A beard-grooming enthusiast who writes about beard products, styling and other related facial hair trivia who also sports a beardstache.
What's the Difference Beard Balm Vs Beard Wax?
Like others, are you trying to workout the difference between a beard balm and beard wax i.e beard wax vs beard balm. At first, it is not immediately obvious. However, as you delve down into the ingredients, you will see that there are some minor differences.
A beard wax is predominantly a styling product targeted towards shaping up your beard with a heavy wax component. A beard balm can be a styling product as well but tends to offer a lighter hold as well as more in the way of actually conditioning the beard.
Here’s what we are going to cover:
- What is beard wax
- What is beard balm
- How it differs from a beard balm
- How to apply your beard styling wax (and styling tips) and beard balm
- What makes a good beard wax over a bad one (and balm)
- How it compares to moustache wax
- What goes into a beard wax and balm (the ingredients)
- How to incorporate it into your beard grooming routine
- Should you use a beard wax or a gel
- Using beard wax and balm in your beard grooming routine.
Let’s find out what you should be using a beard wax or a beard balm.
What is Beard Wax?
Firstly, for those who don’t know exactly what beard wax is, it’s basically just a beard styling product that is mainly made up of - you guessed it - wax - and is meant for your - you guessed it - beard.
Although, beard wax covers quite a wide range of beard styling products - we think it’s best described as being quite like a moustache wax but a more tame version that is often blended with shea butters as well as carrier oils.
Or a more ‘firm holding’ styling beard balm.
That said, given that it is also often referred to as a beard styling wax it certainly shouldn’t be used instead of a conditioning product such as a beard oil but with it.
Before, we get into specifically how to be using - let’s first determine if you should be using it at all - so who should be using it?
When it comes to the purpose of beard wax - it’s great for those who want a bit more style and control over their beards and although it is a pretty darn great beard grooming product on the whole - it’s not overly stocked by many beard brewing companies (later we will get into a few companies you want to be taking a look at).
If you only have a couple of inches of beard growth, I would recommend giving beard wax a pass and opt for a stronger holding beard balm whilst it starts to grow out. Then if there are any particular facial fur hair strands that are causing you grief don’t be too concerned with giving it a slight snip.
What is Beard Balm?
A beard balm is actually a term to refer to a wide range of beard products that include waxes, butters, relaxers and much more.
However, you can predominantly categories them into two separate camps:
The conditioner takes on more carrier oils as well as butters and is aimed at actually conditioning and providing moisture to the beard,
So this is what would be most different to the beard wax.
Then you have stylers, which is where it contains a higher proportion of the beeswax element and obviously more closely resembles the beard wax but is unlikely to have as much hold to offer with regards to styling.
How to Apply Beard Wax and Balm
Before you even think about applying any beard wax to your beard, you will want to make sure that it is in a good condition to do so. Ensure that it is well combed, clean and isn’t generally a mess before applying beard wax otherwise the beard is going to be difficult to style and generally not produce a look that you want to go for.
Basically, just think of it very much the same way that you do when you apply a hair styling product. To get the best look you don’t really go applying your favourite hair clay into greasy uncombed hair.
The way you apply beard balm and beard wax to your beard is very similar.
- Comb out or brush out your beard to make sure that is in order.
- Apply a couple of splashes of beard oil (ideally scentless or with a matching scent)
- Scrape out some of the beard wax with the back of your thumbnail (ideally a little less than you think you might need - you can always add more later).
- Start to emulsify the beard wax between your finger tips by rubbing them together best you can.
- Then start to work it into the beard from the top cheeklines to the very base of the beard with your fingers. You want to feel like the wax has started to go right throughout the beard.
- Stroke the beard outwards with the wax and if you need to reach for more wax then don’t hesitate to.
- Once you are happy that the beard wax is implemented throughout the beard, start to style it into place and how you are happy with it.
- Finish off with a boar bristle brush to add a bit of shape and neatness to it all.
Beard Wax Tip:
If it is a particularly strong beard wax that you have bought, it is likely to have a higher proportion of wax - in which case especially if left in cooler conditions - it can be difficult to even scrape some of the beard wax out.
So I tend to either just leave it sitting on the radiator for a minute or just leave it in my pocket for a few minutes. This just generally helps with the scraping out and emulsifying process.
How Does it Differ to Beard Balm?
A question that often gets asked about beard balm when comparing to beard wax i.e beard wax vs beard balm and what’s the difference?
It’s a good question.
And it’s best explained by determining what beard balm is first. See there are two distinct groups of beard balm:
i) Conditioning beard balm (which is more like a solid state beard oil)
ii) Styling beard balm (which is more like the beard wax).
If we compare the beard wax with the former, a conditioning beard balm that has a higher proportion of oils and butters when compared to the styling balm then it is a fair bit different.
However, it does closely resemble the beard styling balm.
Now it depends on the beard manufacturer as to the composition of the ingredients that they use in their products and generally what they refer to their beard products as.
Though it is generally the case that a beard wax can be considered to offer a stronger hold with a lot less of the conditioning aspects that a styling beard balm can provide.
Hence, the clue is in the name with it being a ‘beard wax’ that they have a higher wax composition, so it is recommended that you combine the wax with a conditioning product (such as a beard oil or even a bead conditioning beard balm) in your beard maintenance and grooming routine.
Who Makes Good Beard Wax?
There are a new number of high quality beard waxes out there to take a look at.
- Honest Amish Beard Wax
This is perhaps one of the most famous beard grooming brands around and this is probably their leading product. They have the standard ‘original’ version which is plenty enough in my opinion for those after a strong beard wax, however, if you want the strongest option that they offer then go for the ‘extra grit’ option - an incredibly strong beard wax that should be able to tame even the most unruliest of beards.
- Seven Potions Beard Wax
A lesser known brand but all the same a good quality beard wax. Seven potions offers a medium strength beard wax that is easier to apply and should be considered more of your every day styling product and is certainly easier to apply and gives an overall decent finish to the look of your beard, Great for those who have a bit of an unruly beard but more ideally just wanting to give the beard a few extra style points.
- Cambridge Beard Co Electric Beard Wax
Now this is a product that I have only recently come to test out and is a great answer for those looking for that extra strong beard wax to really keep that beard in place and to offer a strong hold. Not only that, it’s provided in a pretty large tin as well (at 60ml) so even guys with pretty substantial beards (even yeards) should take a while getting through this.
Is Beard Wax Like Moustache Wax?
Generally speaking, yes.
They pretty much encumber a lot of the same ingredients. And you will see a lot of moustache waxes claim that they can be used on beards (which of course they can) and vice versa,
However, you will generally find that some moustache waxes are even stronger still.
As they can contain some petroleum type ingredients that you don’t often find within beard waxes (as they try and stay more on the conditioning side).
See, a moustache wax has to battle even more unruly style hairs and also have to maintain a more exuberant style than a standard beard wax.
That said, there will certainly be a cross over where some beard waxes offer more hold than some moustache waxes.
But if we look to the extremes on both sides, you will tend to find that the strongest moustache wax will out do the strongest beard wax.
Of course, I recommend you can use moustache wax on your beard but just mix it in at step 4 with some beard oil which helps more with the application stage and you can get a similar effect.
Beard Wax Ingredients - What’s it Made From?
When it comes to beard wax, again the specific ingredients that go into the product are going to slightly differ amongst different brewers.
However, you can of course expect cera alba to be the leading ingredient.
Which is of course the latin name for beeswax.
This is then sometimes combined with a range of other style waxes as well as butters, potentially some carrier oils (for the conditioning aspect) as well as the slight use of essential oils that give it that scent.
As we always advise on beardsmen, we recommend that you don’t conflict scents. So if you have used a beard oil of one type of scent before then applying the beard wax.
It is going to ruin both aspects.
Instead either make one of the products scentless, so they no longer conflict or instead make sure that you both go for the same scented product (ideally from the same manufacturer).
So if you opt to go with Seven potions beard wax (in the woodland harmony scent) make sure that you also partner that up with the matching beard oil too.
How Should You Use it in Your Beard Grooming Routine?
Generally speaking it should be used for when you need to look on point.
So whether you are going into work, have an upcoming wedding or date. It’s purely a styling product and there’s no need to be using it on the daily like you would a beard oil (where your beard is actually in need of some conditioning to feel soft and smooth),
Mine looks something like this.
It’s the morning.
Stepped out of a shower, co-washed my beard (with a scentless beard conditioner) at a luke warm temperature.
I’ve then pat dried my beard with a towel in order to not damage it by tugging it.
Just before it has got fully dry, I’ve splashed some ‘wood scent’ beard oil into the beard to help it recover from the moisture lost from the shower.
After combing the beard to help distribute the oil throughout the beard, I will then reach out for the beard wax.
Then pretty much perform the very steps laid out above 1-8 on how to use beard wax and apply it effectively.
The key aspect to note from the routine above is that you are using a beard conditioning product to go along with the wax, rather than using it just on its own.
Without it (and using the wax just by itself) isn’t going to supply your beard with the necessary beardy nutrition and hydration that it requires in order to stay ‘healthy’.
Should You Use a Beard Wax or Gel?
Using a gel or a beard wax does depend very much on the beard brewer, what ingredients they have used and how they have manufactured them - so it’s always worth going over the ingredients first.
However, if you think about a typical gel that you would use for your hair and use that instead of the beard wax.
Then clearly the beard wax incorporates much friendlier ingredients for your beard.
A gel will cause the beard to get dry, draining it of moisture and potentially preventing gel from getting back into the beard. All that said, if you are wanting to simply style the beard (then it is likely a gel will be able to carry that out for you).
Generally speaking (at least from experience) I would opt to go with a dedicated beard wax over a typical hair gel. However, if there is a gel specifically designed for beards it is likely to contain more beard friendly ingredients.
It’s then a matter of weighing up whether it does the right job for you or not. A wax will likely be more scent aligned with other beard oils as well as have a stronger hold. As said, though it depends what beard styling wax we are comparing with what beard oil.
What Would You Like to Know About Beard Wax and Balm?
Now, of course, if you have any potential questions with regards to how to use beard wax, a recap on the differences between beard wax vs beard balm, what brands to use and if you have any beard wax reviews you would like to share and think I should additionally include in this post for other beardsmen to check out then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know.
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