How to Use Beard Oil: Steps, Photos, and Application Tips
Beard oil is perhaps the most popular beard product made, and it's the “go-to” beard care option for a lot of guys out there.
And that makes sense: it's easy to use, it provides a slew of benefits, and a lot of the beard oils on the market today smell GREAT.
That said, it's not always obvious how to use it, so here we'll give you step-by-step instructions on how to apply it so that your beard—and your skin—stay healthy.
First we'll give a high-level overview on how to use beard oil in four easy steps. This is for those of you who want the facts, nothing but the facts, and to be on your way.
After that, we'll go into specific detail about how to apply beard oil. We'll talk about why each step is important, discuss some issues you may run into, and provide some pointers on how to get the most from your beard oil.
Something for everybody, in other words. Alright, let's get to it:
How to Use Beard Oil: Steps, Summarized
Four steps and you're good to go:
Step 1: Size up your beard and drop out your oil.
Start with a clean beard, either right out of the shower or after a beard wash in the bathroom sink, and drop a few beads of the beard oil into the palm of your hand. For stubble, 2 or 3 drops is fine; for shorter beards, 3 to 5 should do it; for medium-length beards, 4 to 6 drops is usually enough; and for longer-length beards, 6 drops or more can be required;
Step 2: Rub your hands together to warm up the oil.
This seems like one of those steps you can skip over, but it's actually important—rubbing the palms of your hands together will warm up the oil, and a warm consistency allows the oil to more fully penetrate into your beard and onto your skin;
Step 3: Use your fingers to rub the oil into your beard AND onto your skin.
Use your palms to work the beard oil onto the surface of your beard, and then use your fingers to work the beard oil into your beard and onto your skin. That’s important—beard oil can really benefit your skin, and guys tend to forget that. Get all parts of your beard, including your sideburns, mustache, soul patch, goatee, and the hair under your neck. If your beard looks disorganized after rubbing the oil in—and it probably will—use a beard comb (and then maybe a beard brush) to groom it back into place). Finally...
Step 4: Wash your hands and have a great day.
Beard oil is—you guessed it—made out of a bunch of different oils, and by its nature, it'll stick to your palms and fingertips. Leaving beard oil on your hands after you apply it to your face can leave you feeling a little grubby and sticky, so give your hands a wash (with soap, preferably) to get it off.
And... there you have it! Those are the "broad strokes" when it comes to beard oil—start with a clean beard, use an appropriate amount, warm it up between your palms, apply to both beard hair AND skin, and then wash your hands. That's it!
Now, for those of you who like to *really* know what you're doing, and why...
How to Apply Beard Oil: Each Step Plus Images
Alright, now let's get into the weeds, and really talk about how to use beard oil:
Step 1: Size Up Your Beard and Drop Out Your Oil
Here we'll use one of our favorite beard oils, which is Viking Revolution Beard Oil (affiliate link). It moisturizes really well, it smells great, and it lasts for a while.
Here's the beard we'll be working on. It's about three or four months of growth, and we'd call it a "medium-length" beard—it's flirting with that area between "responsible member of the community" and "pirate":
It needs a little work, but it's in pretty good shape.
So, as we wrote above, the following measurements usually do the trick:
> Whiskers and stubble: 2 to 3 drops;
> Shorter beards: 3 to 5 drops;
> Medium-length beards: 4 to 6 drops;
> Longer-length beards: 6+ drops
So for the beard in the pic above, we should need about 4 to 6 drops. Here's what 5 drops looks like in the palm of the hand:
As you can see, it's about the size of a nickel—maybe a little bit smaller. It seems like that won't be enough, but you'd be surprised how far a couple of drops can go, and you can always add more later if you need to.
There's something else we should discuss, before we go on, and that's the dropper—that thin little glass/plastic tube that holds and dispenses the beard oil.
Droppers are great—and by far, the majority of beard oils come with droppers—but they're NOT air-tight, and unless you hold your dropper upward, like this...
...it's going to leak on the way to your hand. So, as you use it, remember to keep it pointing upward, until you're ready to drop the contents out into your hand.
Step 2: Rub Your Hands Together and Warm Up the Oil
This is an important step, and it's one a lot of guys skip, or don't do vigorously enough: warming up the oil.
Take your one hand, place it over the other (so none leaks out), and give 'em a rub. It's doesn't have to be long—three or four seconds is more than enough for the friction from your palms to loosen up the oil and get it ready.
Afterwards, your hands will probably look like this...
Nice and shiny. Some of the oil will get absorbed into the skin on your hands, but that's not a big deal.
This, by the way, is a great time to take a big whiff of your beard oil. If you've bought a scented beard oil, enjoy it!
Step 3: Use your Fingers and Palms to Rub the Oil into Your Beard and Skin
OK! Now is the time to get the oil into your beard. Start off by getting the oil on your palms onto the surface of your beard...
...and after you've done that, use your fingertips to get into the beard itself, so all parts of your beard are coated in a very light sheen of oil:
Now here's the important part: be sure to get the oil onto the skin. You can apply a little extra to your fingertips, like so...
...and rub it onto the skin.
We mentioned this earlier, but getting the oil onto the skin is VERY important. When we think of the term "beard oil," we assume that it's an oil for a beard (and hey, that makes sense). But the truth is, the oil is just as much for your skin as it is for your beard, and most of the time, your skin really needs that oil. Beard hairs are long and thin and they draw your skin's natural oil away from the surface of the skin, and that can leave you dry and flaky. That's why beard oil can be great for itchiness, irritation, and beardruff—it helps the skin.
With that in mind, here's the thing to remember:
You CANNOT get the skin benefits of beard oil if the oil doesn't come into contact with your skin.
We’re leaning pretty hard on that “get the oil on your skin” bit, but it’s for real, and if you take away one idea from this post, we hope it's that: beard oil can be a great for your skin, but it needs to actually come into contact with your skin.
As you work the beard oil into your beard, be mindful to add it to all parts of your beard—that sounds obvious, but sometimes we tend to overlook certain areas, like the sideburns, mustache, the wings of the mustache, and the hair at the base of the neck (and this is true for guys who have really long beards).
The beard here tends to fray at the soul patch a little bit, so we'll give that area a little extra attention:
As you apply the beard oil every day or every few days, take a very close look at your unique style of growth. What areas look dry? What areas seem neglected? Take note as you go along, and—this sounds silly but it's actually great advice—get to know your beard!
As you finish up, you may notice that your beard may be a bit of a mess:
...and that's usually the case if you've used your fingers to really work the oil into your hair and onto your skin.
If that's the case, you can use your fingers to get your beard back in shape, but using a beard comb can make things a lot easier.
Here we're using the Viking Revolution Dual-Sided Beard Comb (affiliate link):
A couple of quick strokes and we're back in good shape:
Alright! We're almost done—there's just one more thing we need to do, and that is...
Step 4: Wash Your Hands and Enjoy Your Beard
After all this, your hands will be sticky, so it's "best practices" to wash them off. Leaving the oil on your hands is like a magnet for dirt and bacteria, and it's best to get that off before you finish up.
You can use just about any kind of soap, but a soap that will strip your skin of oils usually works best—and most of the time that's a bar soap, or even dishwashing liquid, which does a great job of getting oils out of your skin.
And... there you have it! Thus concludes our in-depth pictorial on how to apply beard oil. If you want to see more, you can check out some before-and-after photos of beard oil here.
Some Helpful Application Tips and Other Notes to Keep in Mind
Alright, here's your master class—more than you'd ever need to know about how to use beard oil, and some of the issues you may want to keep in mind:
Choose a Good Formulation / Keep an Eye Out for Jojoba Oil
This shouldn't be too difficult, honestly, because many of the beard oils out there are made from all-natural ingredients.
And, it's a pretty simple product, really—in most cases, it's simply just a bunch of oils mixed together.
That said, they're not random oils—they're usually a balanced mix of essential oils (which are not the magic cure-all as has been claimed, but which do have a lot of nutrients for skin and hair, and usually have an enticing scent) and carrier oils (which are usually great moisturizers, and, as they're scent-less, usually "carry" the essential oil to the skin).
There are dozens of different essential oils, including lemon, lavender, anise (which smells like licorice), cedarwood, lime, bergamot (which is a citrus), blue cypress, patchouli, clary sage, cinnamon, peppermint, coffee, pine, rose, ginger, and many, many more. You'll often find that beard oils have one (or many) of these scents.
It seems like it would be the other way around, but the real superstars in any beard oil are the carrier oils—they're the ones that do most of the moisturizing/hydration. Here are a few of the most common ones you'll find:
Argan oil: great for moisturizing, and can hydrate skin and hair
Jojoba oil: GREAT for moisturizing skin—more on this in a moment;
Grapeseed: great for hydration and protecting beard hair;
Almond Oil: great for moisturizing, and can hydrate skin and hair.
Olive Oil: Yes, olive oil—great for salads, great for skin.
Of these carrier oils, jojoba might the stand-out ingredient. It's a very unique inclusion, because it's actually similar in structure to the oil that your skin produces (which is called sebum). Because of this structural similarity, it can penetrate pores and provide some balance in your skin's production of sebum. It's used all over the world, and can provide a wide range of benefits for beard hair and the skin underneath it, and we've noticed—over the course of reviewing many, many different beard oils—that not all beard oils include it, and it's usually the higher-end, better-performing beard oils that have it.
So, if you're the kind of guy who reads ingredient labels—and we most definitely are—keep an eye out for jojoba.
Our Favorite Beard Oils
In case you're looking for product suggestions, here you go!
Honest Amish Beard Oil (affiliate link). Honest Amish is one of the most popular makers of beard products, and most (if not all) of their products feature their signature scent: a mixture of cedarwood (earthy), anise (fragrant with a hint of licorice), and clove (sweet, but not overly so). The result is an enticing scent, and the oil does a great job moisturizing skin and hair.
Viking Revolution Beard Oil (affiliate link). This is the beard oil we used above—it's nice and light and doesn't feel heavy on the skin, and it smells great—the sandalwood in it is reminiscent of that classic “clean” barbershop scent. They offer a couple of different scents, and we're big fans of the Viking Revolution Beard Oil 3-Pack, which has a sandalwood scent, a pine and cedar, and a clary sage (which has an earthy, herb-y kind of smell).
Jack Black Beard Oil (affiliate link). This is a "higher-end" offering that has a lot of ingredients that are great for skin (and it's not *that* Jack Black, in case you're wondering). Our favorite aspect of Jack Black Beard Oil is the pump-action top—instead of including a dropper, which the great majority of beard oils have, they have a pump-nozzle to release the beard oil, and that's a fantastic thing if you're tired of dropping stray globs of oil all over your countertop. Lastly...
Mountaineer Brand Unscented Beard Oil (affiliate link). There are a looooot of guys out there who don't care for scent, and for them, this is usually the oil we suggest. The company that makes it focuses most of their effort on oils, and it's got jojoba oil in the recipe, which as we mentioned earlier, is a great ingredient.
We've written here about our picks for best beard oil, but the ones above are probably our "favorite favorites."
OK, back to the tips and pointers:
Beard Oil is Best Right Out of the Shower
We mentioned above that it's always best to use beard oil on a clean beard, and that's because your beard is basically like a magnet for dust and dirt and grime and bacteria. If you add beard oil to a really dirty beard, you're basically providing some glue to all that dirt and grime and locking it into your beard. Not a good look, and not good for the health of your beard, either.
But there's another reason why you want to apply beard oil to a clean beard, and that's because a freshly-cleaned beard has usually just been stripped of the natural oils your skin produces. During a shower or a wash, your beard—and the skin below it—lose a lot of oils that keep your hair and skin healthy. And, not only that, but your skin can't really replace them—especially if you've got a medium-length to long-length beard.
So that period of time right after you shower, when your beard is just sliiiiightly damp and almost dry, is a great time to add oil to it. It'll be clean and free of dirt and grime, and it'll be lacking oil, which you can apply directly to it.
You Can Reapply If You Need To...
…but you probably don't need to. Once a day is fine for most guys, and that little bit of oil can provide some sustenance for hair and skin. We occasionally get asked about applying beard oil before bed, and in most cases, it's not necessary. If you've got a really dry beard or really dry skin, it can be a good thing, but most of the time it's not necessary—beard oil once a day, or even less than that, is usually sufficient.
There's also a "cumulative effect" that happens, where the oil will eventually build up in your beard a little bit, even if you wash it out every day—and that means that you can skip some applications here and there, and you should hopefully still garner the benefits of an oil. In fact, we've noticed on our beards that continued usage can make them look fuller and more shapely—and it means that missing a day here and there probably won't hurt.
That said, you can absolutely reapply during the day if you want to, and doing so can make a lot of sense if you live in a dry area or work in a dry environment. Beard oil doesn't have the "staying power" that a beard balm has—beard balms usually have butters and waxes, and beard oils are usually just beard oils—and that means it can evaporate during the day. Reapplying is a good way to make sure your beard stays fresh and shapely. It's not a big deal, and plenty of guys reapply once or twice a day, but just remember that...
...There's No Need to Overdo It
Beard oils—just like every beard product—is the sort of thing where a little bit goes a long way, and too much oil can actually be bad for your beard. It can coat it and actually keep it from getting some natural oils from your skin.
Plus, it's a little gross—a beard that's glistening and sopping with oil is uninviting, and it'll be an even stronger magnet for dust and who-knows-what floating through the air.
So go easy, both in your initial application, and reapply as necessary. Get to know your beard—if it gets dry, when it gets dry, how it reacts to the oil. It seems silly to say, but beards are really unique, and everybody's beard reacts differently, so observe how your beard reacts to products, different environments, etc.
It's Called "Beard Oil" But It's GREAT for Whiskers and Scruff
We alluded to this above, but a lot of guys hear the "beard oil" and assume the product is just for beards. It's not, and in fact, it's great for scruff and whiskers—maybe even more effective than it is on a beard.
Whiskers and short scruff can be super-itchy, and even though they're not long, they can draw oils away from the face. Using a beard oil can replenish some of that oil, AND it can soften some of those whiskers, which are still close enough to the skin to poke at it and irritate it. Your mileage may vary—sometimes that initial growth of beard is just going to itch you and there's nothing you can do about it—but beard oils have been known to help.
The same is true for mustaches—if you're sporting a mustache and a mustache alone, using oil can provide it with a lot of hydration and nutrients.
If You're Having Serious Issues with Beardruff...
...give beard oil a shot, but keep in mind you may actually want to try a beard butter. A beard butter usually consists of the same oils you'd find in a beard butter, PLUS butters that are included to really nourish your skin (and "butter" is just a fancy term for "mashed-up seeds" and "mashed-up nuts" with hydrating properties).
The butters that are included in a beard butter—usually shea butter and/or cocoa butter—do a great job providing hydration to your skin, and because of their consistency, they're a little weightier than oil, and easier to get onto your skin. The also tend to include other ingredients found in face creams that can relieve itchiness and flakiness, and in that sense, they're a little more like a traditional skin moisturizer and less like a beard product.
Again, your mileage may vary, but if beard oil isn't working on your itchiness and/or beardruff, you may want to branch out a little and try other products. As for as specific products, we like Every Man Jack Beard Butter with Hemp (affiliate link)—lots of great ingredients, and a nice cool feel—and Bluebeard's Original Beard Saver (affiliate link). It's not as well-known as many other products, but it can be a great option for itchiness and flaky skin.
Give the Bottle a Sniff Every Once in a While to Tell If It's Still Good
Given that beard oils tend to have all-natural ingredient lists, and given that all-natural ingredients can go bad, you're going to want to give your beard oil bottles a sniff every once in a while to make sure they're still good.
Pay attention, in particular, to beard oils that contain grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil only stays fresh for about six months or so, and that's far shorter than many other oils (jojoba oil, our fave, can last for up to five years).
So give it a sniff and make sure it's OK. Using an oil that's turned can cause skin irritation or rashes, and that's no fun.
That's actually a good segue to the next section:
Be Sure to Wash It Out Thoroughly
Those natural ingredients can go bad in a bottle, and they can also go bad in your beard. Make sure you wash all that oil out at some point, because it can get pretty grody after a while.
The best-case scenario is where you'll wash it out 12 to 18 hours after use—so if you apply it when you get out of the shower in the morning, you'd wash it out before you go to bed (and you can add that step to your evening routine, when you brush your teeth).
If that's not possible, the second-best scenario is to wash it out every 24 hours or so—apply it in the morning after your shower, go about your life and then hit the sack, and then wash it out the next morning during your shower. That's probably what most guys do.
If that's not possible—and for many guys it's not!—do it as often as you can, with the understanding that all those natural ingredients, if left in a beard too long, can irritate your skin, can some itchiness, and maybe even result in flakiness.
If You're Looking for Hold, Try a Beard Balm—Or Even Better, a Beard Wax
OK, the last pointer—beard oil is great for hydrating a beard, and it can give it some body and some shine, but it doesn't usually do much when it comes to styling. It can't really provide much hold, and it definitely won't let you sculpt your beard.
So, if hold is what you're looking for, consider a beard balm. Beard balms have butters and waxes in them, and they can allow you a little bit of hold, while also providing moisturization and hydration for hair and skin.
If you *really* want some hold, look at a beard wax. They're formulations with very little (or no) oil, very few butters, and a looooot of wax—and they can let you sculpt your beard and keep it in place (within reason).
Congrats, You've Graduated from Beard Oil Academy
We have now shared just about everything we know about beard oils! well, a lot of it, anyway. We hope it helps you in some way, and if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to jump over to our "Contact" page and drop us a note. Good luck, have fun, and happy beard!