Growing a beard can be a process, and making it enjoyable can help you get to the finish line with both your facial hair—and the skin underneath it—healthy and in great condition. One of the easiest ways to enhance your beard both during the growth and maintenance phases is by using beard oil. The best beard oils can keep your whiskers clean, soft and lustrous—and can also support the skin underneath it by preventing itching and flaking alike.
But not all oils are meant for beard application, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, MD-FAAD, in NYC. She encourages her patients to ensure that oil formulas focus primarily on carrier oils rather than commonly irritating essential oils—more on all that below. So, when buying beard oil, you need to understand what each ingredient in that formula is doing to help both skin and scruff alike. Because some poorly formulated oils might cause allergic reactions, inflammation, or even acne.
Read on to learn about the benefits of beard oil and for a roster of the best beard oils—as well as King’s own advice on what to look for in a formula, as well as what to avoid.
What Does Beard Oil Do?
Here are the primary benefits of beard oils.
Hydration and Nourishment: A well-formulated beard oil will absorb quickly into the hairs while also coating the strands with a moisture-locking seal. And depending on how you apply it, beard oil can also nourish and moisturize the skin beneath the beard (thus mitigating flaking and itching). Two of the most common ingredients in beard oils (argan oil and jojoba oil) are King’s favorite for multiple nourishing and soothing reasons: “Jojoba and argan oils are rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants,” she says. “They have anti-inflammatory properties and they won’t clog pores.”
Fortified Beards End: By routinely applying beard oil to the ends of long facial hair, you can remedy things like beard itch, split ends, and brittle hair.
Preventing Microbial Breakouts: With certain oils used in the recipe, beard oil can even prevent bacterial and fungal breakouts on the skin, and in turn, prevent acne from forming—but you need to be vigilant not to overdo specific ingredients that can perform these tasks (most notably essential oils); a little goes a long way with essential oils, and overdoing it can cause significant irritation in many individuals. Most beard oils are made without these ingredients and focus primarily on nourishment and fortification.
Lightweight Styling: By softening the hair, beard oil can also prevent you from looking unkempt and act as a lightweight styler. The natural, lightweight shine it provides also keeps the beard looking healthy and strong. Some of them even deliver a subtle, refreshing scent that lingers all day.
The Best Kinds of Oils for Beard Oil
You’ll find numerous other types of oil ingredients in beard oil formulas, but straight-up oils are among the most common. Some brands will also market synthetic formulas or products that feel more like a serum or moisturizer than beard oil. Sometimes, it’s a matter of terminology, so as long as the product delivers on its promise—and as long as it suits what you need in a conditioning product—then you can feel good about using it.
Below are the most common types of oil ingredients found in trusted beard oil blends. They are divided into two types of oils: carrier oils and essential oils.
Carrier oils are much more conditioning and can safely be used in large volumes; these are extracted from nuts or the seeds of plants.
Essential oils, on the other hand, are extracted from plants; they need to be carefully measured and used sparingly. This is why it’s imperative to buy beard oil from established, well-reviewed sellers, as their products have been measured and tested and won’t have adverse effects on your skin and hair.
“Be wary of any formulation where essential oils are present in more than trace amounts,” King advises. “Carrier oils should make up the vast majority of the product.”
The Best Carrier Oils
Argan oil: Rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, making it ultra-nourishing and fortifying for skin and hair alike. Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and absorbs quickly with little sheen.
Jojoba oil: Also nourishes and fortifies skin with antioxidants and fatty acids. Non-comedogenic. Jojoba oil most resembles the oil that our skin produces, so it is especially agreeable.
Grapeseed oil: After argan and jojoba, this is King’s third-favorite oil ingredient for beards and skin. “It has high amounts of omega chain fatty acids and vitamin E, and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties,” she explains. One of the antioxidant ingredients in grape seed oil is proanthocyanidin, which may help to even out skin tone when used consistently. Its high content of linoleic acid helps it to support the skin barrier, increasing skin’s moisture and increasing elasticity and softness.” On top of all that, grapeseed oil is also non-comedogenic.
Coconut oil: While coconut oil should be avoided by oily-skinned and acne-prone individuals due to its high comedogenic rating, it still has ultra-nourishing and antimicrobial properties—making it attractive to everyone else. (Side note, other commonly comedogenic oils according to King include palm, soybean, wheat germ, and flaxseed oils.)
Moringa oil: Anti-everything: anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-acne, and rich in antioxidants. Terrific for taming flyaways and unruly facial hair.
Sweet Almond Oil: Rich in Vitamins A and E. Very lightweight and moisturizing.
The Best Essential Oils (in Moderation)
Tea Tree oil: Its antimicrobial properties prevent bacterial and fungal breakouts, while it also stimulates circulation and nutrient delivery to the follicles. However, its overuse and unregulated use make it one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis seen in dermatology offices, says King. So whatever you do, please don’t go slapping pure tea tree oil directly onto your skin.
Peppermint oil: Boosts circulation and nutrient delivery and has a cooling effect.
Eucalyptus oil: Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Boosts circulation and nutrient delivery.
Rosemary oil: Has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. “It may therefore help to keep dandruff and acne at bay,” says King.
Oregano and Thyme oil: “These have antimicrobial activity and help kill the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis, two of the major acne-associated bacteria,” notes King. “They can therefore potentially help to treat current acne as well as prevent future breakouts.”
The Best Beard Oils
Le Labo Beard Oil
Sunflower, grapeseed, and jojoba are the headliners in Le Labo’s potion, and you know it smells fantastic, coming from a company best-known for its luxurious fragrances. It opens with a crisp bergamot squeeze over a fresh lavender and violet layer, then lingers on a delicious vanilla note all afternoon.
Jack Black MP10 Nourishing Beard, Hair, and Face Oil
This oil concoction combines 10—count’em, 10—carrier oils for an overwhelmingly nourishing finish. (Grapeseed, jojoba, olive, and argan are atop the roster.) Use it in your hair for a pinch of control and shine, or even across your mitts for a moisture jolt. MP10 is truly universal in its goodness.
Moroccanoil Dry Scalp Treatment
While this is primarily a treatment for dry, flaky scalp, it can offer the same remedy on the skin beneath your facial hair, should you be experiencing beard itch or beard dandruff. Like all of Moroccanoil’s formulas, it centers on argan oil, but adds in exfoliating salicylic acid to help clear out pores and buff dead skin cells. Use it in moderation as a treatment for dryness, and not as a primary nourishing beard oil.
Beardbrand Beard Oil
Beardbrand struck gold during the mid-teens beard rush, and for good reason: its products work. Shop the brand’s aptly labeled Gold Line for a facial hair glow-up powered by the mega-moisturizing oils of jojoba, abyssinian, babassu,and castor. (We love the “Old Money” scent for its amber and aged-oak gravitas.)
King C. Gillette Beard Oil
Argan, jojoba, avocado, macadamia seed and almond seed oils combine in this reliable moisturizer. Gillette practically invented the shaving industry over a century ago, and this fast-absorbing formula applies that longstanding legacy and expertise to guys who don’t want bare faces..
Pura D’or Beard Oil
Double the volume of my beard oils (or even quadruple), this 4 oz. vial packs extracts of argan, jojoba, sandalwood, grapefruit peel and bergamot, for a recipe that conditions, strengthens and softens both beard and skin.
Brothers Artisan Oil Juniper, Rosemary, & Sage Grooming Oil
A packed roster of nourishing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, including argan, jojoba, grape seed, and rosemary, give this option both efficacy and a great scent. The team at Brothers Artisan Oil even advises using it for grooming more than just your facial hair; it also works as a hair and facial oil.
Rocky Mountain Barber Beard Oil
Stop beard itch and beard dandruff dead in their tracks with this hydrating, nourishing, antimicrobial blend of oils—jojoba, coconut, argan, grape seed, eucalyptus and tea tree (basically all the top oils in one formula).
Shea Moisture Conditioning Beard Oil
SheaMoisture’s signature maracuja and shea oil are both in this blend, alongside oils of grape seed, olive, castor, jojoba, sweet almond and coconut. Use it to tame the fussiest of flyaways and to promote softer, stronger hair and hair growth.
Port Products Conditioning Beard Absolute
A beard oil by another name, this Absolute is anchored by argan and grapeseed oils but elevated by fragrant oils of sandalwood and bergamot.