beard oil bottle with dropper

Beard oils are usually all-natural mixtures of carrier oils and essential oils, and since they are topically applied to the beard and the skin underneath it, you could think that they couldn’t possibly cause any side effects…

Yet, this isn’t always the case.

There are many possible beard oil side effects that can take place and some of them are so harsh that they can make a beard oil do the exact opposite of what it should be doing.

“I have to mention that the dangerous side effects of beard oils are extremely rare – and good formulations are often meticulously tested before they’re released to the market.”

Still, there are many possible adverse reactions to beard oil that you might want to know about before you buy them. And no, it’s not only allergic reactions you have to be aware of but many other factors as well.

One quite common of them is that some beard oils on the market contain ingredients that can suppress your beard growth rate – and as ridiculous as it is, these ingredients linger even in some products that call themselves “beard growth oil“.

Ready to get started? Great. Let’s look at how safe beard oils really are. ↓

Beard Oil Side Effects You Should Know

Beard Oils Can Cause Allergic Reactions

beard oil allergic reaction

Even though beard oils are most of the time made from all-natural ingredients, it’s still possible to have an adverse allergic reaction to them.

There are hundreds of different carrier oils and essential oils used in the formulations these days, so the risk of being allergic to one or multiple of them is not even that rare.

The first time you test out a beard oil, start by applying a very small amount on your face and monitor if you see any of the classic allergy symptoms like chest tightness, itchy redness in eyes, feeling sick, swollen face (lips, tongue, eyes, face), hives, cough, or shortness of breath.

In most cases, the allergic reaction stems from nut oils used as carriers, or from the extremely potent and volatile essential oils that are used for scent purposes.

Some Beard Oils May Suppress Growth

facial hair follicle illustration

This is something that makes most beardsmen take a step back and say:

“Wait, what?!”

But the thing is that some ingredients used in beard oils have been proven to suppress the hormones (testosterone & DHT) that grow and regulate your facial hair growth

And this, in my opinion, is a notable side effect of beard oils and one of the least talked about issues in the beard industry

The worst oils for your beard hormones are the polyunsaturated vegetable, plant, and seed oils – Especially if they’re not balanced with monounsaturated and saturated oils.

Worst offenders being:

And anything that is high in volatile polyunsaturated fats – because these types of fatty acids can directly suppress DHT – a crucial beard growth hormone (source, source).

Some other beard oil ingredients relatively high in polyunsaturated fats would be sesame seed oil, hemp seed oil, canola oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Having one or two of these oils in your beard oil formulation is not the end of the world, but if the dropper-bottle is full of the above, then you might be really hurting the hormones that your beard desperately needs to grow.

Bad Formulations Cause Dry Skin and Dandruff

man with itchy beard

Okay, so the main benefit and use of beard oil are to moisturize, prevent beard itch, and reduce beard dandruff.

Yet, a poorly formulated beard oil has the side effect of doing the exact opposite.

How in the world does that happen you ask?

Well, the polyunsaturated fats I mentioned above, have long carbon-carbon chains in their structure, which makes them volatile and prone to oxidation (lipid peroxidation) when they’re exposed to light, oxygen, and heat.

Sadly, your face has all those three, and if your beard oil formulation is too heavy on the polyunsaturated fats without any balancing effects of less volatile oils and vitamin E, then lipid peroxidation will make sure that the oils go rancid on your skin and beard.

And when that happens, the oils harden up and start drying the face underneath your beard. This will result in itchiness and increased the production of beard dandruff.

The solution to this mess would simply be to use a beard oil with little to no polyunsaturated fats in it – and to make sure that there’s some vitamin E oil included in the formulation.

(vitamin E is a natural fat-soluble antioxidant which protects and preserves the volatile carrier and essential oils from going rancid).

If your favorite beard oil does not have vitamin E oil already in it, I suggest you go and buy a bottle. We have a full article about the great beard benefits of vitamin E oil here.

Or you could make your own DIY beard oil following some of our recipes (which we formulated to have very little of the volatile oils, and most also include the vitamin E oil).

Your Sensitivity to Sunlight May Increase

bearded surfer

There’s a handful of essential oils that have the side effect of increasing your skin’s photosensitivity.

What this means is that they increase the risk of sun damage (UV radiation) by reacting to the UV rays and making your skin absorb more of them than normal.

If you work outside, use tanning beds, or just go to the beach a lot, then making sure that you use beard oils that do not have the photosensitizing essential oils in them would be a key priority.

The common culprits include:

  • Angelica essential oil
  • Bergamot (bergaptene-free is fine)
  • Grapefruit essential oil
  • Citrus oils (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine)

According to Mayo Clinic, a pink or red rash, itching, burning sensation, and raised spots are all common symptoms of a phototoxic reaction caused by volatile essential oils.

Toxic Effects on Small Children and Pets

bearded father

Most beard oils contain powerful essential oils, which are primarily used for scent purposes.

Even though they are used in just drop amounts, they can still cause some severe side effects, especially to small children and pets if they come in contact with your beard oils using such ingredients.

To give you some examples of just how potent and powerful the essential oils are…

  • It takes 150lb of lavender flowers to make 1lb of lavender oil.
  • And 1000+ lb of roses to make just one pound of rose essential oil.
  • And about 250+lb of peppermint leaves to make just 1lb of peppermint oil.

When diluted down to a blend of carrier oils, most essential oils are completely fine…

But tea tree oil, even when diluted and in small amounts, can be very toxic to dogs and cats, even humans if we ingest it.

(which is why even the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that tea tree oil should not be used in or around the mouth).

In one study, lavender and tea tree oils were identified as extremely potent endocrine disruptors. The researchers theorized that they were so potent at suppressing young boys hormones that they contributed to their man-boobs growth.

The point being: Essential oils may be 100% natural, but they are extremely potent and volatile, and you ought to be careful with them. I don’t recommend using beard oils with tea tree oil or lavender for this exact reason, which sadly is more than half of the beard oils currently on the market!

Safest Beard Oil Ingredients to Start From

beard oil in open palm

The safest beard oil ingredients with the least possibility for developing side effects are the ester waxes like jojoba oil and meadowfoam seed oil.

For any anti-allergenic, anti-photosensitive, and beard hormone-safe beard oil recipe, they should be used as the primary carriers.

Some good examples would include this brand of organic jojoba oil and this brand of organic meadowfoam seed oil.

Next recommended beard oil ingredient would be vitamin E oil derived from wheat germ. This prevents the oxidation of volatile essential oils and carrier oils that are primarily polyunsaturated.

You can also use baby oil as beard oil, as most baby oils are 100% allergen-free (though keep in mind that baby oil might clog the pores).

Below is an example recipe for ultra-safe allergen-free beard oil. ↓

Recipe & Instructions

    • 1/2 oz. Organic jojoba oil
    • 1/2 oz. Meadowfoam seed oil
    • 5 drops Vitamin E oil
  1. Pour the carrier oils into a small measuring cup.
  2. Use a small funnel to pour them into a 1 oz dark glass bottle.
  3. Shake the bottle well and close the dropper-cap.
  4. You can use this recipe as the “perfect base” for scent testing.


By all means, I don’t want to fear-monger you into avoiding beard oils.

Just know that even though something is 100% natural, it doesn’t always translate to no side effects…

As many beard oil ingredients do in fact have side effects, and some volatile essential oils can be downright dangerous when used excessively or around kids and pets.

After reading this post, you should have a good basic understanding of what to look for when selecting beard oils and making your own.

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Ali is a published author and a beard grooming expert. To this date, his articles have been read more than 15-million times on various sites, and he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and grow thicker. His work has been featured and cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.