Beard oil vs. wax/balm. It’s a David and Goliath battle. Ok, well maybe not, but it can be a confusing one. The pros and cons of each are extensive and taking sides is almost a political statement. What’s best for you? Well like most things in life, that depends what you want.
First, let’s touch on how oil is naturally present on your face. Ever pushed your head against a clean window? That smudge that’s left is the oil off of your hair, beard or skin- maybe all 3. The skin and hair produce oil (sebum) to keep it moisturised and waterproof. This leads to durability, elasticity and general better wellbeing of the hair. Occasionally people suffer from dry skin. This problem comes in many shapes and forms- usually eczema. Dry skin around the hair follicles (head or beard, even underarm and eyebrow) often leads to flaky and dry skin- commonly known as dandruff.
Now as we know, there is a plethora of products on the market for people suffering from a dry scalp. So you can ignore what comes next and use some `Head & Shoulders dry scalp’ on your beard! Kidding! Products made for a dry scalp or dandruff as specifically made for head hair- that’s a different kind of hair. Plus, have you ever read the ingredients in some of that ‘specialist’ stuff? Hooley dooley.
So if you regularly suffer from a dry scalp- and even if you don’t- you’re probably going to have a dry and itchy beard at some point. Sounds like you need some help!
Perhaps you’re like a lot of other gents I speak to. You have no problem growing hair around the jawline but your cheeks are patchy and inconsistent. Or perhaps you’re like me- one side of your moustache has a great upward Salvidor Dali curl but the other side droops south like a Mongolian warlord. Sounds like you need some help!
And we find help in the form of beard oil or a wax.
Beard oil is the most common and important solution to any beard problem. Even if your beard has no problems, regular oil use is important. It’s the easiest way to keep the hair on your face healthy and moisturised. This means strong, healthier facial hair and better growing conditions.
Your hair follicles are like the little machine where each hair grows from. And like most machines, they need to stay working properly. In other words, your oil isn’t actually for your beard, it’s for your skin underneath. If you keep the factory that produces the hair happy, you can then start work on the hair that it has already made.
Whether you suffer from dry skin and beardruff or just want to maintain a healthy beard or ‘stache, a well made, organic oil should be the keystone to your grooming routine. But don’t apply it too regularly (more than daily) and don’t apply too much. Greasy beards aren’t cool and they can lead to the opposite end of the skin problem spectrum (pimples, acne and a decline in general skin quality). The Groomed Man Co. beard oil was made to be lightweight, non-greasy and fast absorbing using ingredients that replicate the skins natural sebum production such as jojoba.
The next common product is a beard wax/balm. Wax is used to give a beard a fuller look and to style it. If you are suffering from dry skin or brittle hair, it’s probably a good idea to avoid beard wax. Compared with oil, it won’t fully absorb due to the wax coating.
When looking at ingredients in a wax, be sure that Shea butter (butyrospermum parkii) and/or Beeswax (cera alba) are listed within the first 3 ingredients. These naturally malleable ingredients won’t damage the health of your hair. Petroleum and silicone-based ingredients are synthetic and do not let the hair breathe at all. Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) or argan oil (Argania spinosa L) are natural moisturizers and usually a staple ingredient of waxes. A good wax should have a scent to it but should be substantially less scented than your oil.
As stated earlier, use wax cautiously if you are are fighting with your skin or damaged hair. While it’s true waxes can lock in moisture, fresh clean oxygen is more important when trying to repair hair or get skin healthy. Regular use of wax means more regular washing, which means stripping your beard or whatever moisture or oil is there. I tend to look at my wax as a non-essential part of grooming. I will try to get my oil to help shape my beard, but resort to a little wax, usually only in the tips of my moustache. Also remember that it is not the job of a wax to make your beard smell good- oil does that.
Whether you use beard oil or wax, regular washing is also important. Just like hair, a buildup of oil can leave your beard looking…crappy. I try to give my beard a good wash with shampoo at least once a week- even when I break into a heavy sweat at the gym 3 times a week. A good rinse in a warm shower seems to suffice every other day. How to wash a beard is a story for another day.
Whatever path you take, remember that everybody’s body is different. What works for me probably won’t work for you. But hey, it might. If it doesn’t, keep experimenting. The point is to educate and encourage you to find what works for you.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Phil Forbes – The Aussie in Poland. Dinosaur nut, Simpsons quote fiend, post-rock enthusiast with a strage addiction to all things mint. When he grows up he wants to be a dinsosaur and/or stormtrooper. Writer at shoplo.com/gb