So, you've decided to grow out your beard. Perhaps you've succumbed to the trend or just desire a reinvention of your look. Or, maybe you've noticed the way a bit of facial hair shapes the face, creating a strong and masculine frame. Take note - there's a considerable amount of grooming to be done before any beard can reach stratospheric heights, and behind every great and healthy-looking beard is a great beard oil.
What is a beard oil?
Or more accurately, what makes a good beard oil? It's about what's packed inside that counts. At its most basic, good beard oils contain a powerful combination of hydrating base fats such as jojoba oil, marula oil, or argan oil, to name a few common ingredients. However, the fats found inside good beard oil are anything but common, and are processed in a manner that retains their nutritious components. This is why canola oil from the supermarket won't do - highly refined products strip away and denature beneficial fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidant contents. The best beard oils employ a combination of these antioxidant-rich and vitamin-laden fatty acids that have been carefully extracted to cover all bases, ensuring that the oil absorbs into the hair and skin as opposed to leaving a shiny and greasy residue, causing more harm than good.
To elevate a beard oil beyond base fats alone, premium beard oils employ a blend of pleasing aromatic essential oils. Whilst not essential, the addition of these oils are of fairly standard practice, with scented mixtures that please even the most discerning of tastes, whilst providing worthwhile antiseptic properties. And there's no need to fear - often the aromas of a beard oil are subtle, designed not to clash with one's other scented preparations. Furthermore, non-scented formulations are abundant: Jack Black's Beard Oil and MP10 formulations offer an effective combination of oils with minimal scent.
If your central concern is a matter of style as opposed to nourishment, utilising a beard balm is the way to go. What's the difference? A beard balm is a soft wax substance, designed to be worked through the hair with particular attention to the edges in order to tame the flyaways and the strays, creating a tight and moulded look for when it matters most: always. Captain Fawcett's range of beard balms, resplendent with five nourishing base waxes and unique blends of essential oils are suited for the task at hand, and is perfectly paired with a moustache wax, the ultimate upper lip stiffener, if moustache maintenance is so required. So, whilst both oils and balms condition and care for the beard, oils are a go to when it comes to caring for the skin and hair, but for style, soft balms and firm waxes are clearly unrivalled.
Beard oil benefits
A good beard oil is a product designed for both the hair and the skin underneath, adding a supple and healthy-looking shine to the hair whilst taming scratch attacks and dreaded instances of flaky skin. Beard oil is effective at this task as it moisturises the dry skin underneath. In particular, jojoba oil is akin to the natural oils produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, and with continued use the skin is restored to a balanced and hydrated state - and thus, flaking is resolved. Similarly, many of the oils used in good beard oil, including marula, argan, jojoba, and olive oils contain antioxidant-rich oleic and linoleic acid, which condition and reduce flaking. These hydrophobic oils create an effective barrier on the top of the skin without clogging pores, locking in moisture by trapping water in the skin. Therefore, with continued use of a lightweight and fast-absorbing beard oil, the elasticity of both the hair and the skin is improved to a conditioned and controlled state. Antioxidants in particular promote strength in the hair follicle by reversing stress from damaging free-radicals and oxidizing agents such as pollution and smoke.
How to use and apply beard oil
With repeated use, initially a few times a week and moderated to individual needs and as the beard grows longer, the skin is protected from extraneous nasties and the beard comes to look healthy and cared for. A few drops - a small coin’s worth - warmed on the tips of one’s fingers and massaged onto the cheeks and chin is a good way to go, increasing dosage as required and for longer beards. Your beard oil of choice can be used with a pure boar bristle brush to evenly disperse the oil from root to tip, smoothing out the hair and removing flaky dead skin whilst stimulating blood circulation for a healthy-looking beard with a well-groomed appearance. Natural boar bristles are recommended as they are the right balance between coarseness and softness, effectively working at the hair and skin whilst avoiding damage to the hair follicle.
How to choose the 'right' beard oil
There are a lot of claims to be found on the internet when it comes to beard oils. At its most simple, if there isn't an excellent foundation of good base oils, then there's no hope of an effective beard oil. That is crucial, and one should pay particular attention to clear ingredient lists in order to separate snake oil from the good stuff that functions to treat and restore facial hair. Once you are confident with your selection, choosing the right beard oil is all a matter of how you'd like your preparation to smell, or not to smell, and your preference of viscosity and texture. Those who prefer an oil that feels drier on the skin should opt for Santa Maria Novella's Beard Oil, with a lightweight and dry meadowfoam oil formulation that turns even the coarsest of beards into silk, and is perfect for medium to long length beards. For coarser types, and perhaps something more fragrant, Captain Fawcett's range is unparalleled, and The Million Dollar Beard Oil is the perfect gift for ostentatious types, with a frankincense aroma fit for a king then finished with luxuriously ornate gold flakes which dissolve imperceptibly into the beard. For those with purely a functional disposition - Jack Black's Beard Oil is a no-brainer, conveniently housed in a pump bottle.