms out there, because it smells great and works really well.
But today we’re using Grave Before Shave. Here’s what the balm looks like, with an appropriate amount on the fingertip:
Beard balms are made mostly of oils, butters (which is a fancy term for “mashed up seeds and/or nuts”), and waxes, and they usually have a smooth and slick feel to them. Grave Before Shave has a very nice texture—kind of like icing on a cake, but a little firmer.
Depending on what balm you use, you might have to work it out a little bit—this balm is very supple, but balms with a higher beeswax content might be more difficult to remove. If that’s the case, rub your pointer and middle finger over the balm in a circular motion and warm it up a bit.
If you’re still having a hard time removing it, you can scrape it out using the back of your fingernail. You don’t *need* to do that—and it seems like a lot of beard websites instruct you to do so—but there’s no reason to use your fingernail, unless you’re having a difficult time getting it out.
As for how much to use, it’s better to start with too little and add more later, if need be. Beard balm is easier to add to a beard than it is to remove, and too much beard balm can make your beard look greasy and slick. So take it easy at first.
As for measurements—for short beards, a dollop the size of a pea should get your started; for medium-length beards, a dollop the size of a peanut should do it; and for longer-length beards, a dollop the size of an almond may work. You may need to add more, and over time you’ll get a feel for the right amount for your beard.
Step 2: Rub the Beard Balm Between your Fingertips and Palms
Now that you’ve got the balm out of the tin and onto your hands, rub your hands together to warm up the balm.
It should only take a few seconds, and you should feel the balm loosen up a bit. It may look like it’s disappeared, but it’s still there—just spread out. You can see your hand has a sort of shiny sheen on it when you’ve spread it out properly:
If you’re using a scented balm, this is a nice opportunity to inhale a nice waft of it. For many people, scent is the most pleasant part of the whole experience.
Keep in mind, you only need to get the balm on the inside of your hands. It’s not like washing your hands, where you want to get the soap on the outside of your hands, too.
Alright! We’re moving along.
Step 3: Run Your Fingers and Palms Over ALL the Parts of Your Beard
Now’s the time to actually apply the balm and work it into your beard.
Lots of guys simply make their hands flat and apply it in a downward motion, like so…
…and that’s fine, but it doesn’t really get the balm into the beard, and that’s what you want to do—balm inside your beard will moisturize and hydrate your “inner beard,” but also the skin beneath the beard. More on that in a moment.
So, to really work it in there, use your fingers to get inside your beard:
You can add a little extra balm to your fingertips, if you want to get more in there.
If possible, get your fingertips to connect with your skin, and try to work the beard balm all the way onto the surface of your face beneath the beard, like so:
That seems like overkill, but it’s actually really important: beard balms are designed to moisturize your beard hair, but they’re also designed to hydrate the skin underneath. Many guys who experience dry skin, flaking, or beardruff see those issues lessen or even disappear after they start using beard balms properly—and “properly” means getting it onto your skin.
By the way, if you’re experiencing dry skin or beardruff, a beard balm can help—as can a beard butter (and we’ll discuss that below in the section titled “Experiment with a Beard Butter If You’re Having Dry Skin or Beardruff”).
Before we move on, there’s an important issue we should address:
During this step, you may run into a very common problem—a chunky clump of unloosened balm, hanging out, grossly, in your beard hair. That’s just a bad, bad look.
So, make sure to rub that into your beard using your fingertips. Clumps like that are a good reason to apply balm while standing in front of a mirror, because… they don’t look great, and you probably don’t want to head out into the world with those waxy blobs in your beard.
Every guy seems to have a slightly different way of actually getting the beard balm onto and into their beard, and eventually you’ll find what works for you. Just keep in mind that what you’re really trying to do is distribute the balm throughout your beard, but ALSO to get the beard to connect with your skin, so that your skin can get some hydration and moisturization from the balm.
HELPFUL TIP: Fingers do a great job to apply balm to your beard, but a beard comb can really help to distribute the beard balm evenly and effectively throughout the beard. We like the Viking Revolution Beard Comb (affiliate link), which looks like this:
It’s got a row of wide-set teeth and a row of narrow-set teeth, and after you apply the balm with your fingers, you give your beard a few strokes with the wide-set side and then the narrow-set side.
Wallah! You’re good to go (or, almost—you still need Step #4).
HELPFUL TIP: Some guys actually use a beard brush—not a comb, which has long teeth, but a comb, which has soft bristles—and dip that directly into the balm, and then brush it through the beard to distribute the balm. We’d suggest you use the regular procedure first before trying that, and while it’s not a really common way of doing this, it’s definitely something some guys do.
Step 4: Wash Your Hands
No photos required here—just give your hands a good wash after you’re done. A beard balm is made up mostly of oils, butters, and waxes, and it’s literally designed to coat skin and hair—and that means it’s going to stick to your palms as well.
So give your hands a good wash after you’re done. Water alone doesn’t usually do the trick—it doesn’t really do much for butters and waxes—so you may want to use a bar soap or hand soap. If it’s *really* stuck on your hands, a dish soap (or any other kind of soap that strips fats and oils from you skin) can get the job done.
Alright, my man! There you have it. You now know all you need to know to apply beard balm. If you want, you can click here to see before-and-after photos of beard balms, and see how you compare.
Of course, because we’re addicting to rambling on, here are…
Beard Balm Application Tips and Pointers
We promise, these are all really helpful, and we’ll keep them brief:
How To Select a Beard Balm That’ll Work For You
There are a LOT of fantastic beard balms out there, and honestly, it’s almost hard to go wrong, at this point—there are a lot of great options on the market, and the “big name” ones are all really good (in our humble opinion).
That said, here’s what we look for:
A great ingredient list. Balms aren’t complicated—as we mentioned, they’re oils, butters, and sometimes some wax—and many of the formulations include only those ingredients. In other words, they’re all-natural, and we like that a lot. There’s no need to go rubbing all sorts of weird chemicals into your skin if you don’t have to.
A little bit of hold. Beard balms can give your beard some shape, and while they’re not fantastic at hold (a straight-up beard wax, like Honest Amish Beard Wax (affiliate link), has a much higher concentration of wax, and can allow you to truly sculpt your beard), they do provide a good bit of shaping ability. That said, some are better than others, and it’s usually the balms that have a few different waxes (or synthetic ingredients) that provide the best hold. We’ve had good luck with Smooth Viking Beard Balm when it comes to hold—it’s got a lot of natural ingredients, and we think highly of it—and Clubman Pinaud Beard Balm (affiliate link), which unfortunately has a lot of synthetic ingredients, but can provide a lot of hold for a beard.
A great scent. This is, far and away, our favorite thing about beard balms. They come in a wide range of great scents, and many guys who enjoy using beard balm eventually pick them based specifically on what smells good. We’ll talk more about scents in a moment.
Our Favorite Beard Balms Include…
Honest Amish Beard Balm (affiliate link). It’s got a really unique fragrance—it’s a mix of clove, anise, and cedarwood, and it’s sweet, but not overpowering—and it feels great and lasts a while. That’s all we could ask for in a beard balm.
Viking Revolution Beard Balm (affiliate link). Viking Revolution has fantastic ingredients and does a really good job of moisturizing hair, but also the skin beneath it. Their Viking Revolution Beard Balm 4-Pack (affiliate link) is one of our favorite beard products ever, and it contains for great scents: Clary Sage (earthy), Sandalwood (classic/masculine), Cedar and Pine (outdoorsy/forest-y), and Bay Rum (sweet/liquor). Fantastic.
Grave Before Shave Beard Balm (affiliate link). Great artwork, great hydration, great scent—another one of our favorites. Grave Before Shave makes some of our favorite scents, and they get very creative, with fragrances like “Cigar + Vanilla” and “Leather and Cedarwood.”
Speaking of scents, that’s a good segue to the next pointer:
Find a Scent (or Many Scents) You Like
One of the truly great aspects of modern beard grooming is the incredible array of fragrances and scents that are used in beard products. Not only are all the “classic” scents represented, but plenty of creative combinations that are available, and it seems like many guys start out with beard balms because they help keep a beard healthy, but eventually choose balms just because they smell so appealing.
So don’t be afraid to branch out a bit. It can make sense to start with something simple—like a vanilla, or a citrus scent, or a mint scent, or a cedar/pine/forest scent—but some of the more “exotic” scents out there are really inviting: “sandalwood” sounds a little mysterious, but it’s actually that classic barbershop shop scent so many of us love, and “bay rum” also sounds a bit odd (and we still don’t really know what the “bay” in “bay rum” refers to), but it’s a sweet scent that smells calming and pleasant.
Then there’s everything in between—mixes like caramel + mocha and tequila + limon—but also signature scents, which are the unique scents that a particular company comes up with. Honest Amish, with their sweet clove / anise / cedarwood formulation is one such signature scent, as is American Crew Beard Balm (affiliate link), which has a sort of clean, almost cologne-type smell.
There are, of course, plenty of unscented options available, and Striking Viking makes a good one—their Striking Viking Unscented Balm) is a go-to when we want a balm with no scents added.
The next bit of advice in our “how to use beard balm” guide is a two-part-er…
Don’t Be Afraid to Reapply If You Need To…
This is a very common question with guys who are new to beard balm: how often should I be using this stuff?
Usually, once a day is plenty—that should provide all the moisturization you need for a healthy beard and healthy skin. If it’s got a good ingredient list made of natural oils and natural butters, it really should stay in the beard (even if it doesn’t feel like it’s there) and moisturize for hours—so once a day is usually just fine.
In fact, other guys use it less—maybe every other day, or even only a few times per week. Some guys don’t use beard balm at all, and instead rely on
The trick is to pay attention to your beard. Does it look healthy and full of body, or is it dry and twiggy-looking and sparse? If it does feel dry and itchy and it looks a little ragged, chances are it needs a little bit of TLC. That’s a lame answer, but it’s true—you’ll have to check in with your beard every day and see how it’s doing. You may find that you have really dry beard hair and really dry skin, and you need every day application, or you may find that you look great and your skin feels great, and you don’t require it every day. You’ll just have to see.
Keep in mind, there are *plenty* of guys who actually reapply a couple times during the day. They may have really dry hair or skin, or they simply like the scent or the body a good balm can provide. If that’s your gig, do your thing…
…But Don’t Overdo It
Beard balm definitely falls into that category of “too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” Excess beard balm feels heavy and hot, and it looks and feels greasy. Again—this is the type of situation where “a little dab’ll do ya,” so go easy at first and then add, and if you’re reapply during the day, make sure you actually need to. Most guys don’t.
Using too much is a pretty common problem for guys who are just starting to use beard balm, so maybe take it easy when you’re just starting out.
The Important Thing is to Wash it Out
We’ve read a bunch of different “How to Apply Beard Balm” posts, and they all seem to omit a really important aspect of using beard balm: the part where you wash it out.
This is actually a really important step—because after all, many of those ingredients in a beard balm are natural ingredients, and as natural ingredients, they can go bad and smell reaaaaallllllly bad… all while sitting in your beard!
So, you want to wash all that beard balm out after a while. It’s best to wash it out within 12 hours to 18 hours—so if you wake up in the morning and shower and use beard balm, you’d wash it out in the sink at the end of the day—or 24 hours, meaning if you wake up and shower and use beard balm, you wake up the next day and wash it out.
However you slice it (and we realize that while most guys groom themselves during morning hours, it’s not always that simple)—you’ll want to wash that stuff out before too long. Leaving it in too long could actually irritate your skin, and that defeats the whole point of using it in the first place.
Combine It with
Beard Oil if You Want, But Remember…
…you don’t need to.
This is another question that we get a lot: what about beard oil vs beard balm? Can I combine beard balm with
Beard balm and
So both aren’t necessary, because they’re both doing the same thing, and with that in mind, here’s what we usually suggest:
If you want *just* hydration, go with a
If you want hydration and a little bit of hold, go with a beard balm.
If you do want to use both, use
Move Up to Beard Wax (Or Add Beard Wax) If You Need More Hold
We just mentioned that beard balm does a good job of providing hold, but not a great job. That’s the truth of it, and if you’re looking for something with more hold than that average balm—perhaps you’ve got a big bushy beard, or you live in a windy place and your beard gets pushed all around—here are a few options for you:
> You can use a balm with a higher wax content. Look for balms that include a couple of different waxes, instead of just beeswax (candelilla wax is one you’ll often find), and take a look at where in the ingredient list they are—if they’re closer to the first ingredient, that usually means there’s more of the ingredient in the balm;
> You can use a beard wax. Unlike a beard balm, which has oils and butters, beard waxes have very few (if any) of those ingredients, and they contain a loooooot of wax—so much wax, in fact, that they can be difficult to chip out of the container! They can do a great job holding your beard in place,
> You can use a heavy-duty balm. If you don’t want to jump all the way up to a wax, you can use a heavy-duty balm. There aren’t too many of these, sadly, and Honest Amish Heavy Duty Balm (affiliate link) is probably the best-known.
Experiment with a Beard Butter If You’re Having Dry Skin or Beardruff
OK, this is the last thing, and then you we’ll… dismiss beard class, if you will.
If you’re experiencing really dry skin, itchiness, or beard dandruff, you may want to switch gears and try a beard butter. They’re different from beard balm in that they’re designed specifically for skin care, as opposed to beard-and-skin care, the way beard balms and beard oils are. They include less wax, and way more beard butter, and they’re a lot easier to get onto your skin. A lot of guys have great luck with them, and we’re big fans of Bluebeard’s Original Beard Saver (affiliate link). It’s not unlike a regular moisturizer that the unbearded would use on their faces, and we like it a great deal. Your mileage may vary, of course, but a lot of guys who use beard balm for skin issues and find that beard balm doesn’t work for them seem to have some luck with beard butters.
Alright! There you go—you now know more about applying beard balm than you ever thought you needed to. Be good, have fun, and we hope you enjoy a happy, healthy 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.