The Best Beard Wax for Hold and Body
Beard wax was once only a concern for biker gangs and Vikings, but with the proliferation of beards in our culture—and it's awesome to see, because beards are everywhere—it's something you may want to consider if you've got long facial hair. Here we'll go over the buying features you'll want to consider if you're buying a beard wax, include some reviews where we discuss what we believe to be the best beard wax, and if you've got some extra time and want to learn a bit about beard products, we'll finish up with some details about the differences between waxes, balms, and oils. We'll start with a super-quick buyer's guide:
Beard Wax: Two Features to Keep in Mind
Many of the products we review require a quick "Buyer's Guide"-type post before we list our reviews. Beard wax, luckily, is a pretty uncomplicated product, and there are two main buying features you'll want to focus on:
Hold. When it comes to hold, waxes generally fall into one of three categories: light, medium, and strong. The difference between a light hold and a strong is very different—a light wax will provide some structure and stability for your beard, whereas a strong beard wax will make it stiff and rigid. There are also some application differences—a light hold is easier to apply and work into a beard, whereas a strong hold can be a lot more challenging, and you'll need to heat the wax up to get into your facial hair.
Scent. A friend of ours recently said that "Modern shaving is mostly about smelling things," and there's some truth to that—in the last ten years, we've seen a tremendous number of scented shaving creams and gels, aftershave balms, and mustache and beard waxes, and the products smell incredible. There are waxes infused with cedarwood, sandalwood, lavender, citrus, tea tree oil, and plenty of other scents. There are a ton of options, so hopefully you'll be able to find something you like. Fragrance may seem like a secondary feature, but it's actually very important—you're going to be putting a scented product right underneath your nose and then you're going to leave it there and go about your day, so you'll want to be smelling a fragrance you enjoy.
So, those two features—hold and scent—are the main buying considerations. But there's one other aspect of beard wax you may want to consider—and you may be considering and not realizing it—and that is the artwork on the container itself. Beard wax companies—and shaving companies of many different products—have put a lot of money into marketing and design, and their packages are like little art installments. The artwork on the Urban Nomads Beard Wax (which we review below) is killer, and we wish we could get it on a t-shirt. Not a major buying decision, but something to keep in mind if you like the "look" of shaving products (and we'll have to admit, we're total suckers for that sort of thing).
The Best Beard Wax: Our Reviews
There are five or six products we really like, and here they are. Keep in mind, there are a bunch of products we don't like, but we left those off our list. Our first, and perhaps the most well-known, beard wax is....
Honest Amish Beard Wax
If we had to pick a "best all-around" beard wax, it would be Honest Amish Beard Wax. It is, in many ways, the "original" beard wax, and pre-dates a lot of the other products you'll find on the market. It's got some wonderful things in it—a base heavy in beeswax that provides the product with its holding capability (which we would describe as "medium"), and butters and oils that strengthen beard hairs and give them a lustre—and it's not too difficult to work into your whiskers.
It has a very appealing, very unique smell—kind of woodsy, maybe with a little hint of anise or liquorish—but very subtle, and the best part about the aroma is that it's very light. Some waxes have a fragrance that starts strong and stays strong, so it's a nice little feature that the aroma of Honest Amish is on the gentler side but remains pleasant throughout the day.
We're big fans of Honest Amish, and when you consider that beards are a pretty important part of Amish culture, that's a pretty strong indicator of quality. Thumbs up.
Best Organic Beard Wax: Seven Potions
Seven Potions Organic Beard Wax is one of those products we feel good using: it's truly organic, with only 100% natural ingredients included (there are no synthetic chemicals in the mix, and no colorants or dyes added to the recipe), and the wax itself is vegetarian and cruelty-free. That "cruelty-free" aspect of the wax is a wonderful thing—you would be amazed at how many products are tested on animals (and that's sadly true for a LOT of women's cosmetic products), so it's good to know that you're not harming any animals simply by grooming your beard.
As for the other product details, the hold for Seven Potions is just about right: we put it at a "medium," and it should provide structure and stability without making your beard overly-stiff. Plus, it smells veeeeery nice: a subtle mix of sandalwood (which is a very popular shaving scent, and used in a lot of higher-end boutique shaving creams) and cedarwood, which has a nice, gentle "musky" smell.
There are a good number of beard waxes (and shaving products in general) that use all-natural, local ingredients, but Seven Potions gets our vote for best organic beard wax.
Beard Care Wax for Men
They may not be the oldest game in town—that award goes to Honest Amish—but Beard Care Wax for Men truly "gets" what bearded guys are looking for, and provides a long list of waxes for just about anybody who'd want to wear one.
Above, we mentioned that the two most important buying factors for beard waxes were hold and scent. On the first feature—hold—they've created a product that provides a medium-heavy amount of hold, and they advertise it as being a great fit for bikers, and other guys who spend a lot of time in places where their beards can get mangled. So, thumbs up for that one—with its slightly heavier consistency, we've found that it provides a long-lasting hold to keep beards in place, and it can be a great option for guys who want to add a little "heft" to their whiskers.
But the other way in which this product stands out is in the incredible range of scents that the company manufactures. At present, the company makes TWELVE different scents, ranging from coffee (El Barrista!), to lemongrass and grapefruit, to citrus, to cedar and pine, to tobacco and black pepper, to bay rum and lime. There are more "traditional" scents, as well—sandalwood among them—but the "newer" combination scents are where this product stands out.
THAT is a great feature. These guys understand that a lot of guys buy beard wax primarily for the scent, and they've done a great job providing options for guys who want a range of scents to choose from. Another great option.
Urban Nomads Beard Wax
Urban Nomads Beard Wax is a great product, and its scent signature—orange and almond—is very inviting. Our favorite aspects of this beard wax, however, are much simpler, and much more "common-sense":
Hold. The product is offered in two different holds: regular and strong. That's a surprisingly good marketing strategy, because very often, we'll find a scent we like, but the hold is too much or too little, and the company only makes the product in one degree of hold. It's nice to know that if you like the scent, you have options when it comes to hold.
Container. Most waxes come in tins or tubs, and while there are plenty of guys who like that, it drives a lot of other guys insane (OK, we'll come clean here: it drives us insane). Those tins often have caps that are very difficult to take off and put on, especially when your hands are wet from the shower, or they're waxy, because, well, you just used wax. A jar is an easy-open, easy-close product, and if you're in a rush in the morning, that makes it a very nice option. It's sounds insignificant, but it's a nice little touch by the Urban Nomads people.
And, finally, the wax is hand-crafted in Barcelona, a city in the middle of a culture that has long celebrated beards, from Don Quixote to Salvador Dali. These guys take beards seriously, so if you want an exotic option made by people who are passionate about shaping facial hair, Urban Nomads might be a good choice. Another thumbs-up for a product we like a lot.
The Best Strong Hold Overall: Bearded Goon
There are a lot of fantastic names for beard products out there, but The Bearded Goon's Ridiculously Strong Beard and Moustache Wax is one of our favorites. There's something very masculine about knowing what you want to be, and the Bearded Goon knows what it wants to be: it wants to be a beard wax that provides an incredible amount of support (which, because of its high wax content, we think it does nicely), and it wants to be a beard wax that doesn't overpower you with scent (which, in our opinion, it does not). If there's a "strong and silent" type among beard waxes, The Bearded Goon is it.
Strong hold, mild scent—that's really all we can ask for in a beard wax. This is our pick for strongest hold overall, and we like to use it if we'll be at football games / in windy conditions / at outdoor events. We've found it can provide a little more stiffness and rigidity than many of the other waxes we've tried, and it gets our "thumbs up."
The American Beard Company: Best Unscented Option
We figured we should include one unscented option, and we like The American Beard Company Beard Balm. Technically, this is a balm and not a wax, so it doesn't have the same hold as a wax does (and we describe the different between waxes and balms and oils below), but when you're looking at unscented products, you usually have fewer options than when you're looking for scented ones.
Either way, we think the American Beard Balm is a good pick. It's made with some nice ingredients—jojoba oil, shea butter, argan oil, along with some Vitamin E for its skin-restorative properties—and because it does not include any of the chemicals you find in many store-bought beard products, it's a nice match for guys with sensitive skin. And, because it's a balm, it offers a lot of properties that waxes do not—it doesn't have the same hold that wax provides, but it's designed to take fly-aways, provide your beard with some structure, and moisturize your skin a bit. It can be a good option if you're looking for an unscented product that'll give your beard a little bit of stability.
Beard Oil vs Beard Wax vs. Beard Balm: What's the Difference?
Thanks for reading our reviews of the best beard wax. As long as we're here, and as long as you're still willing to read this post, we figured we'd clear up a little bit of confusion regarding beard waxes and beard balms. We got a lot of questions about those two (and how they're different from beard oil), so we'll take this opportunity to shed some light. There's a lot of overlap with beard-care products, but beard wax, beard balm, and beard oil are all actually very different products, and each has its own purpose. Here's the big picture:
Beard oil is a slick liquid that's used to soften your beard and condition the skin underneath it, and is meant to be used on a beard of any length;
Beard wax has—you guessed it—a high wax content, and it's used to provide a stronger hold for medium-length to longer facial hair; and
Beard balm is a mixture of oil and wax, and it's used to provide a medium hold to shorter, medium-length, and longer beards.
That's the general idea, but there are, of course, some details you'll need to keep in mind, so here we'll go over the finer points:
Beard Oils: The Details
If you've ever seen a guy with a lustrous, free beard hair, he's probably using a beard oil. It's a great way to give a lighter beard some consistency, and a great way to give a heavy beard some lightness.
What's in It: Different oils—sunflower seed oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and pumpkinseed oil—are all popular, and sometimes some Vitamin E, for skin-healing properties.
What it's Used For: As we mentioned above, it's used to hydrate and condition. If you find that your beard hair has split ends and shoots off in a million different directions, beard oil can help—it can soften whiskers, help them bind together a bit, and give your beard some shape. It can also make your beard less prickly, and that makes it a great product for men who have significant others.
It has another use, though, and for some guys, it's very important: it can reduce beardruff. If you don't get beardruff—that is, dandruff, but from the skin on your face, and not the skin on your scalp—consider yourself lucky. It can be an issue when you've got a beard, and beard oil can help (although, of course, your mileage may vary).
When to Use It: After showering or washing your face—you can work it in with your fingers, or comb it in.
Pros: As with most oils, balms, and waxes, it smells fantastic, and it comes in a wiiiiiiiide range of aromas. There are citrus scents (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), "deep" scents (sandalwood), and "cowboy" scents (bourbon—yes, bourbon). For a lot of men, the beard-shaping qualities of beard oil are actually a secondary feature, and the scent is the best part of the product.
Cons: For some guys, the smell can be overpowering. You're basically putting a cosmetic product right under your nose, so you'll be smelling it all day, and if that bugs you, beard oil—or any beard product, really—can drive you crazy. A little goes a long way, so go easy on the product, or simply find one that's scent-free (and there are plenty of scent-free, hypo-allergenic options out there). Also, some guys don't like the tactile feeling of oils—to some guys, they feel greasy. That's a matter of taste, though, and you can always just use less of the product, and there are some oils that are "lighter" and have a more water-y consistency.
If you have a thinner beard, oils usually aren't necessary, although some guys use them because they find an aroma they like.
Beard Wax: The Details
This is a product for when you don't want to fool around. If you've got a thick, heavy beard, you may need a serious holding agent to keep your whiskers in place, and that's what beard wax is designed to do. If you've ever sported a longer beard, you've seen first-hand how straggly that sucker can get it. Fly-aways, bunching, and so on—beard wax is for when you want introduce serious hold for your facial hair.
What's in It: Mostly beeswax (although there are some vegan varieties available), with some of the oils we mentioned above (jojoba, almond, argan, etc.) to loosen it up a little bit. Many waxes also include shea butter or an equivalent to make them spreadable, because on its own, the beeswax can be difficult to work into a beard.
What it's Used For: Styling and serious hold. If beard oil is to make your beard soft, beard wax is to keep it in place, and if you have a beard that has a mind of its own and refuses to stay "beard-shaped," wax can help a lot. You can use just a bit of it to give your beard some support and structure, or you can use a lot of it, to give your beard some serious stiffness.
That "serious stiffness" we just mentioned is great for regular-shaped beards, but it's also great for creatively-shaped beards—if you're looking to work in braids or cords or have your whiskers pointing a direction other than "down," beard wax is a great tool to have. If you've ever gone to a beard competition, you're going to see a lot of guys using beard wax.
And, we should point out—it's not just for guys at beard competitions; the majority of guys who use beard wax use it as an every-day product.
When to Use It: When you get out of the shower, or after you've washed your face and beard. It's got a much thicker consistency that balms and oils, so you need to rub it between your fingers and the palms of your hands to infuse it with some heat—otherwise it can be very difficult to work into your whiskers. In fact, some beard waxes are so stiff, that it can help if you soften the wax by blowing a hair dryer on it. Some guys get a little concerned about wax not coming out of their beards, but a lot of the time, if you take a hot shower, it will dissipate and disappear in the water. If you've used a lot of it, you may need to massage it out.
This is another product where a little goes a long way: a little dab'll do you, as they say, and working it into your beard can take a minute or two. As with most shaving products, you want to use it sparingly, and add more when you need it.
Pros: It's pretty reliable, and works well—it's literally wax. As with everything related to shaving, there are a ton of scented versions, but there are some unscented versions, as well.
Cons: It's literally wax, and that freaks a lot of guys out. It really will make your beard feel stiff. That's why it really is best for men with seriously thick beards—for the majority of bearded men, a balm will work fine. It can also take a while to work into your beard, but that's not really a bad thing—that's how you know it works. A beard wax that you can apply with too much ease probably won't provide the hold you're looking for.
It's worth noting that beard wax is a little more rare than beard balm (which we'll talk about next), and if when you go searching for beard waxes, you're going to find a lot of beard balms that are pretending to be waxes. Don't be fooled—wax is a lot stronger than balm, and while balm will, in fact, get the job done for a lot of guys, wax is most likely best for guys with truly-thick beards.
Beard Balm: The Details
We saved beard balm for last, and that's because it's basically a middle-ground between slippery beard oil and semi-solid wax: it's got a consistent feel and hold, but it's a lot more spreadable—something like a hard cream. It's got the conditioning aspect of oil, with (most of) the sculpting capabilities of wax.
What's in It: The ingredients for balms vary quite a bit more than oils (which are usually just oils) and waxes (which are mostly beeswax), but usually they're a mix of beeswax, oils (just like above, coconut oil, argan oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, etc.), and some butters (like shea butter) mixed in. Because it's got more oil in it than wax, it's got some moisturizing properties—although, if you're experiencing beardruff, it might not be enough to stifle that problem, and you might want to see if oil does the trick for you.
What It's Used For: Beard balm is a great option for shorter bears. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We obviously meant to write "shorter beards" and not "shorter bears" back there, but that's an enjoyable mistake, so we're going to go with it). Beard balm is a great option for short bears, so if you're a bear, living out there in nature, and you're not as tall as the other cubs in your neck of the woods, you should really try bear balm—you might like it. There are honey-scented options available, as well as some salmon-scented options, and it'll keep your fur from getting fly-aways.
Ha! Alright. Back to beard balm.
Beard balm is a great option for short to medium-length beards that need a bit of support. If you've got facial hair in the one-inch to four-inch range, a beard balm can provide a good amount of structure and staying power, and it won't feel as "stiff" as it would with beard wax. It's a nice mix between conditioning, styling, and stiffness, and it's become very, very popular over the last few years. There are a lot of different manufacturers of beard balms, and plenty of options to choose from.
When to Use It: As with oil and wax, the best time to use beard balm is right after a shower, or after you've washed your face and beard. It's not too difficult to work into your whiskers, but it's definitely best to use when your whiskers are pliable, and when they're clean.
Pros: It provides more structure and stiffness than beard oil, it's easier to use that beard wax, and leaves less residue—in other words, it's easier to wash out than beard wax. And, just as with oils, there are some really enticing aromas infused into beard balms—there are sandalwood options, lemon/lime, vanilla, bourbon, patchouli, bergamot, and many more. They can be a lot of fun to collect, especially if you like to "rotate" scents and experience different smells every day.
Cons: It won't provide the hold that wax will, so if you're really looking for hold, it probably won't do the trick. And, as with oils, the smell can be a little overwhelming, although there are some great un-scented options available.
Bringing Waxes, Balms, and Oils All Together
There you have it! Beard oils are for moisturizing your skin, conditioning your whiskers, and maintaining fly-aways; beard balms are mostly for styling and maintaining fly-aways, and are good for short- to mid-length beards; and beard waxes are for medium-length to longer, bushier beards, and are used for serious hold. Now you know!
Keep in mind, the product you should use really depends on your own facial hair. If you've got truly thick facial hair, you may not need to hold it in place, and you might actually need to use just beard oil, to tame it a little bit, and avoid a "rat's nest" situation. If you've got medium-thickness facial hair, you may find that a balm or a wax will work well you for you. And if you've got very fine beard hair, you may not need to use anything at all—you may find that your beard, when managed correctly and cut to an appropriate length, pretty much stays in place. As with most things in life, find what works for you.
Wax On, Wax Off
There you have it—our selections for the best beard wax, and some insight on the different types of beard products. We hope this helps! Just remember, if you're among the bearded, you're in a special tribe, and you're representing all of us. Have fun and be good. Peace!