The Best Beard Care Kits: Our Selections
It seems like one of the biggest complaints guys have about beards is that they require a lot of different grooming tools and products, and you have to put together those products piecemeal, one-at-a-time, over many months. That search for products can be a pleasure for some guys, but for others, it's absolute torture.
And that's why beard kits can be so helpful. Many of them include all the items you'll need to maintain a healthy-looking, well-groomed beard, and they take some of the work out of putting together the tools you'll need for beard maintenance.
In the post below, we'll go over the A to Z of beard kits. We'll discuss the items you may want to look for in a kit, provide reviews of what we consider to be the best beard care kits, and then dive a little deeper in case you want to learn the details on how to use all the items included in a good beard kit.
A (Very Quick) Rundown of What Should Be in Your Beard Care Kit
We'll go into more detail about each of these options below, but for now, here's a very quick run-down of what kits can offer:
Beard Oils. These are part of just about every kit we've ever come across. Some kits include unscented beard oils, but many kits include the "greatest hits" of beard oil scents, and those usually include sandalwood, bay rum, or lime.
Beard Balms. You'd imagine it would be a staple of every kit you'd come across, but beard balms are in some kits, and not in others. If you plan on doing light styling with your beard, they're a feature to look for.
Beard Shampoo and Beard Conditioners. The hair in your beard is different from the hair on your head, and it requires a unique shampoo and a unique conditioner. These are absent in most "beginner" kits, but are included in many of the "high-end" kits you'll find from companies dedicated to high-quality shaving products.
Combs and Brushes. Most kits include a beard brush, but fewer include a comb (and if you're curious about the difference, we discuss it below). You may have your own combs and brushes, so you may not need your kit to have one.
Scissors. These are only included in a few kits, which is odd—a big part of "beard care" is shaping your beard, so it's odd that a beard care kit would NOT include scissors, but most of them don't. We've included a few kits in our "Reviews" section below that have scissors, and if you like a kit that doesn't have scissors, we've written a full post about our favorite scissors.
Organic Ingredients. This has become a major buying consideration for a lot of beard-wearers, and we've included a couple options that feature only organic ingredients.
And... that's it! Those are the most common items in a kit. You may find other odds-and-ends included (such as shaping template), but those are the main considerations.
Our Reviews of the Best Beard Care Kits
There are an astonishing number of beard care kits out there, and we've reviewed... it feels like we've reviewed hundreds of them. It's more likely we've reviewed dozens, and there are a lot of sets that are good but not great, so we've listed our favorites below. We like all of the following, and we've separated them into their most pertinent features, so they're a little easier for you to consider.
Our Pick for Full Grooming Kit
As you'll see, every kit includes a different list of grooming items. Some go light and include only the most important beard care products, while others include a wider range of the tools you'll need. If you're looking for a kit that has almost everything you'd need to maintain a beard, the Grooming and Trimming Kit can be a good pick. It's got all-natural and organic beard oil and wax (which are scent-free; a very nice feature if you like to wear scented deodorant and/or cologne); a pair of scissors, so you can trim your mustache and mane; a wooden beard comb to loosen the tighter knots in your whiskers, and then a thick boar's hair brush to really loosen your beard hair; and a box and a carrying pouch. If you're new to having a beard and want a full range of tools for grooming, we think it's a great kit.
Of course, if you don't need a whole range of tools, there are...
Two "Just-the-Essentials" Kits We Like
As we've discussed, there are a lot of kits that feature some pretty helpful tools, but there are some that are good for just the essential items you'll need to groom your beard. We like:
The Mountaineer Brand Beard Care Kit. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles in this kit—no scissors, no duffel bag, no combs—but it's got all the essentials you'd need to keep a beard looking good. It's beard oil to keep your beard healthy, a brush to untangle knots, and a balm to give your beard some structure, but it's also got one product that's absent from many kits: beard wash. Shampooing your beard is important, and a lot of guys forget to do so. We've used a lot of Mountaineer Brand products over the years, and we've always found them to be worthwhile, and our favorite feature of their Beard Care Kit is that they manufacture it in a lot of different scents—citrus and spice, pine tar, and timber are all attractive options.
The Grave Before Shave Beard Care Pack is our other pick for "all-the-essentials." It's got the same inclusions—beard wash, beard balm, and beard oil, along with a tightly-wound brush with a handsome wooden handle. The products in the Care Pack have a bay rum scent that's both sweet and assertive—a smell we always associate with parties and warm climates. Grave Before Shave is another one of our favorites—and, as we've admitted in other posts, we're suckers for the artwork on their products. Another good option.
Both Mountaineer Brand and the Grave Before Shave are fantastic companies, and we've always found they make high-quality goods. If you find that you like their individual products, it may make sense to look for packages like this to bundle their products together.
Kit with a Shaping Template
There's only one kit we've found that includes a shaping template, and that's the Beard Grooming Doppler Kit. Templates are very helpful, especially if you've got a long beard and want to cut those longer hairs so that they're symmetrical on both sides.
The rest of the kit is pretty impressive, as well—it comes with a full suite of tools, including two combs (a larger one for your beard, and a smaller one for your mustache), a sandalwood balm, a sandalwood oil, and a wooden beard comb—but it also comes in a wet-resistant travel bag that has a couple of zipper pouches.
Another great starter kit, and a good option if you find yourself on the road a lot.
For Guys with New Beards...
The UPGRADED Beard Kit can be a good option. It's got a full suite of tools, including a wooden comb and a boar's bristle brush, unscented beard oil and beard balm that contain jojoba oil, argan oil, and Vitamin E, and a pair of stainless steel scissors. That's pretty much everything you need to navigate your first beard, and those scissors are a great inclusion—it's kind of odd that more kits don't include scissors, as they're pretty important to beard shaping and grooming.
If you're new to having a beard and you're not sure if you want to keep it for the long haul, the UPGRADED kit can be a good option.
Kit with a Cigar Box (Our Overall Favorite)
So, we should explain: the Beardsley in a Box Beard Care Set is, by itself, a fantastic product. It's got items we think would benefit every proud beard-wearer—beard shampoo, specifically designed to strengthen whiskers, and beard conditioner, specifically designed to make them smooth; beard oil to make your beard smooth; and beard lotion, to help style it—and it's made in some really unique scents: wild berry, cantaloupe, and bay rum. So those products alone would earn our praise.
But it's the "handsomeness" of this set that truly sets it apart. Beardsley products all look like Tolstoy novels, and the artwork on each bottle is really attractive. The cigar box is a well-constructed item with a slide-out door—perfect for products, but also perfect for whatever else you'd like to use it for, after those products are gone (and we use our favorite cigar box as a keys-and-cash holder by the front door in our apartment). The company itself has been around since 1993, which in terms of modern companies dedicated to beard care products, makes them somewhat ancient. So they must be doing something right.
It would be nice if it included scissors or a comb, but this is more of a "products only" kit, and that's fine. The kit is another one of our favorites, and it actually gets our vote for best beard care kit overall.
Best Organic Beard Care Kit
If you like hand-made, organic items, the Ultimate Beard Kit by Maison Lambert can be a good option. It's got a number of the items we'd hope for in a kit—beard balm, beard oil, and a beard shampoo—but all items are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and chemical-free. The products are cruelty-free, and it, too, comes in a classic-but-rugged-looking cigar box. This is another one that's a great kit full of great items, but is also quite dashing. It would make a great gift for a friend or family member (or for yourself, if you're so inclined!).
Last but Not Least: Best Scented Kit
The Zeus Deluxe Beard Grooming Kit is our last pick, and it's got a lot of things going for it: for of all, it's got Zeus products in it, and we've had great experiences with them: beard shampoo and beard conditioner for in-shower cleansing, beard oil for after-shower grooming, and a 100% boar bristle brush made out of pear wood. It would be nice if they included one of the Zeus Beard Balms but that's OK—it's still a great set, and our favorite aspect is the scents that Zeus puts together. Their package their products in a sandalwood scent, a vanilla rum scent, and a verbena lime scent, all of which we enjoy. If you're looking for an intro to Zeus products, this can be a good option.
A Closer Look at Those Tools and How to Use Them
We promised a "deep dive" into the products usually included in a beard care kit, and if you're new to having a beard, this section may actually be a really good way to learn about beard maintenance. Let's start with the most common products:
Beard Oils, Beard Balms, and Beard Waxes
These are three very important, but often-confused, beard care products. Here's how it breaks down:
Beard Oil. Aside from actual shaping tools like scissors and razors, beard oil is perhaps the most important beard care product you'll find. It hydrates your beard and replaces the natural oils that are stripped from your beard hair when you take a shower, and without it, your facial hair can become brittle and crinkly, especially as it grows longer. But not only does beard oil help fortify your whiskers, it can help your skin, too, by keeping dandruff from forming and countering some of those itchy sensations you get when new whiskers are growing in. It can last a long time—if you use it sparingly, it's not uncommon for a high-quality bottle of beard oil to go a month or two—and it's something you can use at all stages of your beard's growth.
Most beard oils are made from two main ingredients: essential oils and carrier oils. Essential oils are extremely concentrated organic matter taken from a variety of plants (they're the "essence" of the plant), and they help lubricate the whiskers of your beard. There are hundreds of essential oils, and many have pleasing aromas—coconut, clove, hickory, jasmine, lavender, lemon, patchouli, peppermint, rose, sandalwood, and tea tree oils are all essential oils—and they're used to give beard oil a satisfying scent. The only problem is that when essential oils are not properly diluted, they cause irritation to the skin—and that's where carrier oils come into play. Carrier oils are skin-friendly, and when added to a beard oil, they dilute the essential oils enough so that you can safely put the beard oil on your skin (they literally "carry" the oil to the skin). When melded together, they're a great match for beards: they provide lubrication, hydration, and shape.
High-quality beard oils will use carrier oils that evaporate quickly and get absorbed into your whiskers. Jojoba oil is one such example—it's somewhat similar to the oil that your skin naturally produces, and it's very beard-friendly—and other good carrier oils include sunflower seed oil, evening primrose oil, almond oil, castor oil, and grapeseed oil. Not all carrier oils are created equally, though, and some are actually a bad option for beard oils. Olive oil, for instance, tends to get gloppy and doesn't absorb into your facial hair well, and because it tends to "sit" in your beard, it may stain your shirt or jacket. If you can, take a look at the ingredients list, and avoid olive oil if possible.
Beard Balm and Beard Wax. We'll clump these two items into the same section, because they're related: beard balm and beard wax are both used to give your beard some shape and support, and to keep those "fly-aways"—those whiskers that decide they don't want to be part of the gang, and separate from your other whiskers—from occurring. Balms and waxes sometimes have some secondary properties—beard balms can moisturize your whiskers and prevent dandruff—but the main function of both beard balms and beard waxes is to keep your whiskers in place.
The difference between the two products is the ingredient list, and the amount of "hold" the product provides. Beard waxes are mostly made from—you guessed it—wax (bee's wax, usually), and they provide a LOT of hold. Beard balms usually contain some wax, but it's mixed with a couple of agents (such as plant oils and/or plant butters) that make it easier to work into your whiskers, and they provide a medium amount of hold. There's no real agreement on how what's a balm and what's a wax, so manufacturers usually list the amount of "hold" on the label or product description. What you decide to use it up to you—some guys prefer a lot of control, and use a wax so that their beards won't even move in a hurricane, whereas other guys prefer to simply give their beards some shape and keep those fly-aways from occurring—but if we have to give some advice, we'd say that balms are good for shorter beards, and waxes are better for longer beards.
Do I Need to Use All Three—Beard Oil, Beard Balm, and Beard Wax? No. Here's how it usually plays out: if you have a thin beard, you don't really need beard oil. Beard oil hydrates your whiskers, but it makes them look a little whispier, so beard oil is a great option for guys who have medium-to-thick beards. Beard balm is a great fit for everybody—it provides some body and hold for thin, medium, and thick beards. Beard wax isn't really necessary for guys with thin or medium-thickness beards—a beard balm should be fine for thin or medium-thickness beards—but it's a great option for guys with very thick beards, very long beards, or facial hair that you want to "lock" into place.
What's Mustache Wax, Then? Mustache wax is very similar to beard wax: it's purpose to give your mustache shape and hold, and it's usually made from actual bee's wax. There a couple different varieties, and most of the varieties differ in how much hold they provide: some are simply meant to give your mustache some body and shape, and those have a "light" amount of hold; others give your mustache a "shiny" look, and those provide a "medium" amount of hold; and others actually harden your whiskers into place, and they offer an "extreme" degree of hold. Most of the time, the difference between the different hold capability is the amount of wax in the product, but there are some mustache waxes that use a lot of synthetic chemicals to keep your whiskers in place.
Most waxes are sold as "beard and mustache" waxes, and those products are, in our estimation, a good fit for 95% of guys. Most guys just want to give some shape and support to their facial hair, and if that's you, a product sold as a "beard and mustache wax" should be fine. If, however, you want a more dramatic look—a la Salvador Dali or Rollie Fingers, or you're entering a mustache or beard competition—you'll probably want the highest level of hold possible, and look for a mustache wax made specifically for mustaches, that'll give you a high degree of hold.
Beard Shampoos, Beard Conditioners, and Beard Washes
Many men are surprised to find out that there are both beard shampoos and beard conditioners, but it makes sense, if you think about it: the hair on your head needs to be washed and fortified with nutrients, and the hair that comes out of your face is the same way. There's a lot of dirt and debris and sweat and dead skin that gets caught in your beard, and a beard shampoo will wash that out, and hair that's washed needs a conditioning agent, otherwise it ends up looking flat and matted. So, beard shampoo + beard conditioner = a happy, healthy, clean beard. Let's take a closer look.
Beard Shampoo. Beard shampoo is made specifically for your facial hair, and you may find yourself asking, why can't I use a regular shampoo for my beard? Why do I need a shampoo made specifically for my beard?
It's a reasonable question, and it has a reasonable answer: there's a difference in structure between the hair on your head and the hair that grows out of your face. The hair on your head is prone to getting oily, and when that happens, it looks—well, unattractive. If you've ever gone without a shower for a week, you'll see that your hair becomes greasy, clumpy, and smelly. And that's what shampoo for your head does: it strips your hair of dirt and debris, but it also strips it of the oils that make it greasy and clumpy. When your come out of the shower and your hair feels nice and soft, that's because it's got very little oil in it, and that's a fine scenario for the hair on your hair.
The hair on your face has the opposite problem: after a little while, it doesn't have enough oil in it. In fact, the natural oils present in your beard tend to evaporate and aren't replenished—and that's where a beard shampoo comes into play. A proper beard shampoo will cleanse your whiskers of dirt and debris, but do so without stripping it of the oils essential to keep it healthy-looking and clean. So your facial hair requires a little extra love, because it doesn't have the same oils that the hair on your head has, and it needs to have those oils re-introduced into your beard hair over and over again.
Beard Conditioner. Many men aren't quite certain what a conditioner does for the hair on your head, so we'll start there: a conditioner repairs damaged hairs, smooths it out and detangles it, and inhibits split ends. Shampoo is fantastic because it cleanses the hair, but it can leave hair filaments open to damage, and conditioner provides a fair amount of protection. It's the same for your beard: beard conditioner provides support for damage beard hairs, detangles knotty areas of the beard, and keeps whiskers from splitting in two. It's a great product to use in tandem with your beard shampoo, and most are for "in-shower" use, although there a couple of "leave-in" shampoo conditioners that are similar to beards oils, that you apply to your beard after a shower and leave in your beard for the rest of the day. Honest Amish has one of the best-known leave-in beard conditioners, and we're big fans of it—it smells nice, and gives whiskers a little bit of strength.
Here's the next logical question: do you need both a beard shampoo and a beard conditioner? Most of the time, no. A beard shampoo once or twice a week will do you just fine, and because many beard shampoos contain a conditioner—just like you can find shampoos for your head that also include a conditioning agent—very often, you don't need both. There are, however, some guys who should definitely use both products, and those are guys with really thick, really voluminous beards. Those puppies really do require a lot of maintenance, and a shampoo and conditioner provide a great one-two punch: beard shampoo to wash away dirt and grime that settles in beard whiskers, and conditioner to fortify it.
(By the way, you may be getting the picture that a beard requires a fair bit of upkeep! It's true. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking a beard means less personal grooming, when the reality is a beard means more personal grooming! And that's fine—once you get a routine down, it's easy to groom and shape and maintain your facial hair. For most guys, it means only a few extra minutes tacked on to your shower routine.)
Beard Wash. This is usually the same thing as beard shampoo. Products that call themselves "beard washes" instead of "beard shampoos" tend to be a little more high-end, and have an all-natural ingredient list (although that's not a fast-and-hard rule). If you've got a beard shampoo, you usually don't need a beard wash, and vice versa.
Beard Combs, Beard Brushes, and Mustache Combs
Now that we've grooming products covered, let’s discuss some of the hardware that can help you in maintaining your beard.
Believe it or not, there is a difference between beard brushes and beard combs, and it does make a difference in how you groom your beard. You use these combs and brushes in a specific order, so we'll go over beard combs first.
Beard Combs. These combs usually have two sets of teeth that differ by width. Half of the teeth are widely spaced, while the other half of the teeth are very close together. The Smooth Viking Beard Comb is a good example—the teeth on the top of the comb are close together, while the teeth on the bottom of the comb are a little more spaced out. The wider-spaced teeth are good for an unruly beard, so you'd use that side of the comb first, and then once you've tamed your whiskers a little bit and untangled a few knots, you can use the other side of the comb to more precisely comb your beard. Most men use the comb to untangle their beards, and then head for...
Beard Brushes. These are large items with thick, closely-gathered bristles, and from the look of them, you'd imagine they're for use on horse or a large animal. They're big and vaguely intimidating, but they do a great job of making their way through your whiskers. Many of the bristles on high-end shaving brushes are made of boar's hair, which does a great job of moving through the whiskers, detangling them, and giving your beard some shape, but there are many shaving brushes that are now made from horse hair, as well.
So, as with many shaving products, the question remains: why can't I use a regular brush? As we mentioned, facial hair is different from facial hair, and it's a lot tougher. It takes a little more effort to move a brush through your beard than it does through the hair on your head, and beard combs and brushes are structured for that extra tension. The bristles are sturdier and the brush is longer, and that gives it a little extra stability. But there's another reason why it's a good idea to have a brush you just use for your beard: the best time to use beard oil is right before you brush your beard, because the brush can disperse the oil evenly through your whiskers. Some of that oil tends to stay in a brush, so you want a brush that can disperse oil evenly throughout your whiskers.
After a couple of passes with a beard comb and a beard brush, you're usually good to go, but you may also want to use...
Mustache Combs. Mustache combs are usually very small—only a couple of inches long—and they're used specifically on your mustache. Their primary use is to help you shape your mustache, but they're also helpful when it comes to trimming your mustache, as well. The 'stache usually requires some detailed clipping, and a good, finely-toothed mustache comb will allow you to line up all of your mustache whiskers so that they're all pointing in the same direction so that you can cut them with a mustache scissor. It seems like a frivolous little item, but it's actually very helpful when you want to shape your mustache.
Beard Scissors and Mustache Scissors
The last items you'll find in a beard care kit—sometimes—are a set of beard or mustache scissors. These are another specialized tool that help you keep your beard so fresh and so clean clean, and it's kind of odd that a lot of beard kits don't include them, because they really are pretty integral to beard maintenance.
Beard Scissors vs. Mustache Scissors. Technically, there is a difference between these two tools—beard scissors are supposed to be longer, to allow you to cut more of your beard at once, and mustache scissors are supposed to be shorter, so you can get in close and detail your mustache the way you see fit. However, most scissors used to cut and shape facial hair are marketed as "beard and mustache" scissors, and you really can use either one to trim your whiskers and give your beard some shape.
Again, Why Can't I Use Scissors Made for the Hair on My Head? As with other tools related to shaving, there really is a difference between the scissors you'd use on your head vs. the scissors you'd use on your facial hair. Beard and mustache whiskers can "slip" from the shears used to cut the hair on your head, whereas they're usually held tight by the high-tension scissors designed for your facial hair. In fact, many beard and mustache scissors have a knob at the hinge of the scissors that allows you to tighten the scissors so they are incredibly effective.
Variations of Scissor Types. There are a couple of different features to beard and mustache scissors, and they are: tips—most mustache and beard scissors have sharp tips, but if those worry you, you can find them with blunted tips; finger rests—most mustache and beard scissors have a finger rest on the bottom ring of the scissor, to give you some additional grip, but on most scissors, these are removable; and length of blade—some scissors are longer (and those are great for beards) and some are shorter (and those are great for mustaches and detail work).
Beard Care Kits: Now You Know
And... that's it! That's an in-depth description of all the tools you'll find in a beard care kit. We hope this helps round out some of your bearding knowledge, and if you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line. Be good, and happy shaving!