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Beard Balm vs Beard Butter: Which Should You Get?

You want to give your beard a little bit of TLC, but what product should you choose? In this beard balm vs beard butter comparison, I’ll help you understand the difference between these two beard-smoothing options. 

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What Is Beard Balm?

Beard balm is like a pomade for your beard. It’s usually quite thick, with a formula based on a mixture of waxes, oils, and plant butters. A beard balm’s main purpose is to help style the beard. The oils smooth down frizzy hair and the waxes shape unruly growth. They can also give the beard a bit of a sheen, which some men like. 

Sometimes, they can also serve a secondary purpose of moisturizing your beard and smoothing down its cuticle, to make the hair a little stronger and softer to the touch. 

Most beard balms contain no water, although there are some exceptions (and occasionally mismarketed products that should really be advertised as beard butters or beard creams). 

Who Should Use Beard Balm?

Beard balms are great for men who find that their beards can look very frizzy, messy, or wiry. They’re the ultimate beard styling product. 

A beard balm can fully help you reshape your beard without needing to trim it. After you apply beard balm, the wax in it cools down and creates a stiff layer around the hair. This helps control the shape of your beard, so you can achieve a super-groomed and neat look. 

If you find your beard can seem too large and wild, the balm can allow you to minimize the volume for a cleaner style. Small amounts of balm, on the other hand, can help you just lightly refine your style without necessarily seeming obvious. 

What Is Beard Butter?

Beard butter is usually more of a cream, and it works like a leave-in conditioner for the beard. It’s designed primarily to moisturize and soften the hair, but it can also have light styling benefits. 

Beard butters are made with oils and plant butters, but they usually don’t include any wax, so they don’t have any hold or significant taming effects. They can still smooth down the hair cuticle, which gives the beard a softer feel and a smoother appearance. 

Some beard butters are also made like creams or moisturizers, with water and emulsifiers added to the mix. These tend to have a lighter texture, and they can penetrate a little better into the beard, which provides deeper hydrating effects. 

Who Should Use Beard Butter?

Beard butter is great for men who want their beards to look and feel smoother, but they don’t want as much of a hold or shaping effect. If you like the shape of your beard and you don’t want it to look super neat or stiff, beard butter will probably suit you better than a balm. 

Because they usually don’t contain wax, beard butters can’t actually control how your facial hair lays or moves. The oils in beard butter tend to sink into the beard a little more quickly (especially if it’s a light formula with water), so they’re also less likely to leave as much of a sheen in your beard. 

Can I Use Beard Balm And Beard Butter Together?

Yes, although whether it’ll be beneficial really depends on the formulas. 

In general, I find that beard balms and beard butters can offer a similar level of nourishment and protection, so using both won’t necessarily give you better effects. It really depends on the actual products you buy. You may find the one beard balm that does it all, but when you switch to a new brand you may suddenly also want a beard butter.  

A lot of men like to use beard butter at night or after a shower, to condition their beard. Then, they use beard balm in the morning to style their facial hair. 

It’s worth mentioning that some formulas don’t play nicely together. You can end up with weird flakes in your beard because of the products mixing together and gumming up. It’s pretty rare, but it can happen if you mix up a very watery beard butter with a thick, oily balm. 

Beard Balm vs Beard Butter: Which Should You Get?

If a product contains a lot of wax and minimal water, it’s probably a balm. If there’s no wax to be seen and it looks like a cream, it’s probably a beard butter. 

Both are about equally nourishing to the beard, but beard balms offer stronger styling and taming. It’s better for men who feel that their beards look a little too messy and unruly, especially if you don’t have the time or skill to trim and reshape your beard.  

Beard butter will nourish your beard without making it look overly-shaped, and usually without giving it much of a sheen at all. If you’re mostly happy with the shape and look of your beard, and you just want to keep it looking smooth and healthy, beard butter will work better for you. 

Keep in mind that just because the package says “beard butter” or “beard balm,” you’re better off turning it around and glancing at the ingredient list. These terms aren’t consistent, and a lot of brands sell balms that I would call butters and vice versa.

Miles is a professional men's grooming analyst who believes that to look good a man just needs to take good care of himself. He’s all about wet shaving, sustainability, and evidence-based grooming - an obsession he’s ready to share. Miles is known for his in-depth analysis of men's grooming products, brands, and best practices you can't find anywhere else.