What Is Beard Oil?
Contrary to popular belief, beard oil is nothing new but fell into obscurity when beards were out of fashion. In fact, the use of beard oils can be traced as far back as Mesopotamian, Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilisations.
For a short time, the contents of beard oils developed with the introduction of synthetic and chemical compounds to enhance functionality. However, more reputable beard oil artisans today reject these and favour natural ingredients.
What Is In Beard Oil?
Natural beard oils typically consist of a carefully balanced blend of what are known as carrier and essential oils. Both play an important role in the beard oil’s function and work together to provide its benefits.
Firstly, essential oils are natural extracts from herbs and plants that have been used for centuries as remedies. They can feature certain therapeutic benefits such as antiseptics that soothe irritation and heal damaged skin. Many essential oils are quite known but beard oils can often include eucalyptus, tea tree, cedar wood, sandalwood. On top of that, essential oils are often fragrant and provide a natural scent.
However, essential oils are infamously volatile, which causes them to quickly evaporate or be absorbed by skin. It’s one of the reasons that they’re rarely used in modern perfumery compared to synthetically sourced notes. For men who don’t like overpowering fragrances, this can also be a good thing because it also means that the scent fades relatively quickly.
Therefore, carrier oils are used to bind the oil and act as a type of solvent. These are usually composed of around 90% of the oil’s contents. They dilute essential oils and optimise their lifespan after application so the beard and skin can properly absorb the ingredients.
Furthermore, carriers are what provide the beard oil’s rich nourishing effects. They’re often packed with a number of vitamins such as A, D and E as well as antioxidants. In addition, they can feature a high concentration of linoleic acid, which fights skin scaling and hair loss.
Finally, they have prevalent moisturising properties that hydrate both skin and hair. One of the most common carriers is argan oil. However, castor, almond, jojoba, olive and coconut oil are other well-established carrier oils.
How Does Beard Oil Work?
Hair roots produce a natural oil called sebum, which nourishes and protects the hair and scalp. Sebum is a rich and natural oil, which makes hair shiny and voluminous. Facial hair roots create sebum too. As beard hair is thicker and the face’s skin is more sensitive, it needs a more consistent and greater supply of sebum than head hair.
Beards can be stripped of their precious sebum in a number of ways. For instance, frequent washing rinses it out and shampoo is designed to trap oils at the roots. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash your beard as we explain in detail in our beard shampoo and conditioner guide. Yet if dryness is an issue, you may be washing it too frequently.
Other causes of sebum deficiency can include cold and dry weather or even a very thick beard. If it’s the latter, your skin may not produce enough sebum to evenly distribute into your beard and may need a little encouragement.
Without sebum, beards become dry and brittle. Meanwhile, the skin underneath gets irritated, flaky and can develop rashes. To counter this, beard oils reinforce the hair follicles and skin emulating their properties as well as adding a few extra benefits of its own.
Why Are Beard Oils Expensive?
As you may have noticed, beard oils can be somewhat pricey. Indeed, some are marketed as luxury or fashionable designer brands, which may contribute to this. However, it’s often because they are made solely from all-natural ingredients as mentioned above as well as absolutes or extracts.
Furthermore, a great many brands that favour natural ingredients are quite conscious of how they are sourced. Therefore, they will often turn to organic or ecologically responsible suppliers.
In this light, be wary of cheaper oils as they may actually contain low-cost alternatives such as toxic and synthetic chemicals. For instance, many cheap oils contain silicone, which turns liquids into greasy substances. However, they provide no health benefits whatsoever and may even be harmful to your skin and beard.
Why Do You Need Beard Oil?
As mentioned above, beard oils contain a plethora of vital ingredients that keep your beard healthy. Think of it as a moisturiser for your beard that has a direct effect on its appearance.
Beard oil does not only hydrate your beard but the skin underneath too. Without beard oil, dry skin might make you experience irritation, which when particularly severe leads to flaking and even open sores. Consequently, it ensures that the skin is properly replenished and prevents embarrassing beard dandruff.
Furthermore, straggly and unruly beards are a common complaint. Beard oil gently tempers coarse beards and efficiently makes them soft to the touch. Meanwhile, dull hair is a thing of the past as the oils add a healthy shine to the beard and add volume.
Their benefits aren’t limited to hydration and shine but they also simultaneously act as a styling agent. Regular use of oils tame the hair and render it more manageable. Consequently, the beard can be trained to keep its shape and even styled in a particular way.
Finally, beard oils add an extra level of convenience by loosening any knots so they’re easier to untangle when brushed or combed. Similarly, they reduce frizz and curly beards become easier to straighten when brushed.
When Will I Need To Start Using Beard Oil?
Some enthusiasts argue that beard oil is necessary after the first month as the skin can still supply enough sebum to all the follicles. However, you will know the very moment that you’ll need beard oil as this is when your beard begins to itch, which may be sooner.
Why Does My Beard Itch & How Does Oil Help?
Beard itchiness is the main symptom that both your skin and beard are dehydrated. Itchy beards are caused by a combination of several things. Firstly, your skin isn’t used to hair growth and may not be producing or distributing enough sebum to coat it.
Secondly, you may be still washing your face too regularly. A clean shaven face needs regular washing as the pores produce too much unnecessary sebum given that there are no hairs to nourish. However, young beards will suffer without it. You’ll need to wash your beard less regularly and with a proper beard shampoo.
Finally, another reason we experience this is because shaving slices hair follicles at an angle, which sharpens the tips into needle points and jagged edges. As the hair grows back out of the skin and into a beard, it falls under gravity and curls in on itself. It’s at this moment that we really begin to experience itchiness due to microscopic irritation on the skin.
Beard oil will both soothe that irritation and soften the hairs, which makes them more flexible and with rounded tips. Therefore, using beard oils in small quantities can benefit even the shortest beard lengths as skin can get dry even under heavy stubble.
Other Factors That Require Beard Oil
Your environment has a significant effect on your skin. Likewise, it can impact the state of your beard. Particularly cold or dry climates cause sebum to evaporate quicker. This then leaves the beard and skin vulnerable to harsh weather such as wind or rain. Bearded men living in such environments should seriously consider using more beard oil to compensate.
Furthermore, given that your pores produce a consistent amount of sebum, men with larger beards may experience dryness down the line. The sebum production simply can’t keep up with thick, coarse or even long beards. Therefore, this will require extra amounts of beard oil to complement the skin’s natural supply.