On the surface, it may seem like beard oil is a complicated mixture of ingredients that are hard to source and difficult to blend in the right amounts.
But once you get to understand the key facts behind each and every beard oil ingredient, you begin to realize how easy it is to actually make your own DIY beard oils and save hundreds every year.
When you look at the big picture, any bottle consists of just three main groups of beard oil ingredients.
- The carrier oils
- The essential oils
- And the preservatives
The carrier oils are the “base” in which everything else is built into, and they also provide the bulk of the beard oils moisturizing benefits.
Essential oils are primarily used for scent, and since they’re extremely potent and volatile, they have to be diluted into a carrier oil.
To summarize the big picture: Beard oil ingredients consist of carrier oil (provides bulk of the moisturizing benefits), essential oils (which are primarily used for scent purposes), and preservatives (natural antioxidants that extend shelf-life and protect the less-stable oils).
But now, let’s break down all of the main ingredients of beard oil to understand what they are and how they work. ↓
Carrier Oils Used in Beard Oils
Carrier oils make the base of any beard oil blend. Either one oil can be used or multiple ones can be blended in together.
The secondary reason for carrier oil use is to make it safe to include the essential oils (which are the secondary beard oil ingredients used to give the oils their scent).
Without dilution, the volatile essential oils would burn and not be safe to use topically, but when correctly diluted into a carrier oil, most of them are safe to use.
Note that unscented beard oils only contain carrier oils, as the essential oils that are used mainly for their aroma, are simply not needed.
Below is a big list of the most commonly used carrier oils and the unique pros and cons they come with. ↓
Many have said that jojoba oil is the best carrier oil choice for beard oils, and I have to agree.
It’s light and anti-comedogenic, which means that it doesn’t make your beard look greasy, and it absorbs quickly into the skin and beard fibers.
It also has some natural iodine in it, which has an antiseptic effect.
Jojoba oil has virtually no aroma, which makes it ideal as a carrier of unscented beard oils (or for a base to scent experimentation). You could even just use pure jojoba oil as a beard oil substitute and call it a day.
The best part is that as a wax-ester, it’s extremely shelf-stable and not prone to lipid-peroxidation (oxidation of fatty acids).
Castor oil is another popular beard oil ingredient. It contains a high number of monounsaturated fatty acids by the name of ricinoleic acid.
What makes castor oil unique is its thickness. It’s super thick and downright greasy if used alone, which is why you should always mix it into a lighter carrier oil like jojoba oil.
Castor oil has a relatively good shelf-life and since there are only small amounts of polyunsaturated fats in its composition, it’s not going to go rancid easily.
Coconut oil is the most stable beard oil ingredient of them all. As it’s mostly comprised of saturated fatty acids, it really does not oxidize and go rancid unless exposed to extreme heat.
There’s also a study where it was shown that coconut oil was extremely effective in hydrating the deep skin layers, and due to its low molecular weight, it was able to permeate the hair fibers and nourish them from within, unlike most heavier carrier oils.
You may have noticed that in room temperature, coconut oil is solid. It has a melting point of 76°F (24°C) so simply rubbing it between your palms will make it liquid.
Argan oil is sometimes called liquid gold. This highly-priced oil is the main commodity of Morocco, and the cosmetics industry loves it due to its great benefits as light and emollient carrier oil.
It’s mainly comprised of monounsaturated fatty acids, with a few polyunsaturated fats in it as well. This gives castor oil a decent shelf-stability, but not as great as jojoba oil, castor oil, or coconut oil have.
If you’d have me explain its viscosity and consistency, then I’d say it’s like a light version of olive oil.
Sweet Almond Oil
Almond oil is perhaps the second most used beard oil ingredient right on the heels of jojoba oil.
Although it’s light, extremely quick to absorb, and pleasant to work with, it’s not my favorite carrier oil to use.
This is because it has quite a high number of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in its structure, and PUFAs are volatile and easily go rancid when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen (your face and beard has all three).
Almond oil is fine to use if it’s balanced with more stable carrier oils and a natural antioxidant preservative (like vitamin E oil), but if it’s used as a sole carrier oil or it’s the main carrier oil, then that’s really not something I’d use.
Grape Seed Oil
Grapeseed oil has similar benefits to almond oil – namely lightness and quick absorption rate – and it’s quite a popular beard oil ingredient too.
However, since it’s rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids as well, you have to be really careful to combine it with more stable carrier oils and always use a natural antioxidant to keep it from going rancid.
Like almond oil, it’s not my top choice for a carrier oil, although it’s fine to use when correctly balanced and protected.
Your best bet would be to actually mix olive oil into a light carrier oil like jojoba. This would allow you to enjoy the moisturizing benefits while also cutting the heaviness of the oil down.
There’s also some natural vitamin E in olive oil, which can help stabilize and protect more volatile carrier oils and essential oils. Olive oil in itself is relatively stable.
Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Meadowfoam seed oil is a rarely used carrier oil, though it’s easily one of the best ones.
As a wax ester, it’s structurally similar to jojoba oil and blends perfectly with it. There’s also no big risk of meadowfoam seed oil going rancid since there are almost no polyunsaturated fatty acids in its structure.
Meadowfoam seed oil is light and emollient, has no scent, and easily belongs to the top three of beard oil ingredients on my list.
Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower oil is commonly used as a carrier oil in beard oils. Why? Primarily because it’s so cheap.
Although there’s some natural vitamin E in it, it’s also chock-full of the volatile omega-6 linoleic acid, which as a polyunsaturated fatty acid is prone to lipid-peroxidation.
In other words, if not rancid already in the bottle, sunflower seed oil will quickly oxidize on your face when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen.
Would I recommend it? No. It’s like a shittier version of almond oil, and almond oil itself is not very good carrier oil.
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil is a commonly used carrier oil, and the primary reason for that is its low price.
It suffers from the same issues as sunflower seed oil, as it’s high in volatile polyunsaturated fats, which are definitely not the ideal choice for the use on face and beard.
Also in that same study where coconut oil was shown to be an amazing moisturizer that penetrated the hair fibers, sesame oil was tested as well. It was not able to penetrate the hairs, and it wasn’t too good of a moisturizer either.
Essential Oils Used in Beard Oils
Essential oils are extremely potent but also volatile oils extracted from various flowers, fruits, leaves, plants, and trees.
The primary use of them is to give scent to the beard oils, but there are also some other benefits such as antibacterial and antimicrobial effects.
Scent-wise, essential oils can be categorized into 3 groups:
- Top notes (light, fresh, uplifting, scent evaporates fast).
- Middle notes (warm & soft aroma, a bit more lasting scent).
- Base notes (heavy oils with a strong fragrance, scent lasts long).
Essential oils are usually diluted down into carrier oils with drop amounts, something like 1-10 drops per 1 oz (30ml) of carrier oil.
The reason for that is the incredibly high potency of the essential oils. To give you an idea; it takes 250lb of peppermint leaves to produce just 1lb of the peppermint essential oil.
If you were to apply pure essential oils into your beard, the scent would be overbearing, your skin would burn, and with some oils, that would be borderline dangerous.
“So always dilute your essential oils into carrier oils, or don’t use them at all if you’re not sure.”
Beard oil manufacturers usually know what they’re doing, so you don’t have to worry about their essential oil use, but when doing DIY beard oils, you can never bee too safe.
Below is a list of some of the most common essential oils used in beard oils, with their scent profiles, and various other benefits and negatives. ↓
Sweet Orange Oil
The sweet orange oil is a light and very mild essential oil that has an absolutely amazing scent.
You will typically need to use multiple drops of it per each dropper bottle of carrier oil to get any noticeable aroma from it, and even when you do, it dissipates quickly.
Which is sad, since sweet orange essential oil and most of the other citrus essential oils (lime, lemon, tangerine, etc) are some of the best beard oil ingredients when it comes to the scent.
NOTE: Orange oil and most other citrus-based essential oils have a side effect of being photosensitive, which is a fancy way of saying that they can make UV rays more permeable to the skin, and thus increase the sun damage if you wear them outside on a sunny day.
Peppermint essential oil (PEO) has a fresh minty scent that is more potent and longer-lasting than what most other top note essential oils have.
When applied topically to the beard area in 3% dilution, it may stimulate hair follicles and enhance growth – at least according to a rodent study here.
However, you should avoid ingesting peppermint oil as it can actually suppress your beard growth when consumed orally. This is because oral PEO may lower testosterone levels, which is a hormone that triggers and regulates facial hair growth.
Peppermint oil can also have some additional anti-dandruff benefits for your beard as it was seen in this study to be effective against most gram-negative bacteria (along with orange and lemongrass essential oils).
Bottom line: Peppermint oil is a nice and fresh beard oil ingredient that could even help your facial hair growth a bit. However, you should make sure to not accidentally ingest it as it has a completely different effect once consumed orally.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil) is an extremely popular beard oil ingredient. Most big brands use it and absolutely praise it.
However, when looked at more closely, it’s claimed anti-bacterial benefits are actually not that impressive, and according to a study published in the Endocrine Society, some chemicals in it are endocrine-disruptors (even in minuscule amounts).
Meaning that it likely suppresses the androgenic hormones that trigger and regulate your beard growth. Yet, mind you, it’s one of the most commonly used ingredients in beard oils (and some brands using it even claim it could help with growth!)
It’s also uniquely toxic to pets, and some governmental agencies actually recommend it “not to be used close to the mouth in humans” (now, where is your beard exactly?).
Bottom line: Tea tree oil is the most popular essential oil ingredient in beard oils, but possibly the most harmful one at the same time.
Bergamot oil (Citrus Bergamia) is as the Latin name implies, a type of citrus essential oil, but the twist is that it’s extracted from the rinds of the oranges.
It’s a favorite of many beardsmen, and if you have ever enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey tea, you are already familiar with the scent, as bergamot gives it the distinctive flavor.
There’s also a compound in bergamot oil called “Bergapten” which is phototoxic in a way that it increases your skin’s sensitivity towards the UV damage of the sun.
This is rarely an issue in beard oils though, as most respectable brands already use bergapten-free bergamot oils as ingredients.
The favorite food of Koalas (Eucalyptus leaves) is used to produce eucalyptus essential oil.
It has a very distinctive and quite potent scent for a top-note essential oil, which is why many brands choose to include it as an aromatic ingredient in their beard oils.
However, it’s not an ingredient I would personally use nor recommend…
You see, eucalyptus oil contains the same endocrine-disrupting compounds that tea tree oil does (eucalyptol, 4-terpineol, d-limonene, and alpha-terpineol.) which could mean that it too may suppress your facial hair growth rate.
That enough should be a good reason not to use eucalyptus oil anywhere near your facial hair. Yet, countless brands gloss over this fact.
Bottom line: Under the nice scent of eucalyptus essential oil, hides a potentially beard suppressing risk of hormone suppressing compounds. In my opinion, there are safer essential oils out there for beard use.
Lavender essential oil is a popular beard oil ingredient. While it does have a feminine floral scent, it can sometimes complement some of the stronger base-notes.
There are some risks associated with using lavender oil in beard oils, primarily the fact that the same study which found tea tree oil to be an effective suppressant for the androgenic beard growing hormones, also mentioned lavender essential oil as another culprit.
Solely because of that reason, I try to refrain from using or recommending any beard products that are scented with lavender.
Balsam Fir Needle Oil
Fir needle essential oil has a strong foresty scent, as you can probably imagine.
Not only does it have a masculine scent, but there’s also some research suggesting that when few drops of it are consumed orally (inside of a gelatin capsule) it can increase testosterone levels.
This suggests that balsam fir needle oil could be androgenic, which is something you rarely hear about in beard oils.
Considering that the facial hair is androgenic-hair, this can only be a good thing for your beard’s growth and health.
There are a couple of different varieties of spruce essential oils (black spruce, blue spruce, etc).
And while this essential oil is one of the more expensive ones, it too has been studied for its testosterone boosting effect (the link above mentions it).
That makes it a great beard oil ingredient for sure, and the masculine foresty scent is just another plus to its repertoire.
As a middle-note, you can expect the aroma to last quite a while, and usually, just a couple of drops to a 1 oz dropper bottle of carrier oil will be enough.
Need a masculine woodsy-smelling essential to use as a beard oil ingredient?
Then look no further than cedarwood essential oil.
Extracted from the needles, bark, and berries of the hardwood tree, cedarwood can be found in many men’s shampoos, colognes, deodorants, and of course; in beard oils.
There are no big health risks or hormone suppressing side effects to cedarwood oil. It’s mild antiseptic and anti-fungal effects could also help you in reducing beard dandruff too.
Sandalwood is a great hardwood material to make a beard comb out of, and if you’ve ever owned one, you already know how ridiculously amazing it smells like.
Well, it can also be used as an aromatic ingredient in beard oils; the cold-pressed essential oil that is.
There are no known harmful side effects to it, and as a base-note, the scent will last a long time and you typically only need to apply a drop or two to a full dropper bottle of carrier oil.
Patchouli is a plant from the nettle family. The essential oil extracted from it is commonly used in colognes, deodorants, and beard oils.
It has a really unique dark and musky scent that you either love or hate.
If you’re a fan of earthy scents, then this “hippy” essential oil is definitely something to try in your beard oils.
Frankincense is a really strong base-note essential oil derived from the rosin of the Boswellia Sacra tree.
It has an extremely masculine and dark scent profile that lingers on your beard for a long time after use, and typically just a drop or two is enough to scent a bottle of beard oil.
Since the essential oils oxidize very easily, and the same is true for polyunsaturated carrier oils, many beard oil manufacturers choose to use natural antioxidant preservatives in their products.
The two main ones are vitamin E oil (a fat-soluble antioxidant) which is extremely effective at preventing the volatile oils from oxidizing…
And vitamin C (a water-soluble antioxidant) which is far less potent in preventing oils from going rancid, as it’s water-soluble.
Below is a quick rundown of these two oils and how they work to preserve other beard oil ingredients from “lipid peroxidation”. ↓
Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol)
The best choice for preserving and stabilizing any kind of fatty acids and oils has to be tocopherol (vitamin E).
After all, it’s the primary fat-soluble antioxidant, which works to protect the volatile essential oils and polyunsaturated carrier oils from going rancid.
Sure, having the oil in a dark glass bottle, closed, and out of the light will help, but there’s really no substitute for good vitamin E oil, especially at the moment when the oil comes out of the bottle.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Sometimes you can also see ascorbic acid (vitamin C) used as a preservative in beard oils.
Sure, it too is an antioxidant, but as a water-soluble vitamin, it does a worse job at protecting the fats and oils from oxidative damage.
Therefore I would always choose vitamin E oil over ascorbic acid as a beard oil preservative ingredient.
How to Mix Carrier Oil with Essential Oils
Mixing beard oil ingredients together, aka. mixing essential oils into the carrier oil base is as simple as this…
- Fill a dropper bottle with carrier oils.
- Add in a few drops of essential oils.
- Close the cap and give it a shake.
How much and what oils to mix depends a lot on your personal preference and goals, but most commonly the essential oils will be diluted into a 1-5% dilution.
“Typically top notes require a higher potency dilution than base notes, and middle notes are somewhere in between.”
To help you in your calculations; below is an essential oil dilution chart where we assume that you are using a basic 1 oz (30ml) dropper bottle filled with carrier oils to mix your essential oils into.
|Drops of Essential Oil||Dilution % for 1 oz of Carrier Oil|
|6 Drops||1% Dilution|
|12 Drops||2% Dilution|
|18 Drops||3% Dilution|
|24 Drops||4% Dilution|
|30 Drops||5% Dilution|
The math above is simple; a 1 oz (30ml) dropper bottle – when filled – contains roughly 600 drops of carrier oil. 1% of that would be 6 drops, 2% would be 12, and so on…
But like I said, your best guide in mixing the essential oils for scent when making beard oil is simply through trial, testing, and error.
I hope this article clarified the uses and importance of each and every beard oil ingredient out there.
From carrier oils to essential oils and preservatives, you should now master the art of understanding what exactly is beard oil and what is it made of.
Hey, perhaps you could even start making your own, or even potentially set up shop to sell them.
What’s stopping you? All you need are dropper bottles, carrier oils in bulk, and some essential oils, and of course, bearded fellows to sell the finished oils.