“It smells like I’m building a fence. I’m smelling a cedar tree. I just de-barked a cedar tree and rubbed it on my face.”
The story going around recently about your beard being as dirty as a toilet may have been debunked, but let’s face it: Your beard is a natural trap for all kinds of dirt and bacteria, so if you’re going to grow one, you owe it to yourself (and anyone you hope to get close to) to keep it well groomed.
That’s where beard oils come in. You’ve probably heard about them, but many guys I’ve spoken with don’t really know why or how they’re used, or where to begin when it comes to choosing one.
Why Use Beard Oil?
Beard oils may claim to make your beard grow faster, stronger and thicker, and that may well be an added benefit, but it’s not the whole story. David Pirrotta of David Pirrotta Brand Management (a distributor for grooming brands including Grown Alchemist and Sachajuan) put it this way: “Think of beard oil as cologne, but one that doubles as a hair and skin moisturizer on top of adding shine and body to your beard. Quality beard oils will soften your facial hair, as well as moisturize the skin, reduce itching and create the conditions for healthy beard growth.”
Why not just use a moisturizer, then? According to Pirotta, “Most lotions are actually watered-down oils, which allows the growth of bacteria and causes the oils to go rancid without some type of added preservatives. Oils lock in moisture and help protect the skin against environmental effects, while delivering a potent dose of nutrients.”
You might be concerned that putting oil on your face will lead to breakouts. Andy Bosselman, founder of Arithmetic, the company behind the highly acclaimed Acne Control Complex, says it’s actually quite the opposite: “Beard oils are not likely to cause pimples, in fact, they may even help your complexion.”
According to Bosselman, “Quality oils like this can help to rebalance your skin’s own oil production. It’s a sort of fight-fire-with-fire situation — oils can make your skin less oily. If you’re concerned about an ingredient, Google it with the word ‘comedogenic.’ If it contains a pore-clogging ingredient, don’t buy it.”
Start With A Clean Beard
Do you exfoliate? If you have a beard (and even if you don’t), your skin will thank you for it. Using a product like Dove Men+Care’s Deep Clean Face Scrub will help you ensure that you’re really getting all the gunk out from underneath your facial hair before you apply beard oil.
After you wash — while your beard is still a bit damp — is the best time to use a beard oil. Normally a few drops will do; use your hands to work the oil into your hair and into the skin beneath. Not only will the beard oil hydrate your beard right down to the follicle, it will also leave your beard smelling good (do make sure you like the smell of the oil you pick — it’ll be right under your nose).
Putting Beard Oils To The Test
I enlisted the help of some bearded colleagues and friends to try out a few different beard oils and report back to me on their experience. Here’s how it all went down.
Detroit Grooming Company
This oil, which comes in a wax-sealed bottle, was an unexpected hit with our testers. Marc described it as being his favorite “by far.” He explained that “it was easy to apply and gave my beard a great shine. I had zero skin irritation (which is common with me). And the scent was on point: sweet and somehow masculine without being too cloying.”
According to Detroit Grooming Co.’s site, the oil is a special blend of vitamin E oil, sweet almond oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, and wheat germ, and it boasts a scent profile combo of vanilla, cedarwood and tobacco. Says Marc, “Think Grandpa’s pipe in a log cabin, but tweaked for the young urbanite.”
This oil, from “beard lifestyle”-oriented Beardbrand, seeks to capture the essence of the urban lumberjack with its smooth blend of four vices: tobacco, hops, hemp, and coffee. Mike, who tested this product, noted that the argan oil and jojoba oil blend was light, and not too greasy. “It just absorbs right into my beard, and it doesn’t feel heavy or weighed-down at all. It doesn’t feel irritating, either.”
Very masculine, yet light and subtle rather than pungent and overpowering, it has a bit of a bitter edge, and while all my testers smelled the bottle, only one opted to actually try it. “The scent really opened up after I put it on my beard,” Mike noted, “but it mellowed out pretty quickly.” A scent like this is not for everyone, but its fans have a cult-like obsession with Beardbrand, so if you like your scents decidedly masculine, but not overwhelming, this beard oil is worth a try.
The scent of Burroughs Beard Oil was a huge plus for Marc. “It was a welcome relief to find that the odor wasn’t too cloying or overwhelming,” he reported. “Hints of eucalyptus and wood chips, as far as I can tell.”
The oil didn’t irritate Marc’s sensitive skin, but he did find it left his beard feeling more wiry and less manageable directly after application. This mild inconvenience lasted about an hour. He noted that the oil left a bit of residue on his hands, but that it transferred well to his “chin mane.”
Port Products’ Conditioning Beard Absolute is the beard oil of choice for my colleague Guillaume. He likes it because “it actually sinks into the facial hair quickly, which is a great if you want to avoid the shiny beard look.” Guillaume highlights the moisturizing properties of this oil, pointing out that it “can also be applied directly to the skin, as it acts as a great moisturizer.” Though a little water will get any excess oil off your hands, Guillaume says he’ll “use the excess oil on my hands and apply it to my hair, as it gives it a light shine and natural look.”
Ultimately, he says, “it makes my beard easier to style and helps fight that feeling of dry skin. The smell is quite subtle and will likely fade around midday. It’s a very light woodsy smell that isn’t overpowering.”
“The oil was far too pungent,” Guillaume added. “In fact, my eyes watered for a time following application.” He felt the “manly, lumberjack” scent would appeal to some guys, but it was a bit much for his own taste.
The testers also found it made their skin feel a bit irritated immediately upon application, “as if I had applied cologne or aftershave,” described Guillaume — so if you have sensitive skin, this may not be the best option for you.
On the plus side, Marc says, “It was easy enough to work into my beard and didn’t come off as too glossy or shiny.”
Beautiful Belle Isle is a 982-acre island park on the Detroit River between the United States mainland and Canada. The island is home to the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo and numerous historical landmarks and monuments. When Antoine de Cadillac arrived in 1701, many French settlers, who saw the island as a valuable piece of real estate, followed him. Legend has it that the French turned herds of pigs loose to eat the rattlesnakes and it took on the name “Pig Island”.
We like “Belle Isle” a heck of a lot more. It means “Beautiful Island” and is a crown jewel of Detroit. We chose this name for our Grooming Oil to preserve and perpetuate the wonder and memory of this magical place. The plethora of flowers and broad views is translated into a captivating scent that is both open and clean. So, stop being a “pig face” and upgrade to something a little more captivating.