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The best beard oils, according to experts

Dermatologists and professional barbers sound off on what makes beard oil worth it.
Man touching his beard
Our experts say that great beard oil can replenish and rehydrate beards of any kind.Kara Birnbaum for NBC News

A beard can be the highlight of your everyday look. Whether it's a cropped goatee à la Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man” or a long, wizened mane like Dumbledore from “Harry Potter,” a beard can totally transform any look. Beards aren’t too hard to take care of, but a few tips and tricks can go a long way in keeping them healthy and stylish. Folks sporting a beard of any length can benefit from a quality beard trimmer, but that is not the only part of a healthy beard care routine — washing, combing and trimming are also vital. But what about beard hydration? Or beard softness? Enter, beard oil.

SKIP AHEAD How to shop for beard oil | The best beard oils | Tips on how to use beard oil

We spoke with dermatologists and professional hair stylists to better understand the benefits of beard oil, and get some of their personal recommendations. If you are curious about whether beard oil is right for you, read on.

What are the benefits of beard oil?

Beard oil is typically a serum made up of a combination of oils and other moisturizing ingredients aimed at hydrating skin and softening beard hair. “In general, beard oil will provide some key benefits including making your beard hair softer and easier to style, moisturizing the skin underneath your beard, and giving your beard a pleasant scent/fragrance [depending on the brand],” said Dr. William Huang, a board-certified dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “This will not only keep your beard looking great but also prevent dry, itchy skin underneath the beard.”

There are a few misconceptions when it comes to beard oil, however. “The biggest misconception I see is patients buying beard oil with the hope of it growing their beard hair,” said Dr. Nkem Ugonabo, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Derm in New York City. “Unfortunately, beard oils do not do much to promote hair growth, but I do like them for keeping the hair in that area moisturized and giving the hair a healthy sheen.” Dr. Ugonabo also noted that if you have acne-prone or oily skin, beard oils can potentially lead to more frequent breakouts.

How to shop for beard oil

According to our experts, beard oils are generally universal to all types of facial hair. But the products themselves can vary in thickness, ingredients and scent. All of our experts recommend finding a beard oil with plant-based oils such as jojoba, grapeseed, argan, or another plant-based oil. These “light and non-comedogenic oils” are “less likely to clog pores” according to Dr. Ugonabo. As for what ingredients to avoid, Dr. Huang cautioned against using any alcohol-based beard oil products with ingredients like isopropyl alcohol or propylene glycol because they can dry your skin.

The best beard oils

We spoke with experts about the benefits of beard oils, ingredients to look for, what to avoid and some of their personal recommendations. Below are a few of the beard oils they recommend, including products from Jack Black, SheaMoisture, Layrite and more.

Best overall beard oil: Jack Black

Jack Black Beard Oil

4.6-star average rating from 2,600 reviews on Amazon

Dr. Huang and Patrick Butler, the senior director of creative and technical education at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop, both recommended this beard oil from Jack Black, which contains a mix of botanical and fruit-based oils. “It has vitamins and antioxidants that help to reduce the itchiness that commonly occurs with having facial hair,” said Butler. At $28 for one ounce, this beard oil is one of the pricier options on this list, however.

Best thick beard oil: Layrite

Layrite Concentrated Beard Oil

4.8-star average rating from 900 reviews on Amazon

Butler recommended this thicker, more hydrating beard oil for anyone seeking to manage dense, coarse facial hair. “It has fantastic moisturizing ingredients such as sweet almond oil and soybean oil in addition to argan oil which help to add much needed moisture to your facial hair and skin,” said Butler.

Best affordable beard oil: SheaMoisture

Shea Moisture Beard Conditioning Oil

4.6-star average rating from 2,100 reviews on Amazon

Dr. Ugonabo recommended this beard oil from SheaMoisture. It’s formulated with a wide variety of plant-based oils, including grapeseed oil, sunflower seed oil, olive oil, castor oil and more to moisturize and revitalize skin and hair.It’s also relatively affordable compared to many other beard oil options. According to SheaMoisture, it’s manufactured in the US using globally sourced ingredients.

Best lightweight beard oil: Reuzel

Reuzel Clean and Fresh Beard Serum

4.6-star average rating from 52 reviews on Amazon

Butler recommended this beard oil from Reuzel as a lightweight option that’s easy to spread around facial hair of any length. It uses plant-based ingredients such as argan oil, apricot oil and shea butter, and carries a light citrus-mint scent, according to the brand. “I like the moisturizing quality on your skin as well, especially in dryer climates,” said Butler. Though this option is formulated with isopropyl palmitate, a derivative of isopropyl alcohol, which Dr. Huang said to typically avoid, Butler found it to be a great, light beard oil.

Tips on how to use beard oil

Beard oil can help keep your skin and facial hair healthy. When applied incorrectly, however, it can do more harm than good. “Just like any dermatologic product, it may take some trial and error before you find the right beard oil that works best for you,” said Dr. Huang.

All of our experts noted that, when it comes to beard oil, a little goes a long way. “You are purchasing a small bottle and there is a reason for that,” said Butler. A few drops or one simple pump is generally all that is necessary, especially for short to medium length beards.

There is some debate on using hair care products like shampoo and conditioner on beards. For daily care, the American Academy of Dermatology says any gentle cleanser you would use on your face is fine for facial hair. Butler and Dr. Huang both advised washing and drying your face before applying beard oil, and to work the product into your beard by gently spreading it with your fingers.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Dr. William Huang is a board-certified dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Dr. Nkem Ugonabo is a board-certified dermatologist at Union Derm.

Patrick Butler is the senior director of creative and technical education at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop.

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