A beard-grooming enthusiast who writes about beard products, styling and other related facial hair trivia who also sports a beardstache.
What is the difference between beard balm and beard butter? This is a common question that gets asked because really when analysing beard balm vs beard butter, there really is very little difference, at least on the surface. They pretty much incorporate the same ingredients as well as produce the same outcomes, at least to an extent.
There is, however, one key aspect that you need to look out for when comparing the two beard grooming products, as they are actually sometimes rather different.
Here we are going to cover the following:
- What is beard balm?
- What is beard butter?
- How the ingredients differ
- Where the real differences lie between them
- What are the benefits of using them?
- How to apply both effectively
Let's find out more about beard balm vs beard butter below.
What is a Beard Butter?
Primarily a beard butter is a conditioning product to help keep your beard mositurised, nourished and feeling fresh. Very much like a beard oil in a lot of respects, however, just a more solid version that you can apply throughout and deeply into your beard.
It often gets referred to a deep leave in beard conditioner that adds moisture into the beard (aiding the natural serums that reside there) as well as helps to lock them throughout the day. Find out more details about what beard butter does.
What is a Beard Balm?
A beard balm is quite a broad name for a beard product that can undertake a range of different tasks. And you can argue that a beard butter could be classed to go within the beard butter family.
You get two main types of beard balm, you get the conditioning beard balms as well as the beard styling balms.
- Beard conditioning balm — very much like the beard butter, it is primarily meant to act like a leave in conditioner — although typically has a lesser proportion of butters and more wax.
- Beard styling balm — these sets of balms have an ever higher wax proportion and are closer to the beard wax family than the beard butter one.
As you can see from the above, when describing the two products, they are incredibly similar.
The only real difference to note is that some beard balms can be considered more of a styling product and will offer you more of a hold than a beard butter will.
That said, a standard beard balm, that is considered a conditioning product does tend to offer more hold than a beard butter will tend to.
Plus, a beard butter tends to leave your beard looking a bit shinier (much like a beard oil) whereas a beard balm can leave a more textured and matte style feel.
What you need to note down is the description of the product (particularly with a beard balm) as well as the ingredients. It can well be the case that a beard balm could be called a beard butter as well as vice versa.
It literally comes down to the way a beard manufactuer wants to promote their product range. Ultimately, you can consider a beard butter to be apart of the whole beard balm group. However, you will get some beard butters that can’t be considered like other beard balms (mostly styling balms).
Of course, you will find different beard brewers have their own definitions of what makes a beard balm and a beard butter, so you need to understand what’s going into them to know what you are actually getting.
However, a beard balm usually consists of the following ingredients:
- Butter (typically shea butter or cocoa butter, perhaps a little of both).
- Wax (usually beeswax, this will be higher amount if it is a styling beard balm).
- Carrier oils (coconut oil, argan oil etc. this is an additional conditioning aspect of the balm)
- Essential oils (for the added scent of the product)
A beard butter will be very much the same as the above but a higher proportion of butter and range of them as well as less use of the beeswax. There might also be a less proportion of carrier oils used as a result too (as you are getting most of the conditioning aspects from the extra butters).
What Are the Differences Between Beard Balm and Beard Butter?
So again it depends on the two specific beard balms and beard butters you are comparing but typically it comes down to the following:
- Conditioning aspect — a beard butter tends to offer more in the way of keeping your beard and skin hydrated, performing the role of a leave in conditioner. You will get some beard conditioning balms offering this but they also tend to offer a styling element too.
- Hold — as alluded to above, the typical beard balm will tend to offer you more with regards to the ability to actually get a hold of your beard and rope in stray hairs. Although a beard butter will offer you more than a beard oil would do, it still doesn’t offer much in this regard.
- Finish — you will get a much cleaner and sheen like finish with a beard butter compared to a beard balm that provides a more matte style effect to your beard.
- Scent wise — they are typically the same, as they can both be incorporated with essential oils that are responsible for the smell of the product and how your beard then smells.
- Feel on the beard — this might just be more of a personal perspective, but a beard balm can feel somewhat ‘heavy’ and weighed down on a beard, whereas a beard butter can feel lighter but perhaps more greasy.
How to Apply Beard Butter and Balm?
They can actually be applied in a very similar fashion. Firstly, you want to make sure that the beard you are applying the beard balm or beard butter to is reasonably clean. The instructions set out here are on the presumption that you are applying a conditioning style beard balm.
- You will want to comb out your beard somewhat to give it a bit of structure and undo any potential knots. Ideally you have potentially soaked it a little with some warm water too and is about 90% dry.
- Reach for your beard butter or beard balm and pick up a notch of it with the back of your thumbnail. Then scrape some out (try to lean on the side of caution, you can always add more later).
- Then rub the beard balm or butter into your finger tips to make it a more malleable and applicable substance.
- Start to apply it and rub it into your beard. You will want to run it right the way through your beard so that it is fully conditioned and is applied right through the beard.
- Reach out for a boar brush ideally. You can then start to help distribute the beard balm and beard butter right through the beard more uniformly and creates a neater overall look to the beard.
A beard butter and more so a beard balm, will also offer you some hold as well so you can start to shae up the beard somewhat. Again, you will notice one key aspect is that the difference in terms of finish to the beard can be a bit different.
The typical beard balm will tend to give you a more matted style and textured look to the beard whereas a beard butter more closely resembles that of a beard oil and gives that healthy clean sheen. On personal preference too, I tend to find a beard balm feels heavier on the beard, whereas a beard butter can sometimes be a bit greasier.
What Are The Benefits?
Of course, you want to be using a beard product that will actually be benefiting you and your beard. A beard butter is great for those who are looking for an alternative to a beard oil and prefer something more solid when applying to their beard. It has great hydration properties as well as supporting your beard growth for ultimately a strong and good looking beard.
A beard balm can provide much of that same aspect above, but you can also gain some additional styling aspects with the amount of hold that it can offer. So if you are a beard that is a bit unruly, a beard balm would be a good solution for dealing with this. If you have a beard that is incredibly unruly and you would want to get more of a hold on it, then a beard wax (along with regular use of a beard oil) is the way to go.
As you can see the differences between beard balm and beard butter are subtle but they are there and you need to understand what beard butter and what beard balm you are specifically getting hold of.
Inspecting the ingredients of both products is key to understanding the type of product you are getting as well as any additional information provided by the beard manufacturer to understand what type of product you are getting.
Ultimately, what you need to know in general is the following:
- Beard butter — is primarily used as a conditioning product and offers quite little in the way of styling ability and hold.
- Beard balm — can be split into two camps, that of a styling product where it offers more hold as well as a conditioning balm where it is more similar to the beard butter (however, often offers a bit more in the way of hold).
You will get some products that crossover. Where you could quite easily consider what a beard manufacturer calls a beard butter to be a beard balm and vice versa.
Ultimately though, as with all beard grooming it is about testing the different products to see what is best for you and your beard as well as your skin, as pretty much every beard is unique and will respond differently to different products.
There are whole range of manufactures out there that produce great balms (Beardbrand offer a styling and conditioning balm that is certainly worth checking out) as well as beard butters. If you are feeling up to it, it's certainly a lot of fun DIYing and making your own beard products too.
Of course, if you have any potential questions with regards to beard balm vs beard butter and any sort of beard grooming routine queries, then please get in touch through the questions and answers section just below and we will be more than happy to help.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jonathan Lees
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 06, 2020:
Very elaborate and illustrative. Nice one. Thanks.