If you want to step up your game when it comes to grooming your beard, you might be wondering: what does beard oil do, and does it actually work?
Well, we’re about to give you a scientific breakdown of beard oil and its ingredients. In particular, we’ll explain what each beard oil ingredient does, including which ones effectively enhance your skin and beard.
Why does this matter?
With this information at hand, you’ll be able to choose the best beard oil for your skin type, or make your own using the best ingredients for your particular needs.
As always, our research is backed by scientific evidence, so you can be confident that what you read here is legit.
In This Article
- Part 1 – What Are Beard Oil’s Main Ingredients?
Part 1 – What Are Beard Oil’s Main Ingredients
As part of our search for the best beard oils, we analyzed the ingredients from 80 different brands of beard oil.
Based on our analysis, we discovered that beard oil’s ingredients fall into 5 distinct categories:
1. Carrier oils
2. Essential oils
5. Other Conditioners (Vitamin E & Aloe Vera)
Beard oil always contains at least one carrier oil. The carrier oil is the foundational ingredient. Why?
It makes up the largest portion of beard oil, and it’s essential to beard oil’s main purpose: to moisturize the skin and hair follicles so that your beard looks and feels healthy.
There were 17 different carrier oils in the beard oils we analyzed, including castor oil, argan oil, and moringa oil. Typically, each brand had just one or two.
Jojoba oil was the most common carrier oil: it was in 70% of the beard oils. This isn’t surprising, given our research on jojoba oil’s benefits for skin and hair.
81% of the beard oils we analyzed contained at least one essential oil.
Essential oils add natural fragrance and medicinal benefits. Cedar, Sandalwood, Rosemary, and Tea tree were the most common essential oils. They tend to offer a musky, deep aroma associated with manliness.
Tea tree, as you’ll see in Part 2 of this article, also brings additional benefits for the skin.
This graph shows the most common essential oils and how often we found them listed in the ingredients.
A small percentage of the 80 beard oils we analyzed contained one of these three ingredients:
No, we can’t pronounce them either.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetic Database suggests they could be hazardous to your health, so try to avoid them. If you want to decide for yourself, follow their links to read EWG’s summary of the potential risks.
Many beard oils list “Fragrance” as one of the ingredients. But Fragrance (sometimes labelled ‘parfum’) often refers to a cluster of ingredients. Some companies consider their unique fragrance concoction proprietary information. And the FDA doesn’t require them to disclose the specific ingredients that make it up.
Unfortunately, this means it could contain ingredients that are harmful to your health. For this reason, the EWG recommends avoiding Fragrance/ Parfum.
So if you want your beard to smell good, stick to the products that get their scent from pure essential oils, which are natural and plant-derived.
Other Conditioners – Vitamin E & Aloe Vera
There are two other ingredients commonly found in beard oil that don’t fall into any of the above categories. They both have unique benefits that help condition and grow your beard.
First, Vitamin E. We found it in nearly half of the beard oils we analyzed. This is likely because a lot of men want hair growth, and Vitamin E has been shown to work in that regard (more on this in Part 2).
Aloe Vera was another natural ingredient we found in many of the beard oils. In our research article on Aloe Vera’s benefits, we found that it’s been proven to kill off the bacteria responsible for acne, as well as to fight dandruff (Shupe-Ricksecker; Da Vardy, et al).
Part 2: What Does Each Beard Oil Ingredient Do?
As you can see from our analysis, beard oil, particularly the more natural brands, contains only a few simple ingredients.
But each brand has a slightly different composition. Their uniqueness is what allows them to address different issues. Of course, some will be more effective than others, depending on your unique skin type.
Below, we’ll explain exactly what these ingredients do, and whether there is scientific evidence proving they work.
These 2 Ingredients Are Proven to Help Beard Growth
A lot of people are interested in using beard oil to help grow their beard. And while some of the most common ingredients in beard oil are believed to support hair growth, the scientific evidence is limited. Here’s what we know:
- Castor Oil – As we’ve written about in detail elsewhere, a lot of people claim castor oil has made their hair grow in thicker. Research hasn’t tested this theory. However, studies have shown that castor oil may prevent hair loss, aka alopecia (Fong). These studies were testing it on the scalp, so it’s uncertain whether the results would be the same for a patchy beard.
- Vitamin E – There is credible research saying Vitamin E–ie, tocopherals and tocotrienals–can increase the quantity of hair you have. For example, a 2010 study of individuals with alopecia, or hair loss, took oral supplements of Vitamin E and had more hair after 8 months of supplementation (Beoy).
Carrier Oils Condition Your Beard & Skin
The primary purpose of beard oil is to condition your skin and hair. Natural carrier oils are typically used to fulfill this purpose. Why?
An article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology explains that plant-based oils protect the skin barrier. They’re able to do this because of their natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (Vaughn, et al).
In terms of hair, research shows that plant-based oils ward off the appearance of aging by preserving the shine and color of hair fibers (Fernandez).
So which carrier oils are the best to use on your beard? Below, we’ve summarized the research on the 5 most common carrier oils in beard oil, so that you can make an informed decision.
Science Suggests These Carrier Oils Are the Best for Beards
Jojoba Oil was the most common carrier oil we found across all 80 beard oils. It’s not surprising, given that scientific evidence suggests it’s very effective on skin and hair.
For example, a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared different conditioning agents (Cristina). They found that Jojoba Oil was the best at reducing protein loss, protecting the hair thread and resisting breakage.
In other words, Jojoba Oil helps maintain healthy, strong, better looking hair.
Additionally, clinical studies have shown that Jojoba Oil increases skin hydration and sensory appeal, ie. how soft it feels (Pazyar). And healthy skin sets the foundation for a healthy beard.
Moroccan Argan Oil
Moroccan Argan Oil was the second most common carrier oil in beard oil. We found it in 63% of the 80 beard oils we analyzed.
A scientific review of studies looking at argan oil concluded that Argan Oil is high in antioxidants, including polyphenols, tocopherols, and sterols (Guiallame and Charrouf).
These antioxidants fight oxidative stress, which contributes to signs of aging and deteriorating health (Trueb).
Grapeseed Oil was in about half of the beard oils we analyzed. It’s relatively inexpensive and extremely high in antioxidants. In fact, one study demonstrated that the antioxidants in grapeseed oil are 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E (Shi, et al).
Sweet Almond Oil
We found Sweet Almond Oil was in about one-third of the beard oils we analyzed. Naturally high in antioxidants, it has been used in Ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic and Greco–Persian schools of medicine for thousands of years (Ahmad).
Castor Oil was listed in about one-third of the beard oils we analyzed. Studies have shown that Castor Oil enhances hair luster, or shine (McMullen). In addition, the high amount of antioxidants and anti-fungal properties have been proven to fight skin problems, like dandruff and fungus (Ribeiro, Ladda).
Shea Moisture, one of the top ranking beard oils in our review and Most Budget Friendly, contains all 5 of these carrier oils. Given their promising benefits, this is likely a fantastic brand for conditioning your beard.
Tackling Dandruff (aka Beard-druff)
By moisturizing the skin beneath your beard, beard oil helps prevent dry, itchy, flaking skin.
A double-blind study looking at seborrheic dermatitis, aka dandruff, found that aloe vera is effective (Da Vardy, et al). The researchers found that the aloe vera treatment reduced flakiness, itchiness, and the number of spots affected by dandruff compared to a placebo.
Aloe Vera was only found in about 12% of the beard oils we analyzed, so it’s not incredibly common.
Taming Oily Skin
Oily skin is the result of overactive sebaceous glands. If you have oily skin, you might wonder whether beard oil is going to make matters worse. Well, that’s the interesting thing about Jojoba Oil.
Jojoba Oil is very similar to human sebum, the oil secreted from the skin. Because of these similarities, research suggests that consistently applying jojoba oil triggers the body to produce less oil (Al-Obaidi). And because jojoba oil is actually a wax, it tends to last longer than other oils (Al-Obaidi), suggesting you get more bang for your buck.
70% of the beard oils we analyzed contain Jojoba Oil, so you have plenty of options to choose from here.
These Beard Oil Ingredients Fight Acne
If you have acne-prone skin, you should avoid beard oils with ingredients that are comodogenic (ie., clog pores).
Sweet almond oil is best for dry and irritated skin, while jojoba oil is good for oily skin.
Aloe Vera has also been shown to treat acne effectively (Hajheydari, et al). Aloe Vera was only in 9 of the 80 brands we analyzed, so you have fewer options there. But two of the top ranking brands from our review do contain it: Grave Before Shave Bay Rum Beard Oil and Prophet and Tools Premium Unscented Beard Oil.
Tea tree oil, an essential oil with a powerful and refreshing aroma, can help treat mild to moderate acne as well (Enshaieh, et al).
Grave Before Shave Bay Rum Beard Oil actually contains both aloe vera and tea tree oil. So this is a great choice if you want to tackle acne, dry skin, and beard-druff all in one go.
And as a final recommendation for those who are acne-prone, start with oils that have the least amount of ingredients to limit your likelihood of reacting poorly to it.
The Best Ingredient List for People With Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, you are more likely to react when you apply products to your face and beard. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use beard oil.
In this situation, the ingredient list will include all natural ingredients. If they’re also organic, even better.
It goes without saying, the fewer the ingredients, the less likely you are to react.
Viking Revolution Beard Oil may be your best bet. It’s unscented and contains only two, organic ingredients: Golden Jojoba Oil and Morrocan Argan Oil.
If you’re trying beard oil for the first time, remember to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your face first.
Whether you’re just starting to grow a beard or you’ve been rockin’ one for years, a high-quality beard oil is going to tame, moisturize, and improve your overall look.
Applying beard oil isn’t difficult, once you have the technique down. Put about 6 drops of beard oil in your palm, more for established beards, less for newer beards. Rub the oil between your palms and work it through your beard, spreading the oil evenly.
Finally, use a high-quality beard brush and comb to finish working the oil through you beard. Be sure the oil reaches your skin. Without reaching your skin, the beard oil can’t be absorbed to moisturize, prevent skin irritation, ward off beard-druff and enhance your beard’s hair follicles.
And just like that, you’ve just taken your beard to the next level of sophistication.