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“With great beard comes great responsibility.” Somebody said that but we’re not sure if it was Aristotle or Plato; might have been Zeus. Regardless, if you’re somebody who maintains a sick beard, you need to maintain some kind of grooming regimen. If nothing else, the best thing you could do for your beard is clean it with the best beard wash.
If you’re already a beard pro, great — see if your beard wash made the cut. But if you’re new at the beard thing, using a beard wash and conditioner are paramount to reducing flakes, stopping itch and keeping your hair and skin hydrated. It’s just something that comes with the territory, hence, a great responsibility.
Here at SPY, we have several beardos on staff, including myself, a long beardsman since 2014. Over the last decade, we’ve all watched beard trends rise and fall and dozens of new beard washes hit the market. At this point, it can be tough to choose the best beard wash, so we decided to put the most popular products to the test to bring some clarity to your beard wash buying process.
The Best Beard Wash at a Glance
1. Best Overall: Shea Moisture Beard Wash — $10 on Amazon
2. Runner Up: Cremo Cedar Forest Beard Wash — $12.99 on Amazon
3. 2021 SPY Award Winner: King C. Gillette — $10 on Amazon
4. Best 2-in-1: Bulldog Original Beard Shampoo & Conditioner — $14 on Amazon
5. Best Beard Wash for Travelers: Jack Black Beard Wash — $19 on Amazon
6. Best Performing Beard Wash: Scotch Porter Moisturizing Beard Wash — $19 on Amazon
7. Best Mild Scent: Anthony Conditioning Beard Wash — $26 on Amazon
8. Best Amazon Seller: Viking Revolution Beard Wash — $20 Set on Amazon
9. Best Scented Beard Wash: Live Bearded Straight Up Unscented Natural Beard Wash — $20 on Amazon
1. Shea Moisture Beard Wash
Best For: Very coarse and curly beards that need instant hydration.
Why We Chose It: Shea Moisture offers the best value for its size on this list and stands for serving the underserved.
- Shea butter and maracuja oil focus
- Family founded
Please, let me tell you about Shea Moisture’s beard wash because you need to know about it. I did not expect to have as good of an experience as I did with this product. Sure, this may be the best beard wash for extremely curly and coarse hair, but I didn’t expect it to tame, nearly detangle, my naturally harsh, wavy Italian beard the way that it did.
This beard wash lathered masterfully, instantly softened my beard and kept it happy throughout the day, crushing every testing category we put it up against with the highest possible marks. And get this — it’s the most affordable on this list. Right now, Amazon sells it for $10 and has a coupon.
But aside from making an incredible product, Shea Moisture’s is one of the few beard washes specifically catering to men of color. The company draws its roots from Sofi Tucker, a woman, mother and entrepreneur who sold shea butter, African black soap and other beauty products in 1912 Sierra Leone. Today, a portion of profits are invested back into the community to support women and the underserved, globally.
- Built to serve men of color
- Overall cleanser
- Gel lacks viscosity
2. Cremo All-In-One Beard Wash
Best For: Anybody who needs a beard wash. This is a great universal product that performs brilliantly that won’t kill your wallet.
Why We Chose It: For guys with picky noses, Cremo now offers over five different beard wash scents.
- Pleasantly scented
- Also a face wash
Cremo is quickly earning the conversational moniker “good ol’ reliable” in terms of men’s grooming products. They’re getting into every type of product, from shaving cream to men’s hair dye. And though I’ve been an avid user of Cremo products for years, this review would serve as a testament to whether or not Cremo belongs in the best beard wash category.
Unsurprisingly, they rank among the top of the list. Cremo’s beard wash is cruelty-free and made without animal products, which is something we care about today. Conveniently, it’s also a face wash. This beard wash scored high in our testing, with a wicked lather and a pleasant, outdoorsy fragrance that resulted in a noticeably softer beard with an enjoyable post-shower scent. What pushed Cremo into the lead was their price point. Cremo offers their 6-ounce bottle at a mid-tier cost that hits smack in the middle of the quality-over-price matrix.
Pro Tip: I’ve seen this beard wash available as a travel size (easily refillable) in some seasonal gift sets for those who live up in the air.
- Wide variety of scents
- Noticeably soft beard
- Competitive price
- Need readily available travel size
- Only sulfate-free
3. King C. Gillette Beard & Face Wash
2021 SPY AWARD WINNER
Best For: Gillette die-hards who are brand loyal. Anyone seeking a 2-in-1 beard and face wash that’s inexpensive but high-quality.
Why We Chose It: It’s been a SPY favorite for two years running. Selected as the “Best Beard Wash” in The 2021 Man, our end-of-year product awards.
- Pump dispenser
- Argan and avocado oil
SPY’s best beard wash for 2021, the King C. Gillette Beard & Face Wash will be one of your easiest purchases for your beard. Though we typically recommend steering clear of most two-in-one products, the coconut, argan and avocado oils in this wash work to gently clean your beard and face without leaving them stripped down. At less than $1 per ounce, this is the best beard wash for your buck.
- Cooling sensation
- Also a face wash
- Labeling is vague
4. Bulldog Original Beard Shampoo & Conditioner
Best For: Fans of the 2-in-1, guys needing to conserve shower shelf space or sustainability-minded blokes
Why We Chose It: Bulldog also has a core focus on sustainability practices and we Stan that.
- Subtle tea-like scent
- Super hydrating conditioner
Made in the UK, the men’s grooming line from Bulldog is just “smashing, baby — yeah!” If you’re kind enough to still be reading, please allow me to tell you why Bulldog makes one of the best beard wash products.
This brand has a core commitment to sustainability practices, not putting bad stuff in their formulas and very competitive pricing, which helped propel them toward the top of our list. Heck, for Grove to be selling this product is a testament to these values. Bulldog’s Beard Shampoo & Conditioner is a high-quality 2-in-1 formula that simultaneously washes and conditions beards.
Though it doesn’t lather the same way other beard washes do, it leaves a beard feeling silky soft and flake-free. It’s a joy to use, though dudes with longer beards may need to use two thumbnails worth of product to get the right results.
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Fair-trade and USDA Organic
- Sustainability focus
- Doesn’t lather as well, need more for larger beard
- Wishing for a travel size
5. Jack Black Beard Wash
BEST FOR TRAVEL
Best For: Bearded guys who appreciate subtle aesthetics and aromas.
Why We Chose It: As a trusted brand in the men’s grooming world, we were happy to learn that Jack Black holds their own in the beard world.
- Mild, tea-like scent
- Use for beard, face and hair
The Jack Black line is known for its strength, not just in product quality, but also in visual branding. The Jack Black Beard Wash stays true to this with a high-performance cleanser and a sexy bottle.
This beard wash scored big with quality, certified organic and vegan ingredients. Organic isn’t the first association most guys make in terms of beard wash, but that may be why Jack Black performed its way toward to top of our best beard wash list. It’s got a nice lather, softens the heck out of a long beard and leaves the chin well hydrated for hours. The scent is very mild, capturing the aroma of “clean slate.”
If you’re somebody who cares about style, this may be the best beard wash to both use and display in your shower, for whatever that’s worth.
- Travel size available
- Multi-use cleanser
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Excellent hydrator
- Higher price point
6. Scotch Porter Moisturizing Beard Wash
Best For: Guys who really care about ingredients.
Why We Chose It: It’s free of sulfates, silicones petrolatum, parabens, mineral oil, synthetic colors phthalates, PEG’s and animal ingredients
- Musky, oud-like scent
- 8-ounce or 4-ounce
- Great for coarse beards
Many of the options on this list were first-time tests, but Scotch Porter was the best beard wash in every testing category we considered. It lathers like a dream, the post-shower beard was softer than butter on a hot day and it left the chin flake-free and itchless for 24 hours. Well done, Scotch Porter.
We were also wowed by the brand’s commitment to quality ingredients, noting on the bottle all the stuff they ensured not to put into this formula.
If there was one factor keeping Scotch Porter out of the top three, it’s the scent. Now, scent profile is a personal preference, so this might be your No. 1 pick. But personally, I can’t do musky or oud profiles. These scents can integrate marvelously with some guys’ natural oils, but not this guy.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Similar product offered as travel size
- Best hydrator on this list
- Overbearing scent even after rinse
- Higher price point
7. Anthony Conditioning Beard Wash
BEST MILD SCENT
Best For: Guys who only buy Made in USA, ingredient hawks and anybody named Anthony
Why We Chose It: Love the name (biased), but also because they clearly display what’s NOT in the formula online
- Cream-based beard wash
- Also a face cleanser
How cool would it be to use a product that shares your name? Move over, super mega-star, Jack Black, this one’s for me. Anthony skincare is all about personalizing skincare routines for every face and has been since 2000. Fortunately, they know that faces have beards sometimes.
Anthony’s Conditioning Beard Wash is the best beard wash for guys who care about ingredients but don’t care for strong scents. This cream-based beard wash works double-time to rid beards, as well as pores, of dirt and debris and condition at the same time. A little product goes a long way — surprising for a cream-based cleanser.
The scent is really something special. It’s best described as watered-down orange-flavor Tic Tac’s in the very best way possible and doesn’t have a lingering scent post-rinse.
The main downside, and what pushed this product down the list, is that a 6-ounce bottle costs $26, a far cry from the average price point for other beard washes. With that said, it does work wonderfully.
- Made in USA
- A little bit goes a long way
- Mild scent reminiscent of orange Tic Tacs
- Expensive AF
8. Viking Revolution Beard Wash
Best For: Guys who like to buy things in bulk — they offer a 17-ounce bottle.
Why We Chose It: By Odin’s beard, we had to try a brand made for Vikings that has almost 12,000 ratings on Amazon.
- 5-ounce (and up)
- Amazon favorite
- Sandalwood scented
Viking Revolution is a beard-first company that’s all about taming the beard that lives on your chin. One thing that sets this brand apart from others is that they offer a huge, 17-ounce bottle of beard wash at a slightly reduced rate, which nobody else seems to offer.
In our testing, this Amazon favorite proved to be a great basic beard wash. Faintly scented, this beard wash lathered nicely and did exactly what it said it would — soften and smooth. Although there was difficulty removing the foil seal on the bottle, we’re vouching for this option as one to consider, especially if you’re all about getting a great deal.
- Save money on larger bottle ($20 for 17 ounces)
- Small business
- Foil seal was hard to break in shower
9. Live Bearded Straight Up Unscented Natural Beard Wash
BEST FRAGRANCE OPTIONS
Best For: Guys who are into underground bands and like being the first to discover brands.
Why We Chose It: The boss said we needed to add it because he’s in love with it.
- Made in USA
- Water-based formula
Live Bearded makes all kinds of beard products — except shaving products. This brand is for guys who are seriously committed to their beards, and we recently named them one of our favorite indie grooming brands. The Live Bearded Straight Up Unscented Natural Beard Wash is accompanied by not one, not two, but six other scents. Per SPY’s Site Director, Tim Werth, this is the best beard wash he’s tried.
It’s gentle enough for everyday use while still thoroughly cleansing your beard without drying it out. It lathers up well for easy coverage and rinses cleanly too, leaving you with a much softer, fresher beard than you had before. The unscented wash is a great pick for those who prefer to add fragrance through another product, but Live Bearded also offers five different masculine fragrances too such as the American, which smells of cedar, pine, vetiver and bergamot.
- Made in USA
- Great lather
- Wide variety of scents
- Expensive per ounce
How to Wash a Beard
Guys scour the internet looking for tips on how to wash a beard when in reality, it’s simple.
First, determine how much beard wash you should use. Guys ask me this question frequently. From scruff to short lengths, use a dime-sized amount of beard wash, or roughly the size of your middle fingernail. For short to medium-length beards, it’s best to use a thumbnail-sized amount of beard wash. For long beards, it depends on the actual volume of hair you’re dealing with, but anything between James Harden and David Letterman deserves at least two thumbnails worth of beard wash, possibly more if it’s a dual conditioner or cream-based wash.
Now that you know how much to use, it’s as easy as getting your beard wet, lathering the appropriate amount into wet hands, and massaging into the beard from the chin back toward each jaw bone accordingly. After about 30 seconds, rinse it out and you’re done.
How We Reviewed the Best Beard Wash
Over two weeks, every shower we took was dedicated to journalistic research in hopes to determine the best beard wash. Yes, we’re now fighting for shelf space with our girlfriends, but it’s worth it to deliver the truth to our readers.
To find the best beard wash for men, we considered these factors:
Is it also a face wash? Some beard washes double as face washes. This can be convenient, but sometimes you sacrifice detangling qualities, as pure beard washes tend to include ingredients specifically for rugged hair.
What’s NOT in the ingredients? We scored higher for formulas that were free of parabens, sulfates, silicones, invasive oils, phthalates, synthetic colors and fragrances, among other nasty stuff.
Is it nice to animals? In 2022, our science is good enough to the point where we don’t need to test on animals, and in many cases, use animal products to design a great product. Yes, rendered animal fats have been used in soaps for centuries, but times change with better research.
How well does it lather? A good lather is important for optimal coverage. We did find that washes with cream or conditioner in them lathered less while providing a great wash, so we adjusted accordingly.
Is the beard softer? For beard washes that produced noticeably softed beards after a towel dry and once the beard was completely air dried, we scored those higher.
Does it keep your chin moisturized through the day? This is critical, as hydration helps fight flakes and itch. Some beard washes varied in effectiveness, but all achieved this basic need.
Why Trust SPY When Choosing the Best Beard Wash for You
Finding effective grooming products is one thing our team does best. We scour the internet and brick-and-mortar stores weekly looking for the best new and legacy brands to see if reviews and word-of-mouth praise hold true.
And if that doesn’t do it for you, just understand that bearded men tested, reviewed and wrote this. And we were pretty picky about it as well. We’ve used bad products before so finding the best beard wash wasn’t that difficult.
Aside from beards, SPY enjoys reviewing the rest of the men’s grooming space. Recently, we’ve 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Beard Wash
Washing a beard should be done anywhere from two to three times every week. It depends on the climate, how much you sweat and if you play in the mud or not. Pay attention to your skin and how itchy it is — you’ll know.
Yeah my guy — we’re working on the best beard conditioner review right now, but it’s a one-two punch. They work in tandem to cleanse and further hydrate both hair and skin. If you scroll up, Bulldog makes a nice 2-in-1 beard wash conditioner.
It depends on the formula. Some products contain ingredients that can be harsher on skin but totally fine for beard hair. It’s best to pay attention to the labels. Otherwise, ask the manufacturer.
Technically, yes — but we wouldn't recommend it. The best beard wash costs as little as $8 and is formulated specifically for facial hair and skin.
After testing dozens of beard wash products, the SPY team believes that Shea Moisture Beard Wash is the best overall option. A relative newcomer in the men's grooming space, this brand's popular beard wash is available for $10 via Amazon.
About the Author
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 entire beard regimen, developed over the last eight years. Otherwise, you can find him on Instagram looking flashy.