Whether you've long rocked a beard of lumberjack (or Shoreditch barista) proportions or longer facial hair is the result of a socially distanced experiment, the key to its condition and appearance is a quality beard oil. If you're yet to invest in the hirsute man's wash bag essential, take a tip from our guide and shop GQ's edit of the best beard oils you can buy.
Why should I use beard oil?
From softening whiskers and making them much easier to tackle to nourishing the skin and preventing irritation and “beardruff” (beard dandruff), a good beard oil acts as a styling agent while keeping it smelling fresh. It'll serve you well in the awkward stages of growing out your facial hair, making wispy chin hairs look fuller, and, once grown to your desired length it'll prove essential to keeping you looking more hipster than hobo.
Will beard oil promote facial hair growth?
There are five oil derivatives commonly used as the base in a beard oil: coconut, olive, sunflower, jojoba and argan. The antioxidants and vitamins in each promote healthier hair follicles and skin beneath, which could well harness conditions more conducive to facial hair growth. But don't be fooled into thinking these are magical elixirs that'll transform lacklustre chin hairs into Viking-esque locks – bottled beard transplants, these are not.
When should I apply beard oil?
Like many of the products in your skincare routine, beard oil is best applied to a freshly showered face, allowing pores to be fully open so the oil can be absorbed to its full potential. If you think of it in the same way as the hair on your head, a beard oil essentially acts as a conditioner to use after cleansing with a beard shampoo. Apply daily and you’ll soon reap the benefits, especially when paired with the right razor or a great beard trimmer.
Horace Beard Oil
Using 100 per cent natural-origin ingredients, this paraben- and mineral oil- free solution from unfussy French grooming brand Horace serves two great purposes: to soften-up the bristles and help strengthen the condition of the hair. Jamaican black castor oil is the star of this show, adding volume and a silky softness to the touch, while almond oil is added to boost shine and argan oil to soothe and nourish. With a woody, aromatic scent, lack of greasy residue and an accessible price point, it’s a very competent all-rounder, especially for mid-length beards. £10 for 30ml. horace.co
Kiehl's Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil
This 99.8 per cent naturally derived aromatic treatment oil has a bracing alpha- male woody fragrance, uniting cedar, sandalwood and eucalyptus essential oils. Created with pracaxi oil to help soften coarse facial hair, as well as nourish and calm the skin beneath, it also contains exfoliating salicylic acid to slough away dead skin cells, so should move to the top of the list for men who suffer with unsightly “beardruff”. £23.50 for 30ml. kiehls.co.uk
Ecooking Men Beard & Body Oil
This multifunctional oil from boutique Danish grooming brand Ecooking can be used as a beard oil, a body oil or even as a pre-shave prep. Including organic jojoba oil (a natural skin restorative), organic sesame oil (to add condition and lustre), apricot kernel oil (rich in vitamin A and E and good for treating inflammation) and organic argan oil (to moisturise), it does all the things a beard oil should do, but has the hidden benefits of a great skincare staple. With a fresh, citrus scent and a deterrent to beard plaque in ingrown hairs, use it head to toe, on hair, beard, body, face and even as a massage oil. £23 for 100ml. At lookfantastic.com
Bulldog Original Beard Oil
Simon Duffy’s vision in 2005 to create a range of ethically sound, natural ingredient-based targeted grooming solutions for men that would hold their own alongside the big boys on the supermarket shelves unleashed Bulldog Skincare For Men into the world. And in our opinion its shaving and facial hair products are among the brand’s finest moments. In fact, infused with eight essential oils, including aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea, the conditioning and hydrating Original beard oil in the range has acquired an almost cult-like following. Quickly absorbed and light in texture, it leaves facial hair glossy without looking greasy and longer, coarser beards easy to tame, style and shape into submission. £6.50 for 30ml. At amazon.co.uk
Kennedy & Co Hydrating Beard Oil
Style columnist Darren Kennedy’s signature, concise five-piece collection of grooming essentials dispels the confusing industry lingo and overwhelming choice that intimidates many men. Instead, he offers an easy-to-navigate routine that isn’t time-consuming or too heavy on the wallet. Made in Ireland (Kennedy’s birthplace and home base), the Hydrating Beard Oil in the line is a standout. Featuring a blend of natural, botanicals, such as spearmint and cedarwood, as well as fragrant essential oils, a cooling menthol has also been added to the formula to give an invigorating experience. Hydrating and soothing, it can also double up as an excellent facial oil (beard or no beard) when skin is feeling particularly dry, such as after a long flight or due to air conditioning. Tip from Kennedy himself: “I mix a few drops of the beard oil with some of my moisturiser in my hands and apply at night before bed. It’s super hydrating.” £10.95 for 50ml. At amazon.co.uk
Daimon Barber Beard & Stubble Softener
Daimon Barber offers a no-nonsense core range of sustainable grooming heroes that put transparency and ease of use front and centre. This doesn’t distract from the high-performance efficacy of its well-balanced, science-meets-nature formulas. The Beard & Stubble Softener in this range thoughtfully considers the skin beneath our bristles as much as it does in conditioning the facial forest. Packed with plant-based oils and vitamins and free from parabens or chemical nasties, it is enriched with hydrolysed silk protein, nutrient-rich avocado oil and aloe vera and is infused with kahai oil, which boasts 50 per cent more vitamin E than is found in the more commonly used beard oil stalwart, argan oil. A British “bromance” brand, with all ingredients sourced and made in the UK, this bestseller within the line protects, repairs and rehydrates the hair fibres, leaving beards silky-smooth and scented with a signature oudh and Egyptian mallow fragrance. £23.95 for 100ml. daimonbarber.com
Murdock Beard Oil
The nutritious and complex mix of 100 per cent natural oils – apricot kernel, macadamia, jojoba, sunflower and olive, to name but a few – gives this beard softener from the creators of the successful barbershop chain some serious gravitas. Particularly good for men who suffer from wispy beard syndrome, it actively adds body and volume by working its way down to the cuticles of the hair strand and helps lock in moisture when applied to damp facial hair. Recommended for use overnight while you sleep for maximum effect and penetration. £15.30 for 50ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com
Tom Ford Conditioning Beard Oil
Tom Ford set a precedent in men’s grooming trends by being one of the first to champion a high-maintenance regimen achieved through game-changing and industry-first products – tools you never even knew you needed, such as a beard comb, concealer or a brow groomer. Ford’s Conditioning Beard Oil pretty much spearheaded the current popularity for facial-fuzz-taming solutions. It is a lightweight blend, infused with a trio of almond, jojoba and grapeseed oils, supported by deeply replenishing vitamin E and is available in three signature private blend fragrances (Oud Wood, Tobacco Vanille and the uplifting, citrus- based 2011 classic, Neroli Portofino). Conditioning Beard Oil conditions, softens and nourishes the beard with no residue; use with Ford’s beard comb for the perfect finish. £44 for 30ml. At mrporter.com
L’Oreal Men Expert Barber Club Long Beard & Skin Oil
Inspired by professional barber expertise, L’Oreal Men Expert’s Barber Club system offers targeted solutions to help condition and fortify a healthy-looking bush of shiny facial hair. Designed for men with medium to long beards, and as equally beneficial to the moisture balance of your skin, this multi-functional aid is enriched with 88 per cent natural ingredients, such as eucalyptus leaf oil, and is suitable for all skin types. Free from parabens, the formula is powered by deeply hydrating cedarwood essential oil and is surprisingly non- greasy. It conditions and tames and is uplifted with a nostalgic, old-school barbershop fragrance. £10.99 for 30ml. At lookfantastic.com
Aesop Shine Hair Oil
Aesop's formula for taming dry and frizzy hair is also something of a miracle worker on facial hair, despite not being a beard oil per se. This hard-working multitasker leaves beards with a sense of lusciousness, minus any oil residue or build-up. The hero ingredient is linoleic acid, which is shown to stimulate hair growth and maintains healthy skin beneath the hair while controlling water loss post-shower. As with all things Aesop, it smells good enough to eat, too. £23. At Selfridges. selfridges.com
Copenhagen Grooming Beard Hero Beard Oil Serum
Dedicated to help grow and groom awesome beards, this Danish brand is a celebration of all things facial hair. Its signature beard oil (which is not just a beard oil, but more on that in a minute), which took a year of research to develop, effectively leaves bristles hydrated and fuller-bodied for up to 72 hours. It is further powered by a combo of two nutrient-rich ingredients: limnanthes alba seed oil, which softens dry or coarse hair by coating the fibre and sealing in hydration, and NaturePep amaranth, a patented ingredient which actively thickens the beard (11.3 per cent thicker after only three applications) by increasing the diameter of the individual hair fibre. Delivered in a silky, serum-like texture, it rehydrates and nourishes tired-looking bristles from the inside out, resulting in a healthier-looking mane. Copenhagen Grooming also offers a loyalty scheme: the more stock you buy, the cheaper the prices get. £29 for 50ml. cphgrooming.com
Penhaligon's Sartorial Beard Oil
Why sartorial, you ask? Well, with notes of oakmoss, tonka bean, lavender mixed with woods, metals, leather, honey and spices, the fragrance is exquisitely reminiscent of a tailor's workroom. It's the kind of scent you didn't know your beard needed to be emitting and till you try it. Blended with sunflower, grape seed and wheat germ oil, it feels as luxurious and expensive as it smells. £73. At allbeauty.com
Haeckels Conditioning Beard Oil
Driven by effective results and the conservation of the Kent coastline, where the brand was founded and is based, many of Haeckels' signature formulations have marine-based ingredients at their heart. Enriched with seaweed extract suspended with vitamin E, its iconic conditioning beard oil (originally known as the Sailors Beard Oil) follows in the tradition of using (where possible) indigenous raw materials. Best suited for longer beards and, more specifically, very dry, coarse and damaged facial hair, it deeply hydrates, helps repair, protects and nourishes, using a blend of oils such as jojoba, sweet almond, clove and sandalwood. Neroli oil also features as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic. £34 for 50ml. haeckels.co.uk
Lab Series The Grooming Oil
Sea buckthorn oil, jojoba and sweet almond oil have been blended with hydrators and vitamins for this triple-action grooming solution. It cushions skin and enhances glide if used pre-shave, ensures precision due to its transparency and improves manageability, smoothness and shine if used as a conditioner on beards or facial hair. Formulated for all skin and hair types, we think it works better on shorter beards. £27. labseries.co.uk
Redken Brews Beard and Skin Oil
One of the stand out products in this 50-year strong New York brand's skincare line, this beard oil is suitable for all skin types and is hailed for leaving facial hair and the skin beneath it extraordinarily soft. Along with nourishing avocado and olive oils, it boasts active ingredients such as cooling peppermint oil for an extra fresh feel. £15.30. At amazon.co.uk
Le Labo Beard Oil
Perfect for sensitive skin, Le Labo’s formula is entirely plant-based (making it suitable for vegans). The nonirritating elixir carries the comforting scent of lavender, along with bergamot and tonka bean. In this case, size does matter, as you get a weighty 60ml bottle that will last plenty longer than most oils in this list. £47 for 60ml. At Harvey Nichols. harveynichols.com
Acqua Di Parma Beard Serum
The next generation beard serum from the ADP Barbiere range performs well under pressure and is particularly good for longer and heavier beards. Enriched with sweet almond oil and grape seed oil, it helps detangle unruly beards, nourish the skin beneath and cultivate a well-groomed and glossy bush. £39 for 30ml. acquadiparma.com
Captain Fawcett Private Stock
Maintain a clean, well-groomed beard with Captain Fawcett’s solution to all your problems. A few drops of this invigorating, handmade treatment goes a long way. The pipette is also a nice touch for dispensing. £34 for 50ml. At Selfridges. selfridges.com
Ruffians Argan Beard Oil
Infused with tea tree and citrus extract, which helps naturally cleanse the beard and energise the skin beneath, this omega and vitamin-rich oil is particularly good for those with longer and fuller beards. Vegan-friendly and silicone and SLS-free, it offers high-performance conditioning thanks to a generous dose of the powerful antioxidant argan oil, a widely appreciated super- ingredient that boosts hydration from the tip of the facial hair strand through to the follicle and serves as an effective barrier from environmental toxins and sun damage. It is also (reputedly) the highest concentration of any natural nourishing oil currently available. £25 for 30ml. ruffians.co.uk
Bullfrog All-In-One Beard Oil
This multipurpose elixir, which is part of a very focused grooming regime founded in Milan but inspired by traditional East Coast American barbershops, has a dual function. Containing a rich blend of hydrating oils it can be used to prep facial hair for a smooth but close shave or as a conditioning oil to help tame your beard. Its size (50ml) is also an advantage – most beard oils only come in a 30ml portion. £18 for 50ml. At amazon.co.uk
Elemis Smooth Result Shave & Beard Oil
This dual-purpose face and beard oil can be used as both a shave prep and as a conditioning oil to keep facial hair in tip-top shape. A vitamin-rich and deeply hydrating blend of jojoba (known to have soothing and healing properties), hazelnut and grape seed oils, it serves a comfortable glide if using it with a razor and a stellar styling aid for keeping your bristles nourished and easy to tame. Suitable for all skin types, it’s the ideal formula for part-time beard wearers, who regularly fluctuate between clean-cut and rocking facial hair. £25 for 30ml. At lookfantastic.com
Anthony Pre-Shave Conditioning Beard Oil
This dual-purpose grooming solution by Anthony works both to soften facial hair before a shave and condition the beard hair and skin underneath afterwards. Formulated with tea tree oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin E for its relief from irritation and a blend of calendula and olive oils to hydrate and condition, this cruelty-free formula is particularly well-suited to sensitive skin. £26. At cultbeauty.co.uk
Baxter of California Grooming Beard Oil
Combining nourishing avocado oil with plant-derived squalene to moisturise and vitamin E to help soothe common irritations such as brittle hair and beard itch, Baxter of California's beard oil means business from the moment it's applied. Thankns to a fragrant blend of sandalwood, jasmine and cedarwood, the smell is reminiscent of an old-timey barbershop. £20. At Selfridges. selfridges.com
Espa Triple Action Grooming Oil
The new breed of beard oils work that bit harder and offer multiuse solutions to earn their keep. This one from Espa can be used as a shave oil – replacing the need for a foam or cream – as a beard conditioner and groomer or simply as a serum to help energise tired skin. Containing candela tree and prickly pear extract it protects the skin barrier, while other dedicated anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients boast healing properties. £32 for 25ml. At mankind.co.uk
Dr Harris Beard Oil
British-based Dr Harris has been grooming royalty and the aristocracy out of London's St James' district since 1790. Holding a royal warrant as a pharmacist, it is actually its clean and classic gentlemanly scents that it is most renowned for. It should come as no surprise then that its beard oil not only performs but – embracing the brand’s Windsor scent (citrus, vetiver and black pepper) – also smells the business. A great one for anyone beginning to grow a beard as its soothing formula contains agents to help calm itchiness and irritation. £22. drharris.co.uk