Looking at the selection of beard care products, it can get really overwhelming, really fast. There’s beard oil, beard balms, beard waxes, beard shampoos/soaps…
Two products in particular that beginner beardsmen often get confused about are the beard balm and beard wax.
“They both come in similar looking and same size tins, and the look of the contents is extremely similar.”
Even worse, some smaller manufacturers are so confused themselves that they randomly call their balms waxes and their waxes balms, completely disorienting their customers and showcasing their utter lack of knowledge about beard care.
Are beard waxes and beard balms just the same thing with a different name and which should you be using anyway? Can you use both at the same time or is that just a waste of time?
Fret not my bearded friend. I’m going to explain to you exactly what it is that separates beard wax from beard balm – and yes, the difference is indeed very marginal. ↓
Beard Balm and Beard Wax are Very Similar
Beard waxes and balms not only look similar, but also come in similar size tins, and are priced at about the same level.
And when you look at the ingredients, it’s usually almost exactly the same stuff in both of them.
- You got the basic carrier oils like jojoba oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, olive oil, sunflower seed oils, and many others.
- Then you got the usual essential oils which are used for scent such as peppermint oil, balsam fir oil, cedarwood oil, and so forth.
- Of course, you also have the nut and tropical fruit kinds of butter like shea butter, cacao butter, and anything similar.
- And then there’s beeswax and/or lanolin as well, which gives the balms and waxes their thicker and harder consistency in comparison to beard oils.
So if the tin size, price, ingredients, and look of the product is the same, what really is the difference between beard balm and beard wax?
Answer: The ratio of the ingredients, which completely changes the primary use of each of the products.
Beard Wax Offers Hold and Styling Benefits
If you didn’t know by now, food packaging, supplements, and even beard care products order their ingredient list in a way that it goes from the most used ingredient first, to the least used ingredient at dead last.
And if you look at the ingredients in a beard wax tin, you can find beeswax or lanolin early in there, which means that it’s the primary ingredient. Whereas the carrier oils and butter come in later, being the secondary ingredients.
Having a high amount of wax in the formulation gives beard waxes a much stronger hold than you can get from using beard balm, but less of the nourishing oils.
This means that the primary use of beard wax is to tame and style your beard, with the secondary use being beard care and moisturization.
Beard Balm is Softer and More Nourishing
Now take a look at the ingredients in a beard balm.
It’s the same stuff, but the beeswax or lanolin will be somewhere in the middle or closer to the end of the ingredient list. Whereas the carrier oils, shea butter, etc come in first.
By formulating the product this way, it will be much softer and provide better moisturizing and hydrating benefits.
And since there is some wax in the balms, it will also help you tame and style the beard, but this is only the secondary benefit and the hold is much less intense than with beard waxes.
The primary use of beard balm is to moisturize, protect, and nourish the beard hairs and the skin underneath, not so much to help with your beard styling.
To summarize the above:
The difference between beard waxes and beard balms is in the ratio of the ingredients.
Beard waxes have a higher amount of beeswax and lanolin, which gives them good hold and styling benefits. Beard balms have a lower amount of beeswax and lanolin, but a higher amount of carrier oils, which gives it better moisturizing benefits.
Use beard wax for styling and taming the beard, and beard balm for moisturizing and protecting the facial hair.
Should you be using them both at the same time?
Not really. I would recommend using either one, depending on which is more important to you; the hold or moisturizing benefits.