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SPY readers know that we stan a good beard. But having a beard takes extra patience and thoughtful care. You have to love them and wash them, brush them and oil them. And while we’re suddenly unsure if they’re more like having a pet or having a truck, here’s one thing we do know — they can get out of whack very quickly.
As a beard grows, it’s easy to remain oblivious to stray hairs. They come in slowly and meander their way outward at random angles until you notice them in the mirror one day. If you have a medium or long beard, you need to be using one of the best beard balms to combat those strays. Why? It’s the difference between looking like “BOOM” and looking like a broom.
Luckily, here at SPY, we’re chock-full of beard experts who are eager to get your fuzzy face back on track. And personally, having grown my beard for nearly a decade, I can tell you that not all beard products are good. So after years of testing beard products, the team and I present to you the best beard balms we’ve found thus far.
How to Use Beard Balm
Let’s stop here for a second to go over a few key components of using beard balms. Mainly, the “who” and the “how.”
As mentioned above, if you’ve got a medium to long beard, you need to be using one of the best beard balms to keep it in check and maintain beard health. But what about guys with shorter beards? Well, we recommend using a beard oil instead. Shorter beards don’t have the same type of stray hair issue, so a balm, primarily intended to sculpt and style, wouldn’t make much sense. Beard oil, however, will give a shorter beard a nice healthy shine and promote new, healthy growth.
For the longer beards out there, using a beard balm is simple. Most labels will instruct warming up a small, pinky-sized amount between your hands and then applying it to your beard. Some balms are tackier than others, so it’s important to use enough to completely sculpt the hair. Work from the top downward, remembering to get the sides and the back, ending with the mustache. Some of the best beard balms, as you’ll find, are creamier and can easily penetrate the beard and hydrate the skin while also sculpting. If you’re just in need of moisturizing, look into getting a beard softener or cream.
The Best Beard Balm at a Glance
1. Best Overall: Burt’s Bees Conditioning Beard Balm — $10 on Amazon
2. Runner Up: Cremo Beard Balm — $13 on Amazon
3. Strongest Hold: Shea Moisture Men’s Beard Balm — $10 at Target
4. SPY Award Winner: King C. Gillette Soft Beard Balm — $10 at GIllette
5. Best Scents: Live Bearded Beard Butter — $20 on Amazon
6. Best Hydrator: Scotch Porter Conditioning Beard Balm — $15 on Amazon
7. Easiest to Control: Uppercut Deluxe Beard Balm — $17 at UpperCut Deluxe
1. Burt’s Bees Conditioning Beard Balm
Best For: The uncompromising man who wants to check all the boxes for ethics and performance.
Why We Chose It: Of the beard balms tested, this scored the best across all categories.
- 3 ounces
- Hemp and aloe
Burt’s Bees Conditioning Beard Balm is the best option for guys who want the best ingredients and manufacturing practices, but also a high-quality product. This beard balm is Leaping Bunny Certified, earned for animal cruelty-free practices. This is impressive, considering their entire company is based on bee products, which is a testament to their standards. This product is also sourced responsibly with recyclable packaging and carbon-neutral manufacturing.
Using this was heaven. It wasn’t the very best in any one single category but was second best in nearly all categories, which is why we’re naming this the best overall. The scent is pleasantly mild and doesn’t bug your nose throughout the day. This beard balm has a medium texture and, using the power of aloe and hemp seed oil, it’s easy to get down to the skin to hydrate the follicle. After about 25 seconds, the tackiness strengthens and provides a light hold to control crazy hairs.
Burt, if you’re reading this, you have a sick beard — nice work.
- Easy to work in
- Not greasy
- Lid should be screw-top
2. Cremo Beard Balm
Best For: Bearded guys who live up in the air.
Why We Chose It: We’ve been using this for years with good reason.
- 2 ounces
- Shea butter and mineral oils
- US Made
Cremo is very quickly garnering enough attention to be a household name. Their men’s grooming products, across the board, are high-quality because they care about their customers. Their beard balm is formulated with ingredients you’ve heard of before, like beeswax, shea butter, and essential oils. We’ve personally been using this for years, along with their Beard & Scruff Cream to tame our beards.
Cremo makes the best beard balm for hitting the sweet spot between moisturizing skin and sculpting hair. Like Burt’s, it’s a wax-based balm, as one of the main ingredients is beeswax. But it also does an incredible job at nourishing the skin in addition to hair. With clean ingredients, great performance, and the right size for TSA, this is a great beard balm for anybody with medium or long beards. The only thing holding this back from the top spot was the price per ounce at $10 for 2 ounces, but we love that it takes up very little space in a Dopp kit.
- Balances hold and hydration
- Multiple scents
- Just a little costly per ounce
3. Shea Moisture Men’s Beard Balm
Best For: The thickest, most unruly beards.
Why We Chose It: Shea Moisture beard products are generally wonderful and this holds true for their beard balm.
- 4 ounces
- Maracuja oil and shea butter
In our 2022 testing of beard washes, Shea Moisture beat out brands like Cremo and Jack Black for the top spot. Naturally, we were excited to find out if they also make one of the best beard balms for control. A brand designed to serve men of color, this balm features the brand’s staple ingredients — maracuja oil and shea butter. Combined with candelilla and carnauba waxes, Shea Moisture recommends this to tame unruly and unmanageable beard hair while adding definition.
This beard balm brings all the ingredients and ethics we love from Shea Moisture into a sculpting product. It’s very clear, after our testing, that this is the very best holding beard balm for thick beards that need to be taught a lesson in laying flat. Holy crap is this strong. Seriously, if you’re the type of person who experiences major frizz and has flyaway beard hair, this is the one to use. It is the last word in sculpting a beard, and I’d go as far as to say you could use this as surf wax.
With that said, the scent is mild but familiar to the Shea Moisture lineup and this 4-ounce jar is a fantastic value at $10. However, it is so thick and tacky it doesn’t allow your fingers to penetrate the beard to hydrate the skin underneath. But that’s easily overlooked because of its sculpting ability.
- Strongest hold we’ve ever seen
- Certified cruelty-free
- Ultimate beard definition
- Very, very tacky
4. King C. Gillette Soft Beard Balm
SPY Award Winner
Best For: Guys experiencing flakes who also need some hold.
Why We Chose It: This beard balm won the SPY Man Award in 2020
- 3.4 ounces
- Cocoa and shea butter
SPY is no stranger to King C. Gillette’s Soft Beard Balm. In fact, in 2020, our editors voted this the best beard balm in the SPY Man Awards. Using ingredients like argan oil as well as cocoa and shea butter, this balm has a cream-like texture and is great for hydrating dry skin and hair, especially in colder months.
We retested this beard balm in 2022. What we found was that it spread wonderfully through a thick beard and was able to reach the skin under the hair. The scent is mild but reminiscent of your grandfather’s shaving kit — there’s a certain nostalgia there. And though this beard balm provided a very light hold, we’d look to this more for its nourishing capabilities instead of sculpting. Grab one of these for a very, very low price of $10.
- Maximum hydration
- Great value
- Screw-top lid
- More of a beard softener
- Labeling extremely vague
5. Live Bearded Beard Butter
Best For: Guys with sensitive schnozzes who are particular about scent.
Why We Chose It: The name is Live Bearded — we totally agree.
- 3 ounces
- US Made
- Unscented available
The Live Bearded company is a band of bearded brothers. Since 2006, they’ve been helping beardsters feel their best by providing quality goods to look their best. This product is dubbed a beard butter, but what’s in a name, really? The brand defines it as such because it’s a shea butter base instead of the wax base (bee or otherwise) in a typical balm. It’s said to provide a light to medium hold and is suitable for daily use.
We wanted to know if this buttah could stick it to our unruly, flyaway face frizz. In a word, yes. We found this to have a solid light to medium hold with moderate shaping capabilities. It’s very easy to apply and does a good job of getting down under the hair.
The scent used for this test we found to be a hair on the strong side but the good news is that Live Bearded offers an unscented version of their beard butter. There’s no shame in ordering each of them to find your favorite and passing the rest to your bearded friends.
- Quality, concise ingredients
- Good spreader
- Stops itch
- Strongly scented
6. Scotch Porter Conditioning Beard Balm
Best For: Guys with coarse beards and guys in dire need of moisturizing their chins.
Why We Chose It: We’re hip to Scotch Porter’s commitment to quality ingredients.
- 3 ounces
- Biotin liposomes
- Made in the US
Scotch Porter is a black-founded company that produces some of the highest-quality products with black men in mind. Having said that, Scotch Porter’s Conditioning Beard Balm is also one of the best options for guys with coarse beard hair and/or dry skin. This balm is an ultra conditioner that harnesses the power of biotin, nettle leaf, and white willow bark. It’s a great skin-soother through those cold months.
This beard balm’s ability to penetrate a thick beard is amazing. The brand calls this a “pliable balm,” and it does have a very light hold to it, but only after working it in for what seems to be forever. It does wonders to nourish hair and slightly holds shape, but we’re dubbing this more of a beard softener than anything. At SPY, we know Scotch Porter’s stuff to be amazing, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. You’ll love this if you’re a weekly beard trimmer with few flyaway hairs.
- Amazing moisturizer
- Vegan formula
- Minimal hold
7. Uppercut Deluxe Beard Balm
Easiest to Control
Best For: Guys seeking a solid medium-hold beard balm
Why We Chose It: Uppercut Deluxe is a brand on the rise and we’re here for the journey.
- 3.3 ounces
- Medium hold
Uppercut Deluxe is an Australian brand born out of the culture you can only find at the dopest of barbershops. These are the kind of dudes who love tattoos, skating, and kicking it with the homies, much like my barber, Cole, in Los Angeles. A brand founded by barbers with other barbers in mind, Uppercut Deluxe offers everything from shampoos and pomades to beard stuff and useful kits, perfect for gifting.
There’s a lot to like about this product. First, it comes in an unlikely pump bottle, which makes this great for controlling the exact amount you want to use. With a quick lather in the hands, it slightly foams up and coats the beard, with the tackiness increasing the longer you work it in, resulting in a great medium hold. If you’re a coconut lover, you’re going to love the scent of this non-greasy balm.
We did have questions about what’s actually in this product because they weren’t listed on the website and that’s part of our scoring. Although we weren’t too impressed with the ingredients, we were very happy with the lightning-fast response from customer service. They told us their “…Beard Balm does not contain any animal products to our knowledge, and Uppercut Deluxe and our suppliers do not test any products or raw ingredients on animals.” That is something we do score on, and that gets a tip of the cap from us.
- Great customer service
- Convenient pump bottle
- High hold
- Lacks ingredients visibility
- Not for coconut haters
How We Reviewed the Best Beard Balm
For weeks, we dedicated our morning routines to using these beard balms in the name of journalistic research. And although we’re struggling to find space to store everything, we’re making great friends with the bearded guys in the neighborhood as we pass these out for them to try themselves.
To determine the best beard balm of them all, we considered these factors:
Chemicals — what’s NOT in the ingredients? We scored higher for products free of parabens, sulfates, silicones, invasive oils, phthalates, and synthetic colors, among other nasty stuff.
Animal-friendly — we scored higher for products that were cruelty-free and could prove they sourced beeswax in a responsible way if not a vegan balm.
Hydration — extra points were awarded for beard balms that added moisture to the skin and prevent itching aside from the ability to sculpt.
Spreadability — we wanted to test how easily a beard balm could spread into a beard. We thought that was kind of important.
Sculptability — ultimately, we wanted to find the best beard balm for sculpting a beard, which is what we consider to be the main objective of a balm.
Why Trust SPY When Choosing the Best Beard Balm for You
Finding effective grooming products is what SPY does best. We spend hours researching online and in person looking for the best new and familiar brands to see if the reviews are legit.
Aside from that, just know that the SPY team is stacked with bearded dudes who tested, reviewed, and contributed to this story. We don’t hold back and we’re not afraid to be truthful because, at the end of the day, we want to do right by you, the reader.
Other than beard products, SPY has reviewed every other vertical in the men’s grooming space. Recently, we reviewed the best electric razors, the best bald head shavers, and even the best shaving creams, you know, for your neck and stuff.
If you’re interested, you can read more about How We Test Products at SPY.
About the Author: Anthony Mastracci
SPY Reviews Editor, Anthony Mastracci, is a Los Angeles transplant by way of Boston. A bearded style guy, Anthony enjoys helping guys look and feel their best through outfit coordination and encouraging first-time beard growers to push through the patches.
Recently, Anthony has written about new men’s grooming brand, ATWATER skincare, and shared his favorite face mask for men, along with other SPY Editors. Otherwise, you can find him on Instagram looking flashy.
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