Beards are in and have been for some time now. No more are the heady days of the eighties and nineties when every man seemed destined to keep their faces smooth and their chins bare. We have options, from neatly trimmed stubble all the way out to bushy Hagrid beards, with everything from mutton chops to goatees in between.
If you do nothing else but refuse to shave, you’ll be OK. If you don’t look after your facial hair and just see what happens, you will most likely end up with some form of beard. However, we can all do better than this: we can groom, shape, trim and style our beards; we can shampoo and condition them as we would all the other hair north of our necklines; and, importantly, we can use a good beard oil to keep face fuzz soft, well-conditioned, and smelling lovely.
Today, we’re going to round up ten of the best beard oils that money can buy.
What Does Beard Oil Do?
Beard oil is a lot like hair oil- completely non-essential but entirely lovely and useful. It softens coarse hair, much like conditioner, and moisturises the skin underneath. It also makes it easier to shape your beard and keep it looking how you want it (though grooming and shaping will obviously make the biggest difference here).
Beard oil can also smell amazing, enhancing your natural scent and layering through with your cologne to create quite an intoxicating sense experience.
If your beard is scruffy, tired looking and just a bit haggard (or if you are) you may want to try using beard oil. It will enliven your hair and be a bit of a pick me up into the bargain.
Most beard oils will require two to four drops in the palm of your hand, once or twice a day (first thing in the morning and right before bed are pretty decent times). Rub your hands together to warm the oil up a bit, triggering the scents, and then massage it into your beard.
Obviously, the longer and bushier the beard, the more oil you will need. Using too much shouldn’t be an issue- though, as with cologne, subtlety is better than an overdose. You don’t want people choking around you.
For best results, apply it just after a shower. Failing this, wash your face with hot water or apply a warm flannel for a minute or so. Dry your beard by patting it with a towel and then run the oil through it. Comb, shape, and get on with your day looking and smelling like a million bucks.
How To Pick The Best Beard Oil
Given what it is meant to do, picking a good beard oil is easy enough. It should soften your whiskers, condition your skin and compliment your natural aroma and that of the cologne you use. If it does all of these things to a good standard and doesn’t cost the Earth, you’ve got yourself a winner.
Whilst scent is subjective, and dependent on the wearer, all of the items on our list below offer all of the above. They will all give you a better-quality beard with smoother bristles and softer skin, whilst smelling quite lovely.
Other than this, we’re looking at ingredients. One of the most important aspects of any beard oil is the carrier oil itself. This will be what delivers the nourishment to the skin and hair and what carries and delivers the essential oils that bear the fragrance. Common carrier oils include grapeseed, coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba and Moroccan argan, though there are many others that work just as well. A good quality carrier oil is vital. Without one, the whole lot falls apart.
Then there is the essential oil itself, alongside any herbs or spices used. There really is no limit or rulebook here. Sandalwood, pine needle, tea tree, eucalyptus and bergamot are all commonly used, fantastic oils, though you will be able to find many more. As long as it works, smells nice and elicits no allergic reaction, any essential oil will be fair game.
Our Top 10 Beard Oils
We have carefully selected 10 of our favourite beard oils based on the criteria we have set out above. Let’s find out which ones made the cut…
The top spot: Bull Dog Original Beard Oil
Bull Dog Original beard oil is by far the best all-round beard oil. Usually retailing at well below a fiver per 30ml bottle, it represents great value for money- you will struggle to find better, with many of the other entries on this list regularly coming in at 20 pounds or more. This is no small thing. Cologne can be expensive because you use it so sparingly. Beard oil, at anything up to 8 drops every day, doesn’t quite go so far.
There is no scrimping on quality with this small price tag, however. Bull Dog Original beard oil is made from good-quality aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea, which all combines to give it a naturally fresh fragrance that is really quite subtle. It works well as a moisturiser for both your skin and beard and leaves no unwanted, greasy residue.
Bull Dog Original is perfect for everyday use or for those looking to try oil out without wanting to splash the cash around.
Braw Beard Oils Grand Eckson 1918
Braw is Scots for excellent or brilliant (I live in Glasgow and hear it a lot.)
Braw Beard Oils certainly live up to their name. Founded in 2012 (a little before beard oils really hit the mainstream) in East Lothian (near-ish Edinburgh), they have consistently come up with quality goods.
The Grand Eckson 1918 is just about the best smelling beard oil on the market, and that’s as close to an objective fact as possible. It combines argan and jojoba oils, which will give your beard a luxurious, silken, well-conditioned quality, and hempseed oil derived from the cannabis sativa seed (don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal and using it won’t have you tripping). The beautiful, husky smell itself comes from its use of light hints of ginger and patchouli.
Grand Eckson 1918 is available in 50ml and 10ml glass bottles, so you can go for a small tester or jump straight in with a big one. It is a bit of a heavier oil, so you may not want to use it on a thin, small or new beard. Go for a fuller look to get the most out of it.
Jack Black Beard Oil
However, it works well for them. They seem to be proving the old maxim: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Their formula is based on a blend of natural oils like Kalahari melon oil and marula, which helps to give it its sweetly botanical aroma, neither overbearing nor too subtle.
However, their blend gives you more than these simple oils. It’s packed with everything you need to keep your skin and beard glowing. Added ingredients include carrot extract, brown algae and Vitamin E antioxidants.
Jack Black also market it as vegan and cruelty-free. It can be hard to know where its competitors stand on this, so if this is a big deal to you, you can feel safe with them, knowing that you’ve chosen ethically.
Their oil is slightly lighter than some of the other entries on this list. It works for all beard types but may be better for smaller or shorter styles. It’s fast absorbing, so feel free to use it 2-3 times per day to really maximise the benefits to your skin.
Hawkins & Brimble Eleni and Ginseng Beard Oil
Hawkins & Brimble’s Eleni and Ginseng beard oil is another very reasonably priced offering. Founded in 2016, Hawkins & Brimble is a relatively new British grooming brand who skilfully blend form and function, in their own words. Epitomising cool Britannia, they claim that their grooming products are cut from a different cloth and tailored to complement the modern man’s lifestyle.
Expertly crafted in the UK and formulated with simple, natural ingredients, they are not far wrong: their products are understated and cool. Their Eleni and Ginseng beard oil is no exception to this rule.
The scent is warm, peppery and quite rich, quite like you might expect from a good Frankincense resin. The ginseng is elegantly understated, giving a nice, subtle aroma that is nevertheless brimming with heady undertones.
The mix itself, blended in the main from sweet almond oil, olive oil, shea butter and argan oil, is incredibly fast acting and efficient.
It’s perfect for frizzy, dry beards or those suffering with itchy, dry skin. The argan oil in particular will leave your skin feeling refreshed and supple and your beard hydrated and soft.
Hawkins and Brimble’s Eleni and Ginseng beard oil comes in 50ml bottle, dressed up in quite an attractive cardboard sleeve. They are affordable, but definitely not cheap, understated, but definitely bold.
They are also another company who specify that their products are animal friendly and suitable for vegans.
The Audacious Beard Company’s The Wood Chopper
Using The Wood Chopper from the Audacious Beard Company feels a little like breaking out the big guns. One of the more reasonably priced items on this list- nearly comparable to Bull Dog- it nevertheless packs a punch.
It’s quite simply the best oil on this list for softening and taming an out of control, coarse, wiry beard. It will soften and condition the worst of tangles, allowing you to comb your crazed facial hair back to normality.
It doesn’t just condition, though. As with all of the oils on this list, it comes with a lovely scent- a particularly lovely one, in this case. The blend contains a fusion of bergamot, juniper berry, grapeseed, patchouli and pine needle. It smells a bit like fancy wood and old shoe polish, in the best possible way, according to some.
You can buy The Wood Chopper in 10ml and 30ml bottles. As a bit of a footnote, the bottles themselves are not too well designed. Whereas most beard oil bottles will use a dripper cap for cleanliness, The Wood Chopper comes in an open neck bottle. It’s a small downside, offset by the fact that you still get an integral glass pipette, but you will need to be careful when using it unless you want your carpet to smell like bergamot and patchouli.
Murdock London Beard Oil
The packaging looks quite cool at first glance. However, where most of the bottles you get your beard oil in are glass, Murdock send theirs out in plastic. Also, usually you get an awkward yet fancy feeling, entertaining pipette with beard oil. Murdock give you a pump action dispenser. It shouldn’t make too much of a difference… but it does. It feels a little cheap and doesn’t quite give the same experience, like getting a nice whisky in a plastic cup.
This said, the oil itself is great. It’s perfect for those who want a lighter touch from their beard oil, without any greasiness. It’s fast absorbing, won’t leave any oily residue, and won’t leave your beard or skin looking or feeling slick.
Murdock themselves are run by a group of barbers, and this shows: their formula is incredibly usable and quite delightful, clearly signed off on by experts in haircare.
The key ingredients are apricot oil, macadamia oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, argan oil, sunflower oil, cinnamon oil, orange peel oil, cedarwood oil and patchouli oil, which combine to give a beautiful, fruity, quite smoky scent a little like quince and oakmoss.
If you can ignore the packaging- and really, you should, I’m just being fussy- this is a very good product.
Ricki Hall’s Booze & Baccy Beard Oil
The name says it all, doesn’t it? It’s a complex (really, very complex) blend of pretty much every old-fashioned masculine scent you can imagine, all brought together to smell like what I’m assured is an archaic barber shop.
A good few scents have gone into the making of Booze & Baccy Beard Oil: tobacco leaves, woodfire, oak, vanilla beans, fresh hops, frankincense and orange, and spice from the bay rum tree. The result is actually surprisingly subtle- all of these disparate facets come together nicely and do not overpower. It is nevertheless distinct and strong- the perfect balance, really.
Booze & Baccy comes in a stylish 50ml amber glass with a glass pipette. As with The Wood Chopper, handle with care: spills are easy.
Seven Potions Premium Beard Oil
Seven Potions Premium Beard Oil is incredibly popular amongst those looking for good quality at a mid-range price. For a relatively a modest sum, you get 30ml of very gently, subtly scented bear oil with woody, citrus overtones. It is perfect for anybody wanting to keep their beard aroma more discreet.
Alternatively, Seven Potions do offer an unscented version.
Seven Potions make their beard oil from a combination of Apricot kernel oil, Crambe seed oil, Jojoba oil, Sweet Almond oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. This gives a medium to light consistency that will leave your beard feeling softer without being overburdened or greasy. It’s easy to work with, absorbs well, leaving barely any trace, and gives the bristles a lovely, natural looking shine. Your skin will also thank you for using it- again, a trace free, non-greasy moisturising effect with little fuss.
It should also be noted that the packaging is pretty nifty. The bottle comes in a nice-looking box that keeps the bottle centred and away from the edges to avoid damage during transport, the bottle itself is good quality, and the overall design and aesthetic are really quite well done.
If you like a stronger, muskier scent (I do, personally) then avoid Seven Potions premium beard oil. However, if you want something lighter, well made, that leaves little trace and gives a subtle but pleasant scent (and you want it to be affordable), this is the one for you.
The Ritual of Samurai beard oil
Even if the oil itself was rubbish, I would still be tempted to include the Ritual of Samurai in this list for the name alone. However, luckily, I’m able to bring it into this discussion on its other merits- it is a very effective, very nice smelling beard oil that comes in at something of a mid-range price.
Rituals take their inspiration from Asian culture, using it to create a collection of really quite luxurious products. Though they may be a little pricier than some high street offerings, as I said, they’re pretty mid-range, at least for their beard oil.
Here, they have used their interest in East Asian botanicals to create a beautiful sencha and mint fragrance in their oil. Mint is used in a fair few beard oils- peppermint, spearmint and so on- but there is something delicately unique about Japanese mint that sets it apart. Combined with sencha, a type of tea, you get a subtle, refreshing and uplifting feel from the Ritual of Samurai.
In addition to the sencha and Japanese mint, the Ritual of Samurai has a good array of some of the usual suspects we may expect to see in a good quality beard oil: sesame seed oil, jojoba seed oil, argan oil, tocopherol, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, benzyl alcohol, citral, citronellol, ceraniol, limonene and linalool. You can smell the sesame once you know it’s there, adding a bit of a nutty, smoked undertone beneath the mint and sencha.
These high-quality ingredients lead to a high-quality oil that’s not too runny and doesn’t leave the beard feeling either wiry or, as can be the case with other oils, greasy. You just get a nice, soft beard with a good shine and a delicate scent.
Shakesbeard Cymbe Lime
If you’re at all familiar with Jo Malone’s hit Lime, Basil & Mandarin (one of my wife’s all-time favourites), you will sort of know what you’re getting with Cymbe Lime, from Shakesbeard’s premium range. It is slightly manlier (of course), but hits the same notes and brings the same kind of flavour.
Shakesbeard base all their formulae on a blend of apricot, argan, jojoba, grapeseed and avocado- all tried and tested oils perfect for keeping your beard in good condition. Cymbe Lime comes in 10, 30 and 90ml bottles, and just a couple of drops a day will see you right.
It should also be noted that Cymbe Lime is just one of Shakesbeard’s oils- they have plenty and most of them are worth a look if you’re curious.