The Best Beard Oil
The right oil should soothe and soften
The best beard oil has carrier oils to soothe and moisturize, plus essential oils to give it its signature scent. It absorbs quickly, and it’s not overpowering. To find the best, we rounded up every oil we could find, spoke to beard care experts, then tested the most buzzed-about oils on our own beards.
Lightweight oils that won't leave a trace plus sandalwood, citrus, and rosemary essential oils made Rhett's an easy favorite.
Leven Rose Beard Oil
Leven Rose is just the good stuff — organic jojoba and argan oil.
The Best Beard Oil
Rhett’s Beard Oil
$16 for 1 ounce
Leven Rose Beard Oil
$14 for 1 ounce
Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil
$14 for 2 ounces
Badass Beard Care Original
$15 for 1 ounce
Brothers Artisan Oil Orange & Grapefruit Oil
$22 for 1 ounce
Detroit Grooming Co. Corktown Beard Oil
$22 for 1 ounce
Grave Before Shave Bay Rum Beard Oil
$12 for 1 ounce
Let’s cut right to the chase: The best beard oil is subjective. Choosing the perfect elixir for your whiskers ultimately comes down to personal preference, and there’s no way to know for sure how any beard oil will work on your beard and skin until you try it for yourself.
That said, our overall favorite is Rhett’s Beard Oil, an apricot- and hempseed-based formula with a pleasing sandalwood note and an easy price of $16 for a one-ounce bottle. It left our beards pleasantly soft and itch-free with no greasy residue, validating it’s 4.8 out 5 stars on Amazon—the best consumer review of any oil we tested.
Our favorite unscented oil is Leven Rose Beard Oil, a refreshingly simple combination of organic jojoba and argan oils, both of which are renowned for their moisturizing, antibacterial and antioxidant qualities. That nothing-but-the-best formula left our skin and whiskers feeling smooth and well-nourished, at the attractive price of $14 an ounce.
The best value proposition is Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil, which gives you the vitamin-rich goodness of avocado, pumpkin and almond oils at less than $7 an ounce. It’s a light, neutral formula perfect for everyday use, in a glass apothecary bottle no less classy than brands costing five times as much.
How We Found the Best Beard Oil
We tested 19 of the most popular and widely available beard oils. To get there, we made a list of every oil that scored at least 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with a minimum sample size of at least 100 reviews, and asked our barber friends which beard oils they and their customers swear by. That gave us 11 contenders. Then we did a second sweep, scouring the web for consumer reviews and even lurked on beard forums (yes they exist) looking for hidden gems. That process gave us eight more prospects, bringing our contenders list to 19 oils.
- Art Naturals Organic Beard Oil & Leave-In Conditioner
- Badass Beard Care The Original Badass Beard Oil
- Beardbrand Four Vices Beard Oil
- Beardbrand Tree Ranger Beard Oil
- Botanical Skin Works Natural Man Beard Oil
- Brooklyn Grooming Commando Beard Oil
- Brothers Artisan Oil – Orange & Grapefruit Oil
- CanYouHandlebar Wisdom Beard Oil
- Detroit Grooming Co. Corktown Beard Oil
- Grave Before Shave Bay Rum Beard Oil
- Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil
- Leven Rose Fragrance-Free Beard Oil
- Mountaineer Brand WV Timber Beard Oil
- Northern Fir Beard Co. Beard Oil
- Rhett’s Beard Oil
- Smooth Viking Beard Oil
- The American Beard Company Beard Oil
- The Gentleman’s Beard Oil Unscented
- Wild Willie’s Beard Elixir
Carrier oils are key.
The vast majority of any beard oil, typically more than 98 percent, consists of so-called carrier oils. These base oils soften your whiskers and help to tame, if not completely eliminate, beard itch. Carrier oils also moisturize and nourish your skin. That’s important because beard oil is as much about skincare as it is about beards.
Beards collect and camouflage all manner of nasty stuff, from food to dirt, while shading your face from solar rays that kill bacteria. That can result in a variety undesirable side effects, notably dry skin and comedones — enlarged beard follicles filled with dead skin debris and your body’s natural sebum oil. You probably know them as blackheads.
So how does adding more oil to your face clear up your complexion? It helps to think in terms of fighting fire with fire. By keeping your skin and beard follicles well moisturized, you actually inhibit the amount of sebum oil your pores produce, and all the nasty stuff that comes with it.
There’s no way to be 100 percent certain which oils will absorb most effectively without triggering a breakout — everyone is different — but the comedogenic scale is a good place to start. Cosmetic chemists use it to estimate a substance’s propensity to clog pores on a scale of zero to five.
Oils rated 3 or lower probably won't trigger a breakout.
|Comedogenic Rating||Carrier Oils|
|Argan, Avocado, Hemp Seed, Olive, Calendula, Castor, Pomegranate, Rosehip, Sesame, Sweet Almond|
|Apricot Kernel, Baobab, Borage, Grapeseed, Hazelnut, Jojoba, Peach Kernel, Peanut, Pumpkin Seed, Sunflower|
|Cocoa Butter, Coconut, Flaxseed|
Source: Journal of Cosmetic Science
A low comedogenic number often corresponds to an oil that is chemically similar to the natural sebum oil your skin creates. That’s a key quality for beard oil, says Craig Chapman, a PhD chemist and lifelong beardsman. “Ideally a carrier oil should be as close in molecular composition and pH to the oils produced by your own body,” says Chapman, who specializes in nanotechnology and mixes his own beard oil for fun.
On the other end of the scale are ingredients like cocoa butter, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil. While these make for great body moisturizers, they are more likely clog your facial pores and result in blackheads.
But essential oils are what set beard oils apart.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that supply the bulk of each beard oil’s distinct fragrance. They also form the basis of many claims about any given beard oil’s healing or restorative properties (though very few of these claims have been clinically tested). Used alone, they can be drying or just too fragrant, so they’re mixed with carrier oils.
We found a wide range of fragrance intensity in the beard oils we tested. A few oils had a “bite,” a gentle tingle that Mr. Dandie, the bearded operations director of Toronto-based all natural luxury skincare company Skindew, says is a common effect of essential oils such as peppermint and black pepper. Other oils, like grapefruit seed extract and sandalwood oil are typically more subtle.
We also tested a handful of unscented oils, including Leven Rose, which contains no essential oils, and Gentleman’s Unscented, which contains only non-aromatic essential oils.
Of the scented oils we sampled, some were very subtle, while others generated a steady and lasting aroma, almost as if we were carrying rosemary bushes or whiskey soaked leather saddles on our shoulders. We like whiskey and horses, but just like choosing a cologne, intensity is a matter of personal preference.
In the end, it’s hard to go wrong.
To see how the most popular oils compared, we purchased all 19 oils and set about systematically testing each of them on our own beards. Three of us applied one oil in the morning, then observed any lasting effects as the day went on, keeping score as we went. We wanted to find oils that could soften the texture of our beards and relieve beard itch, without leaving a greasy residue.
Other than their fragrance, we found little to distinguish the oils we sampled. Though every formula is different, and prices range from less than $7 an ounce to $40 an ounce, all 19 of the beard oils we tested helped tame beard itch and moisturize our beards and skin. None felt particularly greasy, even though we used generous quantities in order to better judge the fragrance, absorption and other attributes of each beard oil we tested.
The real decision comes to your personal scent and intensity preferences. So we organized them into four distinct scent categories, then ranked them in order of intensity before choosing our overall favorites during a roundtable discussion at the Den Barbershop and Shave Parlor in Laguna Beach, California.
None of the oils we tried irritated our skin, caused redness or triggered acne breakouts, though the barbers we spoke with reported a number of their clients have had adverse reactions to beard oils. This happened often enough that barbers at the Den stopped using beard oil as a pre-shave lotion. Always test any beard oil on your wrist or neck before committing to a full-face rubdown. If you have sensitive skin, consider using an unscented oil.
In our final analysis, there are plenty of beard oils to choose from. Picking beard oil winners and losers is a tough gig, so we didn’t seek out losers. Rather we focused on identifying products that we are confident will be winners for a wide cross-section of beardsmen.
Our Picks for the Best Beard Oil
Though not as common as some other carrier oils, Rhett’s top ingredients are both non-comedogenic—lightweight enough to use everyday, without clogging your pores. Hempseed oil is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, and the fatty acids in apricot oil make it particularly good at soothing dry skin.
Nearly all of our testers loved its “beastly but balanced” mix of sandalwood, citrus, and rosemary essential oils, though one found the long-lasting aroma a bit too much — it really was like walking around with a sweet cedar campfire smoldering in your beard.
We didn’t focus on price when choosing our favorite oils. Rhett’s Beard Oil is simply our favorite, bar none. The fact that it costs just $16 an ounce is just one more thing to like about Rhett’s. It left our beards pleasantly soft and itch-free with no greasy residue. We’re not alone in our praise, either. Amazon customers gave Rhett’s Beard Oil an average rating of 4.8 stars, with more than 800 reviews.
Leven Rose has just two ingredients, organic jojoba oil and organic argan oil. Simplistic, maybe, but those two ingredients happen to be the most popular carrier oils in the beard game. And rightly so. Both are packed with antioxidants, naturally occurring Vitamin E, and a combined comedogenicity score of less than one. That translates to a light, easily absorbed elixir that left our skin and beard feeling smooth and well-nourished. With Leven Rose you get just the good stuff. Nothing more, nothing less.
Even the packaging is down to earth, a 1-ounce brown apothecary bottle with a glass dropper and a simple label reading “Beard Oil.” You have to squint to make out the brand. The price is right up our alley as well at just under $14 an ounce. Amazon customers agree, bestowing an average 4.5 out of 5 score on a whopping 4,700 reviews. That’s a lot of happy customers.
If you like a beard oil that doubles as a cologne you’re going to have to look elsewhere, but if simple and pure is your bag, Leven Rose is a great choice.
We love this beard oil, and you really can’t beat the price of less than $7 an ounce. Let’s start with the avocado oil. Tipping the comedogenicity scale at a lightweight 2-out-of-5, it’s an easily absorbed moisturizing oil that’s unlikely to trigger breakouts. And you don’t have to be a taco lover to appreciate the fact that it’s rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. Honest Amish classic rounds out the oil blend with virgin pumpkin seed oil, sweet almond oil and apricot oil, with the touch of jojoba, argan, and kukui. Not all of them are ingredients commonly found in an Amish pantry, but the result is a fine, neutral beard oil that’s hard to beat at any price, and is a steal at about $14 for a 2-ounce bottle. The blend is refreshingly lightweight and all of our testers reported it moisturized their skin and beards without leaving greasy residue. The fragrance is very subtle, pleasing by itself but quietly deferential to other products you might use, such as cologne or body spray.
Another thing we really like about the Honest Amish Classic is the packaging. Other value oils come in plastic bottles that look and feel cheap; Honest Amish is packed in a brown glass apothecary bottle with a glass dropper, like a supersized version of the more expensive oils we tested.
Others Beard Oils to Consider
Badass Beard Care Original — A Woodsy Pick
With a mix of apricot, argan and jojoba oils fortified with Vitamin E and a woodsy mix of essential oils, Badass Beard Care’s original formula has the pedigree to back up its bold name. Scoring an average 4.7 out of 5 stars, it impressed Amazon users, though the sample is small at just 80 reviews. Our take was equally positive. The mix of rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree, sandalwood and vanilla essential oils imparts a mild but satisfying presence to this formula. The mid-list price of $15 an ounce is nice as well. All of us liked this oil, but in the end, the majority of the group preferred Rhett’s scent.
Detroit Grooming Co. Corktown Beard Oil — A More Intense Tobacco Pick
In a medicine cabinet lined with brown apothecary bottles, Corktown stands out in a square-shouldered clear glass container without an eye dropper or even so much as a limiter cap. The ingredients are unconventional as well, with sweet almond oil making up the bulk of the oil blend, and Vitamin E oil in second position. The essential oils are unnamed but distinctive enough to identify: vanilla without a doubt, and notes of tobacco and cedar. The Amazon crowd likes it (average of 4.5 stars, 109 reviews) and while it didn’t match Rhett’s across-the-board acclaim (its scent is one of the strongest), it received positive reviews from all of our testers. A 1-ounce bottle costs $22.
Grave Before Shave Bay Rum Beard Oil — A Powerful Herbal Pick
Grave Before Shave was one of the two beard care potions that gave one of our testers a bit of a “bite” when applied to his beard. Its star ingredient is tea tree oil, holding first position on the ingredient list. As a concentrated essential oil, tea tree is mildly toxic when taken internally—not the kind of thing you want to rub into your beard and ‘stache before eating. The upside: research shows that tea tree oil may have antimicrobial properties that help prevent acne. A 1-ounce bottle costs $12.
Brothers Artisan Oil Orange & Grapefruit Oil — A Purely Citrus Pick
Simple and citrusy, Brothers Artisan Oil starts with argan, jojoba and grapeseed oils infused with a strong shot of orange and grapefruit essential oils. Citrus is a potent astringent and Brothers Orange & Grapefruit formula also gave a one tester’s skin a bit of “bite,” reminiscent of aftershave from his beardless days. Beard-softening and moisturizing were above-average, while the citrus flavor elicited mixed reviews from our testers. $22 buys a one-ounce glass apothecary bottle with dropper.
Did You Know?
Some oils are more popular than others.
The most important factor in choosing any beard oil comes down to the variety and quality of carrier oils in the mix. So let’s get to know the Big Four. Of the 134 beard oils we found, these ingredients were by far the most popular.
- Jojoba oil: The most popular single ingredient in the beard oils we analyzed. Pronounced ho-ho-ba, it is pressed from the kernel of a hardy bush that grows in the Sonoran desert of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Though technically a liquid wax ester rather than an oil, it looks and behaves like a very light vegetable oil. Jojoba rates a one on the comedogenic scale and is naturally rich in Vitamin E and other antioxidants.
- Argan Oil: Grown only in Morocco, Argan oil is hand-pressed by Berber women, who have allegedly used it for centuries as a moisturizer and natural sunscreen. That makes it expensive and rare—two things marketers love. But don’t take their word for it. Research confirms Argan oil is high in Vitamin E, and it is widely credited with skin-restoring properties. It has a best-in-class comedogenic number of zero, meaning it doesn’t clog pores.
- Sweet Almond Oil: This popular oil rates a one on the comedone scale and is relatively inexpensive. Although the vast majority of allergens are removed in the oil extraction process, anyone with tree nut allergies should approach almond oil with caution. It’s in nearly half of the beard oils we analyzed, so as always test a couple of drops on the inside of your wrist first. “If you’re allergic or even just sensitive, you’ll know within a half-hour,” Dandie says.
- Grapeseed Oil: Grapeseed oil has a low comedogenic index of two and is fairly inexpensive thanks to processing advances that allow oil to be extracted from wine grape seeds previously discarded as waste. The process involves high heat and chemicals, including the toxic solvent hexane. Chapman, the bearded chemist, says that’s nothing to worry about. “The hexane molecule is extremely volatile, meaning it will readily separate and evaporate at room temperature. Your exposure to harsh chemicals from the extraction process is much less than your average daily exposure,” he says.
For best results, apply after a hot shower.
The oils will absorb faster when your skin in clean and soft. Make sure your face is completely dry before applying the oil, otherwise it won’t absorb.
Applying the oil is simple, just don’t over-do it (A little goes a long way!). First apply 2-3 drops in the palm of your hand, then rub your hands together so the oil is evenly distributed.
Then gently rub your hands back and forth along the sides, down the front, and through the bottom of your beard. Finish with a beard brush or comb for best results. If you end up with excess oil on your hands, try running it through your hair for a nice, healthy shine.
Beard oil is not fertilizer.
Does beard oil make your beard grow? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a useful tool in your beard-growing arsenal. While beard oil by itself won’t make your beard grow faster or fuller, it does make the process of growing out your beard more comfortable by combatting beard itch. That can be the difference between a successful man-mane—usually attained after 4-6 weeks of steady growth—and tapping out early.
For most men, peak beard itch occurs during the 2-6 weeks after you dump the razor. Beard oil can help you through that itchy transition. After your beard fills in beard itch typically subsides in favor of a new nemesis, dry skin. The antidote? More beard oil.