Don’t let your facial foliage get scruffy or stinky – sort it out with these five fine oils
Let’s cut to the chase. Your beard won’t fall off if you never treat it with beard oil, but we can certainly vouch for the benefits gained from conditioning it with a top-quality oil. Not only will your beard love you for it, but it’ll smell fantastic, too. What’s not to like?
To find the best beard oils, we called in a veritable symphony of brands and blends and spent frankly way too long arguing over which fragrances and compounds are best. In the end, we settled for this exceptional selection of aromas from leading beard oil suppliers.
We’re fully aware that fragrance is a very subjective matter – one person’s perfect scent is another’s wretch-inducing pong – but we’re pretty confident you’ll agree that all of these magnificent oils not only smell extremely pleasant but do a damn fine job of keeping a beard – and the skin beneath – in tip-top condition.
Best beard oil: At a glance
|Best all-round beard oil||Bulldog Original Beard Oil | £5.50||Check price at Amazon|
|Best for getting that barbershop smell||Ricki Hall’s Booze & Baccy | £39||Check price at Amazon|
|Best-smelling beard oil||Braw Beard Oils: Grand Eckson 1918 | £29||Check price at Amazon|
|Best for softening coarse beards||Audacious Beard Company Wood Chopper | £15||Check price at Slick Styles|
How to choose the best beard oil for you
What does beard oil do?
Beard oil is one of those modern trendy things that isn’t exactly essential to your wellbeing but might certainly help. There’s very good evidence that it softens and smoothes coarse bristles while conditioning the skin beneath. Beard oil essentially nourishes and reinvigorates a tired beard, making it look more presentable while infusing it with a subtle, compelling aroma that, in most instances, is much more natural smelling than your average cologne.
What sort of ingredients does beard oil contain?
Most beard oils contain a range of carrier oils that provide both nourishment and a means to deliver the fragrant essential oils that help condition the beard and facial skin. Typical carrier oils include jojoba, Moroccan argan, grapeseed, coconut and almond; most oil manufacturers include these oils in their blends. When it comes to fragrant essential oils, the sky’s the limit. However, eucalyptus, pine needle, tea tree and sandalwood are never far away.
How and when to apply beard oil
Most manufacturers suggest three or four drops in the palm of your hand followed by a vigorous rubbing together before massaging the oil deep into the whiskers so it reaches the skin beneath. Naturally, the longer your beard, the more oil it’ll require but even an overdose won’t cause any harm (though you might smell a bit rich).
The best time to apply beard oil is after a shower or a warm face wash. Simply tamp the beard with a towel until it’s bone dry then apply the oil as recommended. Now grab your comb or beard brush and gently shape it so it looks as dapper as the most dapper thing in dapperland.
How we test men’s beard oils
To test beard oils, we apply them to facial hair at two stages of growth; firstly to a thick bushy beard to see how well the oils deal with longer hair, and later to the same beard trimmed back to a shorter length where the oils have more of a chance to make contact with the skin. (For suggestions on which beard trimmer to use, make sure to read our best beard trimmer article). We use our fingers to distribute the oil and use the same number of drops of each oil to achieve a fair comparison.
Our key considerations when testing men’s beard oils is how easy they are to apply (oils can be messy, so ones that are easy to apply from the bottle get bonus points); how well they condition the hair (softness and shine being key) and how fresh they smell after application. Since beard oils should condition without stickiness, how they make facial hair feel after application is important too (everybody likes shine; nobody likes stickiness). As ever, we have one eye on value for money too.
READ NEXT: The best beard trimmers
The best beard oils you can buy in 2023
1. Bulldog Original Beard Oil: The best all-round beard oil
Price when reviewed: £5.50 | Check price at Amazon
In terms of value for money, you’ll be hard pushed to beat Bulldog’s Original beard oil. Costing just £3.70 a bottle, it’s cheap enough that you can liberally apply it to your beard and face every day without fretting about the cost of every single drop.
Made from aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea, it has a fresh, subtle and natural fragrance that belies its low price, and, crucially, it also does an excellent job of moisturising your beard without making it too greasy. If you’re looking for an everyday beard oil that doesn’t cost the earth, or you just want to give beard oil a try for the first time, look no further.
2. Jack Black beard oil: Sweet, fresh beard oil
Price when reviewed: £26 | Check price at Parfumdreams
Unlike manufacturers that offer a wide array of different beard oils with different smells, Jack Black keeps things simple by making just one. And it’s obvious why, because it’s an excellent product. Formulated from a blend of natural oils, including Kalahari melon oil and marula oil, the Jack Black fragrance is both sweet and fresh, without being overbearing or synthetic.
There are plenty of ingredients to keep your beard and the skin below it in tip-top condition, too, including brown algae, carrot extract and Vitamin E antioxidants. The oil’s consistency is lighter than some other beard oils, so can feel harder to wash off your hands. It’s soon absorbed by your skin, though, so the best bet is to avoid picking anything up immediately after applying it to your beard. It’s also worth noting that Jack Black’s beard oil is vegan and cruelty-free.
3. Braw Beard Oils: Grand Eckson 1918: Best-smelling beard oil
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Amazon
For those unfamiliar with the Scottish saying “It’s a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht the nicht”, the word “braw” means “excellent”. Given Scotland’s penchant for braw beards, it seems only right to include this East Lothian company which has been producing beard oils since 2012; well before beard oils became such a trend.
Braw Beard oils come in 50ml and 10ml glass bottles, replete with a striking bearded bloke logo and a top that deposits the oil one drip at a time. Aside from the usual argan and jojoba oils, the company also uses infuses its concoctions with hempseed oil from the cannabis sativa seed, and you can really detect it in the Jarls Northman 1263 blend (let’s hope the sniffer dogs don’t).
For our money, though, the Grand Eckson 1918 blend has the most attractive aroma, with light hints of ginger and patchouli along with a gentle underlying trace of cannabis sativa. As an alternative, you might also wish to sample its Arctic Explorer 1918 blend, which has a fresh peppermint fragrance and, bizarrely, a very faint trace of, er, used car oil – but in a good way.
Grand Eckson 1918 is described as a “heavier weight oil, better used for a fuller look” and we’re inclined to agree; we were very impressed by both its conditioning properties and its lingering scent, which is both subtle and complimentary.
4. Audacious Beard Company Wood Chopper: Best oil for softening a coarse beard
Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Slick Styles
This master blend is packaged in 10ml and 30ml bottles with integral glass pipettes; we’ve linked to the 30ml bottle here. However, because the neck is open – most others use a dripper cap – it’s very easy to spill. Nevertheless, this small quibble is more than compensated for by the bodacious fragrance of its Wood Chopper blend, with its fine fusion of grapeseed, patchouli, bergamot, juniper berry and pine needle. One of our testers even suggested it smelled a little like a cross between a vintage guitar and shoe polish; good-quality shoe polish, it must be said.
Slap this solution on the growth around your kisser and it will soften and condition even the scraggiest of bristles. Other Audacious fragrances worth trying include the pine-like Woodsman and tangerine-ish Buccaneer.
5. Ricki Hall’s Booze & Baccy Beard Oil: Best for getting that barbershop smell
Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at Amazon
If you would like your beard infused with a complex fragrance, then step right this way: this one’s got more notes than Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee.’ Think fresh tobacco leaves, woody oak moss, vanilla bean, fresh hops, orange, aromatic frankincense, sweet bog myrtle and spice from the bay rum tree.
Its subtle aroma is fresh and zingy and, for those old enough, reminiscent of a vintage barbershop. But rub this marvellous mixture into your mutton chops and your bristles will start to sing. Booze & Baccy comes in an attractive 50ml amber glass bottle replete with a glass pipette. Just be sure to not knock it over, mind, or you’ll have one hell of an oil spill on your hands.
6. Shakesbeard Cymbe’Lime: A citrusy, refreshing oil
Price when reviewed: From £4.99 | Check price at Shakesbeard
Top marks to Shakesbeard for the humorous play on words – something the Covent Garden-based company sticks to in the descriptions of all its blends. Having waded through 16 different samples, we alighted on three frontrunners: Hamlet and Return of the Mac from the Ultra Premium collection and Cymbe Lime from the Premium range. Our winner is Cymbe Lime; an oil reminiscent of Jo Malone’s Lime, Basil & Mandarin perfume, only far less effeminate. However, don’t rule out the subtle fruitiness of Hamlet or the similarly agreeable Return of the Mac.
To be honest, the other Shakesbeard scents were a bit hit and miss – To Beard or Not to Beard has hints of the sea and suntan lotion, while Julius Seize Her smells like a packet of Skittles. Still, as we’ve said before, fragrance is a very subjective matter.
Shakesbeard creates all its beard oils from a blend of argan, jojoba, coconut, almond, grapeseed, avocado and apricot, and each one is available in three different-sized glass bottles: 10, 30 and 90ml. A few drops of Cymbe Lime on our test beard left it exceedingly soft and manageable. If you’re looking for a brand with a wide range of fragrances, stop right here.