You’ve probably heard that — for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2021 — things are starting to look kinda, sorta normal outside. That’s right, with increased vaccination rates and a wave of more lenient CDC guidelines, the world is returning back to that coveted normality, with movie theaters, sporting events, gyms, bars and restaurants now safe for vaccinated individuals.
But after a year inside, let’s just say the state of our collective grooming habits might not be quite as ready for socialization as we are ourselves. With barbershops closed for extended stints last year, many turned to a pair of clippers and went the buzz cut route, while others took the lack of social opportunities as a chance to let things get truly wild. How many shaggy locks and unruly beards did you see on Zoom in 2020?
If you’re intent on maintaining your COVID-19 grooming routine, go right ahead. More power to you. Beards do require maintenance, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? Having a medicine cabinet full of oils, washes and creams comes with the territory of beard culture, and you should collect them proudly.
If you need a little help getting your beard back into socialization shape, we’ve got 15 of the best beard products that’ll do the trick. We’ve done our best to focus on variety here — depending on the length and style of your facial hair — but we’ll link out to deep dives on each of the products where applicable, just in case you want to see the other products out there.
1. Bevel Beard Trimmer
BEST BEARD TRIMMER
A beard trimmer is a must-have for any guy trying to rock facial hair longer than stubble or five o’clock shadow. Most trimmers come with a collection of clippers and other attachments to help you adjust lengths and shape your beard. Bevel, offers a trimmer that we deemed “the Rolls Royce of electric shavers” on our roundup of the best beard trimmers of 2021. That praise is well-deserved, as Bevel’s beard trimmer sports technical features (like blades designed to avoid overheating) and a beautiful design that won’t be an eyesore in your bathroom. But, we should be frank — Bevel’s beard trimmer does not come with additional comb attachments, meaning it really is more of an electric shaver than a true trimmer. It’s great for precision and short trimming but won’t get the job done on longer beards. It also won Best Splurge on the aforementioned roundup, so keep an eye on that price tag, too.
2. Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion 2.0+ Beard Trimmer
If you’ve got a longer beard and the Bevel trimmer won’t cut it, we suggest this beard trimmer from Wahl. It comes with a whole bag of goodies, including comb attachments for tackling longer beards, nose and ear trimmers and cleaning accessories. This might not have the laser precision or turbo quality of the Bevel, but with all of the accessories and at half the price, the Wahl is one of the best and most versatile all-around trimmers you can buy.
3. Live Bearded Boar Bristle Brush
BEST BEARD BRUSH
Guys with longer beards already know the value of a beard brush. Great for taming wiry and tangled hairs, a beard brush is also critical for exfoliating the skin beneath your beard, which often gets neglected in skincare routines. This dead skin and debris can creep its way into your beard, leaving gross traces on your clothes, desk and pillow. This is particularly frustrating for folks (including this writer) who have a habit of stroking their beard while pondering (yes, I actually do this). The beard brush market is crowded, but Live Bearded’s Boar Bristle Brush is a clear favorite (and has the lofty endorsement of SPY’s own Timothy Werth). Seriously, for under $20, this product is an absolute must.
4. Bevel Beard Oil
BEST BEARD OIL
Bevel is a relative newcomer to the beard grooming game, but the fact that they’ve already cracked this list twice should tell you everything you need to know about their commitment to quality products. Beard oils are one of the most popular choices for guys looking to up their beard grooming game, and we take them very seriously here at SPY. But the beard oil market is flooded with gaudy bottle designs and ridiculous lumberjack names that turn beard maintenance into more of a gimmick and less of what it should be — an art. Bevel’s beautiful, minimalist bottle does away with the nonsense and focuses on what matters most — the ingredients. Packed with grapeseed oil, macadamia seed and evening primrose, Bevel’s beard oil will battle frizz and dryness, adding critical moisture to help maintain the health of your beard and the skin beneath it.
5. Striking Viking Folding Wooden Comb
BEST BEARD COMB
OK, you caught me. After thoroughly denouncing beard products with overtly masculine names, I’m about to list three of them in a row. But bear(d) with me. Beards are supposed to be fun, remember? Especially for those intimidated by all the grooming products out there, a fun brand is one way to make the process a little less daunting. Striking Viking makes a killer beard comb, which helps keep longer beards under control. The well-constructed wooden teeth should glide smoothly through your beard, while the slick carrying case makes this a great comb for travel. If your pandemic beard has reached Viking-length territory, you should definitely pick up this comb.
6. Mountaineer Brand Beard Wash
BEST BEARD WASH
Beard wash is another one of those products that you probably didn’t consider until you started taking your beard seriously. But they make perfect sense, right? Just like the hair and skin on your head, the hair on your face needs some love as well. Particularly if you rock a beard in warmer, sweatier months, a beard wash helps keep your facial hair clean and smelling great. This beard wash from Mountaineer Brand features sunflower, coconut and palm oils to hydrate your hair and prevent flakiness, while its cedar and fir oils provide that classic lumberjack smell.
7. Honest Amish Beard Balm
BEST BEARD BALM
There’s definitely some crossover between beard balms and beard oils, but you can think of beard balm as more of a styling product. Guys with longer beards who need a little help keeping things in place should reach for this beard balm from Honest Amish, which includes include virgin argan, avocado, almond, virgin pumpkin seed and apricot kernel oils. And if you feel the brand name isn’t PC, don’t worry. Honest Amish uses only natural ingredients, making everything by hand and from scratch out of a small town in Western Pennsylvania, right in the middle of Amish country.
8. ONTAKI German Steel Beard Scissors
Guys with beards of almost any length can benefit from a pair of scissors, which offers the precision necessary to make even the tiniest of cuts and adjustments. Scissors work especially well for longer mustaches (which don’t always play nicely with trimmers) that require a sculptor’s attention to detail. ONTAKI’s scissors feature a mostly corrugated edge, which keeps the hair from sliding out of the blade as the smooth blade cuts the hair. Better yet, it comes with a comb and handy carrying case.
9. Harry’s The Truman Razor
Just because you have a beard doesn’t mean you don’t need a razor. Some — like yours truly — prefer a completely clean shaven neck, which accentuates the shape of the beard and offers a generally more well-groomed look. There’s not much to say about The Truman razor that we haven’t said already. In fact, we named it Best Razor at 2020’s Spy Man Awards. And deservedly so. Between the flexible, ergonomic handle, comfortable five-blade design and affordable price, The Truman is absolutely our favorite razor on the market.
Read More: The Absolute Best Razors for Men in 2021
10. The Art of Shaving Bourbon Shaving Cream
BEST SHAVING CREAM
Continuing on with our shaving-to-make-your-beard-look-even-better theme, we’ve got The Art of Shaving’s signature shaving cream. Shaving your neck with water alone is practically skin suicide, so it’s absolutely critical to lather up before taking a razor to a part of your body that gets a ton of visibility. As we pointed out in our review of 2021’s best shaving creams, many of the budget, big-name shaving creams are loaded with harmful chemicals that you should avoid at all costs. It’s no surprise, then, that a premium shaving brand leads the pack with a pricier but much higher quality option that lathers on smoothly and creates a comfortable shaving experience.
11. Shaveology Pre-Shave Oil
BEST SHAVE OIL
If you think using pre-shave oil and shaving cream is redundant, let’s look a little closer. Folks with sensitive skin are particularly prone to the nicks and irritation that come from literally dragging a razor blade across your face (or in this case, neck). Oil adds an extra layer of lubrication that helps the razor glide smoothly. You’re essentially just adding one step to be infinitely kinder to the skin you’re shaving. Shaveology’s Pre-Shave Oil is loaded with safflower, avocado and jojoba oils, in addition to caprylyl glycol, which helps with skin inflammation. Seriously, your skin will thank you for using this.
12. Just For Men Beard Coloring
BEST BEARD DYE
We think the salt-and-pepper beard style looks fantastic, for what it’s worth, but it’s not for everyone. A greying beard is a natural sign of aging, and some folks understandably aren’t ready to embrace it. Known as the iconic anti-grey hair brand, Just For Men sports a great beard dye as well. However, as we said in our review of the best beard dyes of 2021, coloring your beard is a complicated, messy and often chemically rich process. All of this means you should do your research, read instructions carefully and be mindful of how a beard dye might interact with your skin. Nonetheless, Just For Men’s beard dye sports a creamy formula with biotin, aloe and coconut oil, and also includes a color developer, which helps the dye take hold and keeps the process much quicker. It’s remarkable effective and should last until your get hair grows back in.
13. Cayzor Beard Straightener
BEST BEARD STRAIGHTENER
Just like its well-known counterpart for tackling curly hair, a beard straightener uses high heat to accomplish the same thing for the hair on your face. Guys with longer, curlier beard hair might benefit from this, as it’s essentially the significantly more industrial version of a comb for keeping beard hair in check. Cayzor’s beard straightener has five temperature settings ranging from 210 to 360 degrees and an LCD that shows the temperature rising. It takes about 60 seconds to heat up, uses PTC heaters that self-regulate to ensure it doesn’t overheat and features a 30-minute auto-shutoff function. The teeth sport heat-resistant ceramic so your beard hair doesn’t get burned, while the plastic bristles will help the straightener avoid contact with your skin. As we mentioned, though, this thing is really hot, so proceed with caution and make sure your hair is dry and product-free when using.
Read More: The Best Beard Straighteners to Buy in 2021
14. Braun Series 9 Electric Razor
BEST ELECTRIC RAZOR
We briefly touched on electric razors with the Bevel Beard Trimmer, but they’re incredibly handy to have around, particularly if you like that ultra-clean look around your beard. This Braun electric razor is an absolute beast — a luxury grooming product with a luxury price tag. The motor’s auto-sensing technology adapts to different hair densities to ensure a consistent trim, while its aluminum casing is 100 percent waterproof, meaning it works well with shave gel or even in the shower. Luckily you can display the Braun Series 9 proudly with its Clean & Charging station, so any guests know you only reach for the highest quality products.
15. Jack Black Beard Grooming Set
BEST GROOMING SET
Sometimes the easiest way to collect all the necessary beard products is to snag them in one fell swoop. Thankfully, Jack Black’s beard grooming set comes with a beard wash for cleaning, beard oil for moisturizing and a beard lube for any clean-shaven razor operations. Jack Black (the brand, not the actor) largely launched the contemporary, luxury mens grooming market, and sports a lengthy roster of skincare, hair and other grooming products.