10 Best Beard Conditioners Review for Nov. 2020 to Scratch Your Itch – with Buying Guide
This isn’t what you bargained for.
You decided that it might be cool to grow a beard. Or, more accurately, you decided that you might look cool with a beard.
You decided on the style of beard you wanted, you grew your hair out, you picked up your trusty razor – and trimmed your facial hair to look the way you had envisioned. Or, again to be accurate, to look sort of like the way you had envisioned.
You figured out how to shave the beard to look better than your first attempt, or you gave in and bought a fancy beard trimmer. Hey – it looked pretty good!
But darn, it was awfully scratchy. Perhaps you dealt with it for a while, but then your significant other (or someone you’d like to be your significant other) started complaining.
You looked online to find out if there was some way to make your beard more comfortable to wear (and for others to rub against) – and you were confronted with a mind-boggling array of products. Beard balms, beard oils, beard conditioners…you had no idea that having a beard could be so complicated and expensive!
By now, you’ve probably discovered that balms and oils leave a coating on your beard to make it look shinier and – well – cool. Conditioners, on the other hand, are designed specifically to soften a beard. Their moisturizers and nutrients are absorbed into your skin and hair, making your beard softer and more manageable.
Now, you’re finally getting somewhere. You need a beard conditioner.
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It probably goes without saying that there are hundreds to choose from, and it also probably goes without saying that the Groom+Style review team can help with that.
We’ve researched all of the major (and some of the minor) brand names and products, and put together our list of the ten best beard conditioners on the market.
Let’s scratch your itch (figuratively, of course) and dive into the G+S rankings.
Best Beard Conditioners
1. Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-In Conditioner
One of the hurdles the review team had to clear in reviewing these products is interpreting the labeling and separating it from the actual products. Honest Amish is a great example. This company has produced a line of highly-regarded beard care products for years, and they have seven different offerings all listed as “Beard Balm.”
The product which has received our coveted #1 ranking also has that label, in addition to “Leave-In Conditioner,” and we’ve found that it really is primarily a conditioner – a really, really good one.
The Honest Amish conditioner uses only all-natural, organic, vegan ingredients, and unlike most beard balms, their conditioner uses a selection of nut and fruit butters (instead of ingredients like beeswax) to thicken the substance, to help hold your beard in place. Its real strength is conditioning, though. Six carrier oils (including jojoba argan and sweet almond) are used to deliver seven different essential oils (cedarwood, clove, anise, peppermint, lavender, grapefruit and cinnamon).
This is a leave-in conditioner that does an amazing job of softening facial hair while preventing beard itch and flaking. And it rejuvenates the skin, without being too strong for sensitive faces. The G+S team couldn’t agree on what the underlying scent is; woodsy, anise and mint all were suggested, but in any rate, the scent only lasts for a couple of hours.
Honest Amish conditioner is the best natural beard conditioner we’ve found. It does leave a slight scent and has to be left in rather than rinsed out, but that didn’t matter to the bearded members of the team. They loved it.
Facts and figures for Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-In Conditioner:
2. Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Beard Conditioner
The Green Leaf Naturals is, obviously, all-natural, but it’s been formulated very differently than most beard conditioners: it’s made from 99.75% pure organic aloe vera gel.
That means it doesn’t provide the benefits of the essential oils included in almost all competitors, but it also means that it’s completely unscented and is applied to your beard as a gel that stays in all day.
Although this product uses a very different method of moisturizing than the other conditioners on our list, the results are impressive. Aloe vera is commonly used to heal sunburns and other skin traumas, and it brings the same healing power to the skin under your facial hair while moisturizing and fighting dandruff.
It’s even believed to promote new hair growth. Since there are virtually no other ingredients (except for a tiny amount of citric and ascorbic acid to contribute vitamin C), this is a completely hypoallergenic conditioner.
Green Leaf Naturals uses an unconventional approach to do a wonderful job of beard conditioning without any underlying scent. It isn’t quite as effective as our #1 choice, but it’s close.
Details on Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Beard Conditioner:
3. Beardsley Ultra Conditioner for Beards
Here’s our top choice for a “rinse-out” beard conditioner. It’s certainly not perfect, since it does contain parabens, other synthetic ingredients and alcohol (which isn’t suitable for sensitive skin). But G+S always looks first and foremost at performance, and Beardsley Ultra does a top-notch job at softening facial hair after just a couple of weeks of regular use.
You apply it right after showering, let it sit for 3-4 minutes and then wash it out – so in reality, the ingredients we’re not thrilled about are only in contact with your face for a few minutes. That fact alone made us feel better about this product. As for the “good” stuff, there is jojoba oil along with a number of botanicals like goldenseal, marigold, henna and wild cherry extract, which give this beard conditioner a very light floral scent.
Would we prefer to use an all-natural beard conditioner? Absolutely. But this rinse-out conditioner does such a great job making beards soft and manageable that we’ll overlook the negatives in order to recommend it highly.
More info on Beardsley Ultra Conditioner for Beards:
4. Smooth Viking Beard Conditioner for Men
This product is very similar to the Honest Amish conditioner that tops the Groom+Style rankings, and has been around almost as long. It also contains shea butter and beeswax, making it (in part) a beard balm to help style your facial hair and give it a matte finish, in addition to being an effective conditioner. The reason we prefer Honest Amish is that it’s all-natural, while the Smooth Viking conditioner has a synthetic scent added (and to our noses, it smells sort of like soap).
Conditioning is the #1 goal of this paste, and the ingredients do it well. There are argan and jojoba oils as carriers, and essential oils include sweet almond, pumpkin seed and avocado. They nourish and moisturize facial hair, and since this is a leave-in conditioner, they work to soften the beard all day long.
Smooth Viking feels a little more “waxy” than Honest Amish because of the beeswax that’s used as an ingredient, so this will help you with taming a medium-to-long beard a bit more.
There’s no doubt that after regular use, though, your beard will be softer, healthier and easier to manage.
The “feel” of Smooth Viking beard conditioner is more like that of a balm, but its primary goal is to condition facial hair, and it’s quite effective when left in your beard a few days a week.
Looking closer at Smooth Viking Beard Conditioner for Men:
5. ArtNaturals Natural Beard Deep Conditioner
They can put the word “natural” in the product name as much as they like, but that doesn’t change the fact that this product contains alcohol and added fragrance, among other non-organic ingredients. But it also doesn’t change the fact that the ArtNaturals rinse-out beard conditioner is one of the best on the market at getting deep into beards, adding important nourishment and moisture while sealing cuticles to protect facial hair.
Key ingredients in this conditioner are jojoba oil as a carrier, and essential oils like tea tree, blue cypress oils and rosemary, licorice root plus nettle leaf extract, which many believe works to prevent hair damage and loss. It also includes aloe vera to soothe skin and help moisturize hair, shea butter to contribute vitamins, and quinoa protein which is said to protect against environmental damage to the hair.
The combination provides a deep cleanse of your facial hair, in addition to the moisturizing and healing properties essential for beard maintenance and growth. It is a rinse-out conditioner, applied after shampooing and requiring just 2-3 minutes before being washed out for the day. While it does have alcohol, there are no parabens and is a cruelty-free product.
ArtNaturals beard conditioner isn’t completely natural – but it is a very good leave-in cleanser and conditioner that will leave your beard healthy and feeling soft.
Digging deeper on ArtNaturals Natural Beard Deep Conditioner:
6. Scotch Porter Beard Conditioner
You’re not going to pay a lot for any beard conditioner, but Scotch Porter is one of the more expensive alternatives on the market which is why it’s down here at #6 on the G+S rankings. It’s worth a long look, though, because of its unique combination of all-natural ingredients and its very thorough deep-cleansing and moisturizing performance.
This rinse-out product starts with coconut oil, not often used but our preferred choice, as a carrier oil because it allows moisture to penetrate deep into hair fibers. Then there’s marshmallow root, a natural detangler; slippery elm bark which makes facial hair more manageable for styling; kukui nut oil which is a strong moisturizing essential oil; aloe vera for skin care and shea butter for essential vitamins.
Of all the conditioners the review team checked out, this is the ingredient list that impressed us the most. There are no sulfates or parabens, and there is a clean, non-offensive light scent.
If Scotch Porter didn’t cost almost twice as much as most of its competitors, it would have ranked much higher on our list. It’s a great rinse-out conditioner.
What you need to know about Scotch Porter Beard Conditioner:
7. Polished Gentleman Beard Growth and Thickening Conditioner
We paired the Scotch Porter and Polished Gentleman products at #6/#7 because our primary hesitation on both was their price. At first glance, the Polished Gentleman conditioner is half the price of the Scotch Porter – but that’s for just four ounces, putting them both into the “expensive” category when looking at price per ounce. This conditioner comes in at #7 because we liked the Scotch Porter ingredients a bit better, but Polished Gentleman’s product is quite good as well.
You’ll find this all-natural, organic beard conditioner includes argan oil as a carrier for essential oils like tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus plus raw manuka honey, a good assortment for nourishment and moisture. There’s aloe vera and a mix of vitamins as well, but a more interesting ingredient is biotin, known to promote the growth and health of hair.
One more factor that caught our eye is that the company balances the pH of the conditioner at 5.5 to match the natural pH of hair and skin.
Scotch Porter is one more expensive but effective rinse-out beard conditioner, which will leave your beard softer and healthier.
More detail on Polished Gentleman Beard Growth and Thickening Conditioner:
8. Beard Necessities Grizzly Conditioner and Softener
Here’s one final beard conditioner that’s on the expensive side, but it’s also the best choice for men with sensitive or dry skin.
One reason for that is the rinse-out Beard Necessities product includes aloe vera and medical-grade manuka honey to soothe angry skin and prevent breakouts, but the other is that there’s no alcohol, no artificial fragrance and no sulfates used in the formulation. The end result is a softening of the beard with no irritation, no itch and none of the complexion complications guys sometimes suffer when growing or maintain a beard.
It doesn’t take long to feel the Grizzly’s power at work, as it only requires a few days of application before facial hair starts to feel softer. It’s also quite pleasant, as the aroma of the Beard Necessities conditioner is contributed by organic citrus peel.
The G+S team prefers not to overpay for products, but this one would be worth paying a premium if you have easily-irritated or dry skin.
Looking closer at Beard Necessities Grizzly Conditioner and Softener:
9. Clubman 2-in-1 Beard Conditioner and Face Moisturizer
We’re calling this the Groom+Style budget pick, not because it’s the cheapest beard conditioner on a per-ounce basis. Judged by that measure, this is priced similarly to most of the products on our list. But you can pick up a three ounce tube of the leave-in Clubman conditioner for only five bucks, which is a good deal when you’re trying to figure out whether a product works and whether you want to be wearing its trademark mild grapefruit scent for the long term.
Clubman has been around for decades. And when a product has stood the test of time and thrived, you don’t have to worry about whether it works. It contains essential oils and extracts like sunflower seed, ginger lily, rosemary and nettle, with our preferred carrier coconut oil as a base. However, there’s also alcohol and a number of synthetic ingredients (although no phthalates or parabens), so be careful if you have sensitivities or allergies.
Clubman 2-in-1 is marketed as a combined beard conditioner and facial moisturizer; the review team feels that while it won’t hurt your skin, you could definitely find more effective facial products. For beards, though, it softens facial hair without feeling greasy while also soothing irritated skin.
Those who want to find out if they need or want to use a beard conditioner can buy a tube of Clubman 2-in-1 for the cost of a morning stop at Starbucks. It’s a great way to dip your toes into the water.
The highlights for Clubman 2-in-1 Beard Conditioner and Face Moisturizer:
10. Mr. Rugged Beard Lotion Conditioner
Our final choice is designed specifically for men with beards that difficult to control: bushy, wild, long and/or frizzy. Mr. Rugged utilizes an unusual combination of ingredients to work its wonders on problem beards, but even though it’s not the collection of oils and extracts we’re accustomed to seeing, it was a miracle product for the one member of the team who has a “lumberjack beard.”
The key active ingredients in this leave-in conditioner are panthenol, wheat amino acids, dimethiconol and cyclomethicone. Panthenol is a type of vitamin B5 which draws moisture from the air and pumps it into the hair to moisturize, thicken and soften. The wheat amino acids are nutrients which eliminate split ends and breakage, while repairing damage to hair shafts. Dimethiconol and cyclomethicone are actually silicones, which protect facial hair from the environment and boost hair’s shine.
The conditioner is parabens- and alcohol-free.
The ingredients in Mr. Rugged may sound like an odd combination for conditioning a beard, but they work for the types of beards you may see on the street and think “Wow, that beard sure needs some help.” This conditioner definitely helps.
More info on Mr. Rugged Beard Lotion Conditioner:
Best Beard Conditioner Buying Guide
Sooner or later, almost every guy who commits to wearing a beard takes the next step: figuring out how to care for it properly. Many buy a complete “beard grooming kit,” figuring that’s the easiest way to go about things. Beard oil, beard conditioner, beard balm, beard shampoo, beard wash, beard brush, beard comb – why would they put all of that stuff into a kit if you don’t really need it?
Cynical readers already know the answer. The more “stuff” you put into a kit, the more you can charge. The truth is that many of those products perform the same or similar functions, and most men with facial hair don’t need all of that specialized beard “stuff.”
Beard wash and beard shampoo are essentially the same thing. Beard shampoo is definitely better than regular shampoo for a beard, because it preserves the natural oil in facial hair while hair shampoo is designed to remove oil from hair. However, most guys don’t bother with it, and just use their regular shampoo on facial hair (even though they shouldn’t). Beard brushes and combs are preferable to regular ones for men who spend a lot of time conditioning and styling their beard, but they’re not required.
Beard conditioner, however, is a different matter. No one wants their beard to be rough, dry and scratchy, and the best way to keep facial hair soft and healthy is to use a conditioner. It’s the one product every beard-wearer should seriously consider.
There’s one question we haven’t answered yet: what about balms and oils? Aren’t they the same as beard conditioners?
Absolutely not – they’re very different products, even though some beard oils and balms claim to condition as well. And understanding the pros and cons of conditioners, balms and oils is the first step you should take before buying any of them.
We’ll tackle that subject first.
Conditioners, Balms and Oils – Oh My!
Many men confuse these three products produced specifically for grooming beards. In a nutshell, conditioners contain moisturizing ingredients and nutrients which are absorbed into the skin and hair, while oils and balms coat the beard while doing their work.
It’s not difficult to differentiate between them.
Men who pay a lot of attention to the look and feel of their beard will use conditioner regularly, and either use oil or balm before heading to work or out for the evening. If you’re not the type to spend a good deal in time in front of the mirror, though, beard conditioner is easy to use and important to add to your regular routine.
Leave-In or Rinse-Out Beard Conditioner?
One choice you’ll have to make when buying beard conditioner is between “leave-in” and “rinse-out” products. Their names pretty much tell you the difference: you don’t rinse a “leave-in” conditioner out of your beard, but “rinse out” conditioner is not meant to be left in the beard. Most men will do the rinsing out while they’re still in the shower for reasons of convenience, but it can be done while you’re grooming at the sink as well.
“Leave-in” conditioners are quite similar to beard balm, but with a thinner consistency. They’re not meant to hold hair in place as balm would do, but they will leave your beard looking a little shinier and most do have a scent added in – which makes the decision easy for many guys. The other key consideration is whether you want to walk around all day with product in your beard; some men don’t mind, others hate it.
You can find effective beard conditioners of both types, and we include both in the Groom+Style rankings.
Beard Conditioner Ingredients
Your first step in choosing a beard conditioner should be to check the list of ingredients, since some products include chemicals like parabens and silicone. We probably don’t have to tell you they can damage hair, or that you’re better off with a conditioner that uses all-natural ingredients.
The most important ingredients in beard conditioner are carrier oils and essential oils. Carrier oils like coconut, sweet almond, jojoba and argan are predominant in conditioner; they moisturize and soften beard hair and are beneficial to the skin. They’re also used to “carry” and dilute essential oils which are crucial for the health of your facial hair and the skin underneath, but are too strong to apply directly to your beard.
The most desirable carrier is coconut oil, because it has been shown to be the best at penetrating hair fibers to provide nourishment. Jojoba carrier oil is also quite helpful if you’re prone to dandruff, because it contains natural iodine that kills the bacteria responsible for flaky skin. Each essential oil has different properties; peppermint is said to promote hair growth, eucalyptus is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent, and sandalwood reduces beard itch. It may be a bit time-consuming to look into the benefits of each essential oil, but the time spent can definitely be worth it.
Finally, many of the essential oils have a discernable scent. Some like patchouli and clove are quite strong and will cling to your beard even if you’ve washed the conditioner out, while others like lavender are so mild that they won’t leave a scent behind. If you don’t “know what you’ll smell like” before buying a beard conditioner, you may find yourself throwing out a rather-expensive bottle pretty quickly.
Other Factors to Consider
Several other things to think about before choosing a beard conditioner:
Frequently Asked Questions About Beard Conditioners
Q: Does beard conditioner really work?
Q: Does it matter which conditioner I use for my beard?
Q: How often should I use beard conditioner?
Q: Wouldn’t leave-in conditioner be better for a beard, because it will be working all day?
Q: Are combination products, like beard wash/conditioner, conditioning oil or conditioning balm, a good substitute for beard conditioner?
Q: So I should really use conditioner and either beard oil or beard balm?
Q: Can I use the same shampoo and conditioner on my beard that I use for my hair?