If you’re reading this, you have a beard. Congratulations on being awesome. You’ve graduated into that upper echelon of manliness that most poor saps never even realize exists. You’ve joined the ranks of some of the greatest figures in human history, from Jeff Lebowski to Leonardo Da Vinci to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
For guys like us, growing a beard isn’t a problem. Give us a long holiday weekend and we can walk into work on Tuesday looking like Grizzly Adams. But the days of just growing a beard are behind us, gone the way of public pay phones and One Direction (Thank God).
But the 2017 man isn’t content with just growing a beard, he wants it looking good. Beards say a lot about who we are: rugged, confident, brash, and ready for whatever the day (or night) brings our way.
There are a million products out there packaged to keep your beard looking its best, but nothing matches a good beard balm when it comes to the triple threat of thickening your beard, moisturizing the hairs, and holding your favorite style in place all day long.
So how do you use beard balm effectively? To answer that question we have to take a step back and realize what it is and what it’s not.
Beard Balm Basics
The first thing to realize about beard balm is that it is not beard oil. There are similarities between the two, but the differences are more important. Let’s talk chemistry a minute. Actually, scratch that, I made a ‘C’ in chemistry in high school.
Let’s talk alcoholic beverages instead. You like tequila, right? If you sad no, go shave your beard and order a chocolate milk.
Now then, tequila is great on its own, but it’s also the base of a number of other drinks. When you use tequila as a base, you can add in vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, sour mix, and a drop or two of cola, and you’ve got yourself a Long Island Iced Tea. Not only does it taste better, but it also makes you much smarter, an incredible dancer, and incredibly charming to the opposite sex.
Similarly, beard oil is the base for beard balm. Solves some problems on its own, but turns into a much more potent product when it’s part of a mix. Beard balm is classified as a pomade, which means it does not dry out and that it looks slick and shiny in the jar. There is quite a bit of chemistry – mixing, cooling, and heating moisturizers and sealants to give it that finished look and touch.
Common beard balm sealants include:
- Petroleum Jelly
- Shea butter
Of those four popular sealants, petroleum jelly is the one you need to watch out for. Petroleum jelly is an artificial product and anytime you use it, it should be washed out of your hair before going to bed. There are two big reasons to avoid it altogether:
1) It can break down the process of growing beard hair, and
2) It clogs pores, which can dry out and irritate your skin.
What Balm for What Beard?
No two beards are the same. If you need further proof, Google Search “Jack Sparrow” and then “Tormund Giantsbane”. One guy looks like spent he spent three hours this morning braiding his, the other decided to grow his beard out the day he turned 14 and has never looked back.
There are two objectives that beard balm needs to make happen on your face. It’s incumbent on you to figure out what sort of beard and skin you have in order to pick the correct balm and maximize its effects. Those two objectives are:
Let’s tackle these one at a time.
What Moisturizer Should Be in your Beard Balm?
There are three main moisturizers that are found in most standard beard balms. Here’s a deeper dive into them.
1) Grapeseed: Grapeseed is an oil that you can also use in cooking. It’s abundantly found, which means it is cheap and lowers the price of any balm it’s featured in. The downside is that it doesn’t retain its effectiveness for long, and it won’t just lose potency, it will go straighup, hardcore rancid. Don’t be the guy walking around with the rancid-smelling beard. That guy doesn’t get past the velvet rope at the club.
2) Jojoba: It sounds like the sequel to “Jumanji!” but it’s actually a hot wax ester that is non-allergenic, which means it won’t clog up your pores. This stuff is like giving your beard a steroid shot; it’s got a ton of Vitamin B and Vitamin E, which are essential for healthy skin and strong hair.
3) Argan: Hair experts call it “liquid gold”, probably because they’re really excited that someone is calling them hair experts and want to say something cool. Seriously though, it has natural antioxidants and a huge scoop of Vitamin E; and it also adds elasticity to your hair, making it easier to style and shape.
What Seal Should Be in your Beard Balm?
If you use grapeseed oil or common beard oil, your beard won’t seal in anything except for the dry hair you already had on your grill in the first place. Think of the seal like the way you would store food. If you get the name brand stuff, it still tastes good two days later. If you get the store brand, it tastes like cardboard. The three most common seals are:
1) Petroleum Jelly – our old nemesis. Like grapeseed oil, it’s popular because it’s cheap and readily available. Don’t use it if at all possible.
2) Shea – No, not that dump the New York Mets used to play at out by the airport, this is Shea butter, which comes from the African sheanut tree. It washes out easily and it doesn’t clog your pores.
3) Beeswax – As you could probably deduce, this is the wax that honeybees have in their hives. Kinda gives new meaning to the “beard of bees” guy you always used to see in the Guinness Book of World Records. No wonder he was so comfortable! He had a face full of natural beard balm on! Beeswax exceeds even Shea in holding your beard in place, and it’s a terrific sealer.
How Do I Use Beard Balm?
Armed with our knowledge from above, we now see that using beard balm is actually quite simple and can be performed in a few moments with these 5 simple steps.
1) Unless you’re in ZZ Top, you don’t need more than about a dime-sized amount of balm to treat your whole beard.
2) Rub it together between your palms to spread it throughout your touch points.
3) Starting at the base of your neck, or wherever your beard begins, run your fingers through your beard, paying attention to work the balm into the roots of your hair as it emerges from your skin.
4) When you reach the top of your beard, reverse direction and run your fingers through your beard from top to bottom, making sure you pay attention to your moustache and any other facial hair around your mouth.
5) Use a beard brush – never a comb – to straighten out your beard and style it the way you like it.
And that’s it! With 10 minutes of education, you can keep your beard looking thick, healthy, and attractive every single day with 90 seconds of treatment. Full Beard Ahead.