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Best beard oils to soften and groom your facial hair

Whether you’ve got stubble or a hipster beard, your whiskers will stay well hydrated with these formulas

Lee Kynaston
Friday 21 July 2023 17:40 BST
<p>We tested on a medium-length beard and looked out for how the oils felt – and smelt – on both hair and skin </p>

We tested on a medium-length beard and looked out for how the oils felt – and smelt – on both hair and skin

Our Top Picks

If you’ve ever grown a beard, you’ll know they’re a lot like kids: unruly, unpredictable and occasionally misbehaved. That’s the downside. The upside is that, just like kids, beards thrive when you show them a little love and affection.

Packed with all kinds of goodies, formulated oils have long been the secret weapon behind many a dewy complexion, but they’re also key to keeping your whiskers looking – and smelling – their best. “Beard oils are useful because they nourish and hydrate the hair and also the skin underneath,” says Nicholas Taylor, director of barbershop  TaylorTaylor in Sheffield.

Not only will using one help facial hair look, feel and smell better (a big plus, given that beards are notorious crumb catchers), it’ll also minimise the risk of annoying beard itch, too – which is especially handy if you’re growing one for the first time or have stubble as tough as copper wire. Softening the hairs with beard oil makes things a little more comfortable for your partner too, helping them to avoid the dreaded “pash rash”.

Most beard oils are blended with an array of ingredients that not only soften and condition hair but help moisturise the skin beneath. That’s important, because facial hair wicks moisture away from the surface of the skin – leaving it dry and flaky – and your beard prone to “beardruff” (yes, it is a thing).

To get the most out of your oil, Taylor suggests applying three to five drops to freshly washed, slightly damp facial hair (that way it’ll lock in moisture), massaging it in with your fingertips to ensure it not only coats the beard but also reaches the skin beneath. “Work the oil into the beard with a downward motion or use a beard comb to help distribute it evenly if your beard is long and thick,” he says. For extra conditioning, apply a little more at night, an hour or so before bed.

How we tested

Road-tested on a medium-length beard, each oil was applied throughout the course of the day, with fragrance, conditioning qualities and ease of use all taken into consideration. How each oil made facial hair – and the skin beneath – feel and smell was paramount but, as ever, we had a beady eye on value for money, too. 

The best beard oils for 2023 are:

  • Best beard oil overall – Bulldog original beard oil: £3.50,
  • Best 2-in-1 beard oil – Elemis smooth result shave and beard oil: £24,
  • Best beard oil for travel – Gruum leif beard oil: £5,
  • Best luxury beard oil – Le Labo beard oil: £54,
  • Best beard oil for growth – Sweyn Forkbeard growth oil unscented: £23.95,

Bulldog original beard oil

Bulldog .jpg
  • Best: Beard oil overall
  • Fragrance free : No
  • Size : 30ml

Proof that money doesn’t always buy you a better product, Bulldog’s original beard oil offers the best bang for your buck (or beard) of all the oils we tried. Good value for money, it also performed excellently and the subtle fragrance is good, too.

The addition of aloe vera (to soothe skin and condition hair) and antioxidant green tea extract (with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties) makes this oil a brilliant buy.

  1. £3 from
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Tom Ford oud wood conditioning beard oil

Tom ford .jpg
  • Best: Luxury beard oil
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 30ml

Infused with the immaculately groomed Texan’s signature oud wood fragrance, this high-shine, luxury beard oil will have your beard smelling upmarket and designery in no time.

What you pay for in this particular beard conditioner isn’t the oils (it contains the grape seed, almond and jojoba oil trio found in many other beard oils) but the best-selling designer fragrance, which is warm, woody and spicy. It offers a completely different way to wear the fragrance, and Ford fans will be pleased to know that the oil is also available in “tobacco vanille” and “f***ing fabulous” fragrance variants.

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Heath beard oil

Heath beard oil.png
  • Best: For spot-prone skin
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 30ml

While most beard oils stick to a fairly predictable list of ingredients, Heath’s formula does something a bit different by throwing salicylic acid into the mix. Used in most blemish-busting products for its exfoliating properties, this gentle acid helps to keep pores and hair follicles free of the grease, grime and dead skin cells that can help cause spots and ingrown hairs. It’s a clever addition and one that makes this beard oil particularly good for guys with spot-prone skin, or for those who suffer from ingrown hairs in the early stages of beard growing.

A light, slightly minty fragrance makes it refreshing, and its non-oily texture earned it another thumbs-up from us.

  1. £11 from
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Elemis smooth result shave and beard oil

Elemis .jpg
  • Best: 2-in-1 beard oil
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 30ml

The perfect multifunctional grooming oil, this lightweight 2-in-1 shave and beard oil features a blend of nourishing oils (hazelnut, jojoba and grapeseed) along with antioxidant-rich rosehip.

These all-natural ingredients make the oil perfect for conditioning whiskers but also for shaving around the beard line, where its transparency allows you to see where you’re shaving. It has a subtle minty fragrance, too, making it one of the more refreshing oils we tried.

  1. £24 from
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Gruum leif beard oil

Grüum ‘leif’ beard oil.png
  • Best: Beard oil for travel
  • Fragrance free : No
  • Size: 50ml

Featuring 100 per cent naturally derived ingredients, this lightweight, vegan-friendly beard oil uses argan and jojoba oils to keep facial fuzz smooth and silk. It also has a delicious but unobtrusive combo of orange and rosemary oils to leave your whiskers smelling fresh.

We gave this oil extra points for its generous size (50ml), the cool slimline bottle design and secure plastic cap (making it perfect for travel), and for the fact it has a pump dispenser, which makes measuring out a cinch. The brand might sound Scandinavian but they’re actually British – they just dig Scandi chic.

  1. £10 from
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Le Labo beard oil

Le Labo beard oil.png
  • Best: Luxury beard oil
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 60ml

New York-based fragrance house Le Labo has a reputation for producing amazing luxury perfumes and grooming products, so the quality of this plant-based bear oil is pretty much as you would expect: exceptional.

Ironically, it’s the scent that plays a back seat here (it’s a surprisingly unobtrusive blend of fresh and aromatic bergamot, lavender, violet and tonka bean) to the conditioning oils and – dare we be so shallow – the uber-cool apothecary-style bottle. A word of warning, though: said bottle has a wide opening, so take extra care when pouring into your palms.

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Horace tobacco and vanilla beard oil

Horace tobacco & vanilla beard oil.png
  • Best: Beard oil for date nights
  • Fragrance free : No
  • Size: 30ml

After a beard oil that makes your facial fuzz smell sweet and sexy? Then look no further than this tobacco and vanilla number. Made with 99 per cent ingredients of a natural origin and featuring nourishing castor oil from Jamaica, this heady formula has a creamy, gourmand smell that’s sensual and almost edible.

It lasts a fair while on the beard, too, which is always the mark of well-formulated fragranced oil. The Horace range also offers “patchouli and cedarwood” and “lemon and mint” variants, but this “tobacco and vanilla” one is by far the sexiest.

  1. £13 from
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Adam grooming atelier daily beard oil

Adam .jpg
  • Best: For oily skin
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 30ml

If how a beard oil looks on your bathroom shelf is as important as how it makes your beard look, this luxury oil – housed in a cool frosted-green glass bottle – is for you.

Like the other oils tested, it’s designed to keep facial hair soft and silky, but it also contains cedarwood oil to help regulate production of sebum (the skin’s natural oil), so is especially good if you suffer from greasy skin. The smell is old-school masculine, too – think tobacco, leather and woods.

  1. £20 from
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Daimon Barber beard and stubble softener

Daimon Barber beard & stubble softener.png
  • Best: Beard oil for stubble
  • Fragrance free : No
  • Size : 100ml

More like a moisturiser than a traditional oil, this beard and stubble softener is designed to be as good for skin as it is for stubble, which explains why it’s packed with skin-friendly avocado oil and soothing aloe vera. Another goodie in this oil’s arsenal is Kahai oil, which contains 50 per cent more nourishing vitamins than the argan oil often used in beard and hair conditioners.

We especially liked the fact that you can apply this oil liberally to shorter stubble without your face feeling greasy or sticky (if anything, it makes skin and hair feel silky) and the subtle oud and Egyptian mallow fragrance. At 100ml, it’s generously sized, too.

  1. £26 from
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Aesop shine hair and beard oil

Aesop .jpg
  • Best: For thick, course beards
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 25ml

With more beard-supporting ingredients than just about any other oil we tried, this luxurious, silicone-free formula contains a plethora of nourishing oils, including borage oil, which is packed full of hair-friendly fatty acids.

This oil softens, nourishes and smooths, without being greasy, and thanks to the addition of bergamot, jasmine and bitter orange oils, it also has one of the best – and longest-lasting – fragrances of all the oils we tried. Can be used to give shine to the hair on your head, too.

  1. £25 from
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King C Gillette beard oil

king c .jpg
  • Best: Beard oil for beginners
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size: 30ml

Formulated with no less than 10 individual oils – each performing a slightly different function but all leading to a glossy, healthy beard – this conditioner is a beard basic anyone can buy with confidence.

Key to its performance is argan oil – famed for its ability to nourish and soften hair, which makes it especially good for first-timers hoping to minimise the itch. The oil’s infused with a long-lasting retro scent featuring woods and spices, too.

  1. £5 from
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Sweyn forkbeard beard growth oil unscented

Sweyn .jpg
  • Best: Beard oil for growth
  • Fragrance free: Yes
  • Size: 30ml

A slightly different kind of beard oil from the others, we road-tested this fragrance-free formula, which is designed more as a treatment than a straightforward beard conditioner.

It features oils (all 100 per cent organic) designed to feed the hair follicles and improve blood circulation to your whiskers – the idea being that this helps stimulate growth and, over time, increase beard thickness.

It also has the best brand name of all the oils here. (Sweyn was the first Viking King of England and Canute’s dad, in case you were wondering.)

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Mr Natty beard elixir

mr natty .jpg
  • Best: Classic beard oil
  • Fragrance free: No
  • Size : 20ml

If anyone knows about how to fuss over face furniture, it’s master barber Matthew Raine, whose Mr Natty oils have been keeping men’s beards looking their best since 2009.

This beard elixir is the brand’s signature product and you can see why: it’s rich and conditioning, and a little goes a long way. It’s also infused with three of the most popular ingredients in men’s fragrances – vetiver, patchouli and bergamot – along with a hint of pine for freshness, which help make it the no-brainer of beard oils.

  1. £6 from
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Beard oils FAQs

What is beard oil?

Beard oil is intended to moisturise and hydrate the facial hair and skin underneath your beard. Often the formulas comprise two core ingredients – a carrier oil, which that makes up the bulk of the product, and essential oils, which generate the scent.

What are the benefits of beard oil?

There are a number of benefits of beard oil. Firstly, it nourishes and hydrates the hair and skin underneath the whiskers. Why is this important? Because in order for the hair to grow, it often draws on the moisture from your skin (leaving it dry and irritated), and as the beard grows, this gets harder to do and the hair can become brittle. Beard oil can also prevent dandruff and tame flyaway hairs, while scented oils will keep you smelling good.

How to apply beard oil

Applying beard oil is easy – simply apply a few drops into the palm of your hands and rub together before massaging onto the beard and face, working into the root. If you have a longer beard, you may want to use a beard brush or comb to ensure even application. Don’t overdo it, though, or you’ll overload the beard and it’ll feel greasy.

Can you use beard oil on stubble?

Yes, you can use beard oil on stubble – a little bit goes a long way, so we’d suggest using just one or two drops in the early days, increasing as your beard grows.

How often should you apply beard oil?

To keep your beard in tip-top condition, apply every morning after washing or showering (the warmth of the water will help absorption). If you’ve particularly thick growth or simply fancy a refresh, apply a little more later in the day. A couple of times a day is usually plenty.

The verdict: Beard oils

The great thing about beard oils is that their affordability means you can experiment with several before hitting on one you love as much as your beard does. Bulldog’s original beard oil is certainly a great place to start, though Tom Ford’s conditioning beard oil is the biz for beards if you’ve a little more money to spend. We highly rated Jos original beard serum roll-on, too – not only for its novel approach to application and excellent conditioning properties but for its superb scent.

Looking for more men’s beauty recommentations? We’ve rounded up the best men’s anti-ageing creams

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